Jack Beckman raced to the provisional No. 1 qualifying position in Funny Car Thursday at the 52nd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also were qualifying leaders at the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season opener.
Beckman drove his Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger to the provisional No. 1 spot with a 4.139-second pass at 308.14 mph to best the ultracompetitive Funny Car class. If Beckman holds on to the top spot, it will be the fifth of his career and second at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
“The most important thing is if we can go down the track and get good computer data, we can pick away at it from there,” Beckman said. “If you go out there and smoke the tires, you don’t know how much you missed it by. We all know that 4.13 is not going to hold, but we feel we have as good a shot of stepping up as any other car out there.”
Courtney Force made her first run under NHRA Funny Car competition in her Traxxas Ford Mustang with a 4.210-second pass at 303.16 mph, which was good for the provisional sixth spot. Courtney will line up next to her legendary father, 15-time world champ John Force, for the second round of qualifying of the NHRA season opener.
Defending Top Fuel event winner Lucas drove his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster to the top of the pack with his pass of 3.832 seconds at 320.28 mph during Thursday’s qualifying efforts.
“The weather conditions today were pretty similar to what we had in testing, so our team has a lot of confidence in this range,” Lucas said. “Hopefully Sunday is the same, but I know we’re expecting cooler conditions Saturday, so you never know what’s going to happen, but hopefully, we can keep running along with the big guys.”
In Pro Stock, Edwards looks to secure his 41st No. 1 of his career and fifth at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona with his 6.545 pass at 211.86 mph Thursday in his Penhall/K&N/Interstate Pontiac GXP.
“It feels really, really good,” Edwards said. “When you start off a new season, you never know what to expect, and we got off to a great start. It was a great run. My guys did a phenomenal job. We just made one of the nicest runs we’ve made in Pomona in a long time, so it’s a great start for us. Hopefully, we can build on this tomorrow and see what happens.”
Qualifying for the 52nd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona will continue Friday at 1:30 p.m. followed by the final two qualifying sessions Saturday at 11 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. Eliminations will begin Sunday at 11 a.m.