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A full day of Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship qualifying has provided the perfect start to the four-day (6 – 9 June) Gulf Western Oil Winternationals – the largest championship drag racing event held outside of the US – at Willowbank Raceway today.

This weekend marks the Eastern Conference final for the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship, with those competitors set to race alongside a full complement of NDRC professional racers, with Top Fuel, XPRO Nitro Funny Cars, Top Doorslammers, Top Fuel Motorcycles, Pro Alcohol, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle and FuelTech Pro Mod joining the show from tomorrow for the final NDRC championship rounds of their season.

Twelve brackets for the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship took to the track today for their first rounds of qualifying, taking advantage of the perfect weather conditions at the newly resurfaced dragstrip. Qualifying for these brackets will conclude Friday, before the group one brackets take to the track to commence their qualifying in the afternoon.

At the close of today’s running, the following racers were leading the way for their respective brackets: Alan Annis Jr (Modified Bike), Paul Neilsen (Real Street), Jacob Schulz (Junior Dragster), Lillian Hagan (Junior Drag Bike), Ray Ross (Super Street), Luke Rosadi (Super Sedan), Neil Maxwell (Top Sportsman), Kellie Kidd (Modified), Nathan Neilson (Extreme Bike), Edge Mallis (Performance Bike), Matthew McKnight (Supercharged Outlaws), and Steve Sloan (SuperComp).

Non-championship bracket Factory Xtreme was also on-track, with Collin Willshire currently sitting atop the timesheets.

Adding even more interest to today’s qualifying for Junior Dragster and Junior Drag Bike was the fact that they also hosted the delayed Gulf Western Oil Nitro Champs finals for these brackets, with Nixon Cannuli taking the Junior Dragster win over Zayne Condello and James Lowday emerging victorious over Adam Jordan in Junior Drag Bike.

Cannuli took the top honours from points cap-sitter Condello, who red-lit, in a strong start to the weekend for the racer who also tasted victory at the Winters last year.

“I had been waiting for the race and was sort of worried about it, but it was good, I don’t even really know what to say,” Cannuli said.

“I didn’t want to win that way, with Zayne red-lighting – I would prefer to race properly, but a win is a win, so I will take it.

“It is kind of a weird feeling for me today as this is my first time racing at Willowbank in my new car – we have a different car to the last Winters, but it is going alright. We have pulled two of the exact same runs so far, and it is consistent.

“To win the Winters on Sunday would be amazing, especially with that meaning not only that I would win the Winters twice in a row, but I would also have won two Christmas Trees in one event – that would be pretty cool!” he said, while thanking his family, crew and A Civil for their support.

In Junior Drag Bike, Lowday’s win over Jordan comes at a pivotal moment for the youngster: this year’s Winters marks his last juniors event and he’s looking to continue this dominant form across the remainder of the weekend.

“We are really happy with the win – we weren’t 100 per cent certain on the dial-in, but we went in, it was a great light, a close race, and we are really happy with the result,” Lowday said.

“This is my last event in Juniors, so to win one event is great, and we will try and win a second one this weekend.

“Everything has been amazing so far, I am pitting with some friends, and both of us were in the final, so to have two trees for the team on the first day is great.

“The bike is running really well, really consistently, and my lights are perfect, so I have nothing to complain about!” he concluded, while thanking Fine Line Motorsports, his mum, Sophia, Zayne and the whole Condello family, Westside Collision Centre, and Johnny Lewis.

The Gulf Western Oil Winternationals continues Friday with the final round of the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship qualifying and the first rounds of racing for Junior Dragster and Super Sedan, and all eight NDRC Group One brackets will also hit the track. XPRO Nitro Funny Cars, Top Doorslammers, Top Fuel Motorcycles, as well as Pro Alcohol, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle and FuelTech Pro Mod will line up for their first qualifying round, while the Top Fuel racers will enjoy a test session.

For tickets, go to https://bit.ly/WINTERNATIONALS

For event information and to learn more about the NDRC, visit www.ndrc.tv

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