September 16, 2016

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) Tommy Johnson Jr. took the Funny Car qualifying lead Friday in the NHRA Carolina Nationals, the first race of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.

Johnson pushed his Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to a zMAX Dragway time record of 3.876 seconds at 323.43 mph. He won this year in Bristol, Tennessee.

''It just shows how determined they are how much we want this and the Countdown and how on top of it they are,'' Johnson said. ''You have to be aggressive and take the championship, you can't wait for it to come your way. Really happy with the performance and still shocked.''

Doug Kalitta led in Top Fuel, Jason Line in Pro Stock, and Jerry Savoie in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Kalitta had a 3.721 at 325.77. He has three victories this year.

The top-seeded Line ran a 6.581 at 210.41 in a Chevy Camaro. He also has three victories this year.

Savoie had a 6.850 at 195.19 on a Suzuki. The Louisiana alligator is winless this season.

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