POMONA, Calif. (AP) Funny Car championship long-shot Tommy Johnson Jr. raced to the qualifying lead Friday in the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals.
Johnson powered his Dodge Charger R/T to a track-record run 3.917 seconds at 324.67 mph at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona near Los Angeles to take the top spot. Johnson gained three points on series leader Del Worsham and second-place Jack Beckman. Johnson is 94 points behind Worsham.
''We knew the performance of the car was there and the guys have done a good job of picking at it and getting better and better,'' Johnson said. ''You've got to win the race. Points are great. We are a long shot. We need to try and win the race. We need to set the record and win the race and have a little luck where those guys in front of us have problems. We now have a backup for the national record and things are going as planned.''
Billy Torrence led in Top Fuel, Shane Gray in Pro Stock, and Karen Stoffer in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Torrence moved into position to earn his first No. 1 qualifying position by powering to a career-best effort of 3.726 at 331.61. Gray led the factory hot rods with an effort of 6.509 at 212.79 in a Chevy Camaro. Stoffer, a two-time winner this season, led the two-wheel class with a performance of 6.823 seconds at 196.36 mph on a Suzuki.