Cowin and Lamattina trade blows in qualifying.

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Thousands of people packed into Adelaide International Raceway on the final day of qualifying to see scintillating performances across the ANDRA Pro Series as Andrew Cowin’s Rocket Industries team went toe to toe with Phil Lamattina’s Fuchs outfit in Top Fuel.

The pair trading blows all day on the 1000 feet long race track, chasing the top qualifying spot.

Lamattina first snuck ahead with a 4.400sec in the third session bettering Cowin’s day one 4.405sec. In the final session Cowin performed a thrilling drive job with his dragster threatening to lose traction for most of the trip but it paid off with a 4.37sec seizing top spot.

Lamattina had one last opportunity on the final run of the night to come back but could only manage a 4.38sec, though he did take top speed at 435.58kph.

Cowin said it was great to top qualify in front of the massive Adelaide crowd.

“We just slid it down there this run and were really careful with it. I knew the 4.40sec run last night wasn’t going to stand,” he said. “It got a little bit loose, it put a cylinder out and it pushed me back to one side. I got it back into the middle and sort of held it, even if we took the long way down.

“The track is going to be a lot hotter tomorrow so we need to get the car down the track on our bye run in the first round and get some more data for the semi finals.”

Debbie O’Rourke held her top qualifying position from Friday night also, running a second 4.92sec pass with only one other driver, Steven Ham, managing to break into the “fours” with a 4.98sec.

O’Rourke said the run may have been even quicker if not for some mechanical dramas.

“It’s pretty humbling to be where we are in a class field. The crew have been working really hard and Grant has been making some really good calls,” she said. “It would have been quicker but we broke an exhaust rocker during the pass.

“This weekend I have managed to hit all the shift points so from a driving perspective it is a good experience. The crowd took me back to the nineties and you remember why you started racing in the first place.”

Top Bike’s dominant rider Chris Matheson could not improve on his Friday time which continued to lead the charts. His third qualifying session suffered a hiccup when he knocked his foot on a timing box, leading him to put it on ice during the evening.

Top Bike has one more qualifying session remaining before two rounds of eliminations on Sunday.

“It took off alright and a bit further down track it stepped out and spat me out into the other lane, it was pretty ugly in the braking area,” he said.

“We are going to try and find the limit on the last qualifying pass so we will put a bit more horsepower back in.”

Phil Howard may be top qualifier in Pro Stock Motorcycle but he faces a sleepless night after coming off his motorcycle after a run at over 250kmh.

The damage to both bike and rider are relatively minor but Howard needs to replace a front tyre, repair bent handlebars and fix the carbon fibre body to get back on to the track for the first round confrontation against national champion Maurice Allen.

“The bike came down a little crossed up and I got on the front brake and it locked up and washed out,” he said. “I tried to keep it up but it side swiped the wall and that was it. It’s fixable, it’s just on a time slot.”

Howard was in good spirits despite the incident. “I just lost a bit of bark and I’ve got a few lumps,” he said.

Race day takes place today (Sunday).

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