DEFENDING CHAMPION TOPS NITRO FUNNY CAR QUALIFYING Gary Densham claims ...
DEFENDING CHAMPION TOPS NITRO FUNNY CAR QUALIFYING
Gary Densham claims #1 slot in first-ever Knoll -- Gas Nitro Jam eighth-mile event; Foley (Top Fuel), Commisso (Pro Modified), Patrick (Pro Stock) and Munroe (Alcohol Funny Car) also grab top qualifying honors
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (March 24, 2007) -- Last season Gary Densham, Bellflower, Calif., defeated Paul Lee in the Knoll Gas-Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car final round to claim the first IHRA Ironman of the season at the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals presented by NAPA Auto Parts at San Antonio Raceway. This year the situation is completely different, but Densham is back on top.
Necessity being the better part of invention, IHRA officials made a historic decision following Friday qualifying at the Texas Nationals. Problems with the right lane caused them to create the first-ever eighth-mile Knoll -- Gas Nitro Jam national event, even after completely resurfacing the entire final half of the right lane. All Friday runs were converted to eighth-mile runs using incremental times.
Densham's Friday run, converted to a 3.322 at 253.56 mph, held up for No. 1 qualifier honors after Saturday's two qualifying sessions. Del Worsham ended up second with a 3.327, 256.50 pass, also claiming "Last Man Standing" honors Saturday. Defending world champion, Dale Creasy Jr. (Beecher, Ill.) had to sweat it out a bit, needing a strong run in the Saturday evening session to move into the field. Creasy's 3.394, 234.04 pass moved him to sixth on the qualifying sheet and safely into the field.
Paul Lee, last season's runner-up, could not move into the field. Also notably absent from Sunday's elimination ladder was NHRA standout Cruz Pedregon, who could not blast into the field on his last pass.
Doug Foley, Sewell, N.J., claimed top qualifying honors in the Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel class with a strong 3.111 pass at 268.65 mph. T.J. Zizzo had a strong Saturday evening run to climb to second on the sheet with a 3.132. Bobby Lagana Jr., who was second after the first session Saturday, fell all the way to the bump spot when all was said and done with a 3.341 pass. Bruce Litton was third while Scott Cannon, driving in his first-ever Top Fuel event, rounded out the top half of the field with a 3.215 pass.
Ray Commisso, Toronto, Ont., is used to racing on the 1/8 mile strip, as was much of the Torco's CompetitionPlus.com Pro Modified class. Many tuned up for the IHRA season competing in ADRL competition, where the eighth-mile pass is the norm. Commisso put his '67 Camaro at the top of the qualifying sheet with a 3.962 pass at 188.41 mph. In fact, two of the top three Pro Mod qualifiers are from the largest city in Ontario, Canada. Tony Pontieri, also from Toronto, finished third on the qualifying ladder by driving his '57 Chevy to a 3.979, 189.04 pass.
Scott Cannon Jr., Lyman, S.C., ended up second, book-ended by the two Canadians, with a 3.963/184.75 run. Not only did Cannon Jr. end up second on the qualifying sheet, he took home "Last Man Standing" honors Saturday. Defending Pro Mod world champion Quain Stott, Columbus, S.C., could not move into the top half of the field in his final qualifying shot Saturday, ending up 14th.
Robert Patrick, Fredericksburg, Va., seems to have a handle on his '07 Cobra early as he drove to the top of the qualifying ladder with a 4.129, 172.89 hit Saturday evening. Patrick was clear of Steve Spiess, Manhattan, Ill., by almost two hundredths as Spiess claimed second with a 4.184, 173.03 pass in his '07 Cobalt. Spiess' run was only good enough for second on the sheet, but he did grab "Last Man Standing" honors Saturday night. Rob Mansfield, Margate, Fla., was third when final qualifying was complete.
Defending world champion Pete Berner, Crete, Ill., almost ended up on the outside, looking in. His 4.195, 171.79 pass was only good enough for 15th on the final qualifying ladder.
A pair of '05 Monte Carlos finished 1-2 in final Alcohol Funny Car qualifying. Terry Munroe, Beaver, Pa., took top honors with a 3.878 pass at 188.25 mph while defending world champion, Mark Thomas, Louisville, Ohio, was slotted second with a 3.884 pass at 193.57 mph. Laurie Cannister, Johnston, Ohio, claimed "Last Man Standing" honors and ended up fourth in final qualifying.
Professional eliminations are scheduled for Sunday at 10:30 p.m., 12 noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. For more information, log onto www.ihra.com. The Texas Nationals is the first of twelve events on the 2007 Knoll-Gas Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series.