Rockingham: Series Saturday qualifying summary

Defending World Champ Lang knocks North Carolina's Rickie Smith from top of Pro Mod Cox makes it two in a row in Top Fuel; Montecalvo sits on Pro Stock 'pole' for first time in years ROCKINGHAM, N.C. -- No one has navigated the lanes at famed ...

Defending World Champ Lang knocks North Carolina's Rickie Smith from top of Pro Mod
Cox makes it two in a row in Top Fuel; Montecalvo sits on Pro Stock 'pole' for first time in years

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. -- No one has navigated the lanes at famed Rockingham Dragway more times than Rickie Smith.

A seven-time IHRA world champion and multi-time winner at one of the oldest and most prestigious tracks in all of drag racing, Smith is usually considered a shoe-in when making passes at "The Rock." Saturday night, that history meant nothing.

Defending Pro Modified World Champion Kenny Lang (Grande Pointe, Manitoba) showed why he is the best in the business right now by knocking North Carolina's own Smith (King, N.C.) from the top of the charts with a blazing 5.960 elapsed time at 239.48 miles per hour to take the No. 1 qualifying spot in Pro Mod during Saturday's Castrol "Night of Fire" qualifying at Rockingham Dragway.

"Those nitrous guys are definitely fast. Rickie is running really quick so just to get close to that and be quicker was a good accomplishment and we are happy with that," Lang said. "We hurt the clutch in the run before that so we had to take the clutch out and service it before our run. We had to tune it up a little bit.

"We just wanted to make a strong, safe run, but not get too aggressive with it tonight. We still left a little bit on the table."

Lang's pass moved him from sixth to the top of the charts Saturday night, edging Smith's 5.962 E.T. laid down Friday night.

"It was a good run. The first couple of runs this weekend we struggled a little bit. We tuned up a few parts here and there and are finally starting to get back to where we need to be in relation to smooth runs," Lang said. "It was a smooth run, no problems with the car. We are making it down the track clean which is what we want and that is the way the car works best. I look forward to getting back out here tomorrow."

IHRA newcomer Tim Tindle (Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.) slipped to third on the charts with a 5.976 pass at 236.17 mph while Burton Auxier (Dixie, W.Va.) sits fourth on a 5.993 at 234.86 mph. Ed Hoover (5.999/237.21) sits fifth for tomorrow's finals.

Del Cox showed that his top qualifying spot at the season opening Mardi Gras Nationals wasn't a fluke with his second straight Top Fuel "pole" on a 4.635 pass at 315.64 mph, giving the Downey, Calif. native the fastest run of the weekend so far.

"It was awesome. We went in there with those intentions, but you never know how it will go," Cox said. "Two in a row -- that is just amazing. Paul says if you feel anything lift because this thing is going to be a rocket ship."

Despite the great run, Cox wasn't aware just how well he had done until a few minutes after he got out of the car.

"I got on the radio and told them to scream as loud as you can if something goes wrong so I can lift. I go through the lights and all I here is someone screaming so I pull off the track and there is fire coming out of the right banks and I am thinking that the dang thing blew up and I am in trouble," Cox said. "I asked what was wrong and I heard the yelling again -- they were cheering. That is when I knew I put down a pretty solid lap."

Cox edged out Scarsdale, N.Y. native Bobby Lagana Jr. who ran a 4.676 at 301.94 mph during the pristine nighttime conditions.

Bruce Litton, who topped the charts Friday, pulled onto the track for Saturday's evening session, but had to call it a night. He sits third with a 4.721 at 290.32 mph. Terry Haddock (4.767/302.14) and Paul Lee (4.837/304.05) round out the top five.

John Montecalvo (Center Moriches, N.Y.) knocked Frank Gugliotta (Mt. Airy, Md.) off of the Elite Motorsports Pro Stock summit with a 6.325 pass at 219.29 mph to take the No. 1 qualifying spot heading into Sunday's elimination rounds.

Montecalvo also claimed the five bonus points that come along with being named Saturday's Last Man Standing.

"We have always been a consistent car. We have won a lot of rounds, but have never been the fastest. This is the first time we have qualified No. 1 in a long, long time," Montecalvo said. "I can't see too much where we can improve on that run. My crew, I just can't say enough about them. Sunny, Tommy, William, Pat, Doug and of course my lovely wife Louise Ann. We have a good team. I think we can go some rounds this year and do some damage."

Gugliotta had held the top spot with an awesome 6.328 run at 218.23 mph made Friday night, but Montecalvo was unable to unseat the "Flying Meatball" with a solid pass Saturday night.

"It was a little bit of clutch tuning, engine tuning and even some car tuning. We worked on all three areas," Montecalvo said. "This afternoon we had the car apart, we did some work on everything and pretty much we adjusted everything you could adjust on a car.

"The track was excellent. I can't say enough about how well the IHRA preps this track. It is always a great facility."

Cary Goforth (Holdenville, Okla.) dropped from second to third for Sunday's eliminations thanks to Montecalvo's pass, putting down a 6.332 pass at 218.94 mph Friday night. Pete Berner (6.333/219.22) and Richard Freeman (6.370/218.62) remained in place at fourth and fifth respectively as only Montecalvo made a move in the top five.

Saturday's action also featured the finals of the Summit Racing Equipment Allstars race. Allstar winners were Luke Bogacki (Top Dragster), Chris Gulitti (Top Sportsman), Myron Piatek (Stock), Scott Richardson (Super Stock), Scotter Choate (Quick Rod), Todd Thompson (Super Rod) and Kenny Underwood (Hot Rod).

-credit: ihra

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Drag
Drivers Bruce Litton , Bobby Lagana Jr. , John Montecalvo , Ed Hoover , Paul Lee , Rickie Smith , Terry Haddock , Kenny Lang , Frank Gugliotta