UNFINISHED BUSINESS - Don't screw up. That's pretty much all Kevin Rivenbark could think about at the unique Sweet 16 event Mar. 21-23, at South Georgia Motorsports Park. A red-light start in the Radials vs. The World (RvW) semi-finals just one month earlier at Lights Out 10 on the same track haunted the North Carolina-based driver.

"All day long and even all weekend my Lights Out result kind of bothered me and I just didn’t want to red light again and let my guys down," Rivenbark admitted shortly after a .048 leave in the Sweet 16 final against Norman Bryson led into a victorious 3.63 pass at 204.91 mph and a $101,000 payday.

"I can't lie, this is a relief," Rivenbark said in victory lane. "I would've never lived it down if I'd messed up again. But I was determined not to and it all worked out this time and I couldn't be happier about it. I want to thank my team owners, Mr. and Mrs. Wells, and my crew chief Steve Petty and all my guys for continuing to believe in me and support me. I'm just really happy to win this thing for all of them."

Forty-seven RvW entries made qualifying laps for Sweet 16, with Daniel Pharris of Sikeston, MO, holding the top spot at the conclusion of 11(!) qualifying rounds on the SGMP eighth-mile. Pharris and his twin-turbo '17 Mustang ran a record-setting 3.57 at 214.11 mph, with Rivenbark and his ProCharger-boosted '69 Camaro a close second at 3.58 and 205.79, and Marcus Birt stunning the entire drag racing world in starting third with an all-time nitrous racing record of 3.60 seconds at 204.76 mph.

Overall, five of the 16 qualifiers were turbocharged, four were nitrous injected, three had screw-type superchargers, two had roots-type superchargers, and two carried the centrifugal-type ProChargers to complete the quickest RvW field ever assembled. By comparison, the 3.69 posted by 16th-place starter Tom Blincoe would have put him fifth for Lights Out 10 in a field that featured a 3.79 in 16th place.

Number-one starter Pharris outran Blincoe with a 3.62 at 213.70 in the opening round of Sweet 16 racing, then took down Paolo Giust, the lone Canadian qualifier with his roots-type '69 Camaro, with a 3.63 at 213.54 in round two. A hot track caught up with Pharris in the semis, however, when he spun off the hit while 13th-place qualifier Bryson pedaled his way to a 5.01 pass and advance to the big-money round.

"We went up there second round and kind of swung for the fences against Paolo and it stuck and went .63, which kind of surprised me, given how hot it was. So we left pretty much the same set-up in it for the semis because we knew the track would be about the same and we just overpowered it," Pharris said.

"Basically, the lighter the car the better for these kind of conditions and we're probably a good 200 pounds heavier than any of the other three cars in the semis. And we just haven't tested this car in these kind of conditions at all, so basically it was a mind game up there. But it is what it is; that's racing for you."

Prior to outlasting Pharris, Bryson ran 3.72 at 196.44 to overcome fourth-place starter Jeff Sitton, who was forced to shut down early, then made a 3.73 pass at 197.57 to get past fifth-place man Stevie Jackson, who also fell prey to the hot racing surface.

"The problem is we've all had perfect conditions all weekend until now. Wade (Rich) has the track in great shape, but we're all throwing too much power at it. Whoever can back it down enough--but not too much--to get down is gonna' have the best chance to win," Jackson later predicted.

Meanwhile, Rivenbark and Petty were marching through the field, opening with their own 3.62 at 205.35 mph to beat "Mustang Marty" Stinnett, who still came away with a little glory of his own after lowering his own turbocharged small-block E.T. record with an outstanding 3.65 at 205.98-mph effort.

Next up for Rivenbark was Ken Quartuccio and his twin-turbocharged C7 Corvette, who lost grip while Rivenbark powered to a 3.65 pass at 204.73 mph. However, crew chief Petty later revealed the GALOT Motorsports team also suffered its only real setback of the weekend with that win.

"I got a little aggressive with the motor and hurt it. I tuliped the valve. But my guys, Brandon and Foster and Chris, they slipped it out and put a new valve in and had it running. We had 45 minutes to spare and ate a cheeseburger. My crew is awesome," he said. 

Waiting for Rivenbark in the semis was Mike Stavrinos after he'd dispatched Mark Micke, winner of last year's inaugural Sweet 16 race, and Brad Edwards in round two. Rivenbark took a .007 holeshot with his .010 light, then powered to a 3.66 run at 203.73 while Stavrinos labored in his nitrous-boosted 2014 Camaro to a 6.32 at just 72.95 mph. 

"Basically our whole week was pretty rough. We didn't really make it down the track in any of the qualifiers until the very last one when we lit the boards with a .68, which was a personal best, and put us in at 11th," Stavrinos said in a brutally honest assessment.

"Semi-finals we kind of went for it, but it was pretty hot and nitrous cars don't really like the heat as much and we just spun the tire. We both hit the light pretty hard, but even if we went down we really didn't have anything for him anyways."

