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Sat, 27 Sep 2003, 03:31 PM

Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Session #1
By Bob Orme

JOLIET, Ill. - Notes from round 1 qualifying in Top Fuel at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, Third annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals listing lane, driver name, elapsed time, top speed, and position in order following run:
Left Lane: Tj Zizzo Runs 5.057/215.62, Now #1
Right Lane: Tim Gibson Runs 6.118/142.19, Now #2

1:32 PM Current weather conditions: 61 degrees, 44 percent relative humidity, the barometer 29.65 inches.

Zizzo's first Top Fuel qualifying attempt is not too bad. He started hazing the tires at about 1000 feet. Gibson was slowing at half track with possible engine problems. The track personnel were checking the top end of the track for any parts that he may have deposited.

Left Lane: Rit Pustari Runs 7.453/118.96, Now #3
Right Lane: Tim Cullinan No Time, Now #4

Pustari struck the tires on the launch, pedaled it once and was off the throttle well before half track. Cullinan was a no show.

Left Lane: Joe Hartley Runs 11.640/87.37, Now #5
Right Lane: Shirley Muldowney Runs 4.579/327.66, Now #1

Hartley's engine went silent almost immediately, the reason not apparent from here. Muldowney lays down the quickest and fastest pass of her career, a birthday present for her tuner/husband Rahn Tobler.

Left Lane: Luigi Novelli Runs 4.669/315.86, Now #3
Right Lane: Scott Kalitta Runs 4.573/319.52, Now #1

A very good looking pass for Novelli. Kalitta pushed a head gasket at about 1000 feet and still ran a "four-fifty".

Left Lane: Chris Karamesines Runs 5.946/155.24, Now #6
Right Lane: Mike Strasburg Runs 4.741/280.54, Now #4

"The Greek" struck the tires at half track then he pitched the blower belt. Strasburg was trailing a little smoke at the finish line.

Left Lane: David Grubnic No Time, Now #12
Right Lane: Jim Head Runs 4.532/331.20, Now #1

Grubnic did his burnout, backed the car up, pulled to the line but didn't stage. The Safety Safari is cleaning up some fluids in his lane, so he may have been leaking during the burnout. Head runs a career best elapsed time and speed. Records could be falling this afternoon...

Left Lane: Scott Weis Runs 9.258/136.93, Now #11
Right Lane: Paul Romine Runs 4.588/313.66, Now #4

Weis was up in smoke almost immediately. Romine was moving around on the top half of the track, getting close to the centerline at about 1000 feet and mixing up the cylinders at the finish.

Left Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 4.525/329.75, Now #1
Right Lane: Rhonda Hartman-Smith Runs 4.614/308.21, Now #6

A good looking pass for both drivers. Hartman-Smith was mixing up the cylinders at the finish line. That's the fastest pass for Bernstein this season.

Left Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.838/273.33, Now #10
Right Lane: John Smith Runs 4.631/311.92, Now #7

Herbert didn't have any visible problems, but he was slowing down at the finish.

Left Lane: David Baca Runs 4.508/321.12, Now #1
Right Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 4.573/323.27, Now #4

Baca has been looking very strong over the last four events. Not a bad pass for McClenathan either.

Left Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.555/320.97, Now #4
Right Lane: Darrell Russell Runs 8.834/93.87, Now #18

Russell smoked the tires at about 100 feet and he was off the throttle before he passed the 330-foot cone. Not a bad pass for Schumacher, but not quite as good as it looked.

Left Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 4.428/333.00, Now #1
Right Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.507/332.10, Now #2

Wow!!! Kalitta made Dixon's "five-oh" look tame! Doug Kalitta's incremental times: 60ft-0.835 sec., 330ft-2.116, 660ft-3.008/281.83mph, 1,000ft-3.766 To back up and set the elapsed time record, he must run 4.472 seconds or quicker. To back up and set the speed record he must run 329.67 mph or faster.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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