2019 PDRA WORLD FINALS, VIRGINIA MOTORSPORTS PARK - EVENT PAGE
FINAL NOTEBOOK - CHAMPIONS CROWNED, 2019 IS IN THE BOOKS
HALSEY SEALS THE DEAL - Jim Halsey and his Fulton-powered ’68 Camaro held a firm grip on the Pro Nitrous field all season long, and the Maryland native added an exclamation point to his career-best season by clinching the championship, setting the ET record and winning his fourth race of the season. Final round opponent Jason Harris, the outgoing world champion, went red by .004, while Halsey sailed on to a record 3.613-second pass at 207.37 mph.
“For as long as I've been in it, it's a lifetime goal to be a champion in a national organization like this,” Halsey said. “We ran IHRA for years, we ran ADRL. I've won Indy, I've won Shakedown, I've won Yellowbullet Nationals, but I've never won a big series championship against competition like we have here. It's just awesome.”
“It's just the best feeling in the world right now,” added Halsey, who thanked his team led by tuner Brandon Switzer and crew chief Eric Davis. “We've had an excellent year to start with, and to finish it off with the win, the championship and the record going into the winter, it's pretty awesome.”
Halsey qualified No. 1 and started eliminations with a 3.654 at 206.99 over a red-lighting Dane Wood, then stepped up to a 3.643 at 207.40 to defeat John Decerbo and his 3.717 at 202. Halsey lowered the boom again in the semifinals over Chris Rini’s 3.682 at 204.11, running 3.615 at 208.07, which backed up Halsey’s 3.613 in the final as the new world record.
Harris, the No. 2 qualifier in his Musi-powered “Party Time” ’69 Camaro, took out John Vergotz in the opening round with a 3.692 at 203.98. He ran a 3.666 at 205.38 alongside a red-lighting Tommy Mauney and his 3.695 in the second round, then used a holeshot advantage and 3.657 at 205.63 to eliminate Lizzy Musi and her 3.639 at 208.46 in the semifinals.
SECOND TIME IS THE CHARM - While the stars of Pro Boost were thinking about championships and world records, class newcomer Mike DiDomenico stealthily worked his way to the final round in just his second PDRA race of the season. There, he used a sizable holeshot advantage to take out No. 1 qualifier and record holder Randy Weatherford. DiDomenico drove his roots-blown CNC Performance Products ’68 Camaro to a 3.726 at 180.81 next to Weatherford’s 3.641 at 208.55.
“I didn't feel any pressure going into the final round,” DiDomenico said. “We were just blessed to be at this point. I told my guys, 'Win or lose, you guys did a fantastic job.' We met or exceeded our expectations. Winning was just a bonus at that point. We didn't anticipate anything like this. We had a lot of luck with us. We had a couple guys go red, and sometimes in racing you gotta have a little luck on your side. God was looking out for us a little today. I'm just overwhelmed.”
DiDomenico qualified No. 7 and started his string of high-3.60-second passes with a 3.693 at 200.26 over Anthony DiSomma, then a 3.689 at 200.14 to Eric Gustafson’s red-lighting 3.622 at 206.80. He caught another break in the semifinals when John Strickland threw away his 3.632 at 201.28, allowing DiDomenico to move on to the final round with his 3.688 at 199.97.
Weatherford was the talk of the event in his ProCharger-boosted WS Construction ’19 Camaro, which qualified No. 1 with a record-setting 3.597. The former Pro Nitrous standout won first round with a 3.631 at 208.33 over Bubba Turner and second round with a 3.616 at 208.84 over Chuck Ulsch’s 3.682. He followed that up with a 3.617 at 208.52 to defeat Melanie Salemi and her 3.651 at 205.79 in the semifinals.
POWERS MAKES THE CLEAN SWEEP - Extreme Pro Stock competition was full of surprises and upsets at the World Finals, but no one was shocked when Chris Powers continued his record-setting, No. 1 qualifying performance into Saturday eliminations and all the way through to a final-round win. Powers in his Sonny’s-powered ATI Performance ’14 Camaro met No. 3 qualifier Dillon Voss in the final and recorded a 4.032 at 179.21 to finish ahead of Voss and his 4.798 at 128.75.
