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Todd, Hagen top nitro fields for Autolite Nationals

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POSTED July 26, 2009 2:39 a.m.
Ideal weather conditions on Friday produced some surprises in first round qualifying for Sunday’s 22nd Annual Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals emlimations at Infineon Raceway near Sonoma as JR Todd, Matt Hagan, Ron Krisher, and Eddie Krawiec led their respective classes in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Todd, who is filling in on an interim basis behind the wheel of the Mach 1 Top Fuel dragster for Northern California native David Baca, blasted down the 1000 foot strip in 3.811 seconds to edge ran Larry Dixon by five-thousandths at 3.816 seconds.  

“I’m a little bit surprised that it held up,” admitted Todd, who in racing for just his third start of the season. “I figured that Dixon, (Tony) Schumacher, or (Antron) Brown would dip into the 3.70s. I’m looking forward to race day now.”

Brown, the leader in Top Fuel points, qualified his Matco Tools dragster in the fourth spot just behind Cory McClenathan.  Brown is attempting to become just the seventh driver in history to sweep all three races of the annual summer Western Swing that also includes the events in Denver and Seattle.

Hagan made the best run of his career, posting a 4.068 second run in his Shelor Motor Mile Dodge to earn the top spot by just a thousandth of a second over Mike Neff.

Fan favorite Ashley Force Hood, who ran 4.099, was third in Funny Car, beating her father and 14 time champion John Force, who qualified eighth at 4.13.

Although the top of both Nitro brackets remained virtually unchanged following Saturday’s pair of qualifying sessions, there were some important changes in the Pro categories.

Greg Anderson was able to snag the top spot in Pro Stock, while Funny Car points leader Ron Capps posting a 4.232 in Saturday’s fourth and final session to make the field in the 14th position. Although Capps is down on the ladder, he did become the first driver in Funny Car to clinch a spot in the Countdown to 1 playoffs.

Final eliminations for Sunday’s 22nd annual Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals will begin at 11 AM. ESPN2 will televise on a same day delayed basis beginning at 6:30 PM.   

Manteca’s Scott Speed qualified his #82 Red Bull Toyota in the 26th position for Sunday’s Allstate 400 at the Brickyard in Indianapolis. The race will be shown live on ESPN beginning at 10 AM.
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