JUPITER, FL (April 15, 2011) – Joey Martin is even quicker than he realized.
The Pro Extreme driver predicted his crowd favorite Lowmad would run between a 3.648 and a 3.659 in the staging lanes leading up to his third qualifying pass during Friday's American Drag Racing League (ADRL) Safety-Kleen Spring Drags II at Palm Beach International Raceway.
But Martin went even quicker, going an incredible 3.642 at 205.35 miles per hour to stay in the top qualifying spot after one exciting day of action.
"I guess the track is a little better than I anticipated," Martin joked.
"It just feels good to roll up in here and run as good as we do."
Martin stole the show in Pro Extreme under the PBIR lights on Friday, but several others helped make it a memorable qualifying night in the ADRL's first visit to Florida.
In Pro Nitrous, Mahana Al-Naemi became the first PN car in ADRL history to reach the 3.70s with a magnificent 3.797 at 196.30 mph. The Al-Anabi Racing driver will get a chance to back up the time to set a new E.T. record on Saturday, starting with the fourth and final qualifying session at 11 a.m.
Ashley Owens set a new E.T. record in Pro Extreme Motorcycle, as his 4.012 inched him closer to the 3-second mark. Dan Millen took the top spot on Friday in Extreme 10.5 with a 3.89, while Cary Goforth's 4.085 put him atop Extreme Pro Stock.
With the legendary Shannon Jenkins calling the shots, Al-Naemi's 3.79 gave him the quickest PN pass in ADRL history.
"It's like I took No. 1 in the race," Al-Naemi said. "I have to thank (team owner) KH Al-Thani to get this chance and also Shannon. Without him, I could not do anything."
Once again, it was a tremendous third qualifying session in Pro Nitrous, as the fans at PBIR were treated to numerous standout runs. Mike Castellana (3.820) and Khalid Al-Balooshi (3.822) ran impressively, but Al-Naemi's final pass topped everyone.
"He's been doing a great job," Jenkins said. "He's come a long ways and this is such a tough class to get into. He's only going to get better.
"He's become a great driver. He has a natural talent and it shows. It's great to have him No. 1 and Mike No. 2."
Martin was the top qualifier in Pro Extreme from start to finish on Friday.
He was the only driver to make three runs in the 3.60s, though Jason Hamstra, who won the first ADRL event of the season, came on strong with a 3.65 at a class-best 209.14 mph in the third session.
Frankie Taylor moved into the third spot with a 3.67.
Owens and his Fast by Gast bike continues to set new benchmarks, going 4.012 during the third qualifying session on his new bike.
"This bike is just working really well," said Owens, who won the first race of the year and is one win away from tying Billy Glidden for the all-time ADRL record of 11. "The track is great and the guys just do a heck of a job.
"This bike feels easier to ride than the other one. It's just been unbelievably reliable."
It's been unbelievably dominant as well. He's .12 better than No. 2 qualifier Carlos Wilkerson (4.134) and that gap could grow if Owens becomes the first to reach the 3-second mark.
"There's stuff left on the table, but you just have to put it all together," Owens said. "We're definitely trying hard."
Millen's string of bad luck appeared to continue after he broke a blower belt during his first qualifying session.
But the Al-Anabi Racing driver came back strong with the 3.89 at 198.85 mph in Extreme 10.5, opting to sit out the third qualifying run after the impressive second pass.
"That run went as planned and it ended up being a great pass," Millen said. "We've broken a lot of parts these last few races and I didn't think we could learn a lot that last session."
Billy Glidden provided the highlights in the third qualifying session, going a career-best 3.96 to move in the No. 2 spot. Lamar Swindoll and Frankie Taylor both went 3.99 to put them in third and fourth, respectively.
After a surprising red-light loss last month, Millen hopes to finish the job this weekend.
"Honestly, I've always had a lot of trouble at the beginning of the year. I've never come out running strong," Millen said. "I really want a good start.
"The last race was completely my fault, but I want to start the year doing well. I'd like to see that happen."
Goforth's top run came in the first qualifying session, when he went the 4.085 right out of the trailer.
The team tried a few different things over the final two passes, but nothing could top the strong first run.
"We're happy with the car and the 4.08, but we're a little disappointed that's the only run we've made," Goforth said. "We experimented those last two runs and tried some things nobody tried, and we just missed it. But we're happy to be No. 1 right now."
Even Goforth, who is looking for two straight wins, doesn't think it will stick, however. Three other drivers came on strong the rest of the day, as Pete Berner (4.085), John Montecalvo (4.086) and Dean Goforth (4.088) all went in the 4.08s.
Only Cary Goforth's better speed (176.63 to Berner's 175.52) kept him in the top spot, but he thinks he will have to be better on Saturday.
"I don't think a (4.08) will stand up," Goforth said. "I think somebody will go quicker. It's going to be fast. We need to get an .06 in the morning, but we're not here to be No. 2."
In Pro Junior Dragster, Morgan Benfield took the top qualifying spot with a .006 reaction time.
The final qualifying session takes place at 11 a.m. on Saturday with the first round of eliminations to follow at 3 p.m.