Midway Through Qualifying, TF Points Leader Fuller Not Qualified

Provisional No. 1?s are JR Todd, Jeff Arend, Richie Stevens and Chip Ellis

POMONA, Calif. — Countdown to 1 Top Fuel points leader “Hot Rod” Fuller may be
in for a sleepless night as he remains unqualified at the midway point of time trials at
the 43rd annual Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Finals.

Should Fuller fail to qualify, he could be caught by any of the other three drivers ?
Larry Dixon, Brandon Bernstein and Tony Schumacher ? still alive in the title chase.
But the Las Vegas-based racer shrugged off the pressure while watching J.R. Todd
stay No. 1 in Top Fuel to join Jeff Arend, Richie Stevens, and Chip Ellis on the Day 2
provisional low qualifiers podium.

“Everyone’s asking me if I’m panicking and I’m really not,” Fuller said. “We just
had some little gremlins in there today but I know we’ll be fine. We have a great race
team over here. I think everyone else is way more worried about us than we are.”

The Countdown to 1, the two-race championship round of the NHRA Playoffs,
began last weekend at Las Vegas and it concludes this weekend in Pomona. ESPN2
will show qualifying highlights Saturday night at 7 & 11 p.m. ET and final
eliminations will be televised Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.

Dropped cylinders and tire smoke ended Fuller?s Friday run early while
simultaneously pegging his stress meter as the POWERade series roars to its
conclusion at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. He’ll have two more chances to make
the cut on Saturday in his Caterpillar dragster.

Fuller has only once this season come to the track on Saturday without a qualified
run and on that occasion, at Sonoma in July, he delivered a No. 3-qualifying run on his
third qualifying pass. Temperatures are expected to be at or slightly above 90
degrees Saturday with Top Fuel qualifying runs scheduled at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

An hour or so after announcing a new deal that will pair him with good friend
Morgan Lucas in 2008, Todd returned to the pressroom as Friday’s low qualifier. Todd
didn’t improve on his opening pass of 4.521 at 328.22 mph after smoking the tires of
his Skull Shine dragster, but no one else managed to pass him so he retained the top

“I’m excited about our announcement and joining Morgan over there with that
second car of his,” Todd said. “John Stewart has that car running great. In my
opinion, it’s been the best car in the sport since the Countdown deal started.
Hopefully next year we can get in that deal again and make another run. It’ll be great
if we can help Morgan get his first win also.

“The track’s not as good today as it was yesterday. We ran a little later in the day
Thursday and that probably made a difference. I think we were probably a little too
aggressive and smoked the tires but we got lucky and no one went around us.”

Brandon Bernstein remains the quickest of the Countdown to 1 racers, dropping
one position to fourth place with his Round 1 pass of 4.529 in his Budweiser rail. Tony
Schumacher is now seventh with a best of 4.544 in his U.S. Army dragster while Larry
Dixon in ninth with a 4.572 in the SkyTel dragster.

Friday’s slightly increased temperatures kept the nitro racers in check, which
meant Arend was able to hold onto the top spot in Funny Car with his first round time
of 4.781 at 324.90 mph in his blue Checker, Schuck’s, Kragen Chevrolet Impala SS.
“Things are looking pretty good for us,” Arend said. “It’s supposed to be a little
warmer tomorrow so if someone can come out there and run quicker than a 4.78,
more power to them.

“My mom, Sylvie Arend, flew out here from Toronto to watch me race. She’s never
seen me race in person and she is really impressed with the action and the facility
here. She was surprised at how loud it was and she watched from the suites in Round
1 and really enjoyed herself. I think she’s really proud of me and that’s cool.”

Holding onto his fleeting championship hopes, Ron Capps posted the best run of
the day in his Brut Dodge Charger, a 4.812 at 323.50 mph, which moved him up to
fourth place. That displaced teammate and fellow title hopeful Gary Scelzi to fifth
with a best of 4.813 in his Mopar/Oakley Dodge. Currently third in the points, Robert
Hight is ninth here with a 4.827 in his Auto Club of Southern California Ford

Funny Car leader Tony Pedregon, who can only be caught if he fails to qualify for
the event, is 12th with a 4.847 in his Q Horsepower Chevrolet Impala SS. There are
14 drivers capable of moving Pedregon down at this point.

