Rockingham: Friday qualifying notes

Palmer, Janis Grab First Day Qualifying Leads at IHRA Spring Nationals in Rockingham (Rockingham, N.C.; April 18, 2008) -- Surprising Scott Palmer grabbed the provisional No. 1 position in the featured Top Fuel category and Mike Janis put...

Palmer, Janis Grab First Day Qualifying Leads at IHRA Spring Nationals in Rockingham

(Rockingham, N.C.; April 18, 2008) -- Surprising Scott Palmer grabbed the provisional No. 1 position in the featured Top Fuel category and Mike Janis put his 1967 replica Pontiac Firebird on the provisional "pole" in Pro Modified Friday in the first day of qualifying for Sunday's 37th annual IHRA Spring Nationals at Rockingham Dragway.

Palmer was clocked in 4.645 seconds at 296.83 miles per hour on a run on which his car ricocheted off the guardwall just past the finish line.

"My arm restraint got caught in my buckles and I had to shut it down about 150 or 200 feet further than we wanted to," Palmer explained. "I grazed the wall in the shut-down area because I ran it out as far as I could. We just got a little racing stripe down the wing, it'll be okay."

Palmer, who struggled in the season-opening event in the Knoll Gas Nitro Jam Series at San Antonio, Texas, said he owed his resurgence to a tip from another crew chief, Johnny West.

"I talked to Johnny West on the way here," Palmer said. "Johnny told us to look out for these new clutch disks. So when we got here, (we) looked at them and, sure enough, we had some bad ones. We changed them and the thing went back to running like it should."

"We're going for it tomorrow," Palmer said. "We know it would have run a high 4.50 on that run."

Other Friday qualifying leaders were Terry Haddock of Woodinville, Wash., in Nitro Funny Car, Pete Berner of Crete, Ill., in Pro Stock and Laurie Cannister of Johnstown, Ohio, in Alchol Funny Car.

Haddock had a minor fire at the end of the run and aborted his run early.

"We had to let go of it a little bit," Haddock said. "I'm not sure why it was on fire, but I'm allergic to fire, so I let go of it."

Most of the Top Fuel surprises were at the back of the pack Friday where reigning series champion Bruce Litton was on the outside, looking in, and rookie sensation Spencer Massey was clinging to the eighth and final qualifying position.

Janis drove his 1967 Firebird to the top of the qualifying sheet by covering the quarter-mile in 5.986 at 240.08 mph. Janis not only claimed the five "Last Man Standing" bonus points, he established a new Rockingham Dragway speed record.

Cannister was clocked in 5.722 seconds at 245.14 mph, just off her 5.669 second track record.

"I have a flawlessly running car," acknowledged the Johnstown, Ohio, driver who is bidding for her second straight Rockingham pole. "I put that thing into third gear and it just wanted to pull harder. It was such a smooth pass. I really have to give (the credit) to my crew and my tuner (her husband, Dale)."

"I want to do more," Cannister said. "I want to be the first in the 5.50's and the first over 250, so we'll see what happens. If the weather is good enough to make it happen (this weekend), then it will. If not maybe the fall (at the IHRA World Finals, also contested at Rockingham)."

Berner covered the standard distance in 5.324 seconds Friday in his Pontiac GXP to snatch the first day lead away from Frank Gugliotta's Ford.

"It was awesome," Berner said. "Hats off to my guys and hats off to (chassis builder) Rick Jones for his support. I really appreciate the fans coming out tonight and I was glad they were able to see that run."

Qualifying continues Saturday at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., the latter the Castrol Night of Fire session. Single elimination finals begin at 11 a.m. Sunday.

-credit: ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers Laurie Cannister , Mike Janis , Bruce Litton , Scott Palmer , Terry Haddock , Spencer Massey