Top Fuel title to be decided in epic clash

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The ANDRA Top Fuel national championship will all be decided in round one of racing on June 11 at Willowbank Raceway in Queensland when Western Australian Damien Harris takes on Victoria’s Darren Morgan.


The final day of qualifying delivered an action packed show as rain delays pushed racing into the night. With Harris and Morgan claiming fourth and fifth positions respectively, the scene has been set for the title race.

Harris was narrowly quicker in his Best Tractor Parts dragster, 4.714sec to 4.719sec, giving him all important lane choice for the round.

“I’m feeling pretty good, we’ve done three laps this weekend and it has gone A to B except for last night where I got it wrong,” he said. “They (Darren Morgan’s team) has only pulled one out all weekend so the pressure is on them; they’re not performing all that well this weekend.

“I’m feeling alright but it is drag racing and anything can happen. We will go out there and do the best we can to make Best Tractor Parts proud.

“I don’t think lane choice will be that important here at Willowbank, both lanes are really tight. I think mentally it will put them on the back foot.”

Morgan’s confidence remains intact despite the mental barrier.

“There’s no real plan, we’ve done it (won the championship) before, we can probably do it again,” he said. “Lane choice makes no difference; ego is the only difference that will make.

Another Western Australian in Allan Dobson qualified on top with a 4.66sec effort in the third session enough to stay narrowly ahead of Saturday pacesetter Phil Read’s 4.67sec and Queensland local Steve Read’s 4.69sec.

The championship for Top Alcohol has taken an unexpected twist with points leader Gary Phillips, competing at his home track, and third-placed Sydneysider Wayne Newby both failing to qualify  in the tight eight car field.

That means it will be all up to Western Australia’s Adam Marchant, who will be able to take out the title if he reaches the final. Queensland’s own Steven Ham set the quickest time of qualifying in the final session with a 5.53sec pass.

“As far as I’m concerned Gary is still winning, I have to beat them in a way,” Marchant said. “We were trying hard today in qualifying and it wasn’t working so we have to take the tune up back a a little bit and aim for a mid 5.5sec pass.

Marchant was among the many surprised to see Phillips miss race day.

“It was a surprise to see Gary miss the field, he must have had some gremlin,” he said. “We’ve all done it, it happens in drag racing where it’s a fine line between zero and hero.”

Pro Stock saw its first round of eliminations run during the night with the championship reduced to just three contenders. Queensland’s Denis Whiting and Dave Newcombe and South Australia’s Michael Ali all made it through the first round and remain in the running for the honours.

Pro Stock Motorcycle has the most championship contenders of all with four riders to line up for their shot at glory on Monday. Victorians Locky Ireland and Maurice Allen, Queensland’s Michael Gilbertson and South Australia’s Phil Howard are all close, with Howard taking top qualifying honours courtesy of his 7.33sec time.

Top Doorslammer’s Saturday leader John Zappia remained unchallenged in the top spot with his 5.75sec staying as the quickest pass of qualifying.

Race day heats up from 8.30am Monday.


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