Queensland's Gary Phillips set a new track record en route to number one qualifying position in Top Alcohol on day one of the ANDRA Drag Racing Series at Darwin's Hidden Valley Drag Strip.
Phillips' pass of 5.650 eclipsed the previous track record of 5.685 that was held by Darwin local Scott Maclean.
With 11 cars battling to make it into an eight car race day field, Phillips said he was just glad that he was in the show for Saturday with his Lucas Oils Funny Car.
"As long as we weren't in those ninth, tenth or eleventh spots I didn't care," he said. "We elected to roll the dice and sit out the final session and the time managed to stay number one.
"We will put a new clutch pack in but the engine has come out looking perfect."
With the ANDRA Top Alcohol championship possibly within his grasp this weekend, Phillips said he will be keeping one eye on how other results go when racing begins at 6pm on Saturday.
"Steve Reed and John Cannuli, who are both our rivals in the points, have drawn each other first round so that works out," he said. "Now we've got to start racing smart and try and get a round ahead of those guys."
The new track record was a credit to the Hidden Valley redevelopment done in 2011 with the super-smooth racing surface allowing teams to put down quick runs in the tropical humidity. In fact, three teams ran under the existing track record.
"The work put into this venue really showed tonight with how quickly everyone was running," Phillips said.
Meanwhile in the Top bike division, Greg Durack earned his first ever top qualifying honours, with a 6.953 taking the number one spot.
Durack's turbocharged Kawasaki proved one of the most consistent motorcycles of the night and he too was full of praise for the Hidden Valley facility.
"The track feels great, it is so flat and smooth and the bike tracks in a nice straight line," he said.
"It's always good to come this far and get top qualifier. It's a great effort from the team and especially in this kind of tropical atmosphere, getting into the sixes was pretty reasonable.
"The engine is all still in one piece and holding together pretty well. We may put a bit more power into it tomorrow and see how we go."
Sportsman racing kicks off from 5pm Saturday, with the first round of Top Alcohol and Top Bike from 6pm.