RECORDS FALL AFTER RAIN DELAY AT O'REILLY MID-SOUTH NATIONALS QUALIFYING Greg Anderson and Matt Smith set track records; Robert Hight and Rod Fuller lead nitro classes MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Three-time and reigning Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson...
RECORDS FALL AFTER RAIN DELAY AT O'REILLY MID-SOUTH NATIONALS QUALIFYING
Greg Anderson and Matt Smith set track records; Robert Hight and Rod Fuller lead nitro classes
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Three-time and reigning Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson posted the quickest pass in Memphis Motorsports Park history -- a 6.742 at 203.83 mph -- to lead Friday's qualifying action at the $1.6 million O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals
Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Matt Smith also set a MMP elapsed time record with his 7.086 at 185 mph, while Rod Fuller and Robert Hight took early leads in the nitro ranks at the 17th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Series.
Only one round of qualifying was executed as a four-and-a-half hour rain delay forced the outright cancellation of the second round of qualifying, which will not be made up. Saturday's two rounds of time trials are slated to begin at 2 and 6 p.m.
Defending event champion Fuller obviously remembered the quickest way down the Memphis quarter-mile with his class-leading 4.575 at 318.54 mph in the Valvoline/David Powers Homes dragster. Fuller's win here one year ago was his first as a professional.
"We're still the baddest car on the property," Fuller said. "Basically, we're riding the data from last year with some tweaks and a new car. We really feel confident here and we feel like we know this track very well."
U.S. Army dragster driver Tony Schumacher was second with a 4.578 at 321.35 mph. Brainerd winner Brandon Bernstein remains quick with a third-best 4.605 at 324.05 mph in the Budweiser dragster, while former points leader Melanie Troxel wound up fourth in the Skull Shine rail after a 4.638.
The best qualifier in Funny Car this season, six-time low qualifier Hight, has his Auto Club Ford Mustang at the top position once again an impressive 4.849 at 297.75 mph to lead the field by more than four-hundredths of a second.
"When it's down to one run it's hard to press too much," Hight said. "Although Jimmy (Prock, crew chief) still pushed it plenty hard there. It makes you nervous when you lose a round to rain. We know that tomorrow's two runs will be in much hotter conditions so it makes this one tonight so important."
Points leader Ron Capps had to pedal his Brut Dodge to get it down the track. He ended up 15th with a 5.168.
Anderson impressed with his track-record 6.742 at 203.83 mph, which erased Jeg Coughlin's mark from 2003. The Summit Racing Pontiac GTO driver has 48 low qualifier awards to his credit although he's never earned one here.
"It's good to get the upper hand for now but qualifying hasn't been our big snafu this year, it's race day," Anderson said. "But we feel like we're ready to break though and get on a roll where we win some races. Our confidence is higher now than it's been all season."
Dodge driver Larry Morgan helped the Safety Safari sweep the water off the racetrack, then he navigated it in 6.767 seconds at 203.03 mph to grab second place for his zMax Micro Lubricants team. Jason Line, the POWERade Series points leader and Anderson's teammate, was third with a 6.768 at 203.72 mph, the best pass in the right-hand lane.
G-Squared Motorsports racer Smith proved the Safety Safari did a superb job of prepping the racetrack after the rain, breaking a 3-year-old track elapsed time record with a 7.086 at 185.26 mph on his Torco Buell V-Twin. The previous record was Angelle Sampey's 7.096 from 2003.
"I saw Michael Phillips run a 7.14 in front of us and I thought either he had the perfect pass or the track was that good," Smith said. "We had the better lane and the bike was strong. It pulled the front end up on every gear change and it hardly ever does that."
Sampey also bettered her old MMP mark with a 7.090 at 183.99 mph, placing her U.S. Army Suzuki second overall. Fellow championship contender Andrew Hines ended up third with a 7.091 on his Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson V-Rod, while points leader Antron Brown is fourth with a 7.136 on his Army ride.