NASCAR & Auto Racing

Defending Top Fuel champ Schumacher leads Winternationals qualifying

POMONA, Calif. – Defending Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher led qualifying Thursday in the season-opening NHRA Winternationals.

Schumacher had a quarter-mile run of 4.513 seconds at 331.53 mph.

Scott Kalitta and Greg Anderson also topped their divisions in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

Kalitta was quickest in Funny Car, posting a 4.818 at 322.65 in his Toyota Solara. However, Kalitta didn’t get to savor his category-leading performance for long because one of the two parachutes that help slow the car failed to open after he crossed the finish line. Unable to stop, his car went out of control and plowed into the safety sand traps at the top end of the track. Kalitta wasn’t injured, but the Solara body on his car needed extensive repairs before the Friday qualifying session.

Defending Funny Car champion Tony Pedregon was third with a 4.845 at 325.45 in his Chevy Impala, while 14-time champ John Force was 14th in his Ford Mustang after making a comeback from a serious crash last season at Dallas.

Anderson powered his Pontiac GXP to a 6.635 at 208.91 to lead Pro Stock. Defending champ Jeg Coughlin was third with a 6.651 at 207.98 in his Chevy Cobalt.

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