Gary Scelzi, Greg Anderson and Steve Johnson also were winners
at the $1.8 million race, the 12th of 23 events in the $50 million
NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
The event was marred by a second round crash involving Top Fuel
driver Darrell Russell. Russell's dragster went out of control and
crashed just past the finish line. He was transported to St. Louis
Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead.
In the Top Fuel final, Kalitta powered his Mac Tools dragster to
a 4.535 second run at 326.87 mph to defeat teammate David Grubnic,
who ran 4.794 at 304.80 in his machine. It was Kalitta's second
victory of the season and 17th of his career.
"Running against David in the final was great," Kalitta
said. "We did the best to block out everything that happened
today, but it was really tough. I am not going to celebrate tonight.
I am going to pack my stuff up and move on to the next event."
Kalitta now leads Tony Schumacher by 11 points. It is the first
time Kalitta has led the points standings in his career.
Scelzi scored his first Funny Car victory of the season and 27th
of his career by defeating John Force, who moved into the points
lead with the runner-up effort. Scelzi clocked a 4.827 at 325.30
in his Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T, while Force's Castrol GTX Start
Up Ford Mustang lost traction and posted a 5.321 at 210.28.
"It really felt like we had the right combination all weekend
long and we were able to sustain a quality effort each time down
the track," said an emotional Scelzi in the winner's circle,
who noted that he and Russell were like brothers. "Darrell
Russell loved what he did and it's unfortunate and sad and it really
bothers me, but I've got to say he was doing what he loved. It's
a tragic shame, but Darrell touched a lot of people and that's all
I can say."
Anderson raced to his ninth victory of the season in Pro Stock
and 25th of his career by powering past Steve Johns in the final
round. Anderson ran 6.726 at 204.98 in his Vegas General Construction
Pontiac Grand Am while Johns trailed in his Sportlite Chevy Cavalier
at 6.779 at 205.32.
"This win means very little to me right now after what happened
today," said Anderson, who increased his series points lead
to 409 over second place Kurt Johnson. "I am just ready to
get home to my family."
Johnson, an 18-year veteran in Pro Stock Bike, claimed his first
victory in his seventh career final round appearance. He used a
holeshot start and recorded a 7.220 at 183.34 on his K&N Filters
Suzuki to defeat the quicker Matco Tools Suzuki of Craig Treble,
who posted a 7.129 at 186.28.
"I am elated to finally win one of these races after 18 years
of trying," Johnson said. "But I am in no mood to celebrate.
Darrell was a great friend to all of the racers and we are going
to miss him."
With the win, Johnson moved to sixth overall in the points standings,
247 behind leader Andrew Hines, who lost in the second round to
Michael Phillips on a red-light start.
The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series continues with the Mopar
Mile-High NHRA Nationals, July 16-18 at Bandimere Speedway in Denver.
Final round-by-round results from the Eighth
annual Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International
Raceway, the 12th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade
Drag Racing Series -
ROUND ONE -- Scott Kalitta, 4.731, 311.13
def. Cory McClenathan, 11.583, 87.07; Bob Vandergriff, 5.691,
252.61 def. Bruce Litton, 10.880, 86.31; Larry Dixon, 4.727,
312.06 def. Rhonda Hartman-Smith, 8.800, 113.84; Doug Kalitta,
4.762, 314.39 def. John Smith, 5.036, 283.79; Tony Schumacher,
5.739, 241.58 def. Doug Herbert, 6.224, 262.33; Brandon Bernstein,
4.687, 322.11 def. Brady Kalivoda, 5.005, 270.00; David Grubnic,
4.662, 317.42 def. Scott Weis, 7.233, 119.53; Darrell Russell,
4.660, 312.71 def. T.J. Zizzo, 9.097, 96.56;
QUARTERFINALS -- D. Kalitta, 4.574, 325.92
def. Schumacher, 6.714, 125.20; Dixon, 4.563, 320.51 def. Bernstein,
4.576, 319.98; Grubnic, 4.592, 322.11 def. Vandergriff, 4.881,
285.17; S. Kalitta, 4.594, 328.94 def. Russell, 4.611, 322.73;
SEMIFINALS -- D. Kalitta, 4.834, 220.91
def. S. Kalitta, 6.529, 126.53; Grubnic, 4.601, 315.42
def. Dixon, 11.732, 79.82;
FINAL -- D. Kalitta, 4.535, 326.87 def.
Grubnic, 4.794, 304.80.
