After a long weekend full of wacky weather in Pomona the qualifying fields were finally set for the first eliminations of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Series season.
The day started with sunshine, then lead into drizzle and hail even made an appearance before the sun came out for long enough for a day full of exceptionally fast runs.
Reigning Top Fuel champ Larry Dixon made the most of Saturday's qualifying when he laid down the quickest ET in NHRA history as the sun was setting on Auto Club Raceway.
"I'm just happy to be in the show," Dixon said. "We didn't make it in here a few years ago so ever since then I'm always just happy to make it to Sunday."
Dixon drove his Al-Anabi rail straight down the grove as he recorded a 3.770 second lap at 324.98 mph.
"I saw the scoreboard and thought, 'Wow is that right?'" Dixon said. "We've never ran a track as cold as it was tonight but my guys made the most of it. I was very impressed by the run, it wasn't a pretty run but it looked like one on the scoreboard."
Terry McMillen will be Dixon's first opponent of the 2011 season, a year in which Dixon hopes to repeat as champion..
"It's a great way to start the season," Dixon said. "It doesn't give us anything for Sunday but I'm happy to start this year off on the right foot."
The lone female Pro Stocker Erica Enders drove her ZaZa Energy Chevy Cobalt around all the boys in the field to take the No. 1 qualifying spot heading into race day.
"I'm just so grateful for my entire team," Enders said. "It was such a great run and I'm glad it held up throughout qualifying."
Enders ran a career-best 6.553 second pass at 211.69 mph during the opening round of qualifying and that number stuck as the top spot heading into Sunday. She couldn't be happier that her quickest run happened at the opening race of the 2011 season.
"I wouldn't say I'm surprised that we're No. 1 since the team I'm on is such championship caliber," Enders said, "but I will say it's surreal that I'm up here. I've had a tough last few years and it's just awesome to be back with a team like this."
This is the second pole of Enders' career and she will face Richard Freeman in the opening round of eliminations.
"Being No. 1 is great but we know it doesn't mean much tomorrow," Enders said. "I just hope we go out there, I hit my points, we run consistent and go four rounds tomorrow."
Cruz Pedregon earned his 40th career pole and fifth at Auto Club Raceway when he drove his Snap On Tools Toyota to a stout 4.015-second pass at 313.92 mph in the final qualifying session of the weekend.
"It felt incredible," Pedregon said, "I just happened to glance up real quick at the scoreboard and see the 4.01 and thought, man that's what we're looking for."
Pedregon's team made a lot of changes in the offseason and it is obviously paying off, as his run is a career best and the third quickest in Funny Car history.
"We completely built a new car in the off season," Pedregon said. "We made a few changes and let's just say, we're pretty happy with it so far."
Pedregron will face his brother Tony Pedregon in the opening round.
"I don't know what it is but we always seem to face each other," Pedregon said. Bummer is one of us is losing first round, but the good thing means one of us will win first round."
Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. PST Sunday at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.