SALISBURY, N.C. – Tuesday night’s qualifying session for the QRC Speed51 Open presented by HMS Motorsport was a mixed bag for the Factory QRC fleet led by veteran chassis builder Jimmy Elledge.
While it did feature a high point for 16-year-old Ferndale, Calif., native Daniel Whitley – who landed fifth overall in the 42-driver field – the other three karts in the quartet were 16th or worse on speed.
USAC midget rookie Karsyn Elledge was the best among the rest in 16th, with fellow USAC midget regular Logan Seavey right behind in 17th and Tanner Holmes posting the 20th-fastest qualifying lap.
Whitley was particularly surprised at his 10.2102-second run during flight B, noting afterward that he didn’t think his lap was nearly as fast as it turned out to be on the overall speed charts.
“It feels really good to have such a bad-fast QRC for the QRC Open,” Whitley said. “Obviously it’s one of the biggest races of the year for Jimmy’s company and we definitely want to perform well this week, but I wasn’t expecting to be that far up there against the stout competition that’s here. There’s a lot of fast drivers that are very competitive out here, and to be in the top five is a big deal.
“The run felt smooth; I think we got about all we could have out of it,” he added. “It’s a confidence boost going into the rest of the show, for sure, and we’ll see what we can do with it.
Whitley’s run comes in the wake of his signing with Jimmy Elledge’s team for a full season at California’s Cycleland Speedway this season, giving him some momentum going into the summer months.
“We’re getting comfortable and feeling good,” Whitley noted. “I’m excited for what’s to come.”
Elledge was quick to point out that she struggled with the handling on her kart, as most of her teammates did as well.
“We were bouncing really bad,” Elledge said. “If we can get that sorted out, we know we can be fast here like we always have been, but it was tough sledding Tuesday night.”
Seavey’s appearance at Millbridge marks just his second outlaw-kart race of the season, as his primary focus has been on defending his NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series title from last year.
“Just in practice, we were a little off in our engine tuning, not to mention the car was really bouncy,” explained Seavey. “We fixed our engine problems for qualifying, and the engine ran a lot better, but we were still bouncing really bad and scrubbing off speed. Part of that is really just the fact that I don’t run these things enough anymore. I’ve only ran once this year and didn’t even get to practice yesterday, so we’ve just been behind the 8-ball a little bit, I feel like.
“I don’t think our kart is as bad as the time makes it look, because I just wasn’t quite up to speed with where the kart was,” Seavey added. “I think I’ll be able to pick it up, so as long as we can race through our heat race, we’ll be alright come main event time.”
Holmes had to thrash just to get his kart back together in time for qualifying, after a flip during hot laps derailed the early portion of his night and took him out of the $1,000-to-win Cookout Showdown.
“It’s unfortunate, but we still battled back and got inside the top 12 in our flight, so that’s a positive as far as the invert is concerned,” said Holmes. “It was a solid lap and now we just have to build on it.”