ROUND ONE -- Jerry Toliver, Toyota Celica,
5.116, 280.25 def. Tim Wilkerson, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.128,
262.28; Cruz Pedregon, Monte Carlo, 5.360, 273.39 def. Phil
Burkart, Pontiac Firebird, 11.622, 76.97; Ron Capps, Monte Carlo,
4.981, 308.21 def. Eric Medlen, Ford Mustang, 5.893, 169.96;
Bob Gilbertson, Chevy Camaro, 5.448, 235.10 def. Gary Densham,
Mustang, 6.024, 160.04; Tommy Johnson Jr., Monte Carlo, 4.951,
308.85 def. Jeff Arend, Chevy Corvette, 4.965, 307.37; John
Force, Mustang, 5.451, 274.78 def. Jim Head, Celica, 5.563,
207.85; Gary Scelzi, Dodge Stratus, 4.840, 324.67 def. Tony
Pedregon, Monte Carlo, 5.040, 259.71; Del Worsham, Monte Carlo,
5.118, 302.69 def. Whit Bazemore, Stratus, 5.383, 202.94;
QUARTERFINALS -- Force, 4.817, 319.75
def. Gilbertson, 7.223, 116.12; C. Pedregon, 4.886, 318.24 def.
Worsham, 5.077, 301.54; Scelzi, 4.837, 315.49 def. Toliver,
7.294, 111.36; Capps, 4.944, 302.55 def. Johnson Jr., 4.904,
SEMIFINALS -- Scelzi, 4.758, 330.23 def.
C. Pedregon, 6.608, 134.54; Force, 4.830, 318.92 def. Capps,
FINAL -- Scelzi, 4.827, 325.30 def. Force,
ROUND ONE -- Warren Johnson, Pontiac
Grand Am, 6.798, 203.98 def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Stratus, 6.807,
203.34; Kenny Koretsky, Stratus, 6.824, 203.55 def. Bruce Allen,
Grand Am, foul; Larry Morgan, Stratus, 6.767, 203.19 def. Rickie
Smith, Chevy Cavalier, 6.787, 203.46; Jeg Coughlin, Cavalier,
6.764, 204.29 def. Jim Yates, Grand Am, 6.822, 202.45; Jason
Line, Grand Am, 6.764, 204.39 def. V. Gaines, Stratus, 6.777,
203.74; Dave Connolly, Cavalier, 6.759, 205.44 def. Kurt Johnson,
Cavalier, 6.787, 203.71; Greg Anderson, Grand Am, 6.723, 205.13
def. Mike Edwards, Grand Am, 6.788, 202.27; Steve Johns, Cavalier,
6.739, 205.79 def. Troy Coughlin, Cavalier, 6.801, 202.67;
QUARTERFINALS -- J. Coughlin, 6.774,
203.12 def. Line, 6.764, 204.17; Connolly, 6.769, 205.26 def.
Morgan, 6.773, 202.27; Johns, 6.742, 205.16 def. Koretsky, 6.766,
203.52; Anderson, 6.727, 204.88 def. W. Johnson, 6.795, 203.58;
SEMIFINALS -- Johns, 6.732, 205.51 def.
J. Coughlin, 6.760, 203.55; Anderson, 6.731, 204.73 def. Connolly,
FINAL -- Anderson, 6.726, 204.98 def.
Johns, 6.779, 205.32.
PRO STOCK BIKE:
ROUND ONE -- Geno Scali, Suzuki, 7.199,
185.92 def. Fred Collis, 7.302, 177.79; Josh Helvie,
Kawasaki, 7.192, 183.39 def. Matt Smith, Suzuki, 7.258, 181.50;
Craig Treble, Suzuki, 7.124,
191.35 def. GT Tonglet, Harley-Davidson, 7.298, 183.97; Antron
Brown, Suzuki, 7.188, 183.64 def. Tommy Grimes Jr, Suzuki, 7.279,
181.28; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.166, 185.95 def. Angelle
Savoie, Suzuki, 7.139, 185.66; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.194,
183.62 def. Chip Hunter, Suzuki, 7.261, 182.82; Michael Phillips,
Suzuki, 7.196, 183.87 def. Blaine Hale, Suzuki, 7.293, 180.26;
Shawn Gann, Suzuki, 7.207, 185.18 def. Mike Berry, Suzuki, 7.236,
QUARTERFINALS -- Johnson, 7.135, 185.56
def. Gann, 7.242, 181.98; Scali, 7.240, 182.01 def. Brown, 19.618,
32.31; Treble, 7.178, 189.79 def. Helvie, 7.381, 177.25; Phillips,
7.187, 185.15 def. Hines, foul;
SEMIFINALS -- Treble, 7.106, 191.70 def.
