Following a three-week break in the schedule, the traditional 500-inch Pro Stock cars returned to action in Norwalk and not surprisingly, the field remains tightly bunched, especially the top eight cars in the class. After the first two qualifying rounds, Deric Kramer is the leader in his American Ethanol Camaro, but not by much. Kramer, who won the most recent Pro Stock event at Route 66 Raceway earlier this month, ran a 6.559 to finish the day as the leader. Had Kramer run just .013-second slower, he wouldn’t even be in the top half of the field. Kramer was challenged for the pole by Q1 leader Matt Hartford who also ran 6.559, but Kramer’s faster speed, 210.18 to 209.59, proved to be the difference.
Using engines from the KB Racing team, Kramer has been the No. 1 qualifier three times in his career, but not yet this season. His best qualifying effort of the season has been No. 2 at the NHRA Virginia Nationals in Richmond.
Hartford, already a two-time finalist this year, put together the best run of the opening session with a 6.567 in his Total Seal Camaro. Hartford, along with longtime crew chief Eddie Guaranaccia, use horsepower from Elite Motorsports but have developed a clutch program that differs greatly from what their competitors, including the rest of the Elite cars use.
The top eight qualifiers are separated by a coat of paint and include Chris McGaha, Rodger Brogdon, Summit teammates Jason Line and Greg Anderson, along with rookie Fernando Cuadra Jr., and five-time world champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. who is just .013-second slower than Kramer, but enters Saturday as the No. 8 qualifier.
Also noteworthy is the performance of current points leader Bo Butner, who sits No. 10 after the first run with a 6.583 in his Butner Auto Camaro. Butner, the winner of four events this season and the runaway points leader in the class, has been in the top half of the field at all six events this season.
PRO STOCK LOW QUALIFIER DERIC KRAMER: “Side-by-side, that was probably one of the best feeling runs I’ve had in a while. I felt super-focused, more so than I have in a while. That is really good coming off the win in Chicago right into a run like that. I’ve never been the provisional No. 1 before. I’ve always kind of snuck in there at the last second and nabbed it in Q4. This is a new experience and one that feels real nice.
“I’d like to improve on our time. I looked at the run and think we can try and squeeze out a few more thousandths. A bit thanks to Jason Line for this. He tunes the motor for me and he does a great job.”