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ET DRAG RACING
NEWS & ANALYSIS
VOLUME XIX, NUMBER 3 - March 2017
PDRA at South Georgia Motorsports Park
The PDRA returned to South Georgia Motorsports Park and put on a whale of a show in eighth-mile racing. Testing for the Southern Extreme Nationals began mid-week, and the eliminations were run on Saturday, March 11. Numerous records were set during some outstanding racing.
On Saturday, Junior Litton started out in the right lane and made a hard turn into the left wall, glanced off the wall and spun back into the right lane. Litton walked away.
The headline class is Pro Extreme. Perennial favorite Jason Scruggs struggled in testing and qualifying, trying out a new combination. Finally in the Friday night qualifying session, everything came together and Jason ran a great 3.499 at 221.52 mph to take the number one spot. Tommy D’Aprile slipped into the second spot with at 3.551, and 2016 series champion Bubba Stanton was third at 3.557.
As a special bonus, the PDRA allowed Jose Gonzales to make full quarter-mile passes in an attempt to set the world Pro Mod record. Late Friday afternoon Jose ran a great 5.403 at an early shut off 259.71 to set the quarter mile elapsed time record. There is more in this car! Jose’s eighth-mile 3.58 at 222.18 placed him fifth in the Pro Extreme field.
D’Aprile entered eliminations as the number-two qualifier with a 3.551 ET. A 3.54 at 215.55 mph followed in the first round over Danny Lowry, who was unable to make the run. A timelier bye run in the second round allowed D’Aprile to move on to the semis despite slowing to a 3.811. D’Aprile dipped back into the mid-3.5s with a 3.562 at 209.01 to defeat Californian Jay Dietrich, though the screw-blown Hemi was wounded in the process. The Al Billes-led team rushed into action repairing the power plant during the short turnaround time before the final.
With opponent Jose Gonzales patiently waiting, D’Aprile and team were able to return to the line to run 3.586 at 212.73 mph to defeat the 3.657-second effort by Gonzales.
“We had to tear the motor down and put it back together before the final,” D’Aprile said. “We didn’t even test fire it. The starter wouldn’t come off at first when we fired up for the final, then we had a bent throttle cable so we didn’t have full throttle in the final. The throttle was actually sticking so I had to hold my foot back while I was staging. It just all worked out, that’s all I can say – God is good.”
Jason Scruggs got the first-round bye in the thirteen-car field, and ran low ET of eliminations at 3.526 at over 220 mph.
Other quick first round winners included Stanton (3.58), Diedrich (3.59) and Gonzales (3.60) at top speed 222.25. In round two, Scruggs shook and allowed Mattias Wulcan to advance with a 3.61 at 211, Gonzales took out Frankie Taylor, 3.57 to 3.60, Diedrich outran Stanton 3.593 to 3.66, and D’Aprile took the bye wheelstanding to a 3.811 at only 151.
Swedish racer Mattias Wulcan.
In the semifinals, D’Aprile outran Diedrich, 3.56 to a slowing 4.10, and Gonzales dispatched Wulcan with a 3.864 on a huge holeshot in spite of being very out of shape. Wulcan ran 3.76 in the losing effort.
In the final, Tommy D’Aprile outran the turbo car of Gonzales, 3.58 to 3.65 when Gonzales had handling problems.
Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous might be the most popular class in the PDRA. Nineteen cars attempted to qualify for the sixteen-car field. After three rounds of qualifying, Jay Cox took the number one spot at 3.679, closely followed by Lizzy Musi (3.707), Randy Weatherford (3.71), John Hall (3.735), Danny Perry (3.737), Chris Rini (also 3.737 but slower mph), and 2016 Series Champ Tommy Franklin (3.739). Thirteen cars were in the 3.70s (or .60s).
Cox in his “Pumpkin” ’69 Camaro maintained his ET advantage in round one, besting everyone with a 3.731. Tommy Franklin (3.736) and Lizzy Musi (3.746) also advanced. In round two, Cox (3.716) defeated a fouling Jim Laurita, Perry defeated Hall (3.75 to a slowing 4.95), Musi ran a great 3.682 at 204.91 mph to defeat Franklin’s 3.74, and Randy Weatherford ran 3.715 to take out Burnley’s troubled 4.54.
In the semifinals, Musi ran another 3.68 at a whopping 205.41 to set the mph record and defeat Randy Weatherford’s fine 3.70. Cox ran 3.72 in spite of a wheelie to defeat Perry’s troubled 3.88 at only 156. So the number one and two qualifiers met in the finals. Cox defeated Musi in a close one: 3.69 to 3.71 at 204mph after the two Pro Nitrous hotshots engaged in a lengthy staging duel.
