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Rain makes Pomona a tense time

POMONA, Calif. -- Competitors in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series spent most of Saturday dodging raindrops and counting points.

With championships in three categories still undecided at the final event of the 2011 season, the results of Saturday's action at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona would determine the point possibilities for Sunday's Elimination rounds.

The changing conditions were hardest on the competitors in the Top Fuel and Funny Car categories, both of which feature down-to-the-wire championship battles.

Both classes got in one of two scheduled rounds of qualifying Saturday before rain ended activity for the day at about 5:30 p.m. local time. Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle were able to complete their two full scheduled rounds.

In Top Fuel, the three points category leader Del Worsham earned by setting the fastest time of the session increased his margin over Spencer Massey to eight points.

Advancing through Sunday's Eliminations pays 20 points per round victory.

"That definitely makes me feel good," said Worsham, who was born in Whittier, Calif., and has lived in nearby Chino Hills since 2000. "We came in here like I'm sure everyone else did, with a game plan to gather up those extra little points. Every point counts and we did absolutely everything we could do as far as our team.

"I'm sure tomorrow is going to be a little different, but the Al-Anabi team has been in this situation multiple times. I'm just taking their lead and running with it. This has been a dream season but it needs to be finished off the way we want to finish it off. We're running as well now as we have at any time in the season, so I have lots of confidence going into tomorrow."

Meanwhile, Antron Brown was the most relieved man at the Pomona Fairplex after finally completing a qualifying run to rank seventh overall.

Brown was in 22nd place prior to Saturday's lone run after encountering clutch problems on Thursday and Friday.

But the Don Schumacher Racing pilot put together a clean run in the to keep his championship hopes alive. He's 25 points behind Worsham.

Defending Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon (-47) is the only other driver within range.

"We just needed one run and we knew if we got that we'd put it in the show," Brown said. "Obviously it's a relief but I had all the confidence in my boys that we could get it done.

"It would have been nice to get a second run and maybe move up the order, but it is what it is. We're going to keep doing the things that got us here. We're going to get our race car right and do rounds."

In Funny Car, points leader Matt Hagan set the fastest time in the Saturday morning session to extend his slim lead over Jack Beckman to 12 points. Cruz Pedregon lies 35 points back, while John Force Racing teammates Mike Neff (-40) and Robert Hight (-73) are still in mathematical contention for the FC crown.

It was Hagan's fourth No. 1 qualifying performance of the season.

"We're all glad as a team to be back here in the hunt," said Hagan, who lost the 2010 Funny Car championship to John Force on the final day of the season after arriving at Pomona with a 38-point lead.

"We have to go for it and hopefully have a long day tomorrow. I believe in the team and the guys that got us here, so I've just got to stand on the pedal and have some fun."

Hagan said that despite a smaller lead entering the final round, he's in better position to win the championship this year.

"There's always mind games, and you're always trying to figure out what you can do better here and there," Hagan said. "I've tried to take a relaxed approach this year. I don't think putting pressure on yourself and over-thinking is going to help you. That's not productive.

"Last year I learned so much," he added. "You can't block what happened, and I'd be lying if I said I did. I tried to look at what I could control to help our team -- the start line, keeping it in the groove, that kind of stuff. I've got 10 guys busting their ass putting this car together and they do a great job at it. I've got to do my part tomorrow."

Defending champion Mike Edwards took the No. 1 qualifying spot in Pro Stock, while Eddie Krawiec has a 69-point advantage in Pro Stock Motorcycle and hopes to secure his second category championship.

John Oreovicz covers open-wheel racing and other motorsports for ESPN.com.