That left only Bryson and his nitrous-equipped '68 Camaro from Winston, GA, between Rivenbark and redemption. Despite the obvious disparities in performance to that point, Petty insisted he wasn't not taking his rival lightly.

"Honestly, I know what that car is capable of," Petty said. "We went up there and we had a .66, a .64 and a .62 tune-up. We got looking at the track, the sun went down, shade got on it and I felt like those guys could have popped a .65 off, so I put a .62 in because I respected what they might do."

As it happened, he needn't have worried, as Bryson started losing grip on the South Georgia asphalt even before reaching the tree. Meanwhile, Rivenbark left with a . 018 holeshot and powered through to a 3.63 at 204.91-mph winning effort.

"I'm a competitive individual and if we get there I want to win, but I am happy that we made it this far. As a team it's a huge accomplishment for us," Bryson said as he packed up his pit area. 

"We were going for it in the final. We qualified with a .68 and had been running .930 60-foot times and wanted to get it down some because I figured he would run a .63 in the final. So we threw what we had at it and I wanted to run it hard and beat him on the scoreboard. It just didn't stick for us," he continued. "But I have to give my guys all the credit for what we did here, especially my son-in-law and crew chief Brent Rainer, they all worked really hard all weekend and gave me a great car. It was a huge accomplishment."

Rivenbark also recognized the wide disparity in performance between the finalists, but emphasized no one could be taken lightly.

"Some people would say that might have been an easy round for the finals, but I don’t think any of that was an easy round. Look at how many people he upset. I could have just as easily been an upset as anybody," he pointed out. "But I didn’t see him from the time we left. I either knew I was good on the tree and running fast or something had happened to him."

Later, with the pomp and circumstance of a Duck X Production victory lane celebration in the books, Rivenbark took a quieter moment to assess the accomplishment of winning a truly epic event, one to be remembered for the ages.

"I knew we had a pretty good chance coming into this, as good as anybody else at least," he said. "To have actually got the job done feels incredible, especially after what happened the last time I was here. It means so much to me to win this race for my team and for my team owners, and for our fans. I can't believe how many people are excited about this. It's a great deal." 



Early on, Nick and Rich Bruder established themselves among the favorites to leave South Georgia Motorsports Park with $50-grand in hand for winning the always tough X275 class at promoter Donald "Duck" Long's Sweet 16 event.

It would've been a good bet, as the Edison, NJ-based Bruder Brothers took their ProCharger-equipped '88 Mustang all the way to victory lane after a record-setting run of 4.235 seconds at 165.78 mph in the final round over Craig Walls.

"This was the most competitive X275 race we've ever been in, the biggest race ever for X275," driver Rich Bruder declared. "Everybody stepped up their game and was swinging for the fences. We had to fight through a very tough field, so it really feels great to win in the final and get the record back."

A nearly unbelievable 83 entries took shots at the tree over eight rounds of qualifying, with Manny Buginga, winner in X275 just a month earlier in Long's Lights Out 10 race at the same track, taking the early lead with a then-record 4.27 effort in round two on Thursday afternoon (Mar. 21).

His reign was short-lived, however, as Bruder recorded a 4.26 pass in round three that same evening. For most of Friday it looked like he would enter eliminations from the top spot, but in the eighth and final session, Rob Goss and his 2009 Hemi Challenger stepped up from Wyoming with a stellar 4.237-seconds pass to lead the quickest X275 field in history into Saturday's elimination rounds.

Remarkably, the bump spot at Sweet 16 was a 4.34 set by Texas racer Kenny Hubbard, who would have placed number one with the same run at Lights Out 10, and each of the top six starters ran quicker than Bruder's pre-Sweet 16 record of 4.29 seconds set last spring at Bowling Green, KY.

Bruder set low ET of the opening round with a 4.26 pass at 165.05 to beat an off-the-pace Hubbard, with Goss and Buginga also advancing. 

In round two, low ET belonged to eighth-place qualifier Gary White with a 4.32 in the unique Titan Motorsports turbocharged '94 Supra; however, Goss took the win in 4.36 seconds thanks to a sizable .070 holeshot. Meanwhile, with the track heating up under a sunny south Georgia sky, Shane Fisher won over Buginga from the number-11 spot, 13th-place starter Walls pedaled his '91 Mustang past number-five Brian Brooks, and Bruder survived a similar traction-challenged pairing with a 5.25 win over James Lawrence.

"It seems like you always need one round of luck to win anything," crew chief Nick Bruder later observed. "But I also have to say the rules package was very close. You know, John Sears and his guys, they did a great job in making sure every combination was on an even playing field. We all appreciate that."

Unfortunately for Goss, winner of Long's No Mercy 9 event last fall at SGMP, his familiar black Dodge refused to fire for the semis, handing a solo pass to Walls, who advanced with a 4.35 pass at 162.53 mph. 

