The NHRA series hit infamous Englishtown Raceway Park with a new series sponsor and high expectations for the Nitto Sport Compact Spring Nationals. Sony Electronics and its Xplod brand stepped up from its support role to become the series' title sponsor of the action going down on the track. Mother Nature rained on the parade on Saturday, canceling both scheduled qualifying rounds. This meant a one-shot, all-or-nothing qualifying round on Sunday. The rain, which was supposed to leave the area by midnight, lingered well into the morning. In fact the race was a scant 15 minutes away from being canceled when the rain stopped and the radar looked clear. So the track was prepped for action.
The E-Town fan base is the strongest in the sport compact dominion and there were a lot of people in the stands considering the uncertain weather situation. Victims of the one-run-or-you're-done qualifications included Vince Fourcade and the Titan Pro RWD Celica (broke after burnout), Jose Ramos Jr. in Modified (left before tree activation), Shawn Hillier in the Skunk2 All Motor Skunk2 (left before tree activation), Norris P. in All Motor (stalled in burnout box), Johnny Ortiz in Hot Rod, (did not accept starters orders), Kenny Tran in Hot Rod (leaking fluid after burnout).
Impressive qualifiers included Matt Hartford in the Summit Racing Pro RWD Cavalier (6.674 at 213.06 mph, a new track speed record), Ara Arslanian in his Bullish Racing Pro RWD Solara (6.90), Justin Humphries and his pristine Modified-class Lexus GS300 (7.33 at 189 mph), Ron Lummus in the Garrett Turbo Hot Rod Pontiac (7.94 at 184 mph) and Jesus Padilla in his All Motor RX-7 (9.945).
Eliminations got off to a shaky start as the first three pairs of cars in All Motor had a car break down after staging which left the highly amped crowd jonesing for some door-to-door war. Then Scott Mohler and Jeremy Lookofsky pulled to the beams, neither wanting to stage first. After the staging duel Lookofsky got the last word with the win, running a 10.209 to Mohler's 10.343. Lookofsky's Civic slowed in the semis as he ran an 11.43 to Joe Conde's 11.23 but a .172 to .419 holeshot got Lookofsky's Matix-sponsored Honda to the line first. As Lookofsky worked for every advantage, Padilla was dropping 9s every round. When the two met in the money race Padilla did not flinch running a 9.90 to Lookofsky's off-pace 12.89.
Hot Rod and Pro FWD were pretty much foregone conclusions after qualifying. Ron Lummus made the most of his 1.366-second qualifying advantage in the four-car Hot Rod field and breezed to the win and the Wally, blasting untouchable 7.957- and a 7.995-second e.t.s.
In Pro FWD there were only two competitors; Jason Hunt and Ed Bergenholtz. Hunt posted an 8.036 in qualifications while Team Bergenholtz struggled with a 10.39. In the first round/final round Bergenholtz nailed the tree, .103 to .151, but Hunt had him covered running an 8.474 with a smoking engine compared to Bergenholtz's 8.638.