SALEMI STANDS ON THE CUSP OF DRAG RACING HISTORY WITH LIGHTS OUT 11 PROVISIONAL
It's a good thing the weatherman doesn't tune a race car. If he did, he'd be about good enough for the No. 10 spot.
Despite a forecast which suggested no cars would run at day two of the Lights Out 11, not only did race officials at South Georgia complete three classes of competition leftover from Wednesday's suspended qualifications but also got in a second session of the popular Radial vs. The World division, and X275.
Because of the weatherman's snafu, Melanie Salemi was able to secure a piece of drag racing history as she overtook Marcus Birt atop the Radial vs. The World qualifying list. Even provisionally, no female has ever led qualifying in one of the most volatile doorslammer divisions ever.
Salemi has won a Radial vs. The World event though, the Orlando World Street Nationals last Fall in Orlando, Fla. It was the first time she'd raced on radial tires.
Salemi's 3.621-second elapsed time at 208.81 miles per hour in Thursday's lone session vaulted her past Wednesday's leader Marcus Birt, who shook the tires and shut-off early today in his second attempt. Yesterday he ran a 3.625.
"We know that obviously, the car didn't go that fast, it could go faster," Salemi explained. "But for the conditions, and the amount of runs that we actually only have on this car, to be in the number one spot after the second qualifier here at our first time racing Lights Out. It's pretty cool. It's a testament to everybody that had a hand in this, a testament to their hard work and dedication to what we do."
Up until last season, Salemi's doorslammer experience had been in racing Pro Modified. Adjusting to racing a Pro Modified on a much narrower tire has had its challenges.
"All the functions are the same in the car, but the way that you need to react, I think, maybe a little bit sooner with the small tire, so you don't get yourself into trouble," Salemi explained. "But I have not yet felt uncomfortable in the small tire car versus the Pro Mod. There hasn't really been a huge learning curve. I just listen to what [husband] John and Jim [Salemi] tell me I need to be aware of, and that's that."
Many of the top tuners in Radial vs. The World are licking their chops in anticipation of mineshaft conditions for Friday's qualifying which resumes Friday morning at 9 AM, EST.
"I think the weather's going to be conducive to really good runs, as long as the race track is in good shape, which I'm sure it will be," Salemi said. "I think we'll definitely be able to step it up tomorrow. And hopefully, we can keep it in the number one spot. I know we're definitely going to have to go faster if we want to do that. But I think that's in our cards for tomorrow."
In X275, Manny Buginga overtook Dean Marinas atop the qualifying list by running a 4.266, 170.02 behind the wheel of his 2003 Mustang Cobra.
Marinas was unable to improve on Wednesday's 4.298 best.
Other leaders after Day Two included Jerry Morgano (PRO 275, 3.918), Martin Connelley (DXP Street, 5.002), Brian Keep (Ultra Street, 4.636), Norman Chang (Limited Drag Radial, 4.150), and Martin Connelly (Limited 235, 5.042).
Qualifying will resume at 9 AM, EST on Friday.