Norwalk: Friday pit notes

NORWALK, OHIO - Pit notes from Harley Communications at the IHRA Mopar Parts World Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio. Top Fuel Bruce Litton - Litton made a strong baseline run on the first session, which was postponed until Thursday morning. Litton...

NORWALK, OHIO - Pit notes from Harley Communications at the IHRA Mopar Parts World Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.

Top Fuel

Bruce Litton - Litton made a strong baseline run on the first session, which was postponed until Thursday morning. Litton opened up with a 4.987/293.41, which landed him in the fifth spot after the initial session. The Wix Filters presented by the Top Dragster Driving Experience team stepped up and hammered out a 4.775/302.69 to land in the second spot going into the final session.

J.R. Todd - This event has provided the United Expressline, Inc./Bruce Litton Trailer Sales sponsored driver with a valuable learning experience. The 18-year old Top Fuel driver from Lawrenceburg, IN., will be faced with dealing with serious pressure as he enters the final day of the event unqualified. He's made two smoke-filled runs that have only netted an 8.583 best. He is currently ranked 10th.

Pro Funny Car

Von Smith - Smith, who entered the Mopar Parts World Nationals hot off of a win at the Northern Nationals in Stanton, MI., is currently qualified in the top half of the program going into the final qualifications this evening. The veteran driver from Oak Ridge, TN., has yet to reach into the five-second zone as he sits in the sixth spot presently with a 6.011/232.31. He is presently fifth

Scott Weney - The current points leader from Royersford, Pa., followed his tradition of laying down a respectable baseline and then storming back with a much better run during Thursday's session. He opened with a 6.104, which was enough for the 13th spot. He turned up the wick on Thursday's lone session with a 5.972/234.00. He now resides in the second spot.

Pro Modified

Troy Critchley/Johnny Rocca - The Ironhorse returned to Norwalk despite a sweltering of rumors that car owner Johnny Rocca was going to retire. The Australian-born driver Troy Critchley pushed the classic 1949 Mercury to a 6.467/215.68, which was bumped down to the 14th spot by the time he came to the line for his second attempt. Critchley appeared to be on a good run until a puff of smoke at the 1,000-foot mark and the car slowed to a 6.503. The car had a 1.05 sixty-foot time, which would have provided a tremendous lap.

Shannon Jenkins - The defending World Champion did his business on Wednesday. The Tuscaloosa, AL.-based, Dodge Viper driver made his best run in the left lane as he stormed to a 6.440/218.97 to land in the fifth spot. The Norwalk racing surface proved to be a tricky proposition during Thursday qualifying as Jenkins launched hard with the wheels up and chose to lift and coast to an 8.606/111.94.

Ed Hoover - Hoover has exhibited bracket racing style consistency. The defending World Nationals Pro Modified champion got off to a good start with a 6.460/217.84, which landed him in the seventh position. He returned on Thursday and upped the ante with a 6.442/219.76 to vault Paul Trussell's 1963 Corvette into the fifth position.

Dale Brinsfield - Brinsfield has had a whale of a time at Norwalk thus far. On his first run, a 6.545/212.59, he had problems with the shift-light staying on the entire run, which put him on the chip in second gear. He returned to the pits and pulled the valve covers off to reveal a rocker that had been cracked in half. The veteran import car business owner counted his blessing as he caught the damaged part before starting the machine again. He hoped to improve on his Thursday run, but couldn't find the right recipe for a tricky racing surface and lifted at the sixth-foot mark. He dropped to the bubble following his run and stands unqualified at the moment.

Mike Castellana - Castellana chose to debut a new Tim McAmis-built 1957 at the World Nationals and appears to be mired in a classic case of the new car blues. The veteran supermarket chain owner from Westbury, NY., has went any way but straight as he enters the final day of qualifying on the outside looking in with a 20.19 best. With a little more dialing in to the wants and needs of this racing surface, Castellana should be in the program.

