Tony Pedregon leads Seattle NHRA qualifiers
Two-time NHRA Full Throttle Series champion Tony Pedregon capped off an impressive two days of qualifying with a 4.174-second pass at 291.13 mph on Saturday at the 22nd annual NHRA Northwest Nationals to earn his third No. 1 of the season in Funny Car.
The other No. 1 qualifiers at the 14th race in the 24-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season were Larry Dixon (Top Fuel) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock). Also during qualifying, Jason Line became the fifth driver overall -- and third in Pro Stock -- to clinch his berth in the NHRA Playoffs, the Countdown to 1.
Pedregon, currently in third place behind Ron Capps and Ashley Force Hood, was the overnight leader and he improved on a 4.182 from Friday night with the 4.174 in the first session on Saturday.
"It was a great effort in qualifying and it really reminds me of our Chicago race (which he won from the pole) so my expectations are the same as they were in Chicago," said Pedregon, who drives the Q Horsepower Chevy Impala. "I would be disappointed with anything less than winning the race."
Meanwhile, Capps, who had two aborted qualifying runs on Friday in his NAPA Dodge Charger, moved up to the No. 6 position with a 4.245 and he will open eliminations with a one-point lead (999 to 998) over Ashley Force Hood who qualified eighth (4.262, 285.35).
Funny Car features some heavyweight first-round matchups, including Capps vs. Cruz Pedregon and John Force vs. Del Worsham. Tony Pedregon opens with Grant Downing and Force Hood will meet veteran Gary Densham.
In Top Fuel, second-place Larry Dixon's 3.891 at 302.21 from Friday in the Al-Anabi dragster held up through both rounds of qualifying Saturday for his fourth No. 1 qualifier this season. Dixon will open eliminations with a desperate foe in Joe Hartley, who's currently in 11th place and fighting for the 10th and final playoff berth with five races left in the regular season.
"There are no gimmes. You have to go up there and earn your place," Dixon said. "I like that, you have to be sharp, you have to get off the starting line and you have to get your car down the track. You're racing against someone who will keep you honest, especially Joe Hartley, they're fighting for top 10 so they're not a slacker car and they've beaten us before."
The No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock, Allen Johnson, set both ends of the Pacific Raceways track record in his Mopar Dodge Stratus with his 6.571 at 210.21 in the early session Saturday.
"I think our entire team feels as good as we've felt our entire racing careers," said Johnson, who's coming off of a win at Denver and has been to three straight final rounds at Pacific Raceways. "We've had fun here. We've done awful well here, just seems like (Pacific Raceways) plays into our hands."