Reading Friday report 97-09-12

Reading, PA, The first two rounds of qualifying are in the books at the Pioneer Keystone Nationals. Warren Johnson ran the fast time in Pro Stock with a pass at 6.975. Johnson just edged Jim Yates by .003 seconds to take the ...

Reading, PA, The first two rounds of qualifying are in the books at the Pioneer Keystone Nationals. Warren Johnson ran the fast time in Pro Stock with a pass at 6.975. Johnson just edged Jim Yates by .003 seconds to take the overnight pole.

Chuck Etchells set new track records in the Funny Car division. Etchells ran a 4.982 ET with a top speed of 309.91 MPH, both new track records at Maple Grove.

Scott Kalitta ended up atop the list of Top Fuel drivers with his 4.645 ET and top speed of 313.80. Kenny Bernstein set a new track record with his top speed of 314.24 MPH. Bernstein qualified third behind Larry Dixon.

There were reports that the track was damp at the top end but there were still three Funny Cars over 300 MPH in second qualifying session on friday night. Dean Skuza, who ran 303, got a good launch and said he didn't notice any moisture on the track. Adding, "I could have run that car through gravel". Skuza qualified fourth.

Many teams misjudged the set up for friday's first qualifying session. It was either shake 'em or smoke 'em for the Funny Cars, as crews thought the track would permit four second runs. Ron Capps set fast time in Don Prudhomme's 97 Chevrolet Camaro with a 5.124 ET, 284.90 MPH in the first qualifying round. Only 6 Funny Cars set times under five seconds in round one. Capps was looking to run 5.05 or a 5.10 but dropped a cylinder two seconds into the run. "It was a pretty good run considering it was only running on seven cylinders" Capps said.

The Pro Stock Trucks made an appearance on their exhibition tour. The Chevrolet S-10s of John Lingenfelter and Jerry Haas were fastest with ETs of 7.724 and 7.789 respectively.

The NHRA continues to be the most fan friendly professional motorsport. From the manufacturers midway, to autograph signings, to the track announcers, other forms of motorsport could learn a lesson or two from the NHRA.

Track announcers were sure to announce all the qualifying rules and procedures during the first qualifying session. They explained the placement of the timing equipment and how it worked. In addition to technical details, they had plenty of interesting facts on the drivers and crews.

The manufacturers midway has representatives from all the top firms in the sport. Fans are given product samples or treated to special autograph signings next to the custom built trailers which often double as mobile parts departments.

An estimated 30,000 fans filled the grandstands at Maple Grove on friday. Friday night qualifying is always a big attraction. But the fans are expected back on saturday as Maple Grove's scenic location provides the good air that the racers need to provide plenty of horsepower.

Pro Stock Truck is scheduled to take to the track at 11:45 a.m. on saturday, followed by Pro Stock Bike, Pro Stock Car, Top Fuel and Funny Car.

David Reininger - Motorsport News International

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Warren Johnson , Dean Skuza , Ron Capps , John Lingenfelter , Chuck Etchells , Scott Kalitta , Don Prudhomme , Jerry Haas