Madison: Friday qualifying report

Russell, Scelzi, Anderso and Treble Lead Qualifying Friday at The Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals MADISON, Ill. -- Darrell Russell raced to the qualifying lead in Top Fuel Friday with a career-best run at the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at ...

Russell, Scelzi, Anderso and Treble Lead Qualifying Friday at The Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals

MADISON, Ill. -- Darrell Russell raced to the qualifying lead in Top Fuel Friday with a career-best run at the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International Raceway.

Gary Scelzi, Greg Anderson and Craig Treble also were leaders Friday at the $1.8 million race, the 12th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Unseasonably cool temperatures at the midwest drag strip combined with a nighttime race schedule to produce track record performances in three of the four pro categories. Qualifying continues Saturday at 5 p.m. for Sunday's 4:30 p.m. eliminations.

Russell clocked a track records for time and speed with a pass of 4.511 seconds at 328.54 mph in his Amato Racing dragster to pace the 16-car lineup.

"We're plenty happy," Russell said. "To go home tonight knowing we're on top of the heap with a career-best to boot is pretty special, even if it's just for one night. I don't know if it will be this cool tomorrow so we might hold on to the top spot. I guess we'll have to see."

Australian David Grubnic was second with a 4.524 at 325.22 in the Kalitta Air dragster, while Brandon Bernstein was third in the Budwesier/Lucas Oil dragster, posting a 4.539 at 327.19.

Russell has one No. 1 qualifying position during his career, set at Pomona, (Calif.) Raceway's '02 Auto Club Finals. He would like to add another tomorrow and continue his recent momentum, which includes a victory at Columbus, Ohio two weeks ago and a semifinal effort last weekend at Englishtown, N.J.

"The car pulled the front wheels up right at the hit and then every time the clutch levers came in it pulled it back up again," Russell said. "We definitely took advantage of being at the back of the pack. One, we were able to watch all the other cars. Two, it got cooler and cooler as the round went along. Having a good first lap paid dividends because we were positioned at the back tonight."

Scelzi clocked a track record run of 4.758 at 329.34 in his Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T to earn the provisional No. 1 spot in Funny Car.

"We don't get to run at night like this very much and to be in St. Louis and have the opportunity to absolutely stand on it is almost unheard of," Scelzi said. "I'd say this track will hold just about anything you throw at it. We had a good run early so that allowed us to go for it tonight. It's exciting racing at night. There's flames coming out of each window, and you have to kind of guide yourself by the scoreboards and the walls. It's not boring. By the time we get to Sunday and get past the first round it might be the kind of race people will talk about for a long time. It could really be something special."

Tommy Johnson Jr. was second in the order with a career-best effort of 4.765 at 324.90 in his Skoal Chevy Monte Carlo. Scelzi teammate Whit Bazemore was third in his Matco Tools Dodge Stratus with a 4.788 at 324.20.

Anderson led Pro Stock, posting a track record run of 6.702 at 205.26 in his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am. His elapsed time was the fifth quickest in NHRA history for Pro Stock.

"It's business as usual, I guess," Anderson said. "We saw better air tonight here than ever before. If it were another three or four degrees cooler then we'd be in range of running national record-type numbers. This track is that good when the conditions are right. It's neat and a lot of fun."

Treble paced Pro Stock Bike on his Matco Tools Suzuki, clocking a 7.139 at 185.87.

"This track is awesome," Treble said. "It's smooth and sticky with a long shutdown area. I race here a lot and I've always loved it. I love it even more right now."

-nhra-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore , Gary Scelzi , Greg Anderson , David Grubnic , Craig Treble , Brandon Bernstein , Tommy Johnson Jr.