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Pro Showdown Qualifying

Friday Qualifying – 31st January

A strong field showed for the first round of the Top Alcohol Championship, with a number of Eastern States teams making the trip across the country. 12 teams were trying to make the field of 8.

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The first session was at 5:30pm – the track was ready and the teams were all out to hit the track.  We had the right lane first up and were the first pair out for the session.  The car was setup as we had left off from the last meeting.  The team did their normal routine and Shane staged the car.

On the pass we had tyre shake at the top of first gear which Shane was able to drive through by shifting gears.  He ran through with a 5.624@251.39mph pass which the team was happy with as it was only a hundredth slower than our best time.

After the first session we were No 1 qualifier as the other teams struggled with the track conditions.

After each pass all teams had to tow back through scrutineering for weight checks which takes away time for maintenance between the rounds.  The engine was checked and everything was all good.  The next pass was scheduled at 7:30pm.  This time around we were in the left lane so we left the tuneup as it was.

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This pass we ran nearly identical times as the previous lap, 5.625 @250mph.  We still had shake at the top of first gear which we had to try and adjust the tuneup to over come this.   At the end of this session the qualifying order was Gary Phillips 5.565, Craig Glassby 5.615, John Cannuli 5.615 and Shane’s 5.624 rounding out the top 4.

The field was tightening up with Aaron Deery’s 5.791 on the bump spot.

Before the final session at 9:30pm we were paired up against Gary Phillips.  Shane has always wanted the privilege to race against the 16 time Champion.  Phillips chose to be the last pair in the session.  As the other teams were running we were getting bumped down the field and were sitting 6th.  This was still an outstanding achievement for the team but with the air cooling down we thought we could go for it as we had nothing to lose.  We pulled up to where we fire the car and we noticed that Phillips had decided not to run.  We had a solo pass.  We took our time and made sure everything was right as we wanted the best opportunity to run a high 5.5 second pass.

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The dragster left the line very hard getting to 60 foot in 0.921 seconds, if we could get past the top of first gear without shaking it was going to be on a mission.  The team were all holding their breath.  It seemed to get past that point and was hauling down the track stopping the timers at 5.562 seconds at 252.80mph(407kph).  (Another personal best for the team).  We were all ecstatic/shocked as we hadn’t expected to jump that much.  We had to wait as we knew Phillips pass was also a 5.56 and it would come down to the thousands to whom would top qualify.  We heard the commentators, we had top qualified by 3 thousands of a second.

“It’s overwhelming; I still don’t believe it at the moment,” said Weston. “All my crew have worked so hard to get where we are. “For my team, what parts and knowledge we have its awesome, we haven’t got a big bank balance. We’re running the car on all our spares right now. We haven’t got any big sponsors but we hope to get some so we can do the full series, but at the moment it’s just the local rounds.”

“On the actual run I just have to take it as it comes. I’m racing against all the big guys and if I take it as it comes I’ve got a chance and that chance just happened to pay off. “I’m not trying to reinvent the world but it’s coming quicker than I expected.”

Phillips 5.565 was a narrowly second, followed by John Cannuli, Craig Glassby and Adam Marchant (all on 5.61s), Steve Ham (5.65) and Debbie O’Rourke (5.71). The field was bumped by Rob Pilkington’s 5.75.

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Photo’s Courtesy Phil Luyer – High Octane Photos, Jon Gall – Jon Gall Photography, Phil Blondel – Dragsmedia

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