It’s already been a dream season for Donnie Walsh in NHRA Pro Modified, but after one day at Indianapolis, Walsh appears set on trying to top himself.
After picking up his first career win at the most recent Pro Mod event in Norwalk, Ohio, Walsh is off to a brilliant start at the U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, running a 5.869 at 252.52 mph on Friday to take the top qualifying spot after one round of action.
If it holds up, it would give Walsh his first ever No. 1 qualifier in Pro Mod, which would be the perfect way to keep his hot streak going.
“It’s pretty exciting. We may only get one qualifier with how the rain looks, so we just wanted to get in. So to get in like that is pretty exciting,” Walsh said.
The Pro Mod class will get two qualifying opportunities on Saturday and a final one on Sunday, but some – or all – of those runs might be wiped away with the inclement weather expected in Indianapolis.
That made Walsh’s run on Friday even more important and he delivered a strong run in what was the next to last pair of the session.
His turbocharged 2011 Mustang has made remarkable strides in a short time, exemplified by his standout performance in the scorching Norwalk heat in July.
Despite treacherous conditions, Walsh was one of just a few drivers to make one consistent pass after another, topped off by three straight runs in the 5.80s in eliminations.
Two months later, it appeared that not much has changed for Walsh, who is making a late-season charge for a championship.
To get down the track on Thursday, Walsh admitted he also got a fortunate break.
“We were tuned up but we were worried about the track. Everything just came to us,” Walsh said. “I think it helped us out a lot that the weather came in with some humidity. It took a little bit out of it right at the starting line, which I think helped it get down.”
Donald Martin and his ’69 Camaro is currently second with a 5.961 at 243.85 mph, while Danny Rowe is right behind with a 5.983 to put him in third. Mike Castellana is the only other driver in the 5-second zone, going 5.992.
Despite the strong showing on Friday, don’t expect to see Walsh in cruise control for the rest of qualifying.
“Nothing puts you in cruise control at Indy,” Walsh said.
Qualifying continues Saturday at 2 p.m. ET and 5 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Pro Mod eliminations start Sunday at approximately 5 p.m. and continue Monday starting at approximately noon ET.
Friday's results after the first one of four rounds of qualifying for the 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, seventh of 10 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Monday's final eliminations.
1. Donald Walsh, Ford Mustang, 5.869, 252.52; 2. Donald Martin, Chevy Camaro, 5.961, 243.85; 3. Danny Rowe, Camaro, 5.983, 243.41; 4. Mike Castellana, Camaro, 5.992, 241.67; 5. Pat Musi, Dodge Stratus, 6.004, 230.10; 6. Troy Coughlin, Camaro, 6.016, 254.57; 7. Todd Tutterow, Plymouth Duster, 6.031, 247.57; 8. Rickie Smith, Camaro, 6.040, 242.89; 9. Harold Martin, Chevy Corvette, 6.057, 236.75; 10. Scott Ray, Corvette, 6.113, 233.52; 11. Mike Knowles, Camaro, 6.140, 233.88; 12. Steve Matusek, Mustang, 6.169, 245.49; 13. Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, 6.254, 240.77; 14. Clint Satterfield, Camaro, 6.270, 241.11; 15. Roger Burgess, Corvette, 6.337, 230.41; 16. Chris Juliano, Mustang, 6.541, 215.44. Not Qualified: 17. Adam Flamholc, 7.520, 120.05; 18. Leah Pruett, 8.726, 135.88; 19. Shannon Jenkins, 14.181, 73.78; 20. Kenny Lang, 17.967, 46.98; 21. Mike Janis, broke.
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