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Sat, 6 Sep 2003, 03:09 PM

Smith Leapfrogs to Top of AMS Pro Modified Challenge Qualifying
By Bobby Bennett Jr.

CLERMONT, Ind. -- Rickie Smith may have been the only nitrous car to return for the AMS Pro Modified Challenge event at the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals but the legendary doorslammer pilot from King, NC, successfully defended the honor of the bottle rockets at Indianapolis. Smith used Friday's single session to lay down the low elapsed time of the rescheduled event with a 6.226, 224.40.

Smith's run replaced the 6.213, 226.09 from Billy Harper from the original weekend. Harper's run was disallowed when he failed to return for the completion of the Indianapolis event.

Fred Hahn remained in the second spot despite not taking part in Friday's qualifications. His position was secured on the strength of a 6.229, 227.27.

Von Smith held onto the third spot and improved with a 6.232, 228.31 behind the wheel of Roy Hill's Mustang.

Mike Stawicki rounded out the top half of the field with a 6.260, 226.70. He failed to improve during Friday's session.

Tim McAmis was another one of the drivers that sat out Friday's action yet retained his spot with a 6.262, 226.39.

New York Mortgage Banker Mike Ashley delivered the third quickest lap on Friday as he pounded out a 6.269, 223.39.

Rick Stivers improved by .001 and that miniscule of an improvement was enough to put him into the seventh spot. Stivers produced a 6.302, 216.41.

Chip King rounded out the field with his Hemi-powered Avenger. The Semora, NC.-based driver pounded out a 6.315, 226.73.

Defending event champion Shannon Jenkins, Mike Castellana and Mitch Stott also qualified on the original weekend but were scratched from the field when they failed to return to Indy.

AMS Pro Modified Challenge drivers were get two more qualifying attempts on Saturday.

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