WEST SALEM, Ohio -- Two-time world champion Tommy Franklin topped the Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous field by just two ten-thousandths of a second Friday night at the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) Northern Nationals presented by Callies Performance at Dragway 42 in West Salem, Ohio. Franklin tripped the eighth-mile clocks with a 3.702-second pass at 205.10 mph in his "Jungle Rat" '69 Camaro.
Kris Thorne (Moroso Pro Boost) and John Montecalvo (Liberty's Gears Extreme Pro Stock) also qualified No. 1 in the other professional classes. Walter Lanningan qualified No. 1 for the Pro Outlaw 632 Shootout presented by $hameless Racing, a special non-points race.
In the PDRA's sportsman categories, Aaron Glaser leads MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman and Jody Stroud tops Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster going into their third and final qualifying session Saturday morning.
"I think it's obvious that there are a lot of good players out here, but we're after ourselves," Franklin said. "This championship is out there and we want to go after it. We're just trying to race smart and do our thing. We've got good power. The Musi power has been really good. Hat's off to everybody out here. The teams are so good. This has to be the best class in racing right now. I love it. The competition just drives us to go a little bit faster."
Franklin will have a first-round bye run Saturday morning. Halsey's 3.7025 came with a 204.27 trap speed and the No. 2 spot. Jay Cox in the Buck-powered Butner Construction "Pumpkin" '69 Camaro qualified No. 3 with a 3.713 at 204.08.
"Everywhere we've ran well has been in the heat," Thorne said. "We've actually kind of struggled with making more power in the cooler weather. We've always been really competitive and on our game in the heat. It's actually where we shine. We've had a lot of heat this year, so the weather's been on our side. With the twin-turbo power from Pro Line, everything's really been working well for us."
Thorne's first-round opponent will be Pat Moore in former Cleveland Cavaliers player Larry Nance's ProCharger-boosted '68 Camaro. Kevin Rivenbark qualified No. 2 with a 3.754 at 197.89 in the ProCharged GALOT Motorsports '69 Camaro, followed by the similarly ProCharger-equipped Coast Packing '69 Camaro of Eric Gustafson with a 3.788 at 197.63.
"It's really been tough over here," Montecalvo said. "It's incredible that there were three .15s out there. We're coming off a No. 1 and runner-up finish at Valdosta, the last race, so we have a bit of momentum going. Elijah [Morton] is running great, Chris [Powers] pulled one out, so I really didn't know if our .15 was going to hold up. It's really tough over here and it's getting tougher every day. We really needed those qualifying points. I've lost the championship by 12 points before and that was basically on qualifying points, so now every position counts."
Montecalvo and his Sonny's-powered Camaro will take on Johnny Pluchino in the http://Strutmasters.com '13 Ford Mustang to start Saturday eliminations. Powers qualified No. 2 with a 4.151 at 173.14 in the Sonny's-powered ATI Performance Products '14 Camaro. Rounding out the top 3 is Morton and his 4.157 at 173.68 in the Allen-powered Morton Brothers Motorsports '18 Mustang.
Walter Lanningan Jr. in his nitrous-assisted, Nelson-powered '53 Corvette qualified No. 1 for the $hameless Shootout, posting a 4.317 at 165.87. Wes Distefano grabbed the No. 2 spot in his nitrous-assisted, Musi-powered $hameless Racing '68 Camaro with a 4.329 at 166.79. Tony Gillig represented for the naturally aspirated crowd, running a 4.397 at 160.26 in his Madcap-powered Gillig-Wagner Motorsports '96 Oldsmobile Cutlass.
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