“I think the world of Lizzy and [her father and tuner] Pat Musi,” Cox said. “They have a bad hot rod. I grew up playing ball and a lot of people would try to get in my head; I live for that. If someone goes in and lights the tree up, I’m kinda bored. But when you want to play games, I get fired up; I get in the zone. I don’t plan anything, I just do it by feel. Me and Lizzy were just having a little fun with that staging battle. That’s what makes drag racing great.”
Andy McCoy Race Cars Pro Boost was all Jose Gonzales. Gonzales brought out a new ProLine-powered turbo ‘68 Mustang and qualified number one at what ended up being a new PDRA record 3.684 at 214.66 mph. He later ran as fast as 215.20 to obliterate the mph record (formerly 211.43).
During eliminations, Gonzales ran 3.688 to beat Larry Higgenbotham, 3.688 against Ric Fleck, and 3.686 to beat Ty Tutterow in the first three rounds.
In the finals, Gonzales ran a 3.703 to defeat Jay Strickland, who slowed after running as quick as 3.730 (his number-two qualifying time).
Gonzales (right) is congratulated by tuner Steve Petty.
Ten cars attempted to qualify for the eight-car field in PDRA Extreme Pro Stock. Cary Goforth set the pace with a 4.051 at 179.06 mph. [NHRA take note: the field consisted of two Camaros, two Cobalts, three Mustangs, and a Dodge Avenger.] Goforth set the pace in round one with a 4.077, closely followed by John Montecalvo’s 4.079.
In round two, Goforth ran a better 4.04, but lost to Scott Benham’s holeshot. Montecalvo singled to a 4.18 when 2016 series champ Pluchino could not fire.
In the finals, Montecalvo ran a 4.087 at 176.86 to defeat first-time Pro Stock finalist Benham, who crossed the centerline.
“It feels phenomenal to get the first win of the season,” said Montecalvo after running 4.087 in the final. “We really struggled this weekend. We tested Thursday and didn’t do very well. Our original plan for Thursdaywas to make two runs on the car, put it in the trailer and go out to dinner. It didn’t quite work out that way. We just couldn’t get a handle on the track and had to change our setup completely, but sometimes those weekends that start out the worst way end up the best. Tommy Lee, William, Cory, and my wife, Lois Anne, all did a great job – it was a real team effort.”
BACK TO TOP
Drag 965 Pro Extreme Motorcycle was dominated by the team of Eric McKinney and Ashley Owens. Owens, who tunes for McKinney, qualified number one with a 4.013 and three-time PDRA champion McKinney qualified number 3 with a 4.014. Terry Schweigert was sandwiched in between at 4.013 (slower mph). McKinney took out Schweigert with low et of 3.990 at 179.52 in the semifinals, to meet teammate Owens in the finals. McKinney’s 4.001/179.04 defeated Owen’s 4.024/177.72 in a great race.
“The performance this weekend was just stellar,” McKinney said. “We started off where we left off last year. We had a couple good days of testing and thought we could just put it on cruise control for qualifying, but it wasn’t easy.”
Fernandine, Florida’s Tom Vanbeek proved that an ultra-quick car isn’t always necessary to win in Magnafuel Top Sportsman as he upset low qualifier Randy Perkinson in the final. Vanbeek dialed in at 4.68 and 4.69 through eliminations, while Perkinson chose the low 3.9s for his dial-ins. Vanbeek marched around Top Sportsman hitters Aaron Glaser, Billy Albert, and Barry Daniluk before meeting Virginia’s Perkinson in the final. In the end, Vanbeek’s ’88 Beretta was quicker off the starting line and closer to his 4.68 dial-in with a 4.695 compared to Perkinson’s 3.926 on a 3.90 dial.
A mass of supercharged dragsters were on hand to compete in Lucas Oil Top Dragster, with Louisiana driver Mario Boesch earning the event win in his MKD Racing entry. He defeated low qualifier Jody Stroud, Matt Cooke, and Ashley Tidrick on his way to the final, where he faced defending world champion Justin Kirk. Boesch left the starting line last and was a few hundredths off his 3.91 dial-in, but Kirk slowed from his 3.87 dial-in to a 3.964, allowing Boesch to take the win.
Campers Inn RV Pro Junior Dragster winner Sadie Wicks used a large holeshot to defeat Amber Franklin in the final round, running 7.964 on the 7.90 dial-in. The opposite was the case in the MegaCorp Top Junior Dragster final when Tripp McCarthy ran four thousandths off his 9.04 dial-in to overcome a starting-line advantage by Connor Shields, who broke out on his 9.38 dial with a 9.289.
The next stop on the 2017 PDRA Tour is the 2017 PDRA East Coast Nationals, March 30-April 1, at GALOT Motorsports Park in Benson, NC.