While the big dogs in the Pro Stock Countdown to 1 battle for position and
qualifying points, Stevens snuck by them all and into the No. 1 qualifying position
with a 6.665 at 206.76 mph in his Mopar Dodge Stratus R/T. Stevens also was told by
team owner Don Schumacher that his deal will carry on next year.

“So far, so good,” Stevens said. “We’ve finally got this thing running good in
qualifying. Now we need to translate that over to raceday. It’s nice to go out there
and throw a curveball at those guys in the top four. The reality is we’re all trying to
win traces, whether it’s now or at the start of the year; every race is another chance
to win.

“We never really got it together this year for long periods of time. When I was off
the car was working good and when the car was off I was driving great. We’re looking
forward to carrying these strong performances from the end of this year over to

The points leader until the last race in Las Vegas, Dave Connolly came back to life
Friday with a second-best 6.667 at 207.43 mph in the Torco/Seelye Wright Chevrolet
Cobalt. Vegas winner Greg Anderson was next with a 6.673 at 207.02 mph in his
Summit Racing Pontiac GTO.

Stevens’ teammate, Allen Johnson, is fifth with a 6.678 in his Mopar Dodge Stratus
R/T, while Thursday leader Jeg Coughlin dropped to eighth in his Chevrolet
Cobalt when he failed to improve on his Round 1 pass of 6.689.

Ellis’s move to the top of the Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying sheet was important
as it closes the gap between Ellis and No. 1 points earner Andrew Hines to less than
two rounds of action. The rider of the Drag Specialties S&S Buell V-Twin has been low
qualifier at the last four races in a row.

“One run a day makes for a long day,” Ellis said. “I’m just glad to be here and glad
to be No. 1 again. Yesterday we had the same motor in there from Las Vegas and it
was a motor that was capable of winning. The only reason we didn’t was because the
rider screwed up and short-shifted in the final round. But we still didn’t think it was
our best motor so we switched it out. I just want to turn on win lights; the best thing is for me to race him early and try
to take him out. I’m ready for this. I’ve never felt more ready to race in my life. The
pressure is not on me, it’s on Andrew. I’m second. He’s the one that is expected to
win. That’s Larry Dixon’s line but I’m stealing it because I like it.”

Countdown to 1 participant Matt Smith made the biggest move of the day, coming
from out of contention to the No. 2 spot overall on his Torco Buell. Thursday leader
Angelle Sampey improved to a 6.973 at 188.94 mph but dropped to third on her U.S.
Army Suzuki.

Hines and Peggy Llewellyn stayed in the mix with Hines running a 6.996 on his
Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson V-Rod and Llewellyn a 7.003 on her Rush Racing
Products Buell V-Twin

* * * * * * * * * * * *
POMONA, Calif. — Results Friday after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 43nd annual
Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, final of 23 events
in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final

Top Fuel — 1. J.R. Todd, 4.521 seconds, 328.22 mph; 2. David Baca, 4.523, 329.50; 3. Melanie Troxel,
4.525, 326.87; 4. Brandon Bernstein, 4.529, 329.83; 5. Doug Foley, 4.540, 330.72; 6. Bob Vandergriff,
4.543, 324.51; 7. Tony Schumacher, 4.544, 323.04; 8. Cory McClenathan, 4.566, 321.50; 9. Larry Dixon,
4.572, 323.50; 10. Hillary Will, 4.573, 328.94; 11. Doug Herbert, 4.574, 314.83; 12. David Grubnic,
4.574, 313.73; 13. Morgan Lucas, 4.576, 325.45; 14. Alan Bradshaw, 4.589, 324.36; 15. Doug Kalitta,
4.593, 322.96; 16. Scotty Cannon, 4.600, 317.64.

Not Qualified: 17. Joe Hartley, 4.608, 321.81; 18. Rod Fuller, 4.643, 265.85; 19. Clay Millican, 4.764,
320.66; 20. Mike Strasburg, 4.806, 241.84; 21. Urs Erbacher, 4.849, 297.88; 22. Steven Chrisman,
5.019, 287.11.

