POMONA, Calif. — With just two pairs of dragster left in the session, Cory McClenathan regained the top spot on the Top Fuel ladder Saturday during the final round of qualifying for Sunday’s 50th annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Defending series champs Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) remained No. 1 qualifiers thanks to their strong passes in Thursday’s session for NHRA’s season-opening event.
McClenathan had paced the Top Fuel class after Thursday’s first round of qualifying, but Larry Dixon’s passes in the second and third rounds on Friday and early Saturday afternoon bumped the Fram dragster from the No. 1 spot. However, in the final minutes of Saturday’s fourth session, “Cory Mac” posted a 3.787-second, 320.05-mile per hour pass, only slightly faster than Larry Dixon’s run of 3.788 e.t./317.79 mph in the final pair of the evening.
McClenathan will face No. 16 qualifier Steve Faira during the first round of eliminations Sunday.
In Funny Car, Hight hung on for his 33rd-career No. 1 qualifying spot with his Thursday showing of 4.059 e.t./312.86 mph in the Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang. Neither of his Saturday passes (4.103 e.t./307.58 mph and 7.291 e.t./89.44 mph) did anything to rival his initial qualifying run, and Hight will line up against two-time world champion Cruz Pedregon Sunday.
Just like last season, Edwards continued to lead the Pro Stock class, sweeping the bonus qualifying points en route to his 10th-straight pole. Though his first-round time of 6.578 e.t./211.00 mph remained best of the field, Edwards’s Penhall/Interstate/K&N Pontiac GXP was consistently the quickest car on track in each qualifying session. Edwards will face Justin Humphreys in the first round of Pro Stock competition Sunday.