“It feels great, and to get the record at the same time for Mountain Motor, I couldn't be any happier for the team and all the guys who help us,” Powers said. “It's an impressive weekend, for sure.”
While Powers didn’t record the elusive first sub-4-second pass in the class – nor did anyone else – he did come close with his 4.007 in qualifying, which was backed up as the new record with his pair of 4.015s in the first two rounds. He defeated rookie Justin Kirk and JR Carr before facing Voss in the final.
“We definitely wanted to get [a 3.99],” said Powers, who thanked his team, Joe Cooper, Rob Bealko, Chuck Samuel, his wife, his son; and sponsors ATI Performance, Liberty Gears and Sonny's Racing Engines. “Q3 was our shot to go out there and unload it. Today was all about just trying to make good, clean runs and win the race. We wanted to end the year on a really good high note, and we accomplished that. We're really happy.”
Voss, who qualified No. 3 with a career-best 4.028, drove Enoch Love’s Sonny’s-powered ’04 Cavalier to a 4.089 at 177.30 over John Konigshofer in the first round and a 4.063 at 177.60 to defeat 2018 world champion Steven Boone’s 4.077 at 175.14 in the semis.
HUFFMAN'S GREAT WEEKEND - Jeremy Huffman experienced the best race of his early Pro Outlaw 632 career, qualifying No. 1 for the first time and racing to the final round for the first time. He followed through and got the win in his naturally aspirated, 3V Performance-powered ’10 Cobalt using a 4.271 at 165.76 to grab the win over back-to-back world champion Johnny Pluchino, who went .001 red with his 4.269 at 166.70.
“I really can't explain how excited we are,” said Huffman, who thanked sponsors 3V Performance, Johnny on the Spot, Patriot Brew-Thru, Maxima Oils, Line2Line Coatings and Lithium Pros. “This is our first final round ever in a class this competitive, running against competition like Johnny Pluchino, the world champion the last two years. We're so blessed to be here. We've had a lot of things go against us this year. We've hurt the motor 2-3 times, had some weird things happen. For all the hard work to come together like this at the end of the year, we're just so excited.”
Huffman fired off a 4.219 at 167.12 to move past Vinny LaRosa in the opening round, then defeated championship contender Wes Distefano in the semifinal.
Pluchino qualified No. 2 in Dominic Addeo’s Strutmasters.com ’06 Ford Escort and raced to a 4.211 at 168.64 over Walter Lannigan Jr’s 4.288 at 166.01. He left first on Tony Gillig in the semifinals, winning on a holeshot with a 4.244 at 167.76 over Gillig’s 4.242 at 167.03.
DAVIS WINS RACE, CHAMPIONSHIP - Travis Davis went into the World Finals with a shot at a second world championship, but he sat third in points behind defending world champion Ronnie “Pro Mod” Smith and Chris Garner-Jones. Smith lost first round and Davis beat Garner-Jones in the semifinals, allowing Davis to clinch the championship. He didn’t back down in the final round, riding his Timblin Chassis-built Suzuki Hayabusa to a 3.991 at 179.09 alongside Terry Schweigert’s 4.02 at 156.57.
“A lot of people that know me know I don't really get caught up in the championship deal,” Davis said. “If it plays out, it plays out. I just wanted to win the race. If we won the race, then we'd win the championship. I've been doing this so long that it don't really bother me that bad. We don't even really study the points. We just try to win the race.”
Davis shared the winner’s circle with his son, Brayden, who won in Pro Jr. Dragster for the first time. The father-son duo won dual world championships in 2017.
“We've tried to get both of us in the winner's circle, and one of us would win and the other would runner-up,” said Davis, who thanked Timblin Chassis, Drag 965 and the PDRA. “For him to win and me to win was a big highlight in our racing this weekend.”
Schweigert qualified No. 3 aboard his Dan Wagner-tuned entry before defeating Smith with a 4.042 at 172.17 and T.T. Jones with a weekend-best 3.988 at 176.10.
LAMBERT WINS OUTLAW 10.5 - The Atomizer Racing Injectors Outlaw 10.5 National Championship Series racers joined the PDRA for the third time this season. Virginia’s own Jesse Lambert prevented No. 1 qualifier Mo Hall from running the table, as Lambert drove his twin-turbocharged ’04 Mustang to a career-best 3.875 at 205.94 in the final round to better Hall’s 3.901 at 192.82 in his Fulton-powered, nitrous-assisted ’07 Corvette.
