Grand Bend: Saturday qualifying summary

A Double Dip for Richard Hartman Tunes Bruce Litton (Top Fuel) and Andy Kelley (Nitro Funny Car) to ...

A Double Dip for Richard Hartman
Tunes Bruce Litton (Top Fuel) and Andy Kelley (Nitro Funny Car) to #1 qualifier positions at Mopar Canadian Nationals

Grand Bend, Ont. (July 19, 2008) -- Richard Hartman spend a good portion of the day running back and forth between the pits of Bruce Litton and Andy Kelley. As Crew Chief on both cars he has little idle time, working with both teams to get them ready between afternoon and evening qualifying sessions.

At Grand Bend Motorplex for the Mopar Canadian Nationals Hartman was on his game. He put Andy Kelley on top of the Torco Pro Nitro Funny Car qualifying sheet with a 5.013 at 294.31 mph. Then, when rain washed away the final Top Fuel session, Bruce Litton became the second Hartman-tuned nitro car to find the top of the qualifying sheet...this time in the Torco Pro Nitro Top Fuel class.

"Richard is so great for our team," Kelley said. "He is such a great tuner who really knows how to get a car down the track, but he also knows how to tune on a budget. We don't try to set any records or set the world on fire, we just try to get from A to B effectively. Richard put us on the right track this year and things are paying off."

Kelley, from Piedmont, S.C., will square off with #5 qualifier Steven Macklyn (Layton, Utah) in the first round of eliminations Sunday.

Litton, an Indianapolis resident, jumped to the top of the qualifying sheet Friday night with a strong 4.743 pass at 302.75 mph. That number stood up against all challengers during the Saturday afternoon qualifying session.

"Richard and our tuning consultant Nicky Boninfante really know this car and always make the right calls," Litton said. "They make my job a lot easier because all I have to worry about is driving the car. My entire team is so professional and so effective...they consistently do their job as well as any other team in drag racing."

Litton will face #5 qualifier Kevin Jones, the winner two weeks ago in Edmonton, in the first round Sunday.

Ray Commisso is not a regular on the IHRA Knoll Gas Nitro Jam circuit, but he certainly makes his presence known when he shows up to race. Commisso, a Torontonian, earned #1 qualifier honors at Grand Bend Motorplex with a 6.039 at 238.30 mph.

"The reason this feels so good is because I've been really struggling with this car," Commisso said about his '68 Firebird. "We changed a lot of things and have tried some different stuff. We looked at qualifying as four test runs on a good race track. We didn't expect anything special to come out of it, but the changes we made the car really responded to. That's what I'm so happy about. We went a 6.03 and that's an awesome run, but what I'm more happy about is that the car responded to what we tried. Things are working."

Commisso will square off with Jason Hamstra in the first round of eliminations Sunday.

Dr. Tom Carter (Cuero, Tx.) grabbed top qualifying honors in the Alcohol Funny Car class, clocking a 5.842 at 243.24 mph to end up on top of the sheet. Carter used a steady, conservative approach to guide his '08 Monte Carlo to the pole.

"I did my job, I left from where my crew wanted me to leave when I was staging and went right down through there," Carter said. "We had a good afternoon pass and that's when we put our race day tune up in it, so that's encouraging. We'll be right there Sunday. We just wanted to get down the track so we didn't do anything very aggressive during the afternoon session."

Jeff Dobbins (Wilmington, NC) came to Grand Bend with the Torco Pro Stock points lead. He added to that lead by claiming the #1 qualifying position and securing the five Quarter-Max Pro Stock Challenge bonus points. IHRA awards five bonus points to the quickest professional driver of the evening qualifying sessions who also reached the finish line before his or her opponent.

Dobbins ended up on top of the qualifying sheet by posting a 6.381 pass at 218.65 mph during the Saturday evening qualifying session. He will square off with #9 qualified John Konigshofer in the first round of eliminations Sunday.

"This was great," Dobbins said. "My wife and son are here this weekend so that made things even more special."

Frank Gugliotta (Mt. Airy, Md.) ended up second on the qualifying sheet while defending World Champion Robert Patrick (Fredericksburg, Va.) qualified third.

-credit: ihra

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About this article
Series Drag
Drivers Bruce Litton , Robert Patrick , Richard Hartman , Frank Gugliotta