Nitro Up North brings the thunder during qualifying ahead of epic race day

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Nitro Up North is off and racing at Hidden Valley Drag Strip with some spectacular times on opening day, including a new track record in the Redline Plumbing Pro Slammer category.

Western Australia’s John Zappia led the field after the second session of qualifying for Pro Slammer with the record setting mark of 5.69 seconds from his Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Holden Monaro.

It was a somewhat unusual lead in to the run, with Zappia having to turn off his car before his run due to an issue with the track, but it wasn’t long before he was able to fire up again and put in the amazing run.

“It was a bit nerve wracking sitting there and wondering what the car was going to do,” he said. “But we came back and did a second burnout to warm up the tyres again and off it went.

“We’re really happy with the pass and it puts our team in a great position for race day.”

Queensland’s Gary Phillips led the Pro Slammer field after the first qualifying session, putting in a 5.72 second run in the heat of the day. He would stay second at the conclusion of the night.

Phillips said the traction of the racing surface gave him plenty of confidence to put a fast tune up into his 3500 horsepower Studebaker.

“We were trying to go fast, when we went out and looked at the track we knew we could take a shot,” he said. “The way the guys up here prepare the track is great.

“When you have 16 cars trying to get into the eight car race day field you don’t want to leave it until the last run of the night to get in.

Phillips was last year’s event winner but came into the event somewhat under the radar.

“We won last year but everyone seemed to ignore that fact before this race. This is a fantastic facility and the Friday crowd was really good.”

The Territory’s own Scott MacLean was also among the front runners, with a 5.79 second run from his Holden Monaro to earn a strong spot for race day.

Fellow Queenslander Chris Matheson took the early lead in the AM Cranes Top Bike category following a 6.26 second run.

The crowd pleasing Top Fuel dragsters had a tough night as they tried to apply all their power to the race track. Top Fuel rookie Kelly Bettes raced in her first competition pass, while Terry Sainty exploded a motor in spectacular fashion.

The Summit Sportsman Series has also been delivering some great action, with qualifying leaders including Todd Knight with a big 6.58 in Molloy Electrical Contractors Top Sportsman, Ashley Smith with an 8.60 in Top End Access Super Sedan, Clive Mainland on an 8.08 in Totalweld Modified Bike and Samuel Perri with an 8.002 in Junior Dragster.

Nitro Up North continues today with spectator gates opening from 3.30pm and racing from 4pm. 400 Thunder eliminations racing will take place from 5.30pm, with Top Fuel dragster runs at 6pm, 8pm and 10.20pm.

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