Friday night lights – Indy fights through weather

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The 60th US Nationals overcame rainy periods on Friday to turn in an interesting day of qualifying as teams around Indianapolis Raceway Park took different strategies into their runs.

With a constantly changing forecast, some pro teams chose to take it easy on the chance of missing out in later sessions, while others used night conditions as a testing opportunity.

Report and photos by Drag News Australia’s Luke Nieuwhof.

Dom Lagana made his first pass in the Rapisarda Autosport International dragster, off the noise early as the car appeared to lose traction at half track. The early incrementals were positive, if not earth shattering, and the team’s rolling 4.322 left them in number 11 position out of 22 cars in what was a survival of the fittest session for Top Fuel.

Aussie ex-pat David Grubnic was spotted deep in conversation with Santino and Santo Rapisarda, should we start the rumour mill?

Adelaide boy Richie Crampton is adapting to life as a professional Top Fuel driver well. A 4.529 was nothing to write home about in the only session of Top Fuel qualifying but there is plenty of time left for improvement in the weekend yet. We spoke with Crampton today for an extended feature article – keep an eye out for it soon. He said he put a lot of pressure on himself as a driver, though his team has been nothing but supportive as he continues to learn in his rookie year.

Shane Tucker’s first hit on Indy resulted in a 6.694 which would leave him just outside the top 12, meaning he has to put in more representative times in later sessions to qualify.

Joining Tucker in the staging lanes for moral support was sister Kirsten Cannuli, herself a Pro Stock driver.

John Cannuli was spotted in the Elite Performance pits having a close look at the finer points of Pro Stock – again, dare we start a rumour?

With Top Alcohol losing a session to rain, Steve Harker knew their one and only qualifying hit for the day was vital. He made sure to feed power in late with a soft launching 5.689 putting him into fifth position, though his speed was the second highest of the field. Harker said he had found himself trying to decide between test mode and race mode in recent events, searching for the balance between innovation and running what you know.

On to non-Australian matters now, Don Schumacher Racing opened their workshop to the public. Check out this collection of NHRA Wallys!

The day’s early rain left only the committed in the stands.

The Hemi Shootout is a popular addition to the US Nationals. This collection of Mopar muscle was running in the mid eights, heads up.

With a 7.85, PB Candies’ Ford Mustang became the quickest ever Super Stocker in the NHRA.

NHRA Super Gas is home to many roadsters, a style of car rarely seen in Australia (with the exception of Matt Forbes’ recent import).

Nothing like having some support from your friends on the back of your Funny Car.

Top Alcohol Funny Car to the lanes! Despite the clouds looking imposing for a while, the event stayed dry for the afternoon and evening.

Top Alcohol Funny Car qualifying was at times a hairy affair.

Another sight unique for Australian spectators is that of injected nitro dragsters. The sound and smell is certainly unusual in a class still named Top Alcohol.

Mike Janis was one of the 34 Pro Mod cars on the property. The bump is already a tough 6.08 with Troy Coughlin’s Turbo Corvette currently leading on a 5.94. Spekaing of blown sedans, which Australian Top Doorslammer driver was rumoured to be getting a ride in Vegas?

What’s the Australian connection with Jerry Savoie’s Suzuki? Well it was built by ex-pat Keith ‘Rooman’ Burgan for the Don Schumacher team many moons ago.

Hector Arana tucks in for a pass on his Lucas Oils Buell.

Clouds in the sky and clouds on the track – the Mopar Pro Stockers of Allen Johnson and Jeg Coughlin show how it’s done.

Vincent Nobile enters hyperspace on his way to a seventh qualifying 6.65.

Del Worsham led Funny Car qualifying with a 4.04.

Billy Torrence was an early leader in Top Fuel until son Steve knocked him off the top perch. Torrence Senior would eventually settle into fourth spot.

Khalid Al-Balooshi presents the perfect example of what a Top Fuel launch should look like.

The night finished with a jet car. Surprisingly the fire show wasn’t so big before the 5.8 second pass – maybe we are spoilt in Australia!

Nothing like some explosions (off track ones that is) to finish off the night! These fireworks really made a boom. That about wraps it up, make sure you check out our gallery below and stay tuned for more news across the weekend as we keep you updated on the progress of our Australian contingent.


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