The championship points chase for Top Fuel is heating up and with two championship rounds in one weekend at Perth Motorplex’s Nitro Max event this Saturday and Sunday, the 400 Thunder series scenario could be tipped on its head.
Victoria’s Darren Morgan scored solid points early in the season with a runner up at Sydney Dragway in the AEG dragster. While Rapisarda Autosport International took the win, it was with US driver Cory McClenathan at the wheel – great for the team but bad for the championship hunt.
Morgan boosted his tally with top qualifying honours at Coates Hire West Coast Nitro a fortnight ago but a surprishttp://www.400thunder.com.au/wp-admin/post.php?post=9337&action=edit#edit_timestampe loss to Mark Sheehan in the first round prevented him from capitalising fully. Despite that, he is in the lead of the series with 158 points to his name.
Morgan has stayed in the west in the meantime, putting the car on display at the World Series Sprintcars Grand Final and taking part in a Beat The Heat match race thanks to Shannons Insurance at Formula Tech WhoopAss Wednesday alongside his crew chief Ben Patterson.
Beat The Heat use look-alike police cars to promote drag racing at safe and legal venues as an alternative to illegal street racing. Morgan and Patterson got to have a steer of each of the four cars and even took some lucky passengers for a ride. The bragging rights ended up going to Patterson – but Morgan said after the encounter he believed that would be good luck for him.
“Things come in threes, I’ve lost three times in a row so that means I am going to kick ass this weekend,” he said.
Patterson looks to still have his job despite beating the boss and said that there will be no second chances at Nitro Max.
“(The three round format) is pretty cut throat so we are going out there and change a few things to try and step up the mark and get the trophy back,” he said.
The Coates Hire West Coast Nitro win for WA’s Sheehan, as well as bonus points for low ET and top speed, propelled him to fourth in the points, sandwiching Rapisarda drivers Damien Harris and Wayne Newby in the middle.
Harris holds second on 135, with Newby on 128. Harris’ semi final appearance at Sydney has helped keep him up in the standings and with just 23 points difference between himself and Morgan he could leave his home state with the lead if things go his way across the weekend.
But it could be argued that momentum is with Newby. He went to the final round of West Coast Nitro alongside Sheehan and ran the second quickest pass of the event – a 4.713 second blast.
Top Fuel drag racing kicks off the feature program on both nights of Nitro Max with a single shot qualifying session at 6pm, followed by the eliminations round at 8pm and finals at 10pm.