Aussies at the U.S. Nationals

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The Rapisarda team’s U.S. Nationals quest ended in round one when the car smoked the tires early against Leah Pritchett. During the first two rounds of qualifying the car had been experiencing brake issues and driver Wayne Newby noted that as the dragging pads heated up the carbon rotors during those runs the brakes became even more effective and that it felt like he had the chutes out early. 

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As the team had unwittingly compensated for the extra drag early in those runs prior to the problem being diagnosed the clutch settings were off the mark and a subsequent run was lost to tire smoke when the brake issue had been resolved. The team are planning to test on Tuesday and will be staying in the U.S. to contest the next NHRA Mello Yello tour event at Charlotte.

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Richie Crampton’s first run in the Seal Master entry of Connie Kalitta saw the car start to shake early and although Crampton “slapped” the throttle for an initial recovery he eventually had to shut off early as the car was not going anywhere. A 4.109 was the result and Crampton was in the 16th spot by the time the session ended. Round two on Saturday afternoon saw a solid 3.756 at 329.91 that moved Richie up to 9th in the order but that evening’s run was less successful as the engine detonated short of the 1000 foot mark and slowed to a 3.769 at only 287.05 mph, trailing smoke and oil through the lights. Crampton later told Drag News Australia that it appeared that a main stud had broken allowing the crank to flex to the point where it broke and thus destroyed pretty much everything from the supercharger on down.

When the same thing happened on Sunday morning resulting in a coasting 4.656 at only 155 mph the team decided to sit out the final qualifying session and Crampton went into eliminations in the #12 spot facing a match with team mate Doug Kalitta. In that clash Kalitta had a short lived lead off the line but Crampton was ahead by the 60 foot clocks and pulling away for what looked like a certain victory when the car shut off early. When we later asked as to what happened Crampton explained that following the earlier engine problems the team had hooked up an oil pan pressure sensor and that when the sensor saw excessive boost in the lower half of the engine it shut the motor down.

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The Tucker family came into the event with justifiably high hopes as the motor is making good power and their Jerry Haas Camaro matches the chassis choice of the majority of the Pro Stock entrants. The team tested at zMax Dragway (Charlotte) prior to heading to Indianapolis with Tommy Lee handling the driving chores and although they did not make a full pass the early incremental numbers were better than those recorded by the Summit team cars on the same day.

A 6.700/206.42 put the team in the #15 spot following Friday evening’s initial session but a slower 6.716 in round two saw them fall to 18th. The Saturday evening session saw ideal conditions but a late decision (in the staging lanes) to add some weight to the clutch saw too much wheel speed early in the run and although an improved 6.668 at 206.89 resulted that put Tuck 14th in the order at the time of the run, by the end of the session he had been relegated to 17th.

Sunday’s weather was the hottest of the weekend to that point and only two cars improved in either session with qualifying ending with Tucker in the #17 spot and outside the show.

By Keith Burgan

Photos – RAI, Shane Tucker, Kalitta Motorsports

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