PLAYING HER CARDS RIGHT - Multi-time No. 1 qualifier Erica Coleman picked up her first Elite Top Sportsman win of the season in her nitrous-assisted ’68 Camaro. She slowed to a 4.206 on her 3.92 dial-in in the final round, but opponent Bruce Thrift broke out with a 4.079 on a 4.08 dial-in. Coleman raced past Randy Perkinson, Barry Daniluk and Jeremy Creasman before the final round, while Thrift’s road to the final included wins over No. 1 qualifier John Benoit, past world champion Dewayne Silance and Cheyenne Stanley.
The Top Sportsman 48 event champion was decided on the starting line in the sixth and final round when Ed Foley in his ’18 Mustang broke off the line, allowing Chad Tilley to cruise to a 4.483 on a 4.40 dial-in in his ’96 Beretta.
WHITE WINS TOP DRAGSTER - Michael White in his ProCharger-boosted ’14 Maddox dragster was incredibly consistent throughout Elite Top Dragster eliminations, including a strong final-round victory over Carson Brown. White, the No. 2 qualifier, moved second but won with a 3.702 on a 3.69 dial-in next to Brown’s 4.139 on a 4.09 dial-in. White won prior rounds over Brian McHattie, 2018 world Chaz Silance and 2019 world champion Kellan Farmer. Brown defeated Nick Hamilton, Kathy Fisher and Michael Galofaro on his way to the final round.
Mike Reavis threw down one of the best packages of the day in the final round to snag the Top Dragster 32 victory in his ’13 Racetech dragster. He left with a .007 reaction time and ran a 4.689 on a 4.68 dial-in, while Jack Trussell broke out in his ’06 M&M dragster with a 4.429 on a 4.46 dial-in.
A NIGHT OF CELEBRATION - The PDRA will celebrate its 2019 world champions at the annual PDRA Awards Banquet during the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Show weekend in Indianapolis, Saturday, Dec. 14.
FRIDAY NOTEBOOK - CHAMPIONSHIP CHASE SHAPING UP FOR SATURDAY FINALE'
CENTRIFUGAL STEAMING AHEAD - Randy Weatherford laid the groundwork for his record-setting Pro Boost pass in pre-race testing Thursday evening, firing off a 3.600 in similar conditions. With tuning by Pro Line Racing’s Steve Petty, Weatherford stepped up to a 3.597 at 209.14 to close out Friday qualifying.
“It ran a .60 the day before in testing,” Weatherford said, “and we felt like we lost some in the 60-foot since I went in deep, and it showed on the board when we put the .59 up there. It's working. The car works good. I'm starting to get used to the car and I’m cutting better lights. I think I can win this race. The opportunity is there, I just have to walk through the door.”
The Pro Boost rookie will take on Bubba Turner in the opening round of eliminations Saturday. Eric Gustafson in his ProCharger-boosted Coast Packing Company ’69 Camaro qualified No. 2 with a 3.615 at 206.83, followed by championship contender Kris Thorne’s 3.625 at 219.79 in his twin-turbocharged Thorne Site Development ’17 Corvette.
HALSEY FOCUSED ON TITLE - Nitrous Pro Modified veteran Jim Halsey entered the World Finals with his sights set on clinching his first Pro Nitrous world championship. The Maryland-based driver came a few points closer to accomplishing that goal when he drove his Brandon Switzer-tuned, Fulton-powered ’68 Camaro to a 3.622 at 208.07 to qualify No. 1 for the third time this season.
“For the championship fight, it really helps us in points,” Halsey said. “I think we were 297 ahead of Tommy [Franklin]. I think this puts us at 304, so it kind of gives us another round to play with if we need to. But looking at the qualifying sheet, I'd have to race Tommy second round anyway, so that could be go or no-go right there.”
Halsey will start race day with Dane Wood in the other lane. Defending world champion Jason Harris laid down a 3.658 at 205.38 in his Musi-powered “Party Time” ’69 Camaro to qualify No. 2. No Prep Kings star Lizzy Musi followed closely with her 3.659 at 208.20 in the Frank Brandao-owned, Musi-powered Edelbrock/Lucas Oil “King Kong 7” ’19 Dodge Dart.
