FULLER, WORSHAM, ANDERSON AND HINES LEAD QUALIFYING FRIDAY AT O'REILLY NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS MADISON, Ill. -- "Hot Rod" Fuller, who won last weekend at Englishtown, N.J., continued to pace the Top Fuel category, posting a 4.606 at 322.73 mph ...
FULLER, WORSHAM, ANDERSON AND HINES LEAD QUALIFYING FRIDAY AT O'REILLY NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS
MADISON, Ill. -- "Hot Rod" Fuller, who won last weekend at Englishtown, N.J., continued to pace the Top Fuel category, posting a 4.606 at 322.73 mph Friday night at Gateway International Raceway to lead the 10th annual O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals presented by Castrol.
Del Worsham Greg Anderson and Andrew Hines also led qualifying in their respective categories at the $1.3 million race, the 12th of 23 events in the $50 million POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Just like he did in New Jersey, Fuller did the best job of getting his Valvoline/David Powers Homes dragster down a warm racetrack, posting a competitive 4.606 at 322.73 mph to lead a group of 18 dragsters. Fuller has never earned a No. 1 qualifying position in his 36-race Top Fuel career.
"Someone said to me that we didn't do well at this race last year and my response was we didn't have [crew chief] Lee Beard last year," Fuller said. "It's not as hot as what we expected but it's still warm and Lee shines under these conditions. He did it last week and he's off to a good start here. I hope it's hot everywhere we go. It seems like no one wants to qualify No. 1 these days because we haven't had a winner from the No. 1 position this year, but since we are racing at night at this event I feel that it may be important to be No. 1."
Worsham also is the surprise leader in Funny Car. Although the 17-year veteran has won 21 times in his career, he's only been top qualifier on three occasions. But on this day, the 4.842 at 321.96 mph he posted in his Checker Schuck's Kragen Chevrolet Monte Carlo gave him the provisional No. 1 slot.
"We decided a few races ago that we needed a quicker racecar," Worsham said. "This has turned into a learning year for us. It took awhile to get used to the new tires and we've had different engine parts we've been trying out. We've been working really hard on making this thing quicker so we can get back to winning rounds and I think we're just starting to see the positive results of that extra work."
Point leader Anderson's double-track record performance of 6.692 at 206.23 mph put him on top of Pro Stock. The Summit Racing Pontiac GTO driver has five No. 1 qualifying efforts this year, but hasn't had one since the Atlanta race in early May.
"We needed this," Anderson said. "We need a shot in the arm. We haven't been No. 1 in awhile and we haven't won in awhile. Most of that's on me. I haven't been great on the Tree on Sunday. There are too many good cars out here now so you have to be totally on it. That's the beauty of this class. We raised the bar and everyone responded and now they're pushing us. It's gut-check time to see if we can respond."
Back-to-back Pro Stock Motorcycle champ Hines led his category with a track record time of 7.085 seconds at 188.89 mph on his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Hines posted his leading run in the first session and oddly no riders improved in the evening session.
"We were back there watching the times, expecting to see 7.08s and 7.09s and we just kept seeing 7.18s and 7.19s," Hines said. "Some times this happens and no one really knows why. It's like we raced in a better pocket of oxygenated air earlier."