DOHA, QATAR – Khalid Al-Balooshi found another way to outdo himself on Thursday.
Less than a week after the talented Pro Nitrous driver recovered from a fire to his car to win the fourth race of the eight-race Arabian Drag Racing League series, Al-Balooshi raised the bar during qualifying of Round Five at Qatar Racing Club (QRC).
With near-perfect conditions leading the way, Al-Balooshi went a record 3.80 at 197 miles per hour, taking the No. 1 qualifying spot in PN with one session remaining on Friday before eliminations.
“My team has been working very hard this week to try and squeeze every bit of E.T. and mph out of each run as we can,” Al-Balooshi said. “I want to thank all of them for working so hard and giving me such a good car each week.”
Joining the 2009 American Drag Racing League (ADRL) Pro Nitrous World Champion as top qualifiers are Alex Hossler in Pro Extreme, Dan Millen in Extreme 10.5 and Terry Schweigert in Pro Extreme Motorcycle.
Hossler set a new career-best for the second straight week, going 3.62 at 210 mph, while Millen, the 2010 ADRL World Champion, shot to the top of qualifying in the first XTF race of the Arabian Series with a 3.87.
Schweigert easily took the top spot in PXM, running a 4.14.
But the day belonged to Al-Balooshi, who now appears to be the heavy favorite to win for the third time in five races and extend his points lead in the process.
“I’m very happy with the team and the car, and we’re looking at going faster and faster,” Al-Balooshi said.
Mahanna Al-Naimi is second in PN with a 3.86, while Shannon Jenkins went 3.87 to sit in third.
Hossler continues to go faster by the week in Pro Extreme, going 3.64 and 3.62 during his two qualifying runs on Thursday at QRC.
Like many others, Hossler was thrilled with the track conditions.
“The track was phenomenal,” Hossler said. “We’re trying some new stuff on the car and so far it seems to be working very well.
“Anytime you’re the No. 1 qualifier in this crowd you’re going to be pleased. It’s a brutal, brutal field. To say that I’m not ecstatic is a lie.”
Von Smith is right behind Hossler after going 3.63 and J.R. Todd, Hossler’s teammate and the Round Four winner, is currently in third with a 3.67.
Two other drivers – Todd Tutterow (3.67) and Matt Smith (3.69) – are also in the 3.6s in an unbelievably quick field, and Hossler knows he will have to carry over his performance to Friday.
Thus far, the Al-Anabi Racing driver hasn’t put it all together, but he’s hoping Round Five will provide a different ending.
“We need consistency out of the car and the driver, and at the same time,” Hossler said. “We haven’t had that yet. I was good on the tree the first three races, but we had one little thing after another breaking on the car.
“The last race, we had the car but not the driver (Hossler had a red-light loss in the semifinals). Hopefully (Friday) we get both and run to our potential.”
Schweigert found his groove again in PXM with the 4.14 that puts him well ahead of No. 2 qualifier Matt Smith (4.20).
“I’m very pleased with what we did. Dan (Wagner) did a great job. He’s making sure the bike goes fast,” Schweigert said. “The competition is good, so we have to keep the bike in the low teens to pull it out.”
Following Smith is Meshal Al-Saber (4.20), but Schweigert has his sites set on his second win after he started the 2010-2011 season in Qatar with a victory.
“I definitely want this second win,” Schweigert said. “It would be such a confidence-builder.”
The XTF season will be just four races, but Millen quickly proved he’s ready with the 3.87.
Frankie Taylor, making his debut in XTF while continuing to run in PX, went 4.01 to qualify in the No. 2 spot and David Hance’s 4.06 puts him in third.
A third qualifying session takes place on Friday before final eliminations at QRC.