Yas Marina driver Fuller shifts focus to Denver

After qualifying third, the dragster driven by Rod Fuller was eliminated in the round of 16 at the Fram-Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway.

Rod Fuller, right, recorded a time of 4.448secs in eliminations on Sunday.
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SONOMA, CALIFORNIA // After qualifying third, the Abu Dhabi/Yas Marina Circuit Top Fuel dragster driven by Rod Fuller was eliminated in the round of 16 at the Fram-Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway. The seven-time Top Fuel event winner, competing in his first eliminations in nearly a year, had trouble controlling his vehicle on Sunday, according to the nhra.com website, and needed 4.448 secs to reach the finish line. Mike Strasburg won in 3.982 secs.

On Saturday, Fuller recorded a 3.873sec pass at a speed of 499.106kph on the quarter-mile (402m) track, a fast start for the Abu Dhabi/Yas Marina Circuit team in its debut event. The Top Fuel division, the fastest in NHRA, was won by Larry Dixon of the Al-Anabi Racing Team, which is based in Qatar and was founded by Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani, a member of the Qatar ruling family. "We had a great qualifying round and it was a real thrill to qualify in third place," Fuller said.

"It was disappointing not to get a better result in the eliminations, but that's drag racing. I'm looking forward to Denver next weekend and building on what we've achieved here in Sonoma. "In the meantime, it's been wonderful to see the Abu Dhabi Yas Marina Circuit car get so much exposure in the US. "We've had a lot of opportunity to promote Abu Dhabi as an exciting tourist destination and talk about how we're developing NHRA drag racing at Yas Marina Circuit."

Racegoers at Sonoma have extended a warm welcome to the whole Abu Dhabi team. "The close-knit NHRA drag-racing community seems genuinely delighted to have a new Top Fuel player taking part in these events," said Peter Rae, director of communications for Yas Marina Circuit. "Rod's many TV and press interviews have focused largely on his life in Abu Dhabi, the creation of the Yas Drag Racing Academy, and why Abu Dhabi is racing in the USA. "It has been an excellent promotional platform for Abu Dhabi and the UAE to an American audience," he said.

The three-day Sonoma event attracted a crowd of 40,000 each day, many of them families, amid a carnival atmosphere at the historic California track, formerly known as Sears Point. Fuller's car is sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority on a four-stop tour of the US this summer. The team will race in Denver next weekend, and at Indianapolis and Charlotte, North Carolina, in September. * Agency