Rockingham II: Saturday qualifying summary

IHRA World Championship Showdowns Set at World Finals Gilbertson, Cowin, Russo, Patrick and Dobbs grab top qualifying spots in Rockingham; four of five world titles will be settled tomorrow ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (October 21, 2006) -- The stage is...

IHRA World Championship Showdowns Set at World Finals

Gilbertson, Cowin, Russo, Patrick and Dobbs grab top qualifying spots in Rockingham; four of five world titles will be settled tomorrow

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (October 21, 2006) -- The stage is set for a frantic finish to the 2006 IHRA season. Four of the five professional world champions will be determined during Sunday's elimination rounds at the Universal Technical Institute World Finals in Rockingham, N.C.

Dale Creasy Jr. and Jack Wyatt are locked in a battle for the Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car world championship, and it will be settled Sunday during final eliminations. Creasy held a slight lead heading into the World Finals with 768 points, compared to Wyatt's 746, and he picked up a few more points by qualifying in the #2 position with a 4.952 at 294.80 mph while Wyatt ended up No. 5 with a 5.045/253.35 pass.

"Tomorrow is a different day," Wyatt said. "Hopefully we can go some rounds tomorrow."

Creasy is looking forward to getting things going Sunday morning.

"Our team is ready to go," Creasy said. "Hopefully I can get some sleep tonight."

Bob Gilbertson (Gastonia, N.C.) ended up in the No. 1 qualifying position with a 4.839 pass at 308.99 mph. He caught on fire during his final qualifying pass, but he was not too concerned.

"It looks like we have a fire down here, but that's cool," Gilbertson said. "We're going to have some fun tonight and get ready for tomorrow."

Creasy faces Tim Wilkerson in the first round Sunday while Wyatt squares off with Gilbertson.

Andrew Cowin (Wilmington, N.C.) did not make his final qualifying hit Saturday night at the World Finals. He didn't have to because his Friday night pass was good enough. Cowin was the No. 1 qualifier in the Knoll Gas-Torco Racing Fuels Top Fuel class on the strength of his 4.574/317.34 mph hit during the first qualifying session of the event. Cowin, who was the runner-up at the Spring Nationals in Rockingham earlier this season, is looking forward to Sunday's rounds of eliminations.

"This is our home track and we love putting on a show for the fans here," Cowin said. "The track is in great shape and this Serta Top Fuel Dragster is ready to go. Lance Larsen and the crew have worked so hard to give me a great car this weekend. Hopefully we can end the season on a winning note."

Quain Stott did not finish as the top qualifier, but he kept his Torco's CompetitionPlus.com Pro Modified championship hopes alive with a clutch final qualifying round Saturday night. After being knocked out of the field by Mike Castellana's 6.115 pass, Stott (Columbus, N.C.) laid down a 6.096 at 233.03 mph to climb back into the field in the 13th qualifying position. He entered the race with a 10-point lead over Glen Kerunsky (Priddis, Alb.) and a 30-point lead over Mike Janis (Lancaster, N.Y.). When he moved back into the field he gave himself the chance to clinch the championship with a strong performance during eliminations.

"I did not want to lose a championship by not qualifying," Stott said. "I'm still a long, long way from winning it but at least I gave myself a chance to do something by racing tomorrow."

John Russo (Middleton, Mass.) set a provisional world record with a 6.012 pass during Saturday evening qualifying to claim #1 qualifier honors in what ended up being the quickest Pro Mod field in IHRA history. The previous quickest bump spot was 6.165 set in Budds Creek, Md., three weeks ago. Danny Rowe (Rossville, Ga.), who also holds championship hopes, ended up on the bump spot with a 6.106/231.83 pass. Janis also will live to race tomorrow as he ended up seventh on the ladder.

"Unbelievable," Russo said after his provisional record. What a dream "come true for this team."

Larry Dobbs (Welland, Ont.) qualified atop the Alcohol Funny Car sheet, but it was what happened near the bottom of the list that could end up making all the difference in the championship points chase. Rob Atchison (London, Ont.), who came to Rockingham 48 points behind Mark Thomas (Louisville, Ohio), was on the outside of the field, looking in, heading into the Saturday evening qualifying session. He came up in the clutch with a 5.776 pass at 246.44 mph to move into the #2 qualifying position and keep his championship hopes alive. Thomas ended up fourth on the ladder with a 5.831/243.02 pass. Both drivers are on the same side of the qualifying ladder and could square off in the semifinals with the championship on the line if they both advance past the first round.

Robert Patrick (Fredericksburg, Va.) continued his solid season by claiming the last Torco's CompetitionPlus.com Pro Stock pole of the season. Patrick drove his '06 Shelby Mustang to the #1 qualifier position with a 6.326 pass at 218.30 mph.

"We'll take that 0.326," Patrick said. "We had some problems and looked like a bunch of rookies trying to back up, but we put together a good run. Now we'll try to get ready for tomorrow."

Tomorrow will provide an interesting first-round match-up as Patrick will square off with current points leader, Tony Gillig (Lake Bluff, Ill.), to open the elimination rounds.

Raleigh, N.C. resident Candyce Marsh, in her quest to qualify as the first African-American woman competing in professional drag racing, came up just short in the Pro Modified class. Marsh posted a 6.541 at 208.55 mph to end up 30th on the qualifying ladder.

-credit: ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers Mike Janis , Mark Thomas , Tony Gillig , Robert Patrick , Bob Gilbertson , Quain Stott , Andrew Cowin , Dale Creasy Jr. , Tim Wilkerson , Jack Wyatt , Danny Rowe