Pro Stock racer Jason Grima of St Marys South (NSW) has top qualified to lead Australia's quickest Pro Stock field at Willowbank Raceway as day one of the FUCHS Winternationals (7-10 June) roared to life.
Twenty-one Pro Stock racers are attempting to qualify for a 16-car field this weekend at what is the largest championship drag racing event held outside of the US.
After this afternoon's session, Victoria's Ian Brown is on the 'bump spot' (position 16) with a 7.124 second effort - making the field the quickest Pro Stock field ever seen in this country, beating the previous record of 7.125 seconds.
Grima took the top spot courtesy of a 7.016 second effort at 195.03 miles per hour, and with 13 of the 21 racers entered this weekend posting '7.0' elapsed times today, the battle to make it into the field is guaranteed to be brutal when the category returns to the track tomorrow. Also on-track Saturday for the continuation of qualifying will be fellow professional brackets Top Fuel, Top Alcohol, Top Doorslammer, Top Bike and Pro Stock Motorcycle, as well as a full array of sportsman brackets.
Grima said this afternoon's result was the perfect start to his team's weekend.
"To be the top qualifier at the end of day one is a great way to start the weekend, to nail that set-up for the first run out is something everyone aims for as if you don't hit it you can be chasing your tail trying to get it right in time," said Grima, driver of the PC Group Ford Mustang Pro Stock car.
"It is my older brother James' birthday today, so it is a good present to him as well as a crew guy – he won't have to work so hard tonight!
"I really can't thank my crew enough for their amazing work, as well as the support and efforts of PC Group and all of our American and Australian vendors, especially Rick Watters Racing Engines for turning around my engine so quickly after we damaged it at May's Nitro Champs, and Jerry Bickell Race Components who sponsor Brandon Huhtala's car."
Huhtala is one of three drivers who have flown over from the United States to take part in the FUCHS Winternationals, joining Tommy Johnson Jr (Top Fuel) and Australian-born California resident Rhett Lougheed (Pro Stock Motorcycle) at Willowbank Raceway this weekend. He is not only driving for Jason Grima Motorsports this weekend, but is also crew chief for the team.
"I am really happy with how Brandon is going so far this weekend, his work ethic and his set-ups are just great and he is doing a great job in the car," said Grima.
"Driving at this event is a bonus for him alongside his work tuning my car, and we will be talking soon after this event about what he wants to do for the rest of the season and maybe even beyond as I know he loves racing and I love hearing my cars going down the track!"
Also having the fans gasping was Regent Park's (QLD) Mark Ashford in the Super Stock bracket. After sliding sideways at the half-track distance his Nissan 200SX came into contact with both side-walls of the quarter-mile at approximately 160 miles per hour. While Ashford was unhurt, he will be watching the remainder of the FUCHS Winternationals from the sideline due to car damage.
Today's opening qualifying sessions also included passes from the 1320 Race Cars Competition, Super Stock, Super Compact, Gasoline Alley Harley Davidson Competition Bike, Allstar Batteries Supercharged Outlaws, Knijff Earthmoving Modified, Powercruise Super Sedan, Prime Signs/Speed Elec Super Street, Gasoline Alley Harley Davidson Modified Bike, Donnelly Blasting Services Junior Dragster and Neptune Pool Care Super Gas categories.
The on-track action will continue tomorrow from 8.00am, with qualifying for the feature brackets of Top Fuel, Top Alcohol, Top Doorslammer, Pro Stock, Top Bike and Pro Stock Motorcycle taking to the track from 12.30pm. Sunday 9 June will host further qualifying for all brackets followed by eliminations racing on Monday 10 June.
For full scheduling information, please visit Willowbank Raceway.