Martin: Saturday qualifying summary

T.J. Zizzo Top Fuel No. 1 Qualifier at the Torco Racing Fuels Northern Nationals Friday pass holds up in front of largest crowd in US 131 Motorsports Park history MARTIN, Michigan (August 5, 2006) -- All day the fans kept piling into...

T.J. Zizzo Top Fuel No. 1 Qualifier at the Torco Racing Fuels Northern Nationals

Friday pass holds up in front of largest crowd in US 131 Motorsports Park history

MARTIN, Michigan (August 5, 2006) -- All day the fans kept piling into US 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Mich. The largest single-day crowd in the facility's history were treated to a record field in Torco Pro Modified, a first-time pole-sitter in Knoll Gas-Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel, a defending champion getting back in the groove in Alcohol Funny Car, an NHRA regular setting the bar in Knoll Gas-Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car and a new Shelby Mustang rising to the top in Knoll Gas-Torco Pro Stock.

T.J. Zizzo started Saturday on the Top Fuel pole on the strength of a career-best 4.664/314.61 pass Friday night. After the field took its shots at Zizzo's number during two qualifying rounds Saturday, he finished on the pole. The Lincolnshire, Ill. resident captured his first career IHRA Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel No. 1 qualifying position and will square off with No. 5 qualifier J.R. Todd (Avon, Ind.) in the first round of eliminations Sunday.

"This is my first professional start at No. 1," Zizzo said. "I don't know who we race tomorrow, but we have a bad hot rod. This thing went down the race track all three passes. To qualify No. 1 for our team really means a lot. This team deserves it and I've known that all year long. We went out there and struggled a couple of races, but the team stuck together and hopefully we'll win tomorrow together."

Five-time defending Top Fuel World Champion Clay Millican (Drummonds, Tenn.) jumped into the No. 2 position in his final Saturday pass, blistering the quarter-mile strip in 4.672 at 315.78 mph. Millican will face No. 6 qualifier Rick Cooper (Boise, Idaho) in the first round Sunday. Bobby Lagana, Jr. (Scarsdale, N.Y.) finished third on the ladder with a 4.689 pass at 305.77 while Sewell, N.J. resident Doug Foley's final shot at the track Saturday put him in the top half of the field in the No. 4 spot.

Mike Ashley, Melville, N.Y., held onto his Friday No. 1 Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car position with his 4.866/311.99. Ashley holds the track ET record and No. 3 qualifier Bob Gilbertson, Charlotte, N.C., who ran 4.901/316.38, holds the track speed record. Class points leader Dale Creasy, Jr., who's won two events on the 2006 eMax Drag Racing Series, sits in the No. 2 position with a 4.877/298.87. Jack Wyatt, who came into the Northern Nationals second in the championship chase, nearly missed making the field but slid into the final No. 8 spot during the final qualifying session.

In the $51,000 Torco Racing Fuels Pro Modified Shootout, Mike Castellana, Westbury, N.Y., who won the Northern Nationals in 2005, took home the $20,000 first place prize by defeating Quain Stott, Columbus, N.C. En route to the win, Castellana defeated Scotty Cannon, Jr., and Rick Distefano.

In Torco Pro Modified qualifying, it was Mike Bell, Asheboro, N.C., who took the top spot amongst the quickest field in IHRA history. Kenny Lang sits on the No. 16 spot with a 6.188 ET, bettering the previous quickest field -- 6.195 -- set this spring during the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals. Bell managed to set both ends of the track record with his 6.108/232.67, followed by Danny Rowe and Alan Pittman.

It was all London, Ontario-native Rob Atchison during the final round of Alcohol Funny Car qualifying. The defending champion and event winner topped the field with a track record-setting 5.743/245.54.

"I think I realized Friday night if I could get a hold of this thing we'd be in great shape," said Atchison. "This car makes big power and my guys did a really great job with the tune-up. I think we are finally starting to figure this thing out."

Mark Thomas was over ½-second behind Atchison to tie up the second spot, followed by Terry Munroe and Terry McMillen.

After Friday night Torco Pro Stock qualifying, Frank Gugliotta, Mt. Airy, Md., held the top spot. However, he was topped by Pete Berner, Crete, Ill., with a 6.425/216.83 who goes into Sunday second, behind Robert Patrick, Fredricksburg, Va., with a track record setting 6.408/217.14. Gugliotta ended up third, followed by Steve Spiess and Rob Mansfield.

Professional eliminations for the Torco Racing Fuels Northern Nationals at US 131 Motorsports Park begins Sunday at 11 p.m. Final round starts at 4:15 p.m.

-ihra-

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Series Drag
Drivers Mark Thomas , Clay Millican , Alan Pittman , Bob Gilbertson , Quain Stott , Scotty Cannon , Jack Wyatt , Mike Ashley , Doug Foley , Danny Rowe , Mike Bell , J.R. Todd , Steve Spiess , Kenny Lang , Frank Gugliotta , Terry McMillen