Stanton: Cannister advances to first Funny Car final

STANTON, Mich.-If nothing else, first-year Funny Car driver Laurie Cannister has been making the guys take notice. She did that by reaching the semifinals at Leicester, Canada and Dinwiddie after failing to qualify in her debut at Rockingham. If...

STANTON, Mich.-If nothing else, first-year Funny Car driver Laurie Cannister has been making the guys take notice.

She did that by reaching the semifinals at Leicester, Canada and Dinwiddie after failing to qualify in her debut at Rockingham. If there were any doubters about her entering the 20th annual CARQUEST Northern Nationals, they had to come away from this past weekend's IHRA tour action convinced.

The executive assistant from Clinton, Pa., and her Girl Power campaign found their way into a Funny Car elimination final for the first time yesterday afternoon. One thing that foiled her bid for that first victory was her reaction time, a facet of her driving that has shown improvement, even at this event.

Jimmy Rector, who got off the starting line first with a time of .496 seconds to .501, blocked Cannister from the winner's circle. Cannister did catch up, led to 330 feet, but then Rector pulled away to win the run down the Mid- Michigan Motorplex with an elapsed time of 6.001 seconds at 234.61 to 6.122/220.08. The race to the line was close with the margin of victory .126 seconds or about 41 feet.

In the opening head-to-head battle, Cannister made it look easy against Ronnie Midyette, and her work on reaction times showed. She left Midyette in her wake at the Christmas tree (475 to .505) on the way to winning, 5.998/231.16 to 6.080/221.60. The second round was more of the same and her holeshot advantage (454. to 472) was the difference at the finish (about seven feet) against Mark Thomas. She covered the track in 5.934/237.63 to Thomas' 5.936/236.20.

While Larry Dobbs beat Cannister off the line, he struggled, and she won with her of 5.942/234.12 to 7.019/116.85 to gain her first final.

The weekend didn't start well on Friday. The former Pro Outlaw champion covered considerable real estate as she shook the tires and had to lift, but the pass was good enough for eighth. Cannister stepped up with the second run of 6.284/188.91 but slid to 11th in the standings.

Saturday was much better, and Cannister began to correct Friday's problems. She registered a 5.937/230.06 for the fifth spot and showed consistency with her final pass of 5.939/236.71, concluding qualifying as the sixth quickest for the eliminations.

Cannister will have a month to think about what it will take to win her first Funny Car title before heading to Norwalk, Ohio, for the 24th annual Mopar Parts World Nationals presented by Ethanol from Aug. 23-26.

Cannister and her Girl Power progress, as well as the other standouts of the IHRA tour can be charted by logging onto the Internet's largest e-zine at www.competitionplus.com.

-CP-

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Series Drag
Drivers Mark Thomas