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It has been many months since a slick has been turned in anger at Willowbank Raceway, but with the track renovations completed the racing is back, and it has all started with the Winternationals teasing Winter Warm Ups.

Undoubtedly the star from day one was Damian Muscat aboard the Nitro Phoenix Top Fuel Motorcycle. Muscat tempted everyone with an off-the-trailer 6.26 PB to then unleash a 6.015 still with an early shut off. Fives could be as soon as day two.

In the other nitro ranks, Steve Read debuted his Fram Filters Top Fuel Dragster in a welcome return to the class for a shut off check out pass. Chris Stipanovich hopped into the seat of the Tim McCarthy Nitro Funny Car for this event and also made a sighting pass.

Pro Alcohol saw the most representation of the Professional brackets. While everyone was rightfully swooning over Gary Phillips returning to his roots with a Pro Alcohol Altered (See here: it was Andrew Searle in the funny car dropping the numbers on the track with a 5.48 to be the quickest of the day. Inaugural NDRC Pro Alcohol champion-elect Russell Mills blew the cobwebs off with a 5.54, Luke Marsden picked up a 5.57 best in his return to the class with his funny car. Wayne Price’s awesome looking Dodge came to the party with a 5.59 wrapping up the best of the ETs.

Jake Donnelly’s rebuilt funny car looks stunning and took several shots at the new track, along with John Cannuli and Daniel Reed who was trailing the team’s new dragster in a potential ride switch for next weekend.

Pro Stock also had a few competitors on track including Shane Tucker who is driving for team owner Nick Pellicciotti, but no one was able to grab hold of the new surface for a decent ET.

Likewise in Top Doorslammer, a couple of racers took the opportunity for some track time, including NDRC Top Doorslammer championship leader Russell Taylor, however no significant ETs happened. Rob Harrington was consistent in the Monaro with a couple 6.0s.

Stew Walsh has been battling his Pro Mod Camaro for a while but delivered with a 5.90 from the twin-turbo combo, hopefully putting recent woes behind him.

Daniel Rabnott rode to a nice 7.20 at 184mph aboard his Pro Stock Bike which will put him well into the mix next weekend.

Testing continues on Monday with the Winternational proper kicking off from Thursday with Sportsman qualifying.

Photos courtesy of Drag Photos.

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