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The 16th annual Nitrofish Million returned to its Southern roots as it rolled into Montgomery Motorsports Park October 19-23. Over 300 of the most talented and successful sportsman bracket racers in the nation converged on the Southern Alabama facility and provided some of the most tightly contested bracket competition of the season. Action started Thursday with the J.W. Performance $20,000-to-win event, the first of the weekend’s ‘Triple 20s’.
As the massive field of 300+ entrants thinned, the temperatures cooled as unseasonably cold weather greeted the final handful of contestants in Thursday night’s event. As the $20,000 event made its way in round 7, just seven competitors carried aspirations of the big payday: legendary sportsman competitor Scotty Richardson, Alabama standouts Joe Kittle, Allen Wickell and Jeff Strickland, South Carolina’s Kevin Brannon, versatile sportsman standout Nick Folk, and Indiana’s Aaron Vail, who carried the flag for the door car contingent with the last full bodied car in competition.
Richardson used a starting line advantage to dispatch Kittle with a 4.881 on his 4.86 dial. Vail gave the door car fans another reason to cheer, as his near-perfect 6.891 (6.89 dial) defeated Strickland’s breakout 4.675 (4.68 dial). Folk used a great .002 reaction time to turn away former B&M Series World Champion Wickell, and Kevin Brannon closed the round with a single.
Those handicapping the semi-final round would give a slight edge to sportsman superstars Richardson and Folk, but Brannon and Vail would prove the odds makers wrong. Vail used a .011 reaction and another dead-on 6.89 E.T. to knock off Richardson, and Brannon posted a .015 light and .01-above 4.805 to best Folk. That set up a final round matchup between two competitors that have already enjoyed a great 2011 season: Brannon picked up a $20,000 payday at the K&N Spring Fling in Bristol, TN and a Super 7 Series score at Montgomery back in September, while Vail scored a big victory at the JEGS Doorslammer Open in Columbus, OH in August.
This night belonged to the Pontiac Firebird of Aaron Vail, who left the starting line with another solid .012 reaction time and had room to slow to a 7.05 E.T. (6.89 dial) when Brannon had traction issues on the extremely cold racing surface. With that, Aaron Vail earned the first big paycheck of the 16th annual Nitrofish Million.
In addition to the huge cash prizes atop the purse, the promoters assembled a host of great round prizes for competitors who lost. Several quality aftermarket manufacturers provided products and gift certificates to the racers who posted the best losing package in each round.