Epping Saturday qualifying summary

World Records Fall in Torco Pro Stock and Funny Car During Final Qualifying; Brian Gahm Becomes First Driver in the 6.30s The second day of qualifying at the Tenthh annual Amalie Oil North American Nationals saw numerous world records broken,...

World Records Fall in Torco Pro Stock and Funny Car During Final Qualifying; Brian Gahm Becomes First Driver in the 6.30s

The second day of qualifying at the Tenthh annual Amalie Oil North American Nationals saw numerous world records broken, as Fred Tigges (Funny Car) and Steve Spiess (Torco Pro Stock) both put their personal stamps on the record books. Doug Foley qualified number one in Top Fuel, Carl Spiering qualified number one in Torco Pro Mod, Tigges number one in Funny Car, and Spiess number one in Torco Pro Stock heading into Sunday finals.

The quickest and fastest IHRA Torco Pro Stock race ever came down to the wire when a former two-time World Champion raced side by side with the driver who currently has the best ride in the class. Brian Gahm (Lucasville, Ohio) earned the first 6.30 pass in IHRA Torco Pro Stock history with his pass at 6.395 at 219.44 mph because he got to the finish line first, but Steve Spiess (Manhattan, Ill.) lowered his own IHRA world ET and speed records with his pass at 6.380 at 219.33 mph. Gahm also had the fastest run, but did not have a fast enough speed during the earlier two qualifying sessions to back it up for a world record.

Spiess, who has had the most consistently fast car this year, has had no doubt that a car would go 6.30, and even predicted it for this weekend.

"I actually knew we would go that fast barring no mishaps, that it would happen. The car has never shook on the starting line since we have had it, so we weren't worried about that. I was worried about second and third gear because we did load it up. We were going for it."

Becoming the first Torco Pro Stock driver to hit 6.30 was not lost on Gahm.

"To do something like this.they have the 6.30 club out there and Steve has run good all year. I hate to say it because he has made a lot of fast runs. But to be the first on a holeshot is even better. You can beat that, and it will probably jump up and bite me tomorrow and I'll probably get beat on a holeshot, but who cares now!"

After Friday night qualifying, it was more of just a question of when, not if a Torco Pro Stock car would reach the 6.30s. Several cars ran low 6.40s both days, and Frank Gugliotta (Mt. Airy, Md.) was the first on Saturday to knock on the door when he ran a 6.401. But his car shut down at about 1,200 feet when he broke his transmission.

"We had a 6.30 in it, but the car gave up the ghost," Gugliotta said.

In Top Fuel, Doug Foley, from Sewell, N.J., had his 4.649 at 311.56 mph during the Saturday afternoon session stand up to Clay Millican's 4.661 at 286.62 mph.

"It was a good run," Foley said. "We looked at the numbers, stayed a bit conservative, and it just felt good."

Going into tomorrow, Foley feels that he and his team have the right strategy.

"We're going to go in the .60s all day, .68, .69, and then go from there. I think if we put this car in the high 60s, we can win the race."

In Torco Pro Modified, Carl Spiering (Jordan Station, Ont.) had his pass of 6.134 at 234.09mph stand up to Scotty Cannon's surprising 6.138 at 229.55 mph. John Russo, from Middleton, Mass., was looking for another great day of qualifying in front of the hometown crowd, but his 6.157 at 230.53 mph from Friday was good enough for third.

"I was going for an .09 tonight," Spiering said. "It was there, and over revved on both passes. I've never been both so excited and so disappointed at the same time, because I knew it was there."

"We can go a .16, .17., .18 and win the round, so we have to stay focused on that. I'm riding this out, but I still have to stay focused for the rest of this year," Spiering said.

In Funny Car, Fred Tigges (Holbrook, Mass.) gave the hometown New England crowd something to cheer about, setting the IHRA world ET record when he ran a blistering 5.702 at 245.94 mph. Jim Sickles (Caledonia, N.Y.) set the IHRA world speed record when his deep staged pass of 5.734 yielded 248.75 mph. Defending back to back world champion Rob Atchison (London, Ont.), paired with Tigges, ran a 5.742 at 243.99 mph to qualify number third.

"I can't say enough about how IHRA prepares these tracks," Tigges said. "They do such a fantastic job."

When asked about setting the new IHRA world ET record, Tigges replied, "It's funny how those things happen when you're trying to do other things."

Tigges seemed at ease about qualifying number one ahead of both Sickles and Atchison.

"Competition is what makes people like me be able to do this," he said.

Action continues on Sunday with pro eliminations starting at 11:00 a.m. and the finals starting at 4.30 p.m.

-ihra-

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Series Drag
Drivers Clay Millican , Scotty Cannon , Doug Foley , Steve Spiess , Frank Gugliotta