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Sat, 1 Jun 2002, 02:55 PM

Pre-Race Time Trial Notes
By Larry Sullivan

DINWIDDIE, Va. - Professional category time trials at the rain-delayed ACDelco Nationals gave the IHRA teams their first shot at a very hot race track for the 2002 season. With track temperatures hovering around 140 degrees under clear blue skies and the air temperature and humidity in the high eighties, some found the combination less than friendly.

Only three Top Fuel drivers tested their setups and all three will be making changes before their first round later today. Paul Romine was up in smoke immediately and both Clay Millican and Bruce Litton lost traction about 400 feet down the track.

All eight Nitro Harley riders attempted test runs, but only Steve Stordeur, Doug Vancil, and Mark Cox made it to the other end under full power, Vancil the quickest of the three at 6.545 seconds, 197.77 mph. Johnny Mancuso and Mark Conner were off the power at half track, Jay Turner made it about 1,000 feet, and Ray Price flamed out on the burnout.

Ten Funny Car drivers tested their setups, with the three original top qualifiers for the event also quickest today, making runs in the high five second range. Jimmy Rector, Mike Thomas, and Dale Brand mastered the hot track, with Thomas quickest and fastest of the three at 5.943 seconds, 236.13 mph, while Mike Comella just missed the fives with a 6.002/232.27. Ronnie Midyette and Fred Tigges made full passes in the low-six-second range, while Laurie Cannister, John Vouros, and Terry McMillen were off the power well before the finish line. Rob Atchison left before the tree was activated on what looked to be a solid run.

The Pro Mod time trial session was an all-or-nothing affair. Shannon Jenkins, Steve Vick, Alan Pittman, Mike Janis, Tom Hoover, and Mitch Stott made solid runs, Stott the quickest and fastest at 6.351 seconds, 223.99 mph. Mike Castellana, Al Billes, Mike Lockwood, Thomas Patterson, Ronnie Hood, Mitch King, Quain Stott, and Fred Hahn all encountered problems and coasted most of the way. ACDelco-sponsored Harold Martin broke on the burnout. The worst run of the day was by Troy Critchley, whose car went into violent shake on the launch, fishtailing violently. The car hit the wall with the right rear, ripping the right rear tire and wheel off the car.

Pro Stock closed out the test session with the last remaining pair from first round eliminations leading off. Elijah Morton's car was off the pace from the start, while Tim Nabors' car made a hard right turn and he had to react quickly to avoid hitting the wall.

There are a few clouds forming in the afternoon heat, but track conditions will probably be about the same when "The Dog Fight" resumes at 3:00 p.m.

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