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Stockers are way coolWednesday, September 02, 2009
Posted by: Kevin McKenna
Chad Holzman is the provisional low qualifier after the first day of Stock qualifying with a (-1.332) 9.968 in Brent Hajek's A/SA Cobra Jet.
After missing the first run, eight-time U.S. Nationals Top Fuel champ "Big Daddy" Don Garlits posted a 10.45 in his A/SA Dodge Challenger.
Randy Warford put his Pak-Attack Dodge into the No. 4 spot during Wednesday's Stock qualifying with a 10.013 on the 11.30 index. There are currently 15 A/SA entries in Stock eliminator.
On the first official day of the 2009 Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, the Stock eliminator class practically stole the show as the Cobra Jet Mustang and Dodge Challenger package cars began a heated battle in the sort of manufacturer battle  that hasn’t been seen in Indy since the early 1970s. 

Noted car collector Brent Hajek, who debuted the first Cobra Jet Mustangs earlier this year in Pomona, which resulted in a memorable win by John Calvert, arrived with his four-car effort and quickly set the benchmark as driver Chad Holzman rocketed to the top of the qualifying sheet with a 9.968 blast in A/SA, a run that is 1.332 under the index. Chad’s younger brother, Jimmy, also made headlines with a 9.633 run in AA/SA, one of the quickest Stock runs of all time.
 
Jimmy Ronzello, who drove one of Hajek’s entries in Pomona but is now behind the wheel of the Aeromotive entry, a convertible Cobra Jet, also got into the act with a 9.749 at 140.31 mph, the first Stock run over 140 at an NHRA national event.

“I was hoping the car would run a 9.75, and it ran 9.749, so I’m pretty happy about that,” said Ronzello. “As for the 140-mph speed, I believe the [Hajek] cars have done that at a couple of [Lucas Oil Series races], but I’m pretty sure this is the first time it’s been done at a national event. That’s pretty cool.”

While the Mustangs have been quick, the Challengers have hardly been outclassed as Randy Warford is only a few hundredths behind Holzman with a 10.01 in A/SA, and Doug Duell and Irvin Johns are also among the top 20 qualifiers with their Hemi-powered Dodges. 

The usual accusations of sandbagging are almost certain to dissipate when Stock class eliminations begin tomorrow morning. With a coveted U.S. Nationals Wally trophy on the line, we’ll find out if anyone has been holding back, and if the weather remains cool and dry, it is almost a given that someone will run more than 1.4 seconds under the index, the automatic trigger point for a horsepower adjustment. How bad do you want that Indy Wally? We’ll find out in tomorrow morning.

The most entertaining battle will almost certainly be waged in A/SA as there are currently at least 15 cars on the grounds, including “Big Daddy” Don Garlits’ new Challenger. After being pushed off the starting line on his first attempt, the eight-time Indy Top Fuel winner returned to record a 10.45 on his second run. Garlits is 141st on the qualifying sheet and will need to pick up more than a tenth to make the 128-car qualified field. With his uncanny and well-documented ability to rebound from adversity, good luck finding someone to bet against him.  
  
Of course, it is not a given that the A/SA title will even go to a Mustang or a Challenger, and if David Barton has anything to say about it, it won’t. Barton threw his hat into the A/SA ring with a 9.97 in his Hemi-powered ’65 Coronet Wednesday and is sitting in the No. 2 spot behind Holzman. Barton is also qualified third for Friday’s Mopar Hemi Challenge with an 8.57 blast in his SS/AH Barracuda.

“I’m very, very happy with both runs,” said Barton. “I didn’t even get to race at the [Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals], which is my home race, because we were busy working on our cars. I haven’t raced my Super Stock car since last year’s Dutch Classic because we pretty much decided that we weren’t going to come out until we had some horsepower. I’m sure Charlie [Westcott] hasn’t shown everything he has, and he probably won’t until Friday, but at least we’ve got his attention.
 
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