Sporting a new look on his â€™58 Corvette, Pro Extreme driver Brandon Pesz delivered a track record to cap off a thrilling day in the American Drag Racing Leagueâ€™s (ADRL) return to Memphis International Raceway for the Memphis Drags III.
With a bold new wrap, Pesz ran a blistering 3.66 at 206.99 mph in Fridayâ€™s third qualifying session to top the run Jason Scruggs made three years ago in Memphis, jumping to the No. 1 qualifying spot in Pro Extreme in the process.
If the standout run holds up, it would be the first No. 1 qualifier for Pesz in the ADRL.
â€œWeâ€™ve got a fast hot rod in the heat and the track was real good today,â€ Pesz said. â€œIt means a lot to get the record and be in that No. 1 spot. Itâ€™s awesome and I knew this car had that in it. I knew it was there and I just want to continue to do my best.â€
Other top qualifiers through three sessions on Friday include Burton Auxier (Pro Nitrous), Billy Glidden (Mickey Thompson Extreme 10.5), Eric McKinney (Pro Extreme Motorcycle), John DeFlorian (Extreme Pro Stock), Pat Musi (Aeromotive Fuel Systems Pro Modified) and Ronnie Davis (Summit Racing Equipment Top Sportsman).
The fourth and final round of qualifying at Memphis International Raceway takes place at 12 p.m. CST on Saturday with eliminations to follow.
Pesz went 3.689 on his first pass to take the top spot through the first two sessions before Tommy Dâ€™Aprile opened up with a 3.684 under the lights. Of course, Pesz followed minutes later with his brilliant run.
Jason Scruggs is in third with a 3.694 but there could be major changes on Saturday with considerably cooler conditions expected in Memphis.
â€œIn the position Iâ€™m in, Iâ€™m going to get after it,â€ Pesz said. â€œThereâ€™s going to be some big numbers all day. If the weather holds up, there could be some 3.50s in the semifinals and finals.â€
Auxier, the 2010 PN world champion, took the No. 1 spot after three sessions with an impressive 3.89 at 195.08 mph in the afternoon heat on Friday.
â€œWeâ€™ve been working on some things on the car and, after some testing, we found some ways to make it quicker,â€ Auxier said. â€œThis told us weâ€™re going in the right direction and weâ€™re expecting some good numbers. I know itâ€™s there.â€
Auxier had company in the 3.80s during the final qualifying session under the lights, as Stan Allen went 3.893 at 193 mph and Jason Harris delivered a 3.899 at 192 mph. But Auxier holds a slim advantage the day before much cooler weather is expected at MIR.
â€œItâ€™s going to be really good conditions tomorrow,â€ Auxier said. â€œThe car will be capable of making good runs, so we hopefully we can put it all together.â€
John DeFlorian turned it up a notch as the sun started to set for the final qualifying session in Extreme Pro Stock. DeFlorian was already the top qualifier after his first pass of 4.13, but he raised the bar on the final pass in the class on Friday, running a 4.105 at 176.14 mph.
â€œThe conditions were a little better, but we found a problem after the second run,â€ DeFlorian said. â€œThe Pro Stock cars were in the pits and we were there thrashing right before we ran. It was kind of a guess, but we went with it and it was hauling. What an awesome day.â€
Both John Pluchino and Richie Stevens ran 4.13 to sit second and third, respectively. After getting his first ADRL win earlier this year, DeFlorian is more than ready for his second, though much cooler temperatures expected for Saturday and the always-competitive XPS field will make things difficult.
â€œThe conditions have a chance to be the same or maybe even better than St. Louis (when DeFlorian ran a world-record 4.01),â€ DeFlorian said. â€œIf it is like that, weâ€™ll just put the same set-up we had in that race. It could be interesting.â€
All it took was one session for Eric McKinney to continue his dominance in Pro Extreme Motorcycle. Coming off back-to-back wins for the second time this year, McKinney is off to a fine start in Memphis, running a 4.106 at 172 mph.
â€œWe left everything the same from Charlotte (where McKinney won) and just put in a fresh motor,â€ McKinney said. â€œHopefully weâ€™ve got enough passes in it.â€
Paul Gast turned in one of the best passes of his career with a 4.119 at 175 mph to sit in second, but McKinney remains the favorite for his fifth win in 2012.
â€œItâ€™s going to get quicker, but I love seeing the field so competitive like this,â€ McKinney said. â€œItâ€™s just good racing every round.”
Pat Musi, who is looking for his first ADRL win, turned in a clutch performance on his final pass of Friday, delivering a 3.936 at 192.55 mph to take over No. 1 in Aeromotive Fuel Systems Pro Modified after three qualifying passes.
Adam Flamholc just missed his second straight No. 1 qualifier, but he sits second with an impressive 3.976 at 188.31. Both Mike Janis and Todd Tutterow went 3.979 as the top four in the diverse class consisted of two supercharger cars, one nitrous car and one turbo car.
Ronnie Davis continued his hot streak in Summit Racing Top Sportsman, running a 4.074 at 179.61 mph on his very first on Friday. Coming off a win at Dragstock IX last month â€“ his first ADRL win â€“ and back in the championship hunt, Davis impressed immediately in Memphis.
â€œWe ran the car exactly the same as we did in Charlotte,â€ Davis said. â€œI like running fast, but weâ€™ll probably have to do some different things (on Saturday).â€
Keith Raftery made a big jump in his final qualifying run, going to second with a 4.087 at 179.23 mph. Bob Gulittiâ€™s 4.167 at 171.84 mph has him in third.
Billy Glidden went 3.991 at 186.79 mph to jump to the top in Mickey Thompson Extreme 10.5. He remains the only driver in the history of the class to reach the 3-second zone in Memphis.
Alan Pittman came close with a 4.008 and Dan Myers ran a solid 4.015, but Glidden remains on top.
In Pro Junior Dragster, Mitchell Seymore is the current No. 1 qualifier with a 7.903.
(Photos by ADRL/Richards)