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Force tops again in Top Fuel qualifying

John Force, seven-time Gatornationals Funny Car winner, is in good position to pick up title No. 8.

The 10-time points champion enters today's eliminations as the top qualifier after finishing the quarter-mile in 4.812 seconds during his final run Saturday. Force's time bested the 4.815 he posted Friday and earned him his 101st low qualifying time.

STILL HOT: Three-time Top Fuel champion Gary Scelzi had another strong day and remained the low qualifier. Scelzi, winless at Gatornationals, is the qualifying leader for the third time in his career at Gainesville Raceway. His top time of 4.576 seconds, posted Friday, was well ahead of No. 2 Larry Dixon (4.588).

"This is great," Scelzi said. "The sun came out and everybody slowed down and played it conservative, but we went (4.615). We've definitely got a car we can race."

Scelzi is cautiously optimistic heading into eliminations. He has never advanced past the semifinals at this event.

"I'm a little scared," Scelzi said. "We've had four great runs but these things are mechanical nightmares."

LONG WAIT: Mark Pawuk's drought is over.

After 183 consecutive events without being a No. 1 qualifier, the Pro Stock driver earned his first low qualifying time since the 1992 Winternationals. On Pawuk's first of two Saturday runs, he ran 6.846 seconds to set a track record and edge Darrell Alderman (6.852).

HOME RUN: Top Fuel driver Mike Dunn, who races the New York Yankees dragster fielded by Gwynn/Steinbrenner Racing, set a track record at 326.79 mph. The car is co-owned by former Top Fuel driver Darrell Gwynn, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and his son, Hank Steinbrenner.

Dunn qualified third at 4.591.

Hank Steinbrenner was at the Friday and Saturday qualifying sessions. George Steinbrenner is expected to arrive today.

KEEP ON TRUCKING: Randy Daniels, No. 2 in the Pro Stock Truck point standings last season, posted the No. 1 qualifying position at Gatornationals for the second straight year. Daniels, who won here in 2000, had a top time of 7.431 seconds, a track record.

NOTABLE: For the first time, all 16 Pro Stock qualifiers eclipsed 200 mph.