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Keeping Pace

SATURDAY, MAY 30, 2009, 12:15 A.M.


 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)

John Force Racing NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car driver, Ashley Force Hood, grabbed the top spot in Friday's NHRA qualifying session for the 21st Annual O'Reilly Summer Nationals.

Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

TOPEKA, Kan. – Ashley Force Hood held off her father and NHRA legend John Force to claim the provisional No. 1 spot in Funny Car at the 21st annual O’Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.

Antron Brown and Mike Edwards also took the provisional top spots in their respective categories at the ninth of 24 events on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.

Force Hood drove her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to a 4.107-second pass at 295.59 mph to become the provisional top qualifier in Funny Car. If it stands it would be Force Hood’s third No. 1 qualifier of the season, sixth of her career and second consecutive No. 1 qualifier after taking the No. 1 qualifier two weeks ago in Bristol.

 “I don’t know what Ron (Douglas) and ‘Guido’ (Dean Antonelli, crew chiefs) were pushing to run,” said Force Hood. “I know that they made the decision that they wanted to push it, so it was just like, ‘If it can go A-to-B, I think it will be a really great run, and it will have to be in one of the top spots.’ I was surprised that it was as quick as it was because it was a very smooth run and usually the good runs are like scary runs, like you think the car is blowing up or something. It ran right through there, and I thought, ‘Well, that was a good run,’ but I was surprised when they told me on the radio it ran a .10.”

Defending event winner John Force is currently second while current points leader and two-time Topeka winner Ron Capps is in the sixth spot.

            In Top Fuel, Antron Brown drove his Matco Tools dragster to a 3.841 at 315.71 to take the provisional No. 1 spot. If it stands, it would be Brown’s third No. 1 qualifier of the season and 17th of his career.

            “The run went perfect,” said Brown. “The conditions were changed dramatically with the sun going down. The track temp went down about 20 to 25 degrees from the earlier session, so we knew it was pretty stout. We went for a top three spot. The car was a little on the edge here and there, but it stuck right down there.”

            Current points leader Tony Schumacher is currently sitting in the third spot while third-place points driver and 2007 Topeka winner, Brandon Bernstein, is just behind him in fourth.

            Picking up where he left off in Bristol, Pro Stock driver Mike Edwards followed up his win at Thunder Valley with the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Topeka. Edwards drove his ART Pontiac GXP to a 6.674 at 206.29. If it stands, it would be Edwards fifth No. 1 qualifier of the season, 11th of his career and first at Topeka.

            “I’m living a dream right now with the way my car is running and how my team is performing,” said Edwards. “It seems like once you start jelling you go up there with confidence. I think you always have a little bit of doubt, but if you can go up there with 75 percent feeling good about the setup it’s better than going up there with 25 percent.”

            Current points leader and defending world champion Jeg Coughlin is currently in the sixth spot, while defending event winner Ron Krisher is just one spot ahead in the fifth position.

            Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 11:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday’s eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.