Phillips, 7.320, 182.77; Johnson, 7.202, 183.57 def.
Scali, 7.227, 182.87;
FINAL -- Johnson, 7.220, 183.34 def.
Treble, 7.129, 186.28.
SUNDAY NOTES - The
Harley gesture, Whit is Del meat and a one lane blacktop at
Russell Accident - Top Fuel racer
Darrell Russell was involved in a top-end crash during the quarter-finals.
He was airlifted to a local trauma center via helicopter to
the St. Louis University Medical Center. Russell succombed to
The staff at CompetitionPlus.com sends their deepest
sympathies to the family of Russell and the Joe Amato team.
Direct Suggestion - Upon winning
the quarter-finals, Funny Car racer Gary Scelzi offered the
following suggestion to the NHRA's Graham Light over the PA
system, "Hey Graham, the next time you have a situation
like we just had, you could let us get out of the car and give
us a 15 minute warning instead of keeping us strapped in there
for 40 minutes."
The incident Scelzi was referring to was the extensive
oildown committed by Cruz Pedregon. The two pairs of Funny Cars
in line to run were forced to remain in their cars.
Harley Attitude – After
two of the three Buell and Harley-Davidson V-rods were eliminated
from the first round, Andrew Hines saved face for the Screamin’
Eagle by winning on a holeshot. The real action was not in Hines
defeating Angelle Savoie, but in older brother Matt Hines making
gestures towards the U.S. Army team and the words that were
exchanged between the two teams. Reportedly, the scenario developed
over a staging issue. At one time, before Hines staged, he rapped
the throttle uncharacteristically. When asked why he did that,
Hines uttered, "I wanted to let her know that I was over
Hines strapped a .062 holeshot on Savaoie and
snagged the 7.166 to 7.139 victory.
Weather Concerns – Just
west of Gateway International and St. Louis, Mo., is a storm
cell that hot Kansas City and was headed to east towards the
track. By judging the radar, the event could be threatened as
it reaches the semi-finals.
Get well soon – CompetitionPlus.com
would like to extend get well wishes to veteran NHRA announcer
Bob Frey who is under the weather and unable to make the trip
to St. Louis.
One Lane Blacktop – In
all eight first-round matches of Top Fuel, every combatant in
the right lane smoked the tires. In fact, there wasn’t
a winner in the right lane until the third pair of Funny Cars
when Ron Capps got the best of Eric Medlen.
Be Careful what you ask for - Part 2 –
Just last week in Englishtown, NJ, Whit Bazemore pointed out
that he wanted to run Del Worsham in the first. After gaining
a lead and apparently on the road for victory, Bazemore’s
car suffered breakage and that enabled Worsham to drive by for
the victory and snag the points lead. There was a serious case
of déjà vu as the two met up in the first round
and Worsham was able to snake by when Bazemore suffered parts
The Force is in the right lane –
The first two victories in the right lane both came
at the expense of John Force Racing. It all started when Capps
beat Medlen and continued when Bob Gilbertson got the best of
Gary Densham. John Force nearly bit the bullet when he smoked
the tires enabling Jim Head to pull ahead. However, Head lost
the blower belt enabling Force to slip by for the win.
Prudhomme is 3 for 3 after round one –
For the first time in 2004, all three of Don Prudhomme’s
nitro machines advanced to the second round of eliminations.
This marked the first time since the first Chicago race in 2003
that this happened.
By the numbers – The margin
of victory in Jerry Toliver’s triumph over Tim Wilkerson
in the first round was .0058 in their 5.116, 280.25 to 5.128,
262.28 decision. The interesting thing was that Wilkerson was
not under power at the stripe. The close racing continued as
Tommy Johnson, Jr. beat Jeff Arend by a .0099 margin.
Thanks Son – The 500-inch
engine between the fenders of Warren Johnson’s GM Performance
Parts-sponsored Grand Am is the same one that carried his son
Kurt to the final round last weekend in Englishtown.
It’s a “Ponti” Act –
Phil Burkart has been doing battle all weekend with the Pontiac
Firebird that Del Worsham won two national events with. The
Monte Carlo body that the CSK-sponsored driver previously utilized
on his flopper suffered minor damage in last weekend’s
Englishtown fire. The body was in the pits minus the sponsor’s
SATURDAY - SCELZI
RACES TO CAREER-BEST TIME TO EARN NO. 1 POSITION IN FUNNY CAR
AT SEARS CRAFTSMAN NATIONALS; Russell, Anderson and Brown
also earn top qualifying positions at Gateway International Raceway
|"I think that was the worse
job of driving I've ever done in my life, but who cares"
- Gary Sclezi
(6-26-2004) - Gary Scelzi raced
to his first No. 1 qualifying effort of the season in Funny Car
Saturday night at the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals.
