Not even a rain-abbreviated qualifying schedule could cool down a red-hot Melanie Salemi. The multi-time No. 1 qualifier did what she does best at the Kaeser Compressors Mid-Atlantic Showdown presented by Classic Graphix to qualify No. 1 atop the quickest field in PDRA Pro Boost history. 

Two of the three sessions were in the books when an evening rain shower cut the day short. All professional classes completed two of three scheduled qualifying sessions to set the fields for Saturday eliminations.

Joining Salemi atop the leaderboard were front-runners Jim Halsey (Pro Nitrous) and Johnny Pluchino (Extreme Pro Stock).  

Salemi’s 3.585-second, 209.01 MPH pass Friday night put her atop a field separated by just .053 seconds. The perennial Pro Boost contender will start race day facing Preston Tanner, who ran a 3.638 at 206.07 to set a new record for the quickest bump spot in class history. 
“It’s a testament to all of the hard work that goes on on our team, not only at the racetrack but at the shop,” Salemi said. “The guys that work for us have been instrumental in every little bit of our success. Mike Stawicki builds us a really badass engine program, and the guys at the shop stay late and come work on the weekends if we need them to fix little things on the car here or there. There’s never a time when the focus is not 100% on our team and winning races. We’ve qualified No. 1 a lot of times, and now we need to win a lot of times.”
Spencer Hyde, who won the 2023 World Series of Pro Mod, ran 3.59 seconds at 213.47 in the first session to qualify second in his screw-blown “Jack & The Green Stock” ’69 Camaro. Kurt Steding in his new screw-blown P2 Contracting ’69 Camaro rounded out the top three with his 3.592 at 208.07.  



Four-time Pro Nitrous world champion Jim Halsey appears committed to ensuring his 2023 Pro Nitrous runner-up doesn’t happen this season. He remained the No. 1 qualifier in the division by running a 3.63, 208.26.
“Actually, we weren’t trying to run super-fast on that run,” Halsey said. “We had messed up on Q1, so we just wanted to make sure we got down the track. It was a good run – can’t dispute that – but we were hoping for better [in the third session]. Being No. 1 qualifier, I think we got a bye to run first round, so we’ll probably let it hang out and see how much the track will take tomorrow and go from there.”
Marcus Butner was second, running a 3.639 at 206.01 while reigning world champion Tommy Franklin ran a 3.642 at 204.98 to qualify third. 




The two-time Extreme Pro Stock world champion Pluchino opened his 2024 PDRA season with a win at GALOT Motorsports two weeks ago and proved he can shine in qualifying as he fired off a 4.046 at 178.80 in the final session to qualify No. 1 at the Mid-Atlantic Showdown for the second year in a row. 
“We didn’t test, and we only had two qualifiers,” said Pluchino, who thanked his crew and sponsors. “On the first run, we changed a couple of things with our clutch program a little bit from the last race, and we missed it. Had to take a shot at it. When you miss it heavy, you go out there and you’ve got to back it back down. We only had one more run. It makes the decision a little bit difficult. We didn’t drain it by any means, but we made the best run of the day, so we’re No. 1. Our game plan for race day is kick everyone’s ass. Simple as that.”
Elijah Morton was second with a 4.052 at 177.39, while Jeremy Huffman ran a 4.058 at 178.14 to qualify third. 

The remainder of the low qualifiers included Amber Franklin (Pro 632), Ethan Steding (Pro Street), Derek Mota (Super Street), Tim Molnar (Elite Top Sportsman), Frank Falter IV (Elite Top Dragster), Jeff Simons (Top Sportsman), and Tony Elrod (Top Dragster).