Norwalk: Friday qualifying report

POINTS LEADERS FULLER, ANDERSON, SMITH PACE FIELDS WHILE HIGHT SITS ATOP FUNNY CAR QUALIFYING IN NORWALK NORWALK, Ohio -- Top Fuel points leader "Hot Rod" Fuller only made one run down Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park Friday but he ...

POINTS LEADERS FULLER, ANDERSON, SMITH PACE FIELDS WHILE HIGHT SITS ATOP FUNNY CAR QUALIFYING IN NORWALK

NORWALK, Ohio -- Top Fuel points leader "Hot Rod" Fuller only made one run down Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park Friday but he made it a good one, streaking to the forefront of the inaugural Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals with a 4.533 at 323.50 mph.

Greg Anderson followed the same formula in Pro Stock, making one noteworthy pass of 6.654 seconds to lead his class. Funny Car's Robert Hight (4.713) and Pro Stock Motorcycle's Matt Smith (6.965) also shined.

One of the biggest stars of the day was the facility itself. The Bader family has the 44-year-old track in top condition and everyone from the fans to drivers to team owners talked about the facility and improvements made.

"This place really has me pumped up," Fuller said. "It's really nice. I'd say it's one of the coolest drag strips I've ever been to. I just like the way it is a lot. My hat's off to the owners."

Fuller said his dragster was severely underpowered in Round 1, which is why he gave up on the pass and just drifted down the track. Fortunately, his crew chief Rob Flynn managed to gain enough information to make the proper changes for the night run and his 4.533 at 323.50 mph was the best the track has ever held. Clay Millican (4.538, 316.67) and Brandon Bernstein (4.554, 325.37) rounded out the top three qualifiers.

Hight's Auto Club Ford Mustang Funny Car looked very reliable Friday, closing with a 4.713 at 313.73 mph to pace the field. His sister-in-law Ashley Force was close behind with a 4.734, while team patriarch John Force (4.832) was 12th in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang.

"We're qualified but we're still dropping cylinders," Hight said. "It put two cylinders out down track on that run which is why the speed was down. It looks like we're going to end up in the top eight (in the Countdown to the Championship), so for the next seven races, we're going to test and try to come up with a combination that we can race with starting at Indy."

Anderson only made one run Friday, a 6.654 at 207.59 mph, and it came in the warmer early session, but it was still more than enough to put his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO in the lead position at his title sponsor's main event. Anderson stalled on the starting line in Round 2 and failed to make a pass.

"Something happened in the ignition and the engine didn't want to rev up," Anderson said. "We have to get the MSD guys over and figure out what's wrong. Darn it, the air was good and we felt like we could go faster, but by judging what the other car did, maybe we saved face."

Mopar racer Richie Stevens continues his hot streak of late with a second-best 6.659 at 206.04 mph in his Stratus. His teammate, Allen Johnson, was next with a 6.660, while Dave Connolly's Torco/Seelye Wright Cobalt is fourth with a 6.663.

Unhappy with his opening pass of 7.019 seconds on his Torco Buell V-Twin, Pro Stock Motorcycle leader Smith pulled out a new powerplant and managed to knock more than half a tenth off his E.T. to take over the No. 1 position with a 6.965 at 189.60 mph.

"To improve like that with a new motor in there, I'd have to say we're pretty happy," said Smith, who was fourth after the opening round. "There's a lot of water in the air right now and the corrected altitude is 1,800 feet so even though it's cool outside it was hard to make a lot of power."

Another Buell, the Drag Specialties/S&S Cycles machine of Chip Ellis, is second with a 6.983 at 189.36 mph. Andrew Hines is third on his Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson V-Rod with a 6.995, while Angelle Sampey has her U.S. Army Suzuki fourth with a 6.997, the last six-second run in the class.

-credit: nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Clay Millican , John Force , Greg Anderson , Ashley Force , Brandon Bernstein , Allen Johnson , Andrew Hines , Matthew Smith , Chip Ellis , Robert Hight , Dave Connolly