x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Rod Fuller full of praise for Yas Marina team

He steers the Abu Dhabi into the semi-finals of the National Hot Rod Association's (NHRA) Mile High Nationals at Denver's Bandimere Raceway at the weekend.

Rod Fuller believes his Yas Marina Circuit Top Fuel dragster has already caught the imagination of US drag racing fans after steering the Abu Dhabi car into the semi-finals of the National Hot Rod Association's (NHRA) Mile High Nationals at Denver's Bandimere Raceway at the weekend. Fuller, the 2007 winner of the Colorado race, overcame a catalogue of qualifying difficulties in the first two days of the meeting to eliminate Top Fuel stalwarts Shawn Langdon and David Grubnic en route to the last four.

Doug Kalitta, the eventual winner, held off Fuller in the semi-finals. Nevertheless, Fuller, a seven-time NHRA Top Fuel winner, praised the Abu Dhabi crew's performance in only their the second outing at the sport's premier level. "The team at Don Schumacher Racing helped us get the car into great shape for the weekend, and the crew made some great calls on the set-up in difficult track conditions," Fuller said. "It felt wonderful to be back competing with the very best in the world and showing what we can do so early on in our US visit."

Fuller's best time came during the second elimination round against Grubnic. The Abu Dhabi driver roared home in 3.981secs to set up the showdown with Kalitta. Fuller crossed the line just four hundredths of a second slower than Kalitta, after both drivers suffered popped cylinder heads near the finish. After a trio of 3.9 second passes in the elimination rounds, Kalitta edged Brandon Bernstein in the final to claim his first Denver win in five attempts.

"When I saw the win light come on it was real special, a great relief," Kalitta said. "I'm glad to finally get a win here. I've been close a lot of times and fortunately we got it done." emegson@thenational.ae