Next up, Bruder led stripe-to-stripe over Fisher, who slowed to 4.64 while Bruder secured lane choice for the final with a 4.31 at 163.95-mph combo.

Once there, Walls took a shot at the tree with a great .011 light, but even with a .055 start by Bruder his 4.35 was no match for the once-more record holder's 4.23 run.

"We left our round-one tuneup in it. We wanted a .26 and we got a .23," Nick Bruder said shortly after enjoying an extended winner's circle celebration. "The track got really good, it got a lot better for the final with some shade on it. It just picked up everywhere."

He also revealed the only significant setback to the Bruder team's effort came with a broken blower gear drive in the semis.

"We had to take the pan down and check the rod bearings, too, so we actually had to redo a whole bunch of stuff," he said. "Thank God we had a long time between rounds and for everyone that helped us out to fix it. We appreciate all their help and thanks to all our sponsors, too. We really couldn't be out here without them."

Brother Rich agreed, pointing out that the Sweet 16 race was tough from start to finish for everyone involved. 

"You have to be racing hard all through the day. Everybody has their car set on kill and it’s hard to back them down. Your car is so up and there's so little margin of error," he said. "That's why it's so important to have people like Menscer and ProCharger out here with us. We're happy to win this for them."


FEREDAY FIRST OVER RVW SWEET 16 SECOND CHANCE - With a 3. 76-seconds pass at 206.57 mph, Steven Fereday of Houston, TX, qualified his 2002 Camaro 26th overall in a field of 43 Radials vs. the World entries at Sweet 16, placing him among the 20 non-qualifiers to enter the $10,000-winner-take-all RvW Second Chance race Mar. 23, at South Georgia Motorsports Park. Fereday went on to face Mark Woodruff from Arnold, MO, in the RvW Second Chance final, where he ran 3.74 at 209.26 to win after "Woody" slowed to 4.31 at 133.37 after going through a big mid-track wheelstand in his twin-turboed C6 Corvette. 
HECKEL SURVIVES HUGE X275 SECOND CHANCE FIELD - A whopping 61 non-qualifiers entered the X275 Second Chance race at Sweet 16, vying for a $15,000-winner-take-all purse. When the (radial) tire smoke finally cleared, it was Shane Heckel and his nitrous-huffing Mustang taking the money home to Baytown, TX, after a final-round win over fellow Texan Eric Moore in a '92 Mustang. Heckel, who just missed the cut by two positions for Sweet 16 eliminations, had to overcome a holeshot by Moore to win with a 4.34 pass at 164.99 mph.





They are flying at the $101,000-winner-take-all Sweet 16, where the quickest Radial vs. The World field in history is led by Daniel Pharris and his ProCharger-boosted 2017 Mustang.

After five rounds of qualifying on Thursday, GALOT Racing's Kevin Rivenbark led the way with a 3.587 over the eighth mile at South Georgia Motorsports Park, but in Friday's first of an additional six qualifying sessions, Pharris stepped up with an outstanding 3.578-seconds pass at 214.11 mph. 
"We're just getting going. We haven't even started baking the cake yet, man, we've just got the ingredients together," said Pharris, who just last month reached the final round for Lights Out 10, the preceding event for Sweet 16 promoter Donald "Duck" Long at the same track.

"We've got high hopes for tomorrow and we're going to do exactly what we did at Lights Out and just go round by round," the Sikeston, MO-based driver added.
Rivenbark later improved slightly to start second with a 3.582 run at 205.79 in his ProCharger-equipped '69 Camaro, followed by surprise third-place man Marcus Birt with the quickest eighth-mile pass by a nitrous car in drag racing history at 3.604 and 204.76 mph. 

"We ran a .60 with a 4 and it seems like there's still more in it, so we may step on it a little," Birt said. "I think honestly it can go a low .59 if we hit it right."
Jeff Sitton and his screw-blown 2017 Camaro placed fourth with a 3.624-seconds pass at 205.01 mph, closely followed by former teammate "Stevie Fast" Jackson at 3.630 and 210.14 in a similarly powered '15 Camaro.

Other notables in the field include Mark Micke, winner of last year's inaugural Sweet 16 event with a 3.633 to start sixth, NHRA star Alex Laughlin, who beat Pharris with a holeshot in the Lights Out 10 final, at 3.657 in eighth, and nitrous racing star Jamie Hancock, who broke into the field in the 11th and final round of qualifying with a 3.686 to place 12th.  

Remarkably, the record-setting 3.694-second Sweet 16 bump spot secured by Tom Blincoe and his ProCharger-driven '63 Corvette would've placed him fifth at Lights Out 10; whereas the 3.793 of LO10 16th-place man DeWayne Mills (who broke and had to withdraw this weekend), would have been good enough only for 31st place at Sweet 16 this year.

"Yeah, going into eliminations, you've got to be ready," Pharris declared. "I mean, just like last year's race, there's no easy rounds. I mean, us being number one, we've still