LEWIS & LOFTIN ACE CHAOS IN AMARILLO
The third event of the 2019 Best of Texas BBQ Sauce Championship tour presented by Red Line Shirt Club brought the series back to historic Amarillo Dragway for the second annual Funny Car Chaos event, May 31st & June 1st. The highly anticipated return of the series to the Texas panhandle saw seventeen cars came to compete for a spot in the quick sixteen main event. With precious points on the line, every run counted for those in the running for the inaugural Funny Car Chaos Championship.
Following Friday night's two qualifying sessions, it was Ken Singleton and the “High Risk” Monte Carlo from Oklahoma taking the top spot with a 4.10 at 191 mph pass followed closely by Nick Poloson in the “Bucket List” with a 4.16 at 178 mph. Local favorite Clay Cunningham put the “Still Crazy” entry into the third position with a 4.39 at 163 mph as Brandon Lewis and Mark Billington rounded out the top five.
Race day welcomed excellent weather and a huge program of drag racing, including the Dirty South Gassers, Outlaw Nostalgia Shootout and Outlaw 6.80 Index classes.
In the final qualifying session, Brandon Lewis’ “Attitude Adjuster” 1969 Camaro fuel flopper jumped to the number three spot with a mark of 4.29 at 177 mph. Ray Stringer, Keith Jackson and Tod Barker all earned spots in the Rodak’s Custom Coffee ‘A’ field with a bump spot of 4.63 at 160 mph. The AlkyDigger ‘B’ field was led by Andy Mears’ “Dragon Slayer” 1957 Chevy with a 4.67 at 148 mph. Mo-Kan ‘B’ field winner Matt Nissen was in attendance, but engine damage suffered on Friday night ended his weekend early, allowing first alternate Larry Bradford and the “American Dream” team to join the field as sixteen cars prepared for first round eliminations.
RODAK'S CUSTOM COFFEE 'A' FIELD FINAL QUALIFYING ORDER:
1. Ken Singleton (Chickasha, OK) – 4.10 @ 191
2. Nick Poloson (San Antonio, TX) – 4.16 @ 178
3. Clay Cunningham (Dumas, TX) – 4.39 @ 163
4. Brandon Lewis (Tulsa, OK) – 4.41 @ 148
5. Mark Billington (Ponder, TX) – 4.48 @ 127
6. Ray Stringer (Alamogordo, NM) – 4.51 @ 167
7. Keith Jackson (Lakewood, CO) – 4.56 @ 165
8. Tod Barker (Marlow, OK) – 4.63 @ 160
ALKYDIGGER 'B' FIELD FINAL QUALIFYING ORDER:
1. Andy Mears (Lubbock, TX) – 4.67 @ 148
2. Kebin Kinsley (Arlington, TX) – 4.68 @ 142
3. Matt Nissen (Alma, NE) – 4.71 @ 150
4. Nick Johnson (Orleans, NE) – 4.76 @ 110
5. Jordan Ballew (Bartlesville, OK) – 4.93 @ 143
6. Chuck Loftin (Seguin, TX) – 5.13 @ 142
7. Robert Slaughter (Waco, TX) – 5.80 @ 101
8. Jeff Cameron (Magnolia, TX) – 5.88 @ 133
Larry Bradford (San Antonio, TX) – No Time
Eliminations began when the ‘A’ field drivers took to the track an hour earlier than planned as the weather forecast called for strong chances of rain late in the evening. Ray Stringer and Brandon Lewis kicked of eliminations in an all-nitro affair. Stringer was off the line first but just ran out of muscle as his 4.50 at 159 was no match for Lewis’ 4.17 at 183 mph.
Keith Jackson and Nick Poloson fired up next in another all-nitro bout. Poloson made his best lap of the weekend with a 4.10 at 180 mph to take out Jackson’s 4.46 at 157 mph. Next up Mark Billington brought his Top Alcohol Funny Car to the line against Clay Cunningham. Cunningham took a huge starting line advantage but ran out of ponies as Billington’s 4.16 at 175 mph effprt allowed him to drive around Cunningham’s 4.66 at 161 mph. The final pair of first round ‘A’ field competition brought top qualifier Ken Singleton to the line against Tod Barker. Barker had the “Back in Black” Corvette tuned up and posted his best pass of the weekend with a 4.48 at 160 mph, but fell short to Singleton’s winning 4.25 at 186 mph.
