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Rapisarda Autosport International's 2019 U.S. Nationals campaign ended in the first round of eliminations at the hands of highly fancied Texan Billy Torrence.

RAI started the weekend off with Wayne Newby landing in 12th spot after day one of qualifying for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway Indianapolis.

The Australian based team making their first appearance on the NHRA tour since August 2018 laid down a 3.80/520 km/h pass to head some of the biggest names in the sport including, Mike Salinas, Clay Millican and rookie sensation Austin Prock.

“It’s always good to get that first run under our belt,” said Newby after Q1. “We didn’t run the time we were hoping for. The car left the line slow and didn’t pull like it should have, but that’s life and life goes on. Twelfth has us in the field after round one and that’s a good starting point with two more runs coming up on Saturday.”

After Saturday qualifying Rapisarda Autosport International and Wayne Newby have become part of the quickest field in Top Fuel history after finishing day two of qualifying in 15th place.

2017 champ Brittany Force topped the charts with a 3.64/535 km/h and at the other end of the 16-car field Illinois racer T.J. Zizzo ran 3.78/525 km/h.

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Day two of qualifying delivered un-seasonal cool and overcast conditions. An ideal combination for record-breaking racing.

On his first run of the day Newby carved out a pass of 3.78/522 km/h. followed by a second lap of 3.77/520 km/h.

“It’s still not as fast as what we can run,” according to co-tuner Santo Rapisarda Jnr. “The track out there is very grippy and we need to get after it a bit more. The car was fast over the first few increments, but not as quick as what we believe is possible. On the positive side the car is going down the track and coming back in good shape after each run.”

Newby would go on and smoke the tyres in the final two qualifying sessions but remained in 15th for race day.

However hope of a major upset by the Aussie squad disappeared in a cloud of smoke again 1.3 seconds into his round one match-up. Torrence stopped the timers at 3.73/ 525 km/h to Wayne Newby’s with a 5.40/208 km/h.

“It is a bit disappointing. No question,” said Team owner Santo Rapisarda. "When you go racing you want to do well and hopefully win. However, you have to accept that there will be times when things don't go to plan, and you lose. That happens not just on the racetrack but also in everyday life.

“Considering all the factors and challenges involved in travelling to race in America, we have done well. We come over here once a year and each time is like starting over again for the first time.

“The standard of racing since we raced here in 2018 has improved by leaps and bounds. It also means that my boys learn every time they run here and go home with more information and knowledge and that helps the team when we race back home.

“To qualify this weekend and also become part of the quickest field in NHRA history is an honour and a highlight of our visit,” he added.

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