Frank Manzo wasn’t necessarily concerned with the numbers, though that proved to be a nice touch, at least during qualifying.
Manzo and KH Al-Thani didn’t get the end results they wanted during eliminations at the Kansas National Guard Independence Drags V at Heartland Park Topeka, but there were some positive steps.
One of Manzo’s chief goals over the weekend to get the talented Al-Thani comfortable again in his powerful Pro Extreme car. With some strong qualifying numbers, the legendary tuner/driver did just that.
Before Topeka, Al-Thani, who won twice during his ADRL rookie season in 2010, had not driven since the ADRL’s season-opening race at Royal Purple Raceway in March. For one day, at least, it didn’t look like he missed a beat.
Al-Thani was the No. 4 qualifier, going an impressive 3.726 at 205.04 miles per hour, which was just off the track speed record.
“I’m just happy the car went down the track,” Manzo said. “I was probably more nervous than anybody. We wanted to give him a car that he can drive and be comfortable with, so we’re pretty happy with what we’ve done so far.”
Manzo and Al-Thani tested in Indianapolis leading up to the race, but they went just 330 feat in order to help Al-Thani get re-acclimated with his PX car.
Al-Thani seemed as good as ever on Friday and was the No. 1 qualifier for the first two sessions before Gaylen Smith and Frankie Taylor both went in the 3.60s under the lights in Topeka.
Al-Thani lost in the first round of eliminations to Todd Martin, who had a strong weekend in his own right, but, in some regard, the weekend could be considered a success by Manzo.
“We just want to keep giving him a car he can drive,” Manzo said.
Your agent can’t confirm anything 100 percent, but does hope to see Al-Thani at next month’s Ford Drive One Summer Drags VII at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Mich.
With Manzo calling the shots, Al-Thani will certainly be a force the rest of the 2011 season.
(Photos by ADRL/Richards)