Litton Conquers Demons Top Fuel driver returns to scene of last season's horrific crash to take provisional pole At last season's Amalie Oil Texas Nationals, IHRA Top Fuel driver Bruce Litton hit the wall in the semifinals and suffered the most...
Litton Conquers Demons
Top Fuel driver returns to scene of last season's horrific crash to take provisional pole
At last season's Amalie Oil Texas Nationals, IHRA Top Fuel driver Bruce Litton hit the wall in the semifinals and suffered the most devastating crash of his career. He returned to the same track, the same lane and the same event to grab the provisional pole position after Friday qualifying at San Antonio Raceway.
Litton, driving in the right lane, posted a 4.735 at over 316 mph to finish at the top of the Top Fuel heap heading into morning qualifying Saturday.
"The last time I went down the track it was that lane," Litton said. "This was kind of like the final round I didn't get to run. It shook and I pedaled it once but God blessed me with a good car and safety. The rest is history."
Now that the first run at San Antonio after his accident is in the books, Litton is looking forward to everyone moving on and putting the past back into the past.
"I've wanted it behind me for a long, long time," Litton said. "No one wants to keep on it but I understand that this is the first trip back and the irony is the first time I get to go down the track it is in that lane. I remember.I don't remember the run but I remember what lane I was in before I left. This run I remember so I feel pretty good about that."
The windy conditions may have delayed the race and caused IHRA to restructure its Friday schedule, but they did not prevent Robert Patrick (Fredericksburg, VA) from making an early statement in the Torco Race Fuels Pro Stock class.
Patrick put himself into position to become the new IHRA e.t. record holder if he can back up the blistering 6.427 that earned him the #1 qualifying spot in the Friday qualifying session. He will have to post a 6.491 Saturday to put the record in the books.
"Our weather station told us we should have run a .38 or a .39 so the track just wasn't there tonight," Patrick said. "I'm confident we're not going to let up and be able to do it tomorrow night. We'll set the record tomorrow but what we have to be careful of is that there are a lot of other capable teams out there who if they hit the clutch right tomorrow night, or even in the morning, are capable of running the same thing. A lot of people just missed the track and we were fortunate enough to hit it."
Patrick is looking to be the first Torco Race Fuels Pro Stock driver to run in the 6.30's and enter the Lenco 6.30 Club, the Lenco Transmissions-sponsored program that recognizes the first 16 Pro Stock drivers to make a recognized sub 6.40 pass. Patrick was the first to do so in off-season testing and wants to be the first official member of the club.
"6.30 in testing is fine, but what everyone is going to remember is the first to do it in a national event legal at a sanctioned race," Patrick said. "That is what everybody out here is shooting for, to be the first car in. And there are plenty out here who can do it."
2003 IHRA Pro Stock World Champion Brian Gahm (Louisville, OH) ran the second-fastest pass of the qualifying when he clocked a 6.460 while defending champion John Nobile (Dix Hills, NY) sits in the third position at 6.461.
In Funny Car defending IHRA World Champion Rob Atchison showed that he remains the man to beat. Atchison (London, Ont.) posted a 5.845 to claim top honors from last season's runner up, Mark Thomas (Louisville, OH) who checked in at 5.957.
"In the grand scheme I was just knocking the cobwebs out, really," Atchison said. "After three months sometimes I wonder if I remember how to do this, but after the burnout it all kind of comes back. It wasn't the game plan but it was a great lap and we're really, really happy with it. We'll try to step on it a little more tomorrow a little bit more to see what we can push out of it and get ready for eliminations. Fortunately I probably have more information than any other Funny Car out there because of the lap."
Ed Hoover (Gilbert, SC) has someone else making the decisions in the pits, but on the track it was the same old Ed Hoover. He hired Jimmy Rector to chief his crew this season after calling all the shots himself for his first 25 years behind the wheel. As a result he ran a sizzling 6.197 at over 232 mph to claim the #1 spot after Friday's qualifying.
"We turned it back because we saw what was going on with everyone smoking the tires," Hoover said. "When the air is so good the engine has an abundance of horsepower so you don't want to go out and put too much of your motor in it. We really had it backed down and Jimmy told me it would run an .18 to .21 and it did. I never thought it would run that fast because it was so soft. I struggled last year and figured if we were coming out this year we weren't going to suck.we were going to do good and I had to get the Big Man on the team."
Quain Stott (Columbus, NC) finished second after Friday qualifying at 6.207 while Shannon Jenkins (Tuscaloosa, AL) checked in third at 6.248.