Darrell Russell, Greg Anderson and Antron Brown
also set track records to earn No. 1 qualifying positions in their
respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the 12th of 23
events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Eliminations
begin Sunday at 4:30 p.m. (CT).
Scelzi powered his Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T to a
track record run of 4.724 seconds at 329.50 mph at Gateway International
Raceway to lead the 16-car lineup. It was the 36th No. 1 position
of his career, 33 of which were earned during his Top Fuel career
|"It's been awhile. I don't
know if I'm more excited about qualifying No. 1 or about
the consistency we showed today." - Darrell Russell
"I think that was the worse job of driving
I've ever done in my life, but who cares," said Scelzi of
his career-best elapsed time. "When you run tracks that historically
are a bit slippery you take all the weight out of the front end
so it can get down through there. The problem is that it's harder
to steer that way because the front end is up in the air a lot
more. I was moving to the centerline and I was yanking and yanking
the steering wheel left and all of a sudden it made a big move
and I thought, 'I screwed up.' But it still ran over there and
we were able to get the number."
Russell earned the second No. 1 qualifying award
of his career in and first since the '02 season, powering his
Amato Racing Top Fuel dragster to a leading run of 4.511 at 328.54.
|"We've been a little off
our game the last three races and maybe it's in large part
to the heat we're feeling from everyone closing the gap
on us." - Greg Anderson
"It's been awhile," Russell said. "I
don't know if I'm more excited about qualifying No. 1 or about
the consistency we showed today. It just seems like everything's
coming to us right now and it's a great feeling. The guys are
working well together and Wayne (Dupuy, crew chief) is loving
this new Brad Hadman chassis. He's got the set-up right now. I
was watching every car ahead of us and I didn't really feel comfortable
until the last few pairs ran and I saw that no one was really
stepping up. You still never know with (Tony) Schumacher and he
was right next to us but we held on and we couldn't be happier."
Anderson claimed the ninth No. 1 qualifying position
of the season and 25th of his career in Pro Stock by clocking
a 6.702 at 205.26 in his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand
| "This team's been working
very, very hard and we tested again before this race. It
all paid off because I think we finally have the right set-up
for the bike. We've been making good power all year; we've
just had a hard time getting it down to the track."
- Antron Brown
"We've been a little off our game the last
three races and maybe it's in large part to the heat we're feeling
from everyone closing the gap on us," Anderson said. "It's
certainly got us to thinking and we've been trying some different
things. It's really starting to get fun out there for all of us.
The class is better all the way around."
Brown took his seventh career top qualifying award
in Pro Stock Bike with a 7.086 at 187.68 on his U.S. Army Suzuki.
"That was great back-to-back runs for this
U.S. Army team," said Brown, also the top qualifier at Gateway
in 2001. "This team's been working very, very hard and we
tested again before this race. It all paid off because I think
we finally have the right set-up for the bike. We've been making
good power all year; we've just had a hard time getting it down
to the track."
First-round pairings for professional eliminations
Sunday for the Eighth annual Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at
Gateway International Raceway, the 12th of 23 events in the $50
million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results
in qualifying, which ended Saturday.
Top Fuel -- 1. Darrell Russell,
4.511 seconds, 328.54 mph vs. 16. T.J. Zizzo, 4.724, 313.37; 2.
David Grubnic, 4.524, 325.22 vs. 15. Scott Weis, 4.692, 316.45;
3. Brandon Bernstein, 4.539, 327.19 vs. 14. Brady Kalivoda, 4.676,
323.12; 4. Tony Schumacher, 4.547, 326.24 vs. 13. Doug Herbert,
4.671, 311.63; 5. Doug Kalitta, 4.554, 327.03 vs. 12. John Smith,
4.656, 319.37; 6. Larry Dixon, 4.556, 318.84 vs. 11. Rhonda Hartman-Smith,
4.631, 319.82; 7. Bob Vandergriff, 4.586, 321.81 vs. 10. Bruce
Litton, 4.631, 321.12; 8. Cory McClenathan, 4.588,\ 319.82 vs.
