NHRA: Schumacher, Pedregon, McGaha, Sampey lead way after first day of Gatornationals

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Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Chris McGaha (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) paced the first day of qualifying Friday for the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals.

The event, at Auto-Plus Raceway in Gainesville, Fla., continues with a second day of qualifying Saturday. Final eliminations take place Sunday.

Schumacher, an eight-time world champ, paced the Top Fuel ranks, earning the provisional pole with a best run of 3.798 seconds at 323.43 mph.

“We’ve got a great car,” said Schumacher, who is seeking his 77th career No. 1 qualifying spot. “We’re not coming off a bad race either. We won in Phoenix and performed decent in Pomona (season opener).

“I think the changes we made early on, for once, really worked. It’s setting a good trend on a tune-up that we needed to find quicker than last year.”

Brittany Force was second-quickest, running 3.817 seconds at 318.09 mph.

In Funny Car, two-time former world champ Pedregon led the way with a top run of 4.022 seconds at 312.13 mph. He’s seeking his fourth consecutive No. 1 qualifier position at Gainesville.

“I wish I could tell you because I would do it at all the tracks,” Pedregon said about his qualifying prowess at Gainesville. “It just works out that way.”

Del Worsham was the No. 2 provisional qualifier (4.057 seconds at 312.57 mph).

In Pro Stock, McGaha led the way with a run of 6.507 seconds at 212.73 mph.

“We’re finding our way back,” said McGaha, referring to the struggles he and his team endured last season. “We had issues in the engine department and slowly overcame those. We started finding it towards the end of the year. This winter, we really found the mojo.”

Rodger Brogdon, who won the last race two weeks ago at Phoenix, was second-quickest (6.525 seconds at 212.93 mph).

In the first Pro Stock Motorcycle race of the season, three-time world champ Angelle Sampey, in her first race since suffering an ankle injury last October, led the way at 6.891 seconds at 192.44 mph.

If Sampey can hold on to the top spot after Saturday’s final two rounds of qualifying, it would be her fourth No. 1 at Gainesville and 46th of her career.

“Over the offseason, I think the ankle injury actually was a blessing in disguise,” said Sampey, who returned to racing at St. Louis last September after a six-year hiatus. “It really made me work hard over the offseason to improve mentally and physically.”

Karen Stoffer, who hasn’t raced in 1 ½ years, was No. 2 provisional qualifier at 6.904 seconds (at 193.18 mph).

Qualifying continues Saturday at Noon and 3 p.m. ET. Sunday’s eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

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Friday’s results:

Top Fuel — 1. Tony Schumacher, 3.796 seconds, 323.43 mph; 2. Brittany Force, 3.817, 318.09; 3. Spencer Massey, 3.841, 323.66; 4. Larry Dixon, 3.851, 319.52; 5. Richie Crampton, 3.853, 271.35; 6. Antron Brown, 3.854, 310.63; 7. Shawn Langdon, 3.875, 316.97; 8. Leah Pritchett, 3.920, 303.16; 9. Doug Kalitta, 3.949, 284.87; 10. Chris Karamesines, 4.014, 305.98; 11. Morgan Lucas, 4.054, 223.21; 12. Ike Maier, 4.137, 243.06.  Not Qualified: 13. Shawn Reed, 4.206, 288.27; 14. Steve Torrence, 4.501, 173.61; 15. Clay Millican, 4.546, 179.64; 16. Cory McClenathan, 4.883, 147.21; 17. Terry McMillen, 5.120, 140.74; 18. Dave Connolly, 5.247, 127.49; 19. J.R. Todd, 5.439, 274.61; 20. Pat Dakin, 9.725, 72.43.

Funny Car — 1. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.022, 312.13; 2. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.057, 312.57; 3. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.075, 314.02; 4. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.080, 311.92; 5. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.081, 309.56; 6. Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.104, 312.13; 7. Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 4.113, 310.05; 8. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.132, 308.43; 9. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.299, 237.96; 10. John Hale, Charger, 4.304, 234.04; 11. Blake Alexander, Charger, 4.456, 194.97; 12. Dave Richards, Toyota Solara, 4.464, 219.15.  Not Qualified: 13. Chad Head, 4.564, 193.07; 14. Tommy Johnson Jr., 4.995, 152.16; 15. Ron Capps, 5.618, 224.40; 16. Jeff Diehl, 7.612, 85.32; 17. Alexis DeJoria, 10.877, 75.53.

Pro Stock — 1. Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.507, 212.76; 2. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.526, 213.06; 3. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.526, 212.93; 4. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.529, 212.90; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.532, 213.13; 6. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.534, 212.90; 7. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.551, 211.79; 8. Jimmy Alund, Pontiac GXP, 6.567, 211.93; 9. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.587, 212.19; 10. John Gaydosh Jr, GXP, 6.636, 209.52; 11. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.648, 211.33; 12. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Avenger, 6.662, 208.94.  Not Qualified: 13. Larry Morgan, 12.137, 86.57; 14. Vincent Nobile, 14.409, 73.59; 15. Jonathan Gray, 21.817, 36.18.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.891, 192.93; 2. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.904, 193.18; 3. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.905, 192.91; 4. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.912, 191.57; 5. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.918, 191.57; 6. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.923, 193.68; 7. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.944, 193.90; 8. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.957, 189.26; 9. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.967, 192.80; 10. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.974, 190.89; 11. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.976, 190.40; 12. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.985, 190.27.  Not Qualified: 13. Mike Berry, 7.010, 188.54; 14. Shawn Gann, 7.025, 187.86; 15. Hector Arana, 7.026, 186.59; 16. Angie Smith, 7.056, 186.85; 17. Redell Harris, 7.091, 190.92; 18. Fredrik Fredlund, 7.125, 188.99; 19. Roy Olsen, 7.392, 180.02; 20. Lance Bonham, 7.544, 177.25; 21. Eddie Reed, 7.632, 131.38; 22. Brian Pretzel, 14.051, 54.53.

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