After not qualifying for the first two events of the 2012 season, Frankie Taylor got the run he was looking for on Friday during the American Drag Racing Leagueâ€™s (ADRL) Northeast Drags II presented by Penske at Maple Grove Raceway.
Switching back to a blower, supercharger set-up after not qualifying the first two races with a turbocharger combination, Taylor delivered a classic run in his Jeffers Pro Cars Corvette, running an outstanding 3.653 at 207.85 miles per hour to leap to the top of Pro Extreme.
â€œItâ€™s coming back around. Thatâ€™s not too bad for our first lap in a blower in (6 months),â€ Taylor said. â€œTo finally get in the field felt really good. It was great to get that one under our belt.â€
A steady rain wiped out Fridayâ€™s third qualifying session.
Other No. 1 qualifiers through Friday include Burton Auxier (Pro Nitrous), Chuck Ulsch (Mickey Thompson Extreme 10.5), Casey Stemper (Pro Extreme Motorcycle), John DeFlorian (Extreme Pro Stock), Mike Castellana (Aeromotive Fuel Systems Pro Modified), Chuck Mohn (Summit Racing Equipment Top Sportsman) and Chris Holbrook (SuperCar Showdown).
The final qualifying session for the Northeast Drags II presented by Penske takes place at 12 p.m. on Saturday with eliminations to follow.
Taylor provided the final highlight on a memorable day, which started with Ray Commissoâ€™s explosive crash during the first qualifying session in Aeromotive Pro Modified. His Camaro got loose and took a hard left, crashing into the left concrete barrier and even breaking the concrete barrier free. A huge fireball then shot up from the high-speed crash and oil spill.
Commisso got out of the car almost immediately and under his own power and suffered no serious injuries.
â€œI took my foot off the gas when I felt the car start to get into trouble, but the automatic shifter shifted and the car just jumped and took off on me,â€ Commisso said. â€œThere was nothing I could do about it at that point and I was just along for the ride.â€
Taylorâ€™s final ride on Friday was the conclusion to a scintillating series of runs in Pro Extreme. Von Smith started it with a 3.682 to momentarily move into the top spot. A run later, Mick Snyder jumped up with a 3.673, only to be outdone moments later by Taylorâ€™s 3.65.
To conclude the second session, Todd Tutterow went an impressive 3.672 at 206.42 mph to move into the No. 2 position.
â€œWeâ€™re right where we wanted to be,â€ Taylor said. â€œThis is a different blower for us and our first time with it. We didnâ€™t want to hurt it, but hopefully this is a good sign.â€Burton Auxier got his best sign to the young 2012 season, driving his Jerry Bickel Race Cars Camaro to the No. 1 spot in Pro Nitrous with a 3.825 at 194.66 mph.
Robert Patrick and his JBRC 2012 Mustang became the first PN driver to reach the 3.80s (3.895) during the weekend, but Auxier topped him to easily become the quickest driver in the class at Maple Grove.
â€œWe still had it pretty soft. Weâ€™re trying to get down the track right now, but it wasnâ€™t a bad run by any means,â€ Auxier said. â€œThis car is always capable of running good numbers. Itâ€™s a great car.
â€œYou have to be careful of where you put the power. Weâ€™re still capable of going quicker (Saturday), even in the heat.â€
In Extreme Pro Stock, John DeFlorian wouldnâ€™t have expected to be a No. 1 qualifier in the class so soon. Now, heâ€™s on the verge of his second straight race in the position, driving his Jerry Haas Race Cars 2012 Black Diamond Motorsports Camaro to the No. 1 spot with an incredible 4.074 at 177.65 mph.
Cary and Dean Goforth were the only other drivers to reach the 4.00s in XPS, running a 4.095 and 4.098, respectively. Dean was on top after the first round, but DeFlorian upped the stakes once the sun started to set.
â€œWhen I made that first gear change, it felt really good and I knew it was on a run,â€ DeFlorian said. â€œWhen I crossed the finish line, I was real anxious to see what it went and when it said 4.07, that was just awesome.
â€œEveryone is doing an incredible job and Iâ€™m just very, very happy. I could never thank (team owners) Karen and Kevin Bealko enough for this opportunity. Theyâ€™re the reason Iâ€™m out here and itâ€™s just turned into a wonderful deal.â€
Mike Castellana turned in the quickest run in the short history of the Aeromotive Pro Modified class and he did it right off the bat, going 3.845 at 194.72 mph.
Looking to stay undefeated in his Al-Anabi Racing 2012 RJ Race Cars Camaro, Castellana inched closer to his third straight ADRL win with a phenomenal qualifying run.
â€œWe know the car is capable of doing that, but that first round you just want to get everything right,â€ Castellana said. â€œShannon (Jenkins) and the crew made the right calls and theyâ€™re just doing a great job with the car right now.â€
Jeff Naiser is currently second with a 3.913.
Casey Stemper turned things up during the second qualifying session in Pro Extreme Motorcycle, running 4.11 at 170.92 mph. Scott Gray is second with a 4.141, but Stemper looks on pace for his second No. 1 qualifier in 2012.
â€œThat second pass, it came around. We stepped on the nitrous a little bit and the bike woke up,â€ said Stemper, who won his first ADRL race in March. â€œAs soon as I hit the button, I knew it was on a good pass.
â€œWe always try to start pretty safe and keep building it up. Our main goal is to be consistent and get our set-up going into eliminations.â€
Chuck Mohn continued his qualifying dominance in Summit Racing Equipment Top Sportsman, shooting again to the top spot with a 4.093 at 174.30 mph right off the trailer.
Mohn, whose Fountainville, Pa. residence is less than an hour from Maple Grove, was the No. 1 qualifier for the first two events in 2012, and appears to be the heavy favorite to win a third straight Tim McAmis Performance Parts Low Qualifier award. Driving a Pat Musi-powered, Jerry Bickel Race Cars â€™69 Camaro, Mohn has consistently gone in the 4.00s in qualifying.
Ronnie Davis made a strong pass on his final run on Friday, going to No. 2 with a 4.122 at 177.16 mph.
In Mickey Thompson Extreme 10.5, Chuck Ulsch impressed immediately and is the current No. 1 qualifier with a blistering 3.903 at 200.02 mph.
Alan Pittman, undefeated in 2012 after winning the first two events in the class, came back with a spectacular run in the second qualifying session, running a 3.905 at 196.85 mph. Billy Glidden squeaked into the 3-second zone with a 3.996 at 187.16 on his final run of the day.
Chris Holbrook is the No. 1 qualifier after two sessions in the SuperCar Showdown, running a 5.827 at 118.46 mph. Bo Butner, winner of the first two events in the new class, ran 5.828 at 118.08 mph to sit in second.
In Pro Junior Dragster, J.C. Gloyd is qualified No. 1 through Friday, running a 7.909 on a 7.90 Index. Jackson Core is right behind with a 7.912.
(Photos by ADRL/Richards)