9. Scott Kalitta, 4.589, 326.48.
Funny Car -- 1. Gary Scelzi, Dodge
Stratus, 4.724, 329.50 vs. 16. Tony Pedregon, Chevy Monte Carlo,
4.999, 302.62; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr., Monte Carlo, 4.765, 324.90
vs. 15. Jeff Arend, Chevy Corvette, 4.977, 305.77; 3. John Force,
Ford Mustang, 4.765, 318.39 vs. 14. Jim Head, Toyota Celica, 4.974,
303.57; 4. Whit Bazemore, Stratus, 4.767, 326.48 vs. 13. Del Worsham,
Monte Carlo, 4.965, 299.33; 5. Cruz Pedregon, Monte Carlo, 4.800,
321.81 vs. 12. Phil Burkart, Pontiac Firebird, 4.946, 296.63;
6. Gary Densham, Mustang, 4.800, 320.81 vs. 11. Bob Gilbertson,
Chevy Camaro, 4.929, 314.09; 7. Eric Medlen, Mustang, 4.806, 319.52
vs. 10. Ron Capps, Monte Carlo, 4.900, 313.44; 8. Jerry Toliver,
Celica, 4.883, 314.02 vs. 9. Tim Wilkerson, Monte Carlo, 4.895,
Pro Stock -- 1. Greg Anderson,
Pontiac Grand Am, 6.702, 205.41 vs. 16. Mike Edwards, Grand Am,
6.767, 203.77; 2. Steve Johns, Chevy Cavalier, 6.710, 206.07 vs.
15. Troy Coughlin, Cavalier, 6.767, 203.25; 3. Jason Line, Grand
Am, 6.718, 204.45 vs. 14. V. Gaines, Dodge Stratus, 6.766, 204.23;
4. Dave Connolly, Cavalier, 6.720, 205.63 vs. 13. Kurt Johnson,
Cavalier, 6.766, 204.42; 5. Larry Morgan, Stratus, 6.736, 203.37
vs. 12. Rickie Smith, Cavalier, 6.763, 203.55; 6. Jeg Coughlin,
Cavalier, 6.745, 204.42 vs. 11. Jim Yates, Grand Am, 6.758, 202.97;
7. Kenny Koretsky, Stratus, 6.745, 204.42 vs. 10. Bruce Allen,
Grand Am, 6.755, 204.08; 8. Warren Johnson, Grand Am, 6.750, 204.29
vs. 9. Allen Johnson, Stratus, 6.751, 204.08.
Pro Stock Bike -- 1. Antron Brown,
Suzuki, 7.086, 187.68 vs. 16. Tommy Grimes Jr, Suzuki, 7.220,
184.37; 2. Craig Treble, Suzuki, 7.113, 185.87 vs. 15. GT Tonglet,
Harley-Davidson, 7.201, 185.41; 3. Angelle Savoie, Suzuki, 7.152,
186.61 vs. 14. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.201, 186.98; 4.
Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.165, 185.43 vs. 13. Chip Hunter, Suzuki,
7.187, 186.07; 5. Shawn Gann, Suzuki, 7.166, 186.12 vs. 12. Mike
Berry, Suzuki, 7.186, 184.42; 6. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 7.174,
185.77 vs. 11. Blaine Hale, Suzuki, 7.185, 185.03; 7. Matt Smith,
Suzuki, 7.175, 184.42 vs. 10. Josh Helvie, Kawasaki, 7.183, 183.62;
8. Fred Collis, 7.177, 181.54 vs. 9. Geno Scali, Suzuki, 7.180,
SATURDAY NOTES - Scelzi's
on top today, Force's schedule all out of whack and Glidden's
inspiration for WJ?
Sell Zee's on Top - The HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge
Stratus is rocketing down the quarter-mile again. Gary Scelzi
collected his first No. 1 Funny Car qualifying spot of 2004 tonight,
at the same time as he destroyed his own E.T. and speed track
records from last night with a spectacular 4.724-second pass at
329.50 mph under cool and dry conditions. This was also Scelzi's
career-best Funny Car elapsed time, and the speed surpassed the
Top Fuel track record, set in yesterday's second round of qualifying,
of 328.54 mph.
"When you come to places like this and normally
it's slippery," he said, "we take weight out of the
front end. And all we had was an empty weight bar in there. This
thing left so hard, it had like an .880 60-ft. (increment), which
is one of our best. And it just ran incredible incrementals all
the way through.
"The front end was light and it was moving
over to the centerline and I was just yanking it left, yanking
it left. It really wasn't coming back to where I wanted it to.
