A pair of record-setting runs highlighted the first day of Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals qualifying at Sonoma Raceway.
Steve Torrence established a new NHRA Top Fuel record, and Del Worsham grabbed the Funny Car track record to headline the opening day. Bo Butner (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also led their respective divisions.
Torrence was .03 quicker than No. 2 qualifier Doug Kalitta, as he stopped the timers with a 3.671 ET at 326.08 mph. The next three qualifiers, Doug Kalitta, Shawn Langdon and Rickie Crampton, all ran 3.71 seconds.
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If Torrence's run holds, it will mark the eighth time in 14 races the former NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster champion has qualified No. 1.
"I was nervous watching the cars in front of us in the session," Torrence said. "The track was getting tight, and the air kept getting cooler. I saw [crew chief Richard] Hogan in the [clutch timers] box turning knobs. We hit the nail on the head to go as quick as we did.
"When the car left, it waddled the tire a little bit. It was on the extreme edge of not making. I did the best to keep it in the groove, and I saw the .60-somthing, and I started hollering because I knew we had just run fast."
A deflated right rear slick did little to slow defending the NHRA champion Worsham, as he became the quickest Funny Car driver ever at Sonoma Raceway with a 3.868 ET at 327.43 mph.
Worsham's monumental performance beat out No. 2 Courtney Force by .003 of a second.
"We were trying to run our career best, and we definitely succeeded at that," Worsham said. "Right before the finish line, the car made a quiver, and I was able to will it to the finish line. I knew there was a problem, and I just tried to keep the car under control."
Worsham didn't feel as if the tire issue cost him any significant elapsed time performance.
"Just by looking at the eighth mile, I don't think it cost us anything, and it probably finished where it should have," Worsham explained. "I think we got all of it we could. It would be great to have a few shots at these kinds of conditions."
Matt Hagan also established a track record with a 330.15 mph pass.
KB Racing returned to their spot atop the Pro Stock qualifying leaderboard as Butner recorded a 6.553 ET at 210.28 mph. He was trailed by teammate Greg Anderson, who recorded a 6.567. Shane Gray was third with a 6.576.
"We are testing, believe it or not, and trying new things," Butner admitted. "We are getting ready for the Countdown. We are not necessarily testing on runs, but new parts at certain tracks ... getting ready. It's just day one; we still have tomorrow."
Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Savoie made the most of Suzuki's tendency to dominate at sea level as he raced to the provisional pole with a 6.839, 194.46 mph performance. The resurgent Angelle Sampey was second with a 6.85 to edge out early leader G.T. Tonglet and his 6.862.
"Suzukis run real well at sea level," Savoie, who stands on the cusp of his fifth career No. 1, said. "We needed this home run today. Someone came up to me before the first session and asked what kind of run was out there, and I said, 'definitely an .83, but there can be an .81. We missed our first run, but we made up for it on the second."
Saturday qualifying coverage begins at 10 p.m. ET on FS1.
Bobby Bennett is the Publisher/Editor of CompetitionPlus.com, a leading independent online drag racing magazine, since 1999. For the latest in dragster news worldwide, visit www.competitionplus.com or follow on Twitter @competitionplus