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Written by, Photos by Chris and Tera Graves.


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PureHellAAFARonAugustThe first day of qualifying for the Bakersfield March Meet came to a close with Dan Horan, Tony Bartone and Keith Wilson driving to the top of the three nitro categories in competition at Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

Horan, the 2013 Heritage Series runner-up in the Funny Car division, has dominated both pre-event testing and both of Friday’s sessions. He was the only Funny Car in the 5.70s during Thursday testing with a 5.76 and he then upped the ante in Friday’s Q-1 by carding a 5.754, 253.52.

“There’s a 5.60 in it by the end of the day,” Horan predicted early Friday. “It was a real conservative run and didn’t tighten one ring at all. It went right down there. That’s exactly what (crew chief Ronnie Swearingen) wanted it to do. Once he establishes a baseline, he just plucks away at it until he gets it where he wants it.”

The final run of Friday proved to be Horan’s best as he cranked out a 5.668, 257.83 pass to take the top spot.

“That’s what you get from Ronnie,” said Horan. “He wants to go from point A to point B every single time. Consistency wins races. That’s his theory on the whole process.”

Top Fuel low qualifier Tony Bartone could use a measure of consistency, and after missing the mark on his first run thundered back in the second session with a pass of 5.630, 241.89.

“Funny thing is we’ve been No. 1 qualifier a lot at the nostalgia events with very few wins,” Bartone said. “We are working on consistency and the program. We want to try to stay qualified and go some rounds this weekend.”

Wilson, racing in the new Fuel Altered division, made the eliminator’s debut exciting as he drove his 1948 Fiat to a 6.261 elapsed time against the 6.00 index. Jeremy Sullivan was second quickest and had top speed with a 220.30 mile per hour blast.

Other low qualifiers included Joe Kostelechy [7.0 Pro], Jerry Jansen [6.90 Doorslammer], Ryan Davenport [A/Fuel], Don Enriquez [Jr. Fuel], Rick Logson [A/Gas], Kevin Riley [B/Gas], Eddie Plazier [C/Gas], Trey Sommers [D/Gas], Gregory Means [NE-1], Miguel Lomas [NE-2], Lindsey Lister [NE-3].



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