Then when I got out there past half track it made a big move to
the left and I thought, Oh no, too much. It was a handful. I wasn't
able to enjoy the run because I was so busy trying not to run
"It's just so exciting. The build-up before
the run (was incredible). (John) Force comes by and he goes, Scelzi
I'm going 4.71. You're going to be upset or I'm going to the burn
center, he says. Either way you're going to be sad when I'm done
with you. He came down there tonight and congratulated me after
my run. It's just funny because everybody was going to beat that
(from last night), and we were too. (Whit) Bazemore made his run(4.767/326.48)
and we knew what his incrementals were, so we knew how hard we
could hit it, where we could hit it.
Buell's fine with Collis –
The NHRA mandated rule change adding 40-pounds to the Harley Davidson
V-Rods and NHRA-accepted American push rod V-Twins up to 160 cid
(such as the G2/S&S/Star Racing Buell) went into effect at
this weekend’s NHRA Sears Craftsman Nationals.
After two of four qualifying sessions with the additional
weight in place, Fred Collis drove the G2/S&S/Star Racing
Buell, powered by an S&S Cycle V-Twin, to a No. 23 qualifying
position as the first day of qualifying ended.
After using the first qualifying session on Friday
as a test session to ensure that the additional weight was distributed
properly, Collis recorded a pass of 7.317 seconds at 177.09 mph
in his first full run down the Gateway International Raceway quarter-mile
during today’s evening session.
I love riding the Buell,” said Collis. “It’s
coming around. The bike's going real straight and it’s fun
to ride. It’s a good piece of equipment.”
“I want to be on the bike that gives me the
best elapsed time, but it looks like with all the testing we’ve
done and competing in national events the Buell is coming around.
It has so much potential and is definitely the bike for the future,”
Collis qualified in the top half of the field
Force's Dilemma - "This schedule screws
me up because I got too much sleep and not enough Budweiser at
night." - John Force following a Saturday qualifying run
That Sucketh - Not only did Jason
Line suffer breakage against Stevie Johns in the final qualifying
session, but he had a front row seat as Johns passed him in the
Tire Woes - Tony Pedregon's efforts
may be hampered by his crew's inability to get a full handle on
the new tire.
“We’re having some issues with this
new tire and we’re dealing with tire shake early,"
explained Dickie Venables, crew chief. “The sidewalls on
the tires are stiffer and we went one way with the set up and
feel like we need to go the other way now. We’ll get it
dialed in for tomorrow and be ready to go.”
“I’m confident that we’ll get
this tire situation handled,” added Pedregon. “It’s
something I’m sure Dickie will figure out and we’ll
be set to go. I’m looking forward to racing tomorrow and
going some rounds.”
A good cause - CMKXtreme Racing
team members Jeff Arend and Connie Cohen visited St. Louis Shriners
Hospital prior to the race Friday morning, meeting with over 50
children. Arend and Cohen distributed CMKXtreme souvenirs, signed
autographs and spent several hours talking about NHRA Drag Racing
with the children and their grateful parents.
Sign of the times - You know things
are getting a little wierd when you see Bob Glidden walking with
Warren Johnson with his arm around the professor and appearing
to be giving a pep talk. It must have worked because Johnson broke
a qualifying drought by ending up 8th.
Did you know? - Although Greg Anderson
has been low in 25 events, this marked the first time that it
has ever been in St. Louis.
Unpopular Occupation - "When
it comes to the grand scheme of things, you wouldn't want to have
to make a living as a foam block." - Announcer Alan Reinhart
following Top Fuel racer Bruce Litton's wheelstanding run that
took out several blocks.
Publicity award - During an interview
over the PA, ESPN's Cold Pizza Kit Hoover uttered, "What's
that Bernstein kid's name?"
FRIDAY - RUSSELL,
SCELZI, ANDERSON AND TREBLE LEAD QUALIFYING FRIDAY AT THE SEARS
CRAFTSMAN NHRA NATIONALS
|Darrell Russell was the quickest in
Top Fuel after the first day.
(6-25-2004) - Darrell Russell raced
to the qualifying lead in Top Fuel Friday with a career-best run
at the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International
Gary Scelzi, Greg Anderson and Craig Treble also
were leaders Friday at the $1.8 million race, the 12th of 23 events
in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Unseasonably cool temperatures at the midwest drag
strip combined with a nighttime race schedule to produce track
record performances in three of the four pro categories. Qualifying
continues Saturday at 5 p.m. for Sunday's 4:30 p.m. eliminations.
Russell clocked a track records for time and speed
with a pass of 4.511 seconds at 328.54 mph in his Amato Racing
dragster to pace the 16-car lineup.
