Rockingham II: Friday qualifying summary

Creasy Fires Opening Shot At Rockingham Dragway Claims ...

Creasy Fires Opening Shot At Rockingham Dragway
Claims #1 qualifying spot in race that will determine world championship

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (October 20, 2006) -- Dale Creasy Jr. and Jack Wyatt are battling to see who will end up on top of the Knoll Gas-Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car championship points standings. Friday night Creasy gained the early upper hand.

Creasy, a Beecher, Ill. resident, entered the season-ending Universal Technical Institute World Finals in Rockingham, N.C., boasting a slim 20-point lead over Wyatt in the points race. His 4.952 run at 294.88 mph put him at the top of the qualifying sheet while Wyatt, with a 5.045/253.85 pass, finished right on his heels in the #2 position.

Andrew Cowin (Wilmington, N.C.) grabbed the provisional #1 qualifier spot in the Knoll Gas-Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel class by leading a stellar evening Top Fuel qualifying session with a 4.574 pass at 317.34 mph. Clay Millican (Drummonds, Tenn.), who clinched his sixth consecutive Top Fuel World Championship at the President's Cup Nationals two weeks ago, was second on the list with a 4.591 run at 314.83 mph while Rick Cooper (Boise, Idaho), battling it out for second overall in the world, was third after Friday's session.

Troy Critchley (Wylie, Texas) pulled the biggest surprise of Friday's racing when he moved to the top of the Torco's Pro Modified qualifying sheet. He posted a 6.061 pass at a Rockingham Dragway track record 236.17 mph. Critchley, who went off the end of the track the last time he raced in IHRA competition at the Torco Northern Nationals at US 131 Motorsports Park earlier this summer, ripped straight down the groove at Rockingham Dragway to claim the provisional pole.

Points leader Quain Stott (Columbus, N.C.), who came to Rockingham with a slight 10-point lead over Glen Kerunsky in the class points chase, was 11th on the provisional qualifying sheet after posting a 6.130 at 231.40 mph. Kerunsky has work to do, sitting 14th on the provisional ladder with a 6.186 at 225.63.

Paul Noakes is not in the championship hunt in the Alcohol Funny Car class, but the London, Ont. resident is driving like he could be a factor in the points chase next season. Noakes, who has two IHRA national event victories this season, drove to the top of the provisional qualifying sheet Friday with a 5.786 at 241.32 mph.

Mark Thomas (Louisville, Ohio) is seeking his sixth career IHRA World Championship and came to Rockingham with a 48-point lead over Rob Atchison. Thomas moved into the provisional field with a 5.957 pass at 241.84 mph while Atchison ended Friday's session on the outside of the field in the #10 position.

Rob Mansfield continued his strong late-season push by posting a 6.363 at 217.39 mph to grab the provisional Torco's Pro Stock top qualifying spot in Rockingham. Mansfield, who won in Epping, N.H. last month, is not in the 2006 World Championship points chase, but he sizzled down the strip in his Wilson Manifolds '06 Chevy Cobalt Friday night to move to the top of the sheet.

Current IHRA points leader Tony Gillig put together a strong run to finish Friday's qualifying session in the #5 position. Gillig, who came into the World Finals 31 points ahead of Pete Berner in the chase for the World Championship, posted a 6.399 at 215.03 mph. Berner finished the first qualifying session on the bump spot at he clocked a 6.497/213.87 mph pass.

Candyce Marsh made her first pass as a professional Friday night, becoming the first African-American woman to compete in professional drag racing history. Marsh drove her '01 Firebird to a 6.541 elapsed time at 208.55 mph to finish 22nd on the qualifying sheet with two more sessions on tap for Saturday. The top 16 drivers qualify for the eliminations rounds in the Torco's Pro Modified class.

Qualifying resumes Saturday for the Universal Technical Institute World Finals at Rockingham Dragway. Gates open at 8 a.m. with Sportsman eliminations at 9 a.m. and Professional qualifying rounds at 2 and 6 p.m., during the JCB "Night of Fire." Professional eliminations start Sunday at 11 a.m.

-credit: ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers Mark Thomas , Clay Millican , Tony Gillig , Quain Stott , Andrew Cowin , Dale Creasy Jr. , Troy Critchley , Glen Kerunsky