NHRA: Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car) lead first day of qualifying at Atlanta


Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car) led the first day of qualifying Friday at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals in Commerce, Ga.

Brown paced Top Fuel at Atlanta Dragway with a field-best pass of 3.758 seconds (at 319.82 mph) to start the seventh of this season’s 24 national events.

“It was a great day,” Brown said in an NHRA media release. “For us to come out of the box with a really good, solid lap, we’ve been shooting for that for a long time.”

Brown, who is seeking his second win of the season (won earlier at Charlotte), is a three-time winner at Atlanta Dragway, the last time coming in 2013.

“We’ve raced well at a lot of the races this year, that’s why we’ve been doing so well in the points, but we haven’t been where we want to be in qualifying,” Brown said.

Reigning Top Fuel champ Tony Schumacher, qualified second (3.767 seconds, 324.12 mph). Even though he’s the winningest driver in Top Fuel history (78 wins and eight championships), Schumacher has never won at Atlanta, something he hopes to change this weekend.

In Funny Car, Pedregon roared to a 4.010 second run (at 313.95 mph). The two-time Funny Car world champ is still seeking his first win of 2015.

“Our season has been better than it shows,” Pedregon said. “We didn’t know exactly what was in store, but we figured we’d have a good weekend. With how it’s going, so far, so good.”

Sixteen-time Funny Car John Force was second-quickest (4.031 seconds, 317.64 mph). Force is seeking his eighth career win at Atlanta, where he hasn’t won since 2005.

In Pro Stock, Jason Line went to the top of the charts with a run of 6.546 seconds at 211.23 mph. Line is seeking not only his second win of the season (won the season opener at Pomona, Calif.), but also his second career win at Atlanta (won in 2011).

“It’s always a big deal to be No. 1, whether it’s your sponsor’s race or not,” the two-time world champ said. “They don’t pay anything for being No. 2.

“My car was really good today. There is more left and I think we can hang on to the (No. 1) spot for Sunday’s eliminations. The big thing is that we’re No. 1 going into Saturday and now the job is to just figure out a way to stay there through tomorrow.”

Reigning Pro Stock champ Erica Enders-Stevens was second quickest (6.546 seconds, 211.06 mph).

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Karen Stoffer (6.889 seconds at 195.00 mph) took the provisional No. 1 qualifier spot. Stoffer is looking for her second win of the year, having won the season opener at Gainesville.

“Who would have thought we’d run like this,” Stoffer said. “We were not even prepared to come out this season. We were going to wait until the middle of the year but we found a little bit of money.

“I’m really enjoying the season. Every weekend is a mystery. We never know where we’re going to show up but it’s a lot easier to enjoy it when you’re doing well.”

Jim Underdahl qualified second (6.889 seconds at 194.38 mph).

Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 12:45 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. Sunday’s eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m.



Top Fuel — 1. Antron Brown, 3.758 seconds, 320.28 mph; 2. Tony Schumacher, 3.767, 324.12; 3. Leah Pritchett, 3.792, 321.81; 4. Steve Torrence, 3.796, 321.35; 5. Dave Connolly, 3.805, 321.58; 6. J.R. Todd, 3.807, 321.35; 7. Richie Crampton, 3.852, 316.90; 8. Brittany Force, 3.912, 303.64; 9. Terry McMillen, 3.916, 315.93; 10. Chris Karamesines, 3.962, 306.53; 11. Morgan Lucas, 3.998, 234.90; 12. Cory McClenathan, 4.242, 206.35.  Not Qualified: 13. Spencer Massey, 4.891, 146.97; 14. Doug Kalitta, 4.914, 148.31; 15. Larry Dixon, 5.001, 140.72; 16. Shawn Langdon, 6.520, 102.96; 17. Clay Millican, 7.060, 83.25; 18. Pat Dakin, 11.646, 69.69.

Funny Car — 1. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.010, 313.95; 2. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.031, 317.64; 3. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.033, 301.13; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.040, 319.37; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.040, 312.86; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.048, 313.00; 7. Chad Head, Camry, 4.060, 310.77; 8. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.064, 284.81; 9. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.068, 315.93; 10. Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.079, 319.14; 11. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.147, 288.58; 12. Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 4.563, 188.78.  Not Qualified: 13. John Hale, 5.524, 130.87; 14. Del Worsham, 5.931, 114.73; 15. Jeff Diehl, 7.201, 92.95; 16. Dave Richards, 10.142, 78.49.

Pro Stock — 1. Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.546, 211.23; 2. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.546, 211.06; 3. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.551, 211.30; 4. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.556, 210.87; 5. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.560, 211.06; 6. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.561, 211.69; 7. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.562, 210.64; 8. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.580, 210.90; 9. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.580, 210.34; 10. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.583, 211.49; 11. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.609, 210.14; 12. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.634, 208.04.  Not Qualified: 13. John Gaydosh Jr, 6.689, 207.40; 14. Alan Prusiensky, 6.707, 207.27; 15. Bo Butner, 6.980, 166.15; 16. Chris McGaha, 17.218, 48.19.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.889, 195.00; 2. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.889, 194.38; 3. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.915, 193.16; 4. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.926, 192.44; 5. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.936, 192.41; 6. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.947, 194.60; 7. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.972, 191.81; 8. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.981, 190.89; 9. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.987, 189.84; 10. Freddie Camarena, Suzuki, 6.989, 194.63; 11. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.990, 191.54; 12. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.998, 193.40.  Not Qualified: 13. Scotty Pollacheck, 6.998, 191.38; 14. Angelle Sampey, 7.006, 190.94; 15. Chaz Kennedy, 7.054, 188.31; 16. Chip Ellis, 7.056, 192.60; 17. Mike Berry, 7.061, 188.28; 18. Angie Smith, 7.118, 185.74; 19. Redell Harris, 7.142, 185.13; 20. Eddie Reed, 7.198, 187.34; 21. Joe DeSantis, 7.224, 185.03; 22. Roy Olsen, 7.779, 175.07.

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Malcolm Stewart sidelined by knee surgery for ‘extended duration’


The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.

“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.

“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”

Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.

He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.

The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.

“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.

“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”

Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.

A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.