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Emilio Spinozzi and his Terra Civil team will arrive at the Atlantic Oils Top Fuel Slam prepared to take on a tough field of Top Doorslammers, having won his first event in the category just three months ago at Sydney Dragway.

For Sydney’s Spinozzi it was the perfect return from a near two-year break, with a performance that included a flying 261mph top speed as he took his Chevelle to the winner’s circle.

“We came back, did a little bit of testing and stuck to our program,” he said. “We had good momentum and we were making good gains with little changes. At the event we weren’t concerned about what was going on around us, we were just concentrating on what we were doing and going rounds. Before I knew it we were in the final!”

Although there was some chatter about the legitimacy of Spinozzi’s speed, he said the team’s data confirmed what the track’s timing system said.

“The car has been creeping its speeds up for a while now, we’ve had runs that were 257, 258, 259mph and just getting ever higher. We looked at our data, and so did the IHRA, and it showed the numbers were true. I think that since we have made slight changes to improve the fuel system it has shown in the power we are making.”

While strong times and speeds are a crucial component of drag racing, the focus for the Top Doorslammer field at the Atlantic Oils Top Fuel Slam will largely be on the memory of Sam Fenech, who passed away following an accident at Willowbank Raceway on January 8.

Spinozzi said he remembered Fenech as a gentleman and a fierce racer.

“After I won in November, Sam called me and he said to make sure I enjoyed the win,” Spinozzi recalled. “We’ve raced for a lot of years but I haven’t won that much, so to have him call me the day after and recognise the win was amazing.

“I still can’t believe that he is gone. Sam was a great driver and whenever we raced him we needed to bring our A-game, yet off the track he was a gentleman and always had time for a chat or a drink after the event was finished.”

The Atlantic Oils Top Fuel Slam will feature a ‘missing man formation’ at 4pm on Saturday, where the Top Doorslammer field will honor Sam Fenech. The memorial will be aired live on 7plus (4pm AEDT, 3.30pm ACDT, 1pm AWST) ahead of the commencement of the night’s racing.

Taking part will be Matt Abel, Craig Burns, Daniel Gregorini, Geoff Gradden, Craig Hewitt, Peter Kapiris, Kelvin Lyle, Emilio Spinozzi and John Zappia.

The Atlantic Oils Top Fuel Slam will also include the completion of the final round of the Willowbank event, with Zappia and Lyle to face off for the A Final while Gregorini and Abel will compete for the B Final. The ‘race within a race’ will take place during the second qualifying session on Friday night. As a bonus, teams will also be vying for the Crow Cams Top Qualifier Award.

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