Steve Cossis - The entry of Cossis found a good baseline to work off of with a 6.488/215.88, which had dropped him to the bump spot by the time he rolled up to the line for his run. The man who answers to the moniker "Psycossis" didn't sweat it as he dumped the clutch on his Shannon Jenkins-tuned entry and stormed to the fourth best lap of the class with a 6.437/218.80.

Al Billes - Billes was in the multitude of blown cars that were sporting a newly legalized gear ratio for the blown entries. He didn't fare well in the early going as he only managed a 7.798 run on Wednesday. He stepped up big time on Thursday and stormed to the top half of the program with a 6.446/220.37 in his Canadian-based 1953 Studebaker.

Tommy Mauney - Mauney began his first race after an interesting turn of events that had him returning, quitting and returning again. The veteran chassis builder from Shelby, NC., now drives for Roy Singleton's Majesty Group after starting the season with the Parsons Brother's team. Singleton recently took delivery of the supercharged Willys. Mauney is currently unqualified with a 6.639/208.10 best.

Tommy Gray - Gray made his return after dissecting his Undertaker 1953 Corvette in an attempt to locate a gremlin that has been plaguing his racing operation. The result is nearly a new combination and a place in the field after two sessions with a 6.461/216.48 best. He resides on the border of being in the top half of the field.

Pro Stock

Chris Holbrook - Holbrook has not been dealt a kind hand from fate this season. However, he continues to prove the adage that a champion gets up for just one more time. Driving the same Pro Stock entry that Jerry Haas piloted at Stanton, Holbrook has a place in the program on his lone run, a 6.819/204.39. His first run never materialized when the throttle became stuck in the hood scoop and forced him to have to shut off.

John Montecalvo - The Citgo-sponsored Montecalvo appears to be headed in the right direction. The Center Moriches, NY.-based driver got off to a good start as he found a good baseline with a 6.824/203.37. Crewchief Steven Cultrera and the crew found a good direction go in as Montecalvo stepped it up with a 6.759/205.98.

Gene Wilson - Wilson has established himself in a zone when it relates to consistency. His first run yielded a 6.798, which landed him in the tenth position. In the second session on Thursday, the Georgia-based driver for Charlie Hunt rebounded with a 6.770/206.76, which landed him in the top half of the Pro Stock field.

Dwayne Rice - Rice represents the Pontiac brand proudly at Norwalk as he emerged as the quickest within the manufacturer's ranks. The former Modified racer who made the jump to the professional ranks several years ago gained a comfortable entry into the field with a 6.806. He rebounded with a 6.760/205.54 to launch himself all the way to the fourth spot.

Floyd Cheek - Cheek, driver on the Charlie Hunt two-car team, stands in the top half of the program after two sessions. The two-time IHRA World Champion from Soddy Daisey, TN., has recorded a 6.793/205.82 best after two attempts. Any question of the parity between his and teammate Gene Wilson's ride? Absolutely, as the two cars tied with a 6.798 in the first session, with Wilson gaining the higher seeding due to a higher mile per hour.

Pro Outlaw

Laurie Cannister - Cannister has made her Mopar sponsors smile plenty proud as she has provided an excellent showing in qualifying. The Nicorette/Nicoderm CQ-sponsored driver established herself as the second quickest in qualifying by hammering out a 6.262/218.33 on her first lap. The current points leader failed to improve in the second session with a 6.283/216.17.

Top Dragster

Malinda Bertozzi - Bertozzi had a tough run of luck at Norwalk. Knowing very well that she was going to have to make a career-best run in the entry, she mortally wounded her motor on the first qualifying attempt that only netted an 8.673. A switch to a smaller motor afforded her no reprieve as she fell short of making the program with a 6.936/192.55.

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Series Drag
Drivers Laurie Cannister , Scott Weney , Johnny Rocca , Bruce Litton , Gene Wilson , Dwayne Rice , John Montecalvo , Ed Hoover , Tommy Gray , Shannon Jenkins , Al Billes , Tim McAmis , Jerry Haas , Troy Critchley , Von Smith , J.R. Todd