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More than 200 race teams are counting down the hours until the beginning of Saturday’s racing for the Atlantic Oils Top Fuel Slam, following the conclusion of qualifying this evening.

Drag racers from all over the country have descended on Sydney Dragway this weekend for the two-day event, uniting to race in memory of their fallen comrade, Sam Fenech, while celebrating the sport he loved so dearly.

Two rounds of qualifying were scheduled this evening for the Burson Auto Parts Top Fuel Australia and ADRC Top Doorslammer, Atlantic Oils Pro Stock, Pro Mod and Top Fuel Motorcycle classes.

However, Pro Stock was the only group one category able to complete both rounds before mother nature intervened, with Rob Dekert securing the top qualifying honours for the class with a 6.98 second pass in Q2.

In ADRC Top Doorslammer, Q2 will now be held at 12.30pm, and like it was set to this evening, double as the A and B Finals from the Willowbank Raceway round. Kelvin Lyle is currently the top qualifier heading to Q2, thanks to a 5.72 second pass at 254 miles per hour. He will face off against John Zappia for the Willowbank Raceway A-Final, while Daniel Gregorini will race Matt Abel in the B-Final.

In the other group one classes, the top qualifier has been decided based on Q1, with Phil Read (Burson Auto Parts Australian Top Fuel Championship), Chris Matheson (Burson Auto Parts ADRC Top Fuel Motorcycle), and Jeremy Callaghan (ADRC Pro Mod) celebrated as the top qualifiers for their respective brackets.

Dekert was very happy with his qualifying result, but cautious when it came to making any declarations of confidence ahead of Saturday’s racing.

“It went really well. In the first round we only went 7.14, we just went to three-quarter track and then shut it off as we were just looking to get a tune-up as it was quite humid and warm and we didn’t want to melt anything,” Dekert said.

“On the second pass we ran it out the back door!

“We are very happy with how it went, but when it comes to tomorrow, we will just see what happens. You never know what will happen until the end.

“I have top qualified before and then gone nowhere, so you just never know. You have to take it one race at a time,” he concluded, while thanking ETS Race Fuels, Plucka’s Race Craft, Unique Body Smash Repairs, Outlaw Images and Peter Ridgeway Motorsports for their support.

In the Burson Auto Parts Australian Top Fuel Championship, Phil Read – who ran 3.81 at 318.99 miles per hour in Q1 to be top qualifier – is hopeful that recent testing will have them well prepared for the anticipated hot conditions tomorrow.

“We were very happy with that run, it was smooth and it felt slow, which means it went fast!” he smiled.

“We were very happy with it, although it is unfortunate that we didn’t get the last run in, as we were looking to go quicker, we felt we could possibly go to the mid-70s. But due to the rules, we are still the number one qualifier as the session wasn’t completed due to the rain falling mid-way through.

“We are feeling confident heading into tomorrow – it is going to be stinking hot and a totally different day to today, but after testing in the heat last week, we are feeling prepared and tomorrow should be good,” Read concluded, while thanking the team’s sponsors, including Hydraulink, McDonalds, Valvoline, FXD Workwear, PremiAir Hire, and Odyssey Batteries for their support.

It is an emotional weekend for Top Doorslammer racer Kelvin Lyle, who was in the other lane in that fateful pass at Willowbank Raceway and will hold space for Sam in a Missing Man formation as part of tomorrow’s opening ceremonies.

“It was a great first qualifying run for us, we didn’t really change anything from our passes at Willowbank Raceway, we just kept it the same,” Lyle explained.

“The track here is unbelievable. I haven’t raced here since before COVID-19 so I haven’t been on the new track surface before, but it is just great, it is so smooth and the prep was great.

“We were sure we were going to go faster in the next run but unfortunately we didn’t get to do that tonight, so we will see what happens at 12.30pm tomorrow!

“Q2 will obviously double as the finals for Willowbank, and I have really set my mind this week on trying to win that A-Final. Being in the other lane with Sam, by rights I shouldn’t be in the final, it should have been Sam or someone else, I shouldn’t have won that race, and it has been on my mind all week and I am determined to take that win.

“The Missing Man hasn’t been done in Australia before and I have been told it has never been done with blown cars anywhere, so to be part of that will a good tribute for Sam and will be special.

“When it comes to the racing, it is going to be quick. Everyone is going to be stepping up as the track is so good here. I would say there is going to be a lot of quick passes tomorrow from us all.

“I haven’t got any sponsors, but I want to say thank you to my crew and everyone involved, they have all been great.”

The Atlantic Oils Top Fuel Slam at Sydney Dragway will continue tomorrow (Saturday January 28). For updated schedules and event information, visit

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