PARKER, Ariz. – Bryan Sanders remains the king of the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series after qualifying Tommy Thompson’s “Nitrochondriac” Top Fuel Hydro boat atop the Colorado River Challenge elimination ladder with a steady pass of 3.488 seconds at 252.3 mph.
Mike De Clark (Top Alcohol Hydro), Tony Scarlata (Top Alcohol Flat), Gary Bauer (Pro Mod), and Tyler Speer (Pro Outlaw) also impressed the appreciative crowd lining the Colorado River in front of the Blue Water Casino, putting their vessels in the No. 1 slots of their respective categories.
Just as it was in Phoenix when he set a world record of 268.40 mph, Sanders has been the star of the race so far. As usual, the understated Texan seemed nonplussed by his success.
“That was a pretty good run,” Sanders said. “It’s a little windy out there but the boat’s performing perfect. It was a good pass for us. We’re happy with it.
“I ran the inside lane both times. The first pass was smooth as glass. The water was good. The last pass, the wind picked up a little bit and it got a choppy at the big end but all-in-all it was a good day.”
Mike Robbins’ “Nitro Nuts” boat was second best in Top Fuel Hydro with an early-shutoff pass of 3.904 at 174.10 mph.
Owner/driver De Clark led Top Alcohol Hydro with a 4.409 at 201.40 mph in “Little White Lie.”
“We started out the day with a soft tune-up,” De Clark said. “We went out and ran a 4.42 (in Q1) and we were kind of happy with that. Then we came back out and put a little more to her, and she ran a 4.40 and put us No. 1, so overall it was a good day. It wasn’t a great day but it a good day. If we were in the 4.30s, then we’re having a great day.
“We have a first-round bye so we’re thinking we might change some things; then again we might not. It depends on how the day starts out. If there’s no wind, we might just throw the kitchen sink out and see how she does. I’ll never tell anyone exactly what I’m doing. They’ll have to see for themselves tomorrow.”
Scarlata piloted “Shazam” to the No. 1 spot for the second race in a row to front Top Alcohol Flat. Scarlata was happy with his 5.212-second, 154.30-mph run, but gave props to the No. 2 qualifier, Bill Miller, who went 5.297 at 150.32 mph.
“There’s a really steady seven-boat field so we are pleased to be No. 1,” Scarlata said. “Actually, a very impressive run was made by Bill Miller and ‘Party To The Max’ crew. Those guys ran a 5.29, which is hugely impressive. He did a good job of driving. We will have a first-round bye but seeing Bill we’re not going to sit back on our haunches. We are going to test this thing and make sure everything is perfect.”
Bauer has a moderate grip on the Pro Mod pole after a 7.012 at 171.57 mph, ahead of Phoenix winner Shawn Reed’s 7.035 at 168.89 mph. Pro Mod ‘s are not allowed to run quicker than seven seconds.
Another Phoenix titlist, Tyler Speer, is tops in Pro Outlaw with a 5.413 at 171.69 mph.
“So far we’ve been pretty good this year,” Speer said. “We were okay in Phoenix but we’re using a new motor and a new blower package. We really felt we had to pick it up three tenths (of a second) so we came here and rolled the dice a little bit first pass and right off the trailer it ran a 5.41, so we couldn’t be happier.”
Sportsman class top qualifiers include Tom Wedic in Pro Eliminator, Sam Nasise in Quick Eliminator, Garrett Breistig in Top Eliminator, Dan Blayney in Modified Eliminator, Tanya Scribner in Stock Eliminator, Randy Melvin in River Racer, and Brittney Hegemann in Personal Watercraft.