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Keeping Pace

Fri., June 25, 2010, 11:58 p.m.

Dixon, Coughlin, Edwards and Force Hood top Norwalk first-round qualifying

NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock driver, Jeg Coughlin. (Photo courtesy of NHRA) (The Spokesman-Review)
NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock driver, Jeg Coughlin. (Photo courtesy of NHRA) (The Spokesman-Review)

Qualifying is underway for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series stop in Norwalk, Ohio. Ashley Force Hodd, Jeg Coughlin, Larry Dixon and Mike Edwards lead their respective divisions after round one.

Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

NORWALK, Ohio – Ashley Force Hood raced to the qualifying lead in Funny Car Friday at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.


Larry Dixon, Jeg Coughlin and Steve Johnson also paced qualifying in their respective categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.


Force Hood powered her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to a track record time of 4.032 seconds at 311.99 mph to grab the top spot in the 7,000-horsepower category at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.


“The track really was perfect conditions, and everybody knew that going up there,” Force Hood said. “We were really excited that we got to run later in the pack, and we wanted to take advantage of it. It was our best run that we ever made. It felt really good. I am surprised that [Matt] Hagan (second, 4.043) and Robert [Hight] (fourth, 4.067) didn’t go around me. When I saw their flames going right down the track as we were towing back, I was like, ‘If they’re going all the way down, they’re doing it,’ but we managed to hang onto it.”



Also in Funny Car, Del Worsham posted a track speed record of 313.15 mph in his Al-Anabi Racing Toyota and is qualified sixth with a time of 4.087 seconds.


Series leader and two-time world champ Dixon was quickest in Top Fuel and posted a track record performance of 3.780 at 320.43 in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to lead his category.


“That was a great run by the Al-Anabi team,” Dixon said. “You have to bring it on Friday night to get the pole or to even get close to it. We looked at the computer data after the run, and we definitely got all of it. There wasn't much left. I'm still learning to drive this car. That was a really nice run. It’s normally a handful on really good runs. It had a lot of grip tonight, though.”



Ohio native Coughlin led Pro Stock with a track record time of 6.592 at 208.97 in his Chevy Cobalt.


“We made some good runs today,” Coughlin said. “As the track was getting cooler and the sun was going down and that full moon was blaring its head out there, the crew chiefs were back in the pits changing the Pro Stock cars. You could hear the air wrenches flying and just a lot of changes for tonight. The key to tonight was keeping the car in the center of the groove, and really, that’s something we’ve struggled with with the car, but the last four or five races, we’ve got the car running extremely straight and pretty efficient. That was key tonight, and we were able to be the only car in the 6.5s, which was stellar.”



Coughlin is one of eight drivers who will compete for the $50,000 winner’s share in the K&N Horsepower Challenge, a special bonus race for Pro Stock teams on Saturday. He is qualified fifth and will meet Jason Line in the first round.



 “This certainly gives us a little shot in the arm, heading into the $50,000-to-win K&N Horsepower Challenge,” Coughlin said. “It’s a best of the best shootout. We’ve got a tough road to hoe without question, but today’s run certainly helps us get in the right mindset for tomorrow.”



Series points leader Mike Edwards, winner of the last four races and eight this season and the No. 1 seed for the K&N Horsepower Challenge, is qualified 14th with a 6.641 at 207.88 in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP after the first day of qualifying.


In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Johnson continued his recent surge by powering his Steve Johnson Racing Suzuki to the top spot with a track record performance of 6.929 at 193.60.


“The conditions are awesome,” said Johnson, whose only career No. 1 qualifying position came back in 1995 at Atlanta Dragway. “We didn’t want to make another run because we’re on a major budget program and it was going to be hot, but with the situations that had been happening on the track, it got cooler and cooler and cooler, and it was like, ‘Hey, there’s probably going to be a better run,’ plus your first run isn’t going to be your best run. The track’s great, the weather conditions were better, and we had a good tune-up in the motorcycle to make a great run.”



Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at and The K&N Horsepower Challenge starts at noon.

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Keeping Pace

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