HOFFMAN LEADS PRO OUTLAW 632 - The naturally aspirated Pro Outlaw 632 entries thrived in the cool Friday evening conditions, as a trio of all-motor cars topped the qualifying order. Catawba, North Carolina’s Jeremy Huffman led the way in his Johnny on the Spot Heating & Cooling ’10 Cobalt, qualifying No. 1 for the first time with a 4.219 at 166.89.
“We've had some ups and downs this year with breaking some parts and running well at times, but it feels really good to be able to put it all together here at the end of the season,” Huffman said. “It's got us really excited. We're making progress, but we're still learning this combination. We've only had this car for about a year now, and I'm brand-new in a clutch car, so we're really just starting to get comfortable. We might try to hit some races over the winter to get ready for PDRA next year, but we are really excited moving forward.”
Huffman will line up against Vinny LaRosa in the first round. Defending world champion and points leader Johnny Pluchino qualified No. 2 with a 4.22 at 167.88 in Dominic Addeo’s Kaase-powered ’06 Ford Escort. Veteran doorslammer wheelman Tony Gillig steered his Madcap-powered Gillig-Wagner Motorsports ’96 Oldsmobile Cutlass to a third-best 4.237 at 166.95.
GARNER - JONES DOMINATES BIKES - The Pro Nitrous Motorcycle championship battle is the tightest of all of the pro classes going into Saturday eliminations. No. 2 in points Chris Garner-Jones gained a handful of points on defending world champion and points leader Ronnie “Pro Mod” Smith by qualifying No. 1 with his 4.031 at 173.05.
“I feel very good knowing that I'm in the championship race,” Garner-Jones said. “Hopefully we can carry this through to the final round [Saturday] and get a win. That's all I'm focused on right now: going rounds. I love [the pressure] because a few years ago I was No. 1, came into this same race and lost first round and lost the championship. The pressure, I love it. I'm here for it.”
Garner-Jones earned a first-round bye with his No. 1 qualifying effort. Brunson Grothus on his Indocil Art ’14 Suzuki qualified No. 2 with a 4.05 at 166.52, followed by class veteran Terry Schweigert and his 4.053 at 164.19.
BENOIT IS THE TOP SPORTSMAN - Consistent low qualifier John Benoit came within just over a hundredth of a second from setting the PDRA Top Sportsman with his 3.752 at 201.10 in his nitrous-assisted ’17 Camaro. Benoit held around a tenth over No. 2 qualifier Jeremy Creasman, who ran a 3.861 at 188.81 in his centrifugally supercharged ’68 Camaro. Cheyenne Stanley in his ’07 Mustang qualified No. 3 with a close 3.866 at 196.10.
MO KNOWS OUTLAW 10.5 - The World Finals is one of three PDRA races on the Atomizer Racing Injectors Outlaw 10.5 National Championship Series schedule. Mo Hall qualified No. 1 in his nitrous-assisted, Fulton-powered ’07 Corvette with a 3.855 at 192.99. Tim Essick ended up No. 2 following his 3.949 at 193.90 in his home-built, ProCharger-boosted “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang. Lou Sciortino and his 3.966 at 192.17 in his nitrous-assisted ’08 Corvette round out the top 3.
BEDNAR IS TOP OF THE DRAGSTERS - Ocala, Florida’s Brian Bednar took his supercharged FTI Performance ’09 Spitzer dragster to the top spot in Top Dragster on the strength of a 3.695 at 196.99 pass. A pair of centrifugally supercharged dragsters followed Bednar, with Michael White No. 2 with a 3.717 at 194.94 in his ’14 Maddox dragster and Kathy Fisher third with a 3.758 at 190.62 in the “Dragoness” ’15 American dragster.
ON TAP - The 5th annual PDRA Brian Olson Memorial World Finals presented by Pro Line Racing and $hameless Racing continues Saturday morning, beginning with Edelbrock Bracket Bash eliminations at 10 a.m. The first round of eliminations for the professional classes is scheduled for noon. Final rounds are set to run at 7 p.m.