Written by Bobby Bennett; Photos by Dave Reid.

Winternationals Saturday C 1513Phil Lamattina extracted the most value out of his second qualifying run to head into Monday's eliminations as the top seed at the FUCH's Winternationals at Willowbank Raceway located outside of Brisbane.

Despite losing two of his four qualifying runs to parts attrition, the Aussie star successfully repelled an identical elapsed time from American driver Tommy Johnson Jr., driving the Rapisarda International dragster. Lamattina maintained the top spot thanks to a 331 mile per hour speed which easily outranked Johnson's early shut-off 297.

“We are absolutely wrapped, to have the FUCHS Top Fuel dragster on top at the FUCHS Winternationals heading into race day is a great feeling,” said Lamattina.

“We could have done better in today’s two sessions, we should have been more aggressive and we paid the price, but luckily we were able to hold on with yesterday’s effort to stay at the top – tomorrow we will be leaving no stone unturned, there will be nothing left on the table and we will be looking to take the challenge up to the rest of the field as we chase the event win.”

Top fuelWhile Lamattina had plenty to be proud of, Johnson also had ample reason to smile. His 4.610 second pass is a personal best on the quarter-mile (1320ft) for Johnson, who is more used to running the 1000 foot distance per American rules.

“I have run a lot quicker than that on the 1000 foot distance but not on the quarter-mile as we don’t race on the quarter-mile over there anymore, I have definitely enjoyed it, and it didn’t even enter my mind to shut off at the 1000ft,” said Johnson.

“I did shut off about 100 foot early on my pass today but that wasn’t because of the distance, the car was starting to have issues and I didn’t want to hurt it, so the car definitely has more in it. Tomorrow we will just go out there and just run our own race, we know what our car can run and we have a pretty good set up now so we will just take it one at a time and do everything we can to shoot for winning rounds and the race win.

“I am really enjoying racing here in Australia, I have had a bit more time to enjoy it here at Willowbank Raceway than when I raced in Sydney in May and I have had a great time talking to the people – the fans are just great and I am really enjoying it a lot, and with the car running a lot better that makes it even easier to enjoy!”



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