On Saturday, Arend was part of a large group of drivers who could not negotiate the full length of the track during the first session. Stars like John Force, Tony Pedregon, Jack Beckman, Tim Wilkerson, Gary Densham and Jim Head were all in danger of not making the field.
At the line and 4.818 seconds later, Arend was back in the fray. Pedregon and Densham made it to the top half of the field. Wilkerson was bumped out and John Force made it to the 16th spot. Force knew his amazing streak of 395 races and 20 years was on the line. Beckman outran Force’s time and left the 14-time champion on the sidelines for the first time in nearly 20 years. Jeff Arend finished in 13th position.
Arend was set in a match against POWERade points lead champion Ron Capps, the No. 4 qualifier in Sunday’s race.
“There is a lot to be said for the theory that you often win or lose your first round race when you’re qualifying,” said Arend. “But, we’ve seen enough huge upsets on race day to know that’s not always the case. No. 16 qualifiers beat the No. 1 guy all the time, so all we concentrated on doing was making sure the car made a full lap under power. We wanted to give ourselves a chance to win, and if things lined up just right, we could even outrun them.”
Arend saw his teammate, Del Worsham, run 4.842 to take out Gary Densham by the slimmest of margins. He knew his Team CSK car would run something close to that number.
Arend left the starting line first, and the race was on in a side-by-side battle of two fast race cars. At the stripe Capps won by 11-thousandths of a second. “I’m beginning to understand how Del felt last year, because this is two races in a row where we really ran well,” said Arend. “We’re feeling good, we have two solid race cars now, and I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone when either of our cars win rounds or qualify well. We are in the hunt for the top eight.”
Worsham Racing uses K&N Engineering products on its Funny Cars. “The thick canister walls on the K&N Oil Filters have extra strength and durability,” said Team Manager Bob Wilber. “It reduces the risk of damage from debris on the track. K&N is never a factor we have to worry about when we race.
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