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Four Wides Get Off To Fast But Strange Start

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, April 27 2019
It took a while but qualifying finally got rolling at the Four Wide Nationals on Friday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

CONCORD, N.C. – NHRA Top Fuel driver Mike Salinas and 2012 Funny Car champion Jack Beckman led qualifying in their respective classes Friday on a day that will be more remembered for the strange weather at zMAX Dragway than the racing.

In a five-hour period, qualifying was delayed first for rain and hail, then 40-mph cross winds, and finally to clean pollen from the dragway.

“It was a strange day,” said Beckman, who posted an elapsed time of 3.891 seconds, 321.42 mph.  “We get rain delays all the time. That’s just part of drag racing. But we were in the pits, it starts pouring (rain), we wait, they dry it up, we warm the car, it hails. We wait, they dry it up, we pull the car up to the staging lanes, I get in, I get strapped in, we tow up, there’s a delay. I get out of the car, they’re ready to go, I get strapped in the car again, there’s a delay. We tow back to the pits, we take the cylinder heads off, we lower the compression ratio, (and) we warm the thing back up again.

‘Fast Jack’ Beckman lived up to his nickname on Friday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Jim Fluharty)

“We’ve done all of this stuff and I haven’t done a burn out yet! It’s a very odd feeling. You normally don’t work that hard and your car hasn’t even been on the race track.”

When Beckman finally made his run, he knew at 300 feet it would be a solid performance.

“That thing was stuck, it was pulling,” Beckman said. “It was the quickest 60 foot I’ve ever had. It actually had way more in it. It just wore the clutch out of it at halftrack. It was just on a beast of a run.”

Salinas also produced a “beast of a run” in Top Fuel, setting a track record with his E.T. of 3.687 seconds. The old record of 3.689 seconds was set last year by Brittany Force.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Karen Stoffer shot to the No. 1 position with an E.T. of 6.864 seconds, 195.17 mph.

“When you have a long day like we had some time your tune-up can get away from you,” Stoffer said. “When we had the 38, 40-mph cross winds there was definitely some concern for safety, and the pollen on the race track there was even more concern because if the bike starts to veer you can’t correct it.”

A NHRA spokesperson said all four lanes at the dragway had to be scrubbed in their entirety to rid the track of the debris caused by the strong winds.

Funny Car qualifying resumes Saturday at 2:15 p.m. with Top Fuel to follow. PSM qualifying will precede Funny Car.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, April 27 2019
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