Rapisarda Autosport International’s eagerly anticipated return to the NHRA Mello Yello series at the 62nd Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis was thwarted when their fuel car smoked the tyres on the hit in round one of qualifying.
“It was a disappointing way to start our campaign,” said co-tuner Santo Rapisarda Jnr after the first qualifer. “We won’t know what happened until we look at the data - today was a setback but we will regroup and give it our best shot tomorrow.”
And that the RAI team did finishing the second day of qualifying in 15th spot.
The team's first run of the day on a track where the mercury was nudging 130F was always going to be problematic. A blown head gasket 2.78 seconds into the run saw the car slow over the last half of the 1000 foot journey and stop the timers with a pass of 3.81/483 km/h.
Run two on a much cooler track ended just before half track when a burnt spark plug came out of the cylinder head and activated the safety shut off device.
With the team edging into the field the team will still need to improve to stay there, and co-tuner Santino Rapisarda remains upbeat about the team’s prospects going into the third and final day of qualifying.
“Considering we have had only five runs since we arrivedin Indy for the Nationals, the team is really positive. Today didn’t work out the way we would have preferred and that’s often the case in drag racing. The team see’s setbacks as challenges to be overcome. We are positive and confident going into day three and the final two rounds of qualifying,” he said.