Two-time NHRA Funny Car world champion Cruz Pedregon raced to the qualifying lead Friday at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Royal Purple Raceway.
Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were qualifying leaders at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event near Houston.
Pedregon powered his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry to the top of the Funny Car qualifying field during the evening session with his pass of 4.103 seconds at 305.29 mph, a run that Pedregon almost didn’t complete.
“We almost didn’t run because the reverser lever fell off in my hand; I threw it out the window,” Pedregon said. “Lee Beard [crew chief] didn’t know what to do with it. I’m just glad we got it in 1st gear because we really made a nice run.”
Pedregon’s Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry team struggled in the beginning of the season, but Pedregon believes that the team is finally coming together. If he holds on to the No. 1 spot through Saturday’s qualifying sessions, it will be his second of the season and 32nd of his career.
“Our car is coming around; I feel it in my bones,” Pedregon said. “We should have won the last race, but the driver let us down. We should have run a 4.07 on that run, but it dropped a cylinder. I know the time is coming when we can run with anybody.”
In Top Fuel, Lucas posted a 3.772 at 327.74 in his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster to earn the qualifying lead. If Lucas holds on to the top spot, it will be his fourth of the season and seventh of his career. Several dragsters hit the 3.77-second mark during the exciting session, including second-place Steve Torrence, Spencer Massey, and Tony Schumacher.
“All I could think of when it left the line so aggressively was, ‘God, please let this thing stick,’ ” Lucas said. “We’re really fortunate to have the team that we do right now. It’s a good way to bounce back from what we did in Charlotte [first-round loss].”
In Pro Stock, Johnson drove his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger to the provisional No. 1 spot with his pass of 6.545 at 211.73.
“The air got about 300 feet better, and the track cooled down about 20 degrees, so that was good for us,” Johnson said. “We left a little bit on the table, but we were consistent. The morning qualifying round tomorrow could be as good or better as it was in today’s second session.”
If Johnson maintains the No. 1 position, it will be his second of the season and 18th of his career.
Pro Stock Motorcycle points leader Krawiec rode his Vance & Hines Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson to the top of the pack with his performance of 6.872 at 197.83.
“The humidity went down on the second run, and we had a pretty stout tailwind,” Krawiec said. “If we’d had that tailwind in Gainesville, I would have run 200 mph. That was about a picture-perfect run. The bike went straight, and I tucked in and motored down the track. I don’t think there was much left, maybe a few thousandths, not hundredths.”
Qualifying action continues Saturday with sessions scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Eliminations get under way Sunday at 11 a.m.
Mike Castellana powered his Al-Anabi Racing Chevy Camaro to the top of the qualifying order in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx.
The defending event winner ran low e.t. during the opening round of qualifying and held on to the top spot through the second session. If he keeps the No. 1 spot through Saturday, it will be the second of his career.
Veteran driver Rickie Smith trails Castellana with his 5.930, 242.15 pass, and Danny Rowe sits third with a 5.940, 245.14. Kenny Lang is fourth with a 5.960, 242.63, and Pete Farber is fifth with a 5.978, 245.32.
The final Pro Mod qualifying session will take place on Saturday at 1 p.m., with the first round of eliminations scheduled for 4 p.m.; eliminations will continue Sunday.