"We're plenty happy," Russell said. "To
go home tonight knowing we're on top of the heap with a career-best
to boot is pretty special, even if it's just for one night. I
don't know if it will be this cool tomorrow so we might hold on
to the top spot. I guess we'll have to see."
Australian David Grubnic was second with a 4.524
at 325.22 in the Kalitta Air dragster, while Brandon Bernstein
was third in the Budwesier/Lucas Oil dragster, posting a 4.539
Russell has one No. 1 qualifying position during
his career, set at Pomona, (Calif.) Raceway's '02 Auto Club Finals.
He would like to add another tomorrow and continue his recent
momentum, which includes a victory at Columbus, Ohio two weeks
ago and a semifinal effort last weekend at Englishtown, N.J.
"The car pulled the front wheels up right at
the hit and then every time the clutch levers came in it pulled
it back up again," Russell said. "We definitely took
advantage of being at the back of the pack. One, we were able
to watch all the other cars. Two, it got cooler and cooler as
the round went along. Having a good first lap paid dividends because
we were positioned at the back tonight."
|Gary Scelzi established a track record
en route to capturing the provisional Funny Car pole.
Scelzi clocked a track record run of 4.758 at 329.34
in his Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T to earn the provisional No. 1
spot in Funny Car.
"We don't get to run at night like this very
much and to be in St. Louis and have the opportunity to absolutely
stand on it is almost unheard of," Scelzi said. "I'd
say this track will hold just about anything you throw at it.
We had a good run early so that allowed us to go for it tonight.
It's exciting racing at night. There's flames coming out of each
window, and you have to kind of guide yourself by the scoreboards
and the walls. It's not boring. By the time we get to Sunday and
get past the first round it might be the kind of race people will
talk about for a long time. It could really be something special."
Tommy Johnson Jr. was second in the order with a
career-best effort of 4.765 at 324.90 in his Skoal Chevy Monte
Carlo. Scelzi teammate Whit Bazemore was third in his Matco Tools
Dodge Stratus with a 4.788 at 324.20.
Anderson led Pro Stock, posting a track record run
of 6.702 at 205.26 in his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand
Am. His elapsed time was the fifth quickest in NHRA history for
"It's business as usual, I guess," Anderson
said. "We saw better air tonight here than ever before. If
it were another three or four degrees cooler then we'd be in range
of running national record-type numbers. This track is that good
when the conditions are right. It's neat and a lot of fun."
Treble paced Pro Stock Bike on his Matco Tools Suzuki,
clocking a 7.139 at 185.87.
"This track is awesome," Treble said.
"It's smooth and sticky with a long shutdown area. I race
here a lot and I've always loved it. I love it even more right
Friday's qualifying results for the eighth annual
Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International Raceway,
12th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing
Series. Qualifying continues Saturday for Sunday's final eliminations.
Top Fuel -- 1. Darrell Russell,
4.511 seconds, 328.54 mph; 2. David Grubnic, 4.524, 325.22; 3.
Brandon Bernstein, 4.539, 327.19; 4. Tony Schumacher, 4.547, 326.24;
5. Larry Dixon, 4.571, 318.09; 6. Bob Vandergriff, 4.586, 321.81;
7. Cory McClenathan, 4.588, 319.82; 8. Scott Kalitta, 4.589, 326.48;
9. Doug Kalitta, 4.599, 325.92; 10. Bruce Litton, 4.631, 321.12;
11. Rhonda Hartman-Smith, 4.635, 319.29; 12. John Smith, 4.656,
319.37; 13. Brady Kalivoda, 4.676, 323.12; 14. Scott Palmer, 4.738,
301.87; 15. Scott Weis, 4.747, 304.53; 16. T.J. Zizzo, 4.776,
Funny Car -- 1. Gary Scelzi, Dodge
Stratus, 4.758, 329.34; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr., Chevy Monte Carlo,
4.765, 324.90; 3. Whit Bazemore, Stratus, 4.788, 324.20; 4. Cruz
Pedregon, Monte Carlo, 4.810, 320.51; 5. John Force, Ford Mustang,
4.873, 318.39; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Monte Carlo, 4.895, 311.63; 7.
Bob Gilbertson, Chevy Camaro, 4.929, 308.00; 8. Eric Medlen, Mustang,
4.935, 310.05; 9. Phil Burkart, Pontiac Firebird, 4.946, 259.76;
10. Ron Capps, Monte Carlo, 4.950, 313.44; 11. Gary Densham, Mustang,
4.955, 297.48; 12. Del Worsham, Monte Carlo, 4.965, 299.33; 13.
