STEVIE FAST IS QUICK ENOUGH TO PACE GATORS PM FIELD
Third time is the charm; at least this is how Stevie "Fast" Jackson sees it.
After two sessions where his new Camaro didn't make it to the finish line, Jackson and crew chief Billy Stocklin nailed the combination and lit up the scoreboards with a 5.665 elapsed time at 253.99 miles per hour to secure his second No. 1 qualifier while racing in NHRA competition.
Jackson's elapsed time now stands as the series national elapsed time record.
"I really didn't think we were going to run a [5.]66, we had aborted Q-1, and I told [crewchief] Billy [Stocklin] I wanted to go No. 1. He said we needed to ease up for Q-2, and then we aborted that run. We didn't ease up for that run, trying still to qualify No. 1.
"Going up for Q-3, smart money would say, 'ease up."
Jackson said they weren't smart.
"We did not ease up. Last year we defensively raced, this year we are in attack mode. We were trying to go 5.68, and it 60-footed better. The air is better, we have a new car, and this was the first time I've really pushed this car to the finish line under power with a mean fuel system. It ran better than I thought.
"I knew when it made the gear-change it was hauling ass."
Todd Tutterow was second, on Jackson's heels with a 5.671, 250.64.
Friday's provisional No. 1 Jose Gonzalez was third with a 5.672, 259.31.
Eric Latino anchored the 16-car field with a 5.753, 250.27.
Jackson believes it's going to take more than just a good tuneup to navigate to the winner's circle on Sunday with rain forecast for parts of Sunday's action.
"It's gonna take both the driver and tuner to win on Sunday," Jackson explained. "There is no driver, and no tuner; both are one in the same, equally important. This class used to be the car was primary, and the driver was secondary. Now that everybody runs so close together, hundredths within one another, if someone screws up and doesn't do their job you lose. You have to be perfect to win out here."