Funny Car — 1. Jeff Arend, Chevy Impala, 4.781, 324.90; 2. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.786,
320.89; 3. Kenny Bernstein, Charger, 4.804, 322.19; 4. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.812, 323.50; 5. Gary
Scelzi, Charger, 4.813, 319.98; 6. Phil Burkart, Ford Mustang, 4.813, 319.98; 7. Mike Neff, Mustang,
4.819, 322.27; 8. Ashley Force, Mustang, 4.819, 308.35; 9. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.827, 316.45; 10.
Tony Bartone, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.831, 308.07; 11. Tim Wilkerson, Impala, 4.840, 305.22; 12. Tony
Pedregon, Impala, 4.847, 315.49; 13. Tommy Johnson Jr., Impala, 4.856, 318.62; 14. Jerry Toliver, Toyota
Solara, 4.869, 320.36; 15. Scott Kalitta, Solara, 4.876, 323.12; 16. Grant Downing, Pontiac Firebird,
4.917, 286.19.

Not Qualified: 17. Bob Gilbertson, 4.959, 302.08; 18. Cruz Pedregon, 4.977, 303.64; 19. Jim Head, 5.008,
244.29; 20. Bob Bode, 5.067, 302.48; 21. James Day, 5.198, 265.90; 22. Mike Ashley, 5.205, 222.69; 23.
Peter Russo, 5.799, 183.22; 24. Del Worsham, 7.384, 113.84; 25. Gary Densham, 8.199, 113.87; 26.
Terry Haddock, 8.380, 109.14.

Pro Stock — 1. Richie Stevens, Dodge Stratus, 6.665, 206.76; 2. Dave Connolly, Chevy Cobalt, 6.667,
207.43; 3. Greg Anderson, Pontiac GTO, 6.673, 207.18; 4. Jason Line, GTO, 6.675, 207.98; 5. Allen
Johnson, Stratus, 6.678, 207.27; 6. Ron Krisher, Cobalt, 6.679, 206.57; 7. Larry Morgan, Stratus, 6.682,
206.80; 8. Jeg Coughlin, Cobalt, 6.689, 207.82; 9. Kurt Johnson, Cobalt, 6.692, 206.73; 10. Max Naylor,
Stratus, 6.692, 205.60; 11. Greg Stanfield, GTO, 6.694, 206.89; 12. Warren Johnson, GTO, 6.695, 207.34;
13. Justin Humphreys, GTO, 6.699, 207.11; 14. Craig Hankinson, GTO, 6.705, 206.07; 15. V. Gaines,
Stratus, 6.710, 206.48; 16. Kenny Koretsky, Cobalt, 6.722, 205.72.

Not Qualified: 17. Jim Yates, 6.727, 205.41; 18. Mike Edwards, 6.732, 206.07; 19. Tom Hammonds, 6.737,
205.13; 20. Tommy Brown, 6.761, 205.38; 21. Ben Watson, 6.761, 204.11; 22. Gordie Rivera, 6.779,
202.64; 23. Todd Hoerner, 6.804, 204.57; 24. Bob Panella, 14.026, 62.24.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.965, 191.46; 2. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.968, 189.76; 3. Angelle
Sampey, Suzuki, 6.973, 190.40; 4. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.995, 189.58; 5. Andrew Hines,
Harley-Davidson, 6.996, 190.75; 6. Peggy Llewellyn, Buell, 7.003, 188.10; 7. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki,
7.015, 190.24; 8. Craig Treble, Suzuki, 7.033, 191.43; 9. Hector Arana, Buell, 7.035, 190.30; 10. Antron
Brown, Suzuki, 7.035, 187.68; 11. Chris Rivas, Buell, 7.035, 188.65; 12. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.049,
188.89; 13. Matt Guidera, Buell, 7.070, 187.36; 14. Geno Scali, Suzuki, 7.096, 189.39; 15. Shawn Gann,
Suzuki, 7.101, 187.68; 16. Junior Pippin, Buell, 7.102, 183.92.

Not Qualified: 17. Mike Berry, 7.129, 185.51; 18. Michael Phillips, 7.145, 185.61; 19. Michael Ray, 7.170,
181.23; 20. Ryan Schnitz, 7.375, 178.76; 21. Freddie Camarena, 11.096, 73.36.

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