HERBERT, PEDREGON AND WILSON LEAD FRIDAY'S QUALIFYING AT

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Doug Herbert clocked a career best elapsed time and moved into position to claim his first career No. 1 qualifying award at the Second annual Craftsman 75th Anniversary NHRA Nationals presented by Racing Champions at Route 66 Raceway. Tony Pedregon and Gene Wilson also led their respective categories following the first two qualifying sessions at the $1.8 million race, the 20th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERADE Drag Racing Series. Herbert drove his Snap-on Tools dragster to a run of 4.518 seconds at 324.59 mph during Friday's second qualifying session to pace the Top Fuel field. "I guess we got everybody's attention with that run," said Herbert. "It's yet to be seen whether or not we'll stay No. 1, but I've never been No. 1 at an NHRA national event." Pedregon, who is looking to win his third straight NHRA event, raced to a run of 4.765 at 312.28 during Friday's first qualifying session behind the wheel of his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang to lead the 16-car Funny Car field. "We qualified, without a doubt, in a good position," said Pedregon. "We're going for the (elapsed time) record. We need to take another bite out of John's (Force) points lead. We feel confident we can race on Sunday, so why not take a shot?" Wilson used a run of 6.819 at 201.73 in his Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T to claim the provisional top spot in Pro Stock. Wilson, who advanced to his first career final round last Sunday in Memphis, Tenn., looks to earn his first career No. 1 qualifying award this weekend. "It was a good run," said Wilson. "We had a good track tonight and the air was pretty good. (Crew chief) Tommy Utt put a real good tune up underneath the car. Believe it or not, I think we still had a hundredth left in it. I short shifted a little in low gear. From the looks of the computer graph, there's a little left in the Hemi engine." Greg Anderson's Vegas General Construction Chevrolet Cavalier went out of control during Friday's second qualifying session. Anderson, who trails points leader Jim Yates by 83 points, is currently in the No. 29 position with a 6.881, 199.97 effort during the first Pro Stock qualifying session. Anderson was examined and released by NHRA Director of Emergency Services Dan Brickey. "I'm fine, the car's not," said Anderson. "But I think we can fix it. There didn't appear to be any structural damage. A freeze plug came out of the block along with some water, which is what spun me around. I was on a normal run, no problems at all, until I grabbed third gear and the car just turned 90-degrees. Next thing I know I'm on the roof and from that point on I was just along for the ride."
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