Rockingham I: Saturday qualifying summary

Gilbertson Shatters Nitro Funny Car Mark Sets Rockingham Dragway track record while securing ...

Gilbertson Shatters Nitro Funny Car Mark
Sets Rockingham Dragway track record while securing #1 qualifying post Saturday

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (April 22, 2006) -- Rain washed away the final pro qualifying round at Rockingham Dragway Saturday. Prior to that Bob Gilbertson washed away the Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car track record. Gilbertson, from nearby Gastonia, N.C., clocked a 4.837 second / 312.86 mph pass during afternoon qualifying to claim the top spot and erase Cruz Pedregon's previous Rockingham best of 4.884 set in 1998. When thunderstorms washed out the evening qualifying session Gilbertson found himself atop the ladder at the Nicko's NY Style Pizza Spring Nationals presented by Advance Auto Parts.

"This is wonderful," Gilbertson said. "Being at our home track and breaking the track record...it just doesn't get any better than that. It felt real good, but that was a mediocre run for me. We left a lot on the table but we wanted to make sure we got down the track."

Gary Densham (Bellflower, Cal.) claimed the second qualifying spot with a 5.050/234.13 pass while Dale Creasy, Jr. (Beecher, Ill.) closed out the top three with a 5.132/250.92 run Friday.

Vincent Arcadi (Lancaster, N.Y.), Terry Haddock (Lynwood, Wash.), Paul Lee (Bala Cymwyd, Pa.), Jack Wyatt (Corydon, Iowa) and Gary Cooper (Omaha, Neb.) rounded out the Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car field.

Cory McClenathan (Lake Havasu City, Ariz.) claimed the top qualifying spot in Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel, but it was Andrew Cowin's Saturday afternoon pass that sent a buzz through Rockingham Dragway. Cowin, originally from Sydney, Australia but now residing in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., drove the Scott Griffin Motorsports/Serta Mattresses '06 Hadman Dragster to the #2 qualifying position with a time of 4.559 and a speed of 322.88.

Griffin hired Cowin to drive his entry in December, and Cowin was pleased to be able to put down a strong number at his boss' home track.

"Scott gave me a chance to drive this car and I am so grateful for that," Cowin said. "This was the second time I have run a .55 at Rockingham and it meant a lot for me that I was able to do it for Scott Griffin Motorsports. We're getting a handle on this car, if I can put a couple of runs like that together tomorrow it could get really interesting."

After failing to break into the top eight Friday, five-time defending Top Fuel World Champion Clay Millican (Drummonds, Tenn.) and the winner of the season-opening Amalie Oil Texas Nationals Doug Foley (Sewell, N.J.) were able to jump into the field Saturday. Millican's 4.641/308.57 pass put his Werner Enterprises dragster into the #4 position while Foley's 4.628/319.67 placed him third.

Rick Cooper (Boise, Id.), Michael Gunderson (Middleburg, Fla.), Rhonda Hartman-Smith (Williamston, S.C.) and Bruce Litton (Indianapolis, Ind.) rounded out the Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel field.

Rob Atchison (London, Ontario) laid down the best Alcohol Funny Car pass Saturday, posting a 5.774/245.14 to vault into the #1 qualifying spot. The three-time defending AFC World Champion fell to Mark Thomas in the finals at the season opener in San Antonio, but he nosed in front of Thomas in Rockingham. Thomas (Louisville, Ohio) posted a 5.826/243.02 to claim the second seed while Fred Tigges (Holbrook, Mass.) finished third with a 5.840/242.63 pass.

Trevor Lebsack (Slave Lake, Alb.), Neal Parker (Millville, N.J.), Melinda Green-King (Norfolk, Va.), Larry Dobbs (Welland, Ont.) and Thomas Carter (Cuero, Tex.) rounded out the Alcohol Funny Car field.

Tommy D'Aprile (Port Charlotte, Fla.) proved his Torco Pro Modified finals appearance in San Antonio was not a fluke. In his first year of driving Quain Stott's second car, D'Aprile ran a 6.132/230.69 to end up on the pole when qualifying was finished. Three weeks ago D'Aprile fell in the final to Glen Kerunsky at the San Antonio Raceway.

Former Pro Mod World Champion Mike Janis (Lancaster, N.Y.), trying to overcome a difficult '05 race season, continued his strong '06 campaign by running a 6.138/230.84 pass to finish in the #2 qualifying position. Calgary resident Rick Distefano, the #1 qualifier in San Antonio, ended up in the third position while '05 World Champion Mike Castellana (Westbury, N.Y.) was fourth.

Frank Gugliotta (Mt. Airy, Md.) followed up his Torco Pro Stock victory in San Antonio by claiming the pole at Rockingham Dragway. Gugliotta's 6.420/216.51 put him in front of the #2 man Robert Patrick (Fredericksburg, Va.), who posted a 6.428/214.35 pass. Tony Gillig (Lake Bluff, Ill.), John Nobile (Dix Hills, N.Y.) and Jeff Dobbins (Wilmington, N.C.) rounded out the top five.

The Nicko's NY Style Pizza Spring Nationals will continue Sunday morning at Rockingham Dragway with professional elimination rounds beginning at 11 a.m. Gates open at 8 a.m. Saturday tickets will be honored Sunday with corresponding ticket stub.

-ihra-

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Series Drag
Drivers Mike Janis , Mark Thomas , Clay Millican , Bruce Litton , John Nobile , Quain Stott , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Jack Wyatt , Michael Gunderson , Doug Foley , Terry Haddock , Glen Kerunsky , Frank Gugliotta
Teams Williams