AlkyDigger ‘B’ field action got underway with Jordan Ballew taking on alternate Larry Bradford. Bradford blasted off the line first and posted his best pass of the weekend with a 5.05 at 143 mph, but it wasn't enough as Ballew used a 4.89 at 143 mph to drive around for the win. Top qualifier Andy Mears was out next alongside Robert Slaughter and Mears’ 4.80 at 145 mph took out Slaughter’s 6.04 at 114 mph.
Kebin Kinsley, who was behind the wheel of his “Wild Child” Mustang-bodied fueler, lined up with Jeff Cameron’s “Magnolia Missile” in first round. Cameron blasted off the line with the best reaction time of the round, and his 4.96 at 138 mph took out Kinsley, who had mechanical issues and struggled to a pass of 8.10 at 64 mph. In the final pair of ‘B’ field action, it was Nick Johnson against Chuck Loftin. Loftin had struggled to that point, but came up with a solid run when it mattered most as his 4.43 at 154 mph took out Johnson’s 4.82 at 145 mph.
The semifinals were delayed by a pop-up shower. After a brief drying session, the floppers were back in the lanes and fans were ready to see which drivers would take it to the final. In the ‘A’ field semi, Lewis and Poloson got the action started. Poloson took a slight starting line advantage and was straight and smooth while Lewis had his hands full as the car drifted to the wall, then back to the centerline. Lewis held on to drive around at the stripe with a winning 4.12 at 178 mph to Poloson’s close 4.18 at 178 mph.
Next up were Singleton and Billington, with Singleton away first with a slight advantage, which Billington had already made up by sixty feet. Billington had a nose out in front at 330, but at the stripe Singleton muscled his way to the win light with a 4.16 at 185 mph to Billington’s extremely close 4.19 at 176 mph for an .021 margin of victory.
AlkyDigger ‘B’ field semifinalists were ready for action that kicked off when Ballew lined up beside Cameron. Ballew never trailed as his 4.98 at 140 mph held off Cameron’s 5.29 at 138 mph. Mears and Loftin fired up next to see who would face Ballew in the ‘B’ field final. Mears took a healthy starting line advantage but at the stripe his 4.71 at 146 mph was no match for Loftin’s best pass of the weekend with a 4.39 at 168 mph.
With storms moving into the area, the rush was on to get the final round cars serviced and back to the lanes. The AlkyDigger ‘B’ field came to life first as Ballew and Loftin staged their machines. The drivers were off the line together but Ballew quickly lost power and pulled to the side while Loftin ripped off his best pass of the weekend with a 4.26 at 170 mph to claim his first career Funny Car Chaos victory.
Rodak’s Custom Coffee ‘A’ field finalists Lewis and Singleton took to the starting line next, and at the green Singleton took a large early advantage, but his performance fell off. Lewis, for his part, saved the best for last, posting a pass of 4.10 at 184 mph to clinch his first Funny Car Chaos victory over Singleton’s 4.41 at 176 mph.
“With a proven car and a proven tuner, I know I need to bring my ‘A’ game to every race," said Lewis. "Having raced Pro Mods for the last nine years, I had some adjustments to make in the cockpit to re-establish my driving abilities from our TAFC days. Nitro is a different animal. The center steer driving style all came back to me in Amarillo. The car improved on every lap and we proved to be the car to beat at the end of the night. I want to thank my family and crew, they busted their butts between rounds and I’m thankful to get the win for them. We’re looking forward to the rest of the season and hope to double up with a win at Lufkin in a few weeks.”
RODAK'S CUSTOM COFFEE 'A' FIELD FINAL ROUND RESULTS:
(W) Brandon Lewis (.577 rt) 4.10 @ 184 –vs– (L) Ken Singleton (.475 rt) 4.41 @ 176
ALKYDIGGER 'B' FIELD FINAL ROUND RESULTS:
(W) Chuck Loftin (.485 rt) 4.26 @ 170 –vs– (L) Jordan Ballew (.497 rt) 18.25 @ 58
The Chaos continues at the fourth event of the seven race tour as the series makes its first appearance at Pine Valley Raceway in Lufkin, Texas on July 5th and 6th. For more information visit www.funnycarchaos.com.