In his 14th year at Augusta Southern Nationals on what he considers his home track, Mike Robbins has given himself a chance to break through.
Robbins posted a time of 3.744 seconds with a top speed of 241.779 miles per hour to take the No. 1 qualifying spot in the top fuel hydro class on Saturday.
Racing his Liquid Quicker boat, Robbins has put himself in position to win his first Southern Nationals since he started racing in the event in 1997. His previous best finish was runner-up in 2010.
“This is it, this is my home course,” he said. “It’s the closest to where I live, which is five hours away, and I’ve been racing here for what seems like forever.”
Robbins said his qualifying run at 12:45 p.m. went smoothly, and he has high expectations for Sunday’s eliminations.
“We had the gremlins to work out, and we worked them out,” he said. “It was a good day today. We have two motors ready, we’ve put in the work and we’re hoping for good things.”
Robbins will run against Kebin Kinsley in the Hot Licks boat. Kinsley failed to post a time in his qualifying run and will run in the No. 6 spot.
Bryan Sanders, running in the Tequila Sunrise boat, posted a time of 4.081 with a top speed of 219.941 to run in the No. 2 spot against Scotty Lumbert’s Spirit of Texas in the first round. This race is the first for the crew of Tequila Sunrise – they just got their license last month.
Sanders said parts of the boat were blown or ripped off during his run, but they remain in good shape.
“We have a lot of repairs before we run, but I think we have a good chance,” he said. “We’re still in one piece.”
Last year’s winner in the top fuel hydro class, Daryl Ehrlich’s Problem Child, posted a time of 4.775 with a top speed of 242.640 in the final qualifying run of the day, sealing a spot against Jarret Silvey’s Speed Sport Special in the first round.
Tony Scarlata posted a time of 5.28 with a top speed of 156.74 in the Lucas Oil Shazam boat to take the No. 1 qualifying spot in the top alcohol flat class. Scarlata won his class last year with a time of 5.231.
The first round of eliminations begins at 10 a.m. Sunday, with the first round of top fuel hydro boats racing at 11 a.m.