SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 6) -- Friday's evening session of professional qualifying for the 12th Annual Autolite Nationals took place under ideal conditions at Sears Point Raceway. The world's fastest drivers took full advantage of the cool, dry ...
SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 6) -- Friday's evening session of professional qualifying for the 12th Annual Autolite Nationals took place under ideal conditions at Sears Point Raceway. The world's fastest drivers took full advantage of the cool, dry temperatures and near-sea level altitude readings with improved times recorded in all three professional categories.
Team Pennzoil followed the pattern set by the rest of the field with all three pros posting drastically improved numbers in Round 2. Here's a look at each pilot's second pass.
Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, shrugged off the memory of his harrowing 310-mph wreck of two years ago at Sears Point Raceway and posted a blistering 4.619-second lap at 318.09 mph in Friday's second session. The remarkable time put the 63-year-old Hill into the No. 3 spot in the Top Fuel qualifying field.
"We're having a good time now," Hill said. "You know, we've had some good luck and some bad luck here at this track in the past. I just hope we've already used up all of the bad luck and we can continue to run laps like that one. The car really felt good and it pulled through the timers very nicely. I'm really pleased with how she's running. We've had several great laps over the course of the last few races. I'd like to keep that streak alive this weekend."
Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, stepped up considerably in the day's second session with a solid pass of 6.982 seconds at 197.51 mph. The time moved Thomas from 23rd place on the qualifying ladder into the No. 9 spot.
"We're really lucky to have made that good of a run," Thomas said, "because we still went through the clutch much more than we should have. That was pure horsepower there. I was fighting the track all the way down. I jumped way out of the groove in between first and second gear and I had to pull it back in fast to get any sort of time. I got a little lucky that run. We plan on shifting some weight around to see if that will level the car out."
Bruce Allen, the driver of The Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac, covered the strip in 7.019 seconds at 197.42 mph in Round 2 to move into the 17th position. Allen will have two more chances to improve on his posted time during Saturday's two scheduled sessions.
"We've encountered a rare problem," Allen said. "We had a new set of tires on in Round 1 and they didn't touch the track all the way to the sidewall of the tire like they should. That hardly ever happens. So, we switched back to some old tires in Round 2 but they didn't match the clutch set-up we had tuned into the car so we just spun like crazy all the way down. Hopefully, the weather will stay cool and we'll be able to make up for this tomorrow."