CORDOVA IL - SUMMIT FastNews - Final qualifying for the IHRA Amalie Oil Summer Nationals brought a number of good runs, lots of controversy, some extremely close, side-by-side racing, and an inconclusive conclusion. ...
CORDOVA IL - SUMMIT FastNews - Final qualifying for the IHRA Amalie Oil Summer Nationals brought a number of good runs, lots of controversy, some extremely close, side-by-side racing, and an inconclusive conclusion. The good runs came in most of the Pro categories, especially Top Fuel Harley, where most of the runs during the first two rounds of qualifying were on and off the throttle efforts. Bill Furr remained atop the Top Fuel Harley ladder with his earlier 6.744 second, 196.93 mph run from Friday, but the rest of the field closed the gap considerably. Jim McClure closed to within 0.004 seconds during the "Night of Fire" session, clocked at 6.749 seconds and 196.27 mph, and the top six qualifiers were within 0.082 seconds by the time qualifying was completed. The top of the Pro Stock field shuffled several times during the evening session Saturday, John Montecalvo finally taking control of the top spot at 6.732 seconds, 205.63 mph. Steve Spiess was second at 6.737 and 207.30, with Chris Holbrook third at 6.744 and 207.08. Holbrook led the field coming into the round and improved by 0.010 seconds in his final run, but it wasn't enough to hold off Montecalvo and Spiess. Fred Hahn stayed atop the Pro Modified field at 6.350 seconds, 221.46 mph, but points leader Al Billes moved right in behind him with a 6.365 at 222.91. The sixteen-car ladder sports a bump spot of 6.522, Tommy Mauney, a very tight field for the category. Super Eliminator showed the least change during the final rounds of qualifying, Larry Snyder staying atop the ladder with his earlier 6.167 second, 220.04 mph run. The controversy came in the second Top Fuel session of the day, when just two cars showed up to make qualifying runs. Whether this was an organized protest against the recent IHRA change to a two-run qualifying format for Top Fuel, an effort to improve participation in the "Night of Fire" show, or the result of high breakage in the first qualifying session Saturday will never be resolved, the truth probably a mix of the two. There was a lot of breakage in the first round. There was also a lot of resistance to the change among the teams. In any event, Jim Bailey heads the eight-car field at 4.778 seconds and 298.01 mph. The inconclusive conclusion came in Alcohol Funny Car, when Wayne Butler was awarded a rerun, to be made Sunday morning. During the final qualifying session, Dan Crownhart, running in the other lane, crossed into Butler's lane and interfered with his run. Butler ended up as first alternate and argued, successfully, that without the interference he probably would have made the field. So the Alcohol Funny Car ladder is provisional, with Von Smith still atop the order at 5.983 and 234.41 mph. Scott Weney joined Smith in the fives during the final session, clocked at 5.994 and 238.72 mph, top speed of the meet so far. The really close racing - too close, in fact - came in the final round of the Holbrook Tools Top Sportsman Quick 8, wher number one qualifier Mike Swinarsky faced Number two qualifier Kevin O'Dell. O'Dell nailed Swinarsky to the Christmas tree, by 0.12 seconds, but Swinarsky made that deficit up by the 330-foot timers and then actually pulled ahead to a slight lead by half track. That's where Swinarsky's car got very loose and veered to the right, straddling the centerline and side-by-side with O'Dell, who moved over to the right side of his lane. Neither driver appeared to lift and the two ran that way for the rest of the distance, O'Dell about 0.04 seconds ahead and Swinarsky cleaning off all the timing reflectors on the centerline from 1,000 feet on. It was exciting and, fortunately, the two cars never touched each other.
Final eliminations are scheduled to begin at 11:00 AM Sunday. If today was any indicator, it should be another day of fast, exciting racing.
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