Jeff Arend, Chevy Corvette, 4.977, 305.77; 14. Tony Bartone, Camaro,
5.043, 286.98; 15. Keith Jackson, Firebird, 5.282, 220.94; 16.
Jerry Toliver, Toyota Celica, 5.371, 195.85.
Pro Stock -- 1. Greg Anderson,
Pontiac Grand Am, 6.702, 205.26; 2. Jason Line, Grand Am, 6.718,
204.45; 3. Dave Connolly, Chevy Cavalier, 6.724, 205.60; 4. Steve
Johns, Cavalier, 6.726, 205.22; 5. Larry Morgan, Dodge Stratus,
6.736, 203.37; 6. Jeg Coughlin, Cavalier, 6.745, 204.42; 7. Kenny
Koretsky, Stratus, 6.745, 204.42; 8. Allen Johnson, Stratus, 6.751,
204.08; 9. Bruce Allen, Grand Am, 6.755, 204.08; 10. Troy Coughlin,
Cavalier, 6.767, 203.25; 11. Mike Edwards, Grand Am, 6.769, 203.34;
12. Rickie Smith, Cavalier, 6.771, 203.55; 13. JR Carr, Cavalier,
6.785, 203.06; 14. Jim Yates, Grand Am, 6.786, 202.24; 15. V.
Gaines, Stratus, 6.789, 202.85; 16. Ron Krisher, Cavalier, 6.791,
Pro Stock Bike -- 1. Craig Treble,
Suzuki, 7.139, 185.87; 2. Antron Brown, Suzuki, 7.143, 185.59;
3. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 7.174, 185.77; 4. Shawn Gann, Suzuki,
7.178, 185.05; 5. Geno Scali, Suzuki, 7.183, 184.95; 6. Steve
Johnson, Suzuki, 7.196, 182.85; 7. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson,
7.202, 183.99; 8. Blaine Hale, Suzuki, 7.207, 184.04; 9. GT Tonglet,
Harley-Davidson, 7.208, 184.17; 10. Josh Helvie, Kawasaki, 7.211,
182.65; 11. Tommy Grimes Jr, Suzuki, 7.220, 184.37; 12. Mike Berry,
Suzuki, 7.224, 183.22; 13. Kurt Matte, Suzuki, 7.233, 184.55;
14. Matthew Smith, Suzuki, 7.234, 181.54; 15. Angelle Savoie,
Suzuki, 7.244, 184.37; 16. Chip Hunter, Suzuki, 7.267, 184.22.
FRIDAY NOTES - Records
fall early, the Harley VRods and their weight and WJ unqualified…
|Brandon Bernstein threw out the first
pitch during the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs game
on Thursday evening. (Jim Compton Photo)
(6-24-2004) - Pro Stock track records hit
early – Jason Line hit the record books early in
the first session. The hired gun for defending POWERade Pro Stock
champion Greg Anderson leapt to the top of the field with both
ends of the Gateway track record with a 6.742 at 204.11.
A Few pounds – How much did
the NHRA tech department’s decision to add weight to the
Harley-Davidsons affect them? After the first session, the Buells
and V-Rods accounted for positions 25 – 29. The only problem
with that was only 29 bikes are in attendance.
Another career? – Brandon
Bernstein was the special guest of the St. Louis Cardinals on
Thursday evening. His task? Bernstein threw out the first pitch
for Thursday’s game versus the Chicago Cubs.
Joe Buck, of the FOX network, interviewed Bernstein
later for the television broadcast. Buck had something in common
with Bernstein as both are following in the footsteps of their
fathers. Buck’s father Jack was a famous broadcaster while
Bernstein’s was Kenny, the legendary drag racer.
The pitch? It almost made it to the catcher but
one-hopped into the catcher’s mitt.
More Bernstein – This weekend’s
event marks the first time that Bernstein has ever raced Top Fuel
in St. Louis.
The WJ Watch – Headed into
Saturday’s qualifying Warren Johnson is on the outside looking
in. He failed to qualify in Englishtown.
Body was low. – Tony Pedregon
missed his first qualifying attempt when he experienced problems
staging opposite of Tommy Johnson, Jr. Pedregon was given a time-out
on the starting line by starter Rick Stewart. The diagnosis according
to team publicist Jennifer Chestnut was that the body was too
low to the ground. The incident came following an extensive downtime
when the infra-red sensors. The incidents were not related.
Quotable – “I’m
not exactly a George Bryce fan, but I do feel sorry for the guy
now.” – Craig Treble in reference to the latest rules
adjustments placing more weight on the Harley-Davidson Pro Stockers.