NHRA: Pedregon, Langdon, McGaha and Smith all No. 1 for Gatornationals final eliminations on Sunday

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Even though he hails from Southern California, Auto-Plus Raceway in Gainesville, Fla., has become Cruz Pedregon’s home away from home.

For the fourth consecutive year and sixth time overall, Pedregon will go into Sunday’s final eliminations of the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals as the No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car.

Pedregon set a track record with a 4.022 second run at 312.13 mph Saturday to earn the No. 1 spot. The two-time Funny Car world champion is looking for his second career win at Gainesville, having won there in 1998.

“Conditions were very similar to when we ran Friday,” said Pedregon, who was the provisional No. 1 after Friday’s qualifying, as well. “We were trying to be steady today and not really try to improve the time. We figured if it was there, it was there.”

Del Worsham qualified second (4.057 seconds at 312.57 mph), while John Force qualified third (4.068 seconds at 315.19 mph).

In Top Fuel, Shawn Langdon knocked Tony Schumacher off the pole with a run of 3.765 seconds at 325.45 mph in his Alan Johnson Racing dragster.

Langdon, who won the 2013 Top Fuel championship, is seeking his second win of 2015, having won the season-opener at Pomona. He also reached the semifinals two weeks ago at Phoenix.

“We wanted to come out and make a strong run in that early session,” said Langdon, who has never won the Gatornationals. “We knew it was going to heat up for the later session today. We really felt that was the run to go after. Luckily it held and it was basically what we were trying to run.”

Spencer Massey qualified No. 2 (3.793 seconds) and set track speed record of 329.02 mph. Doug Kalitta, who won this event last year, qualified third (3.796 seconds at 323.58 mph).

Of note in Saturday’s Top Fuel sessions, three-time world champion Larry Dixon was uninjured in a spectacular crash. However, because his dragster is unable to be repaired, he will not race in Sunday’s eliminations.

In Pro Stock, Chris McGaha held on to his No. 1 run from Friday (6.507 seconds, 213.73 mph) to take the pole for Sunday’s eliminations. It was his first career pole at Gainesville and the third in his career.

But more importantly, McGaha hopes to earn the first national event win of his Pro Stock career.

“The No. 1 position is good,” McGaha said, but added, “I’ve still got to win a race, I can’t lose focus here. It’s one round at a time.”

Two-time world champ Jason Line qualified No. 2 (6.522 seconds, 212.69 mph) at 212.69 and is seeking his fifth career win at Gainesville.

Points leader Rodger Brogdon qualified No. 3 (6.526 seconds, 212.93 mph).

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, two-time world champ Matt Smith overtook Angelle Sampey, who was the provisional pole winner on Friday, with a strong run on Saturday (6.793 seconds, 197.74 mph) to go into Sunday’s eliminations as No. 1.

It was Smith’s third No. 1 at Gainesville and the 23rd of his career. In an interesting twist, Matt Smith will face fellow racer and wife Angie Smith in Sunday’s first round.

Angie beat Matt in their only prior meeting last year in New Hampshire for her first career NHRA win.

Sampey qualified No. 2 (6.872 seconds, 194.74 mph), while Eddie Krawiec was No. 3 (6.873 seconds, 195.48 mph).

Final eliminations begin Sunday at 11 am ET.

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Sunday’s first round pairings:

Top Fuel — 1. Shawn Langdon, 3.765 seconds, 325.45 mph  vs. 16. Morgan Lucas, 3.963, 300.40; 2. Spencer Massey, 3.793, 329.02  vs. 15. Chris Karamesines, 3.904, 313.51; 3. Doug Kalitta, 3.796, 323.58  vs. 14. J.R. Todd, 3.891, 312.86; 4. Tony Schumacher, 3.796, 323.43  vs. 13. Terry McMillen, 3.874, 319.29; 5. Leah Pritchett, 3.809, 321.81  vs. 12. Clay Millican, 3.867, 310.34; 6. Antron Brown, 3.811, 314.09  vs. 11. Larry Dixon, 3.851, 319.52; 7. Brittany Force, 3.817, 318.09  vs. 10. Dave Connolly, 3.850, 316.38; 8. Richie Crampton, 3.829, 319.14  vs. 9. Steve Torrence, 3.843, 320.81. Did Not Qualify: 17. Pat Dakin, 3.967, 298.54; 18. Shawn Reed, 4.015, 311.05; 19. Ike Maier, 4.137, 243.06; 20. Cory McClenathan, 4.666, 162.06.

Funny Car — 1. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.022, 312.13  vs. 16. Dave Richards, Toyota Solara, 4.464, 227.84; 2. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.057, 312.57  vs. 15. Blake Alexander, Dodge Charger, 4.349, 223.69; 3. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.068, 315.19  vs. 14. John Hale, Charger, 4.304, 234.04; 4. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.080, 312.64  vs. 13. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.194, 297.88; 5. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.081, 309.56  vs. 12. Chad Head, Camry, 4.126, 303.30; 6. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.083, 314.17  vs. 11. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.116, 308.14; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.088, 311.63  vs. 10. Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 4.113, 310.05; 8. Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.104, 312.13  vs. 9. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.108, 313.29. Did Not Qualify: 17. Jeff Diehl, 10.394, 85.32.

Pro Stock — 1. Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.507, 212.76  vs. Bye; 2. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.522, 213.13  vs. 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Avenger, 6.662, 208.94; 3. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.526, 213.10  vs. 14. John Gaydosh Jr, Pontiac GXP, 6.636, 209.52; 4. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.526, 212.93  vs. 13. V. Gaines, Dodge Dart, 6.603, 211.36; 5. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.529, 213.03  vs. 12. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.583, 212.53; 6. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.530, 212.90  vs. 11. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.562, 212.19; 7. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.551, 212.36  vs. 10. Jimmy Alund, GXP, 6.561, 212.06; 8. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.553, 212.26  vs. 9. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.555, 211.76.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.867, 194.02  vs. 16. Angie Smith, Victory, 6.992, 189.20; 2. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.872, 194.74  vs. 15. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.985, 190.27; 3. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.873, 195.48  vs. 14. Mike Berry, Buell, 6.984, 190.62; 4. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.877, 195.11  vs. 13. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.976, 190.40; 5. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.883, 196.76  vs. 12. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.965, 191.92; 6. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.887, 196.10  vs. 11. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.957, 191.59; 7. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.891, 194.88  vs. 10. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6. Did Not Qualify: 17. Fredrik Fredlund, 7.015, 191.08; 18. Eddie Reed, 7.015, 190.27; 19. Brian Pretzel, 7.047, 188.81; 20. Redell Harris, 7.178, 190.92; 21. Joe DeSantis, 7.391, 142.26; 22. Roy Olsen, 7.541, 180.02; 23. Lance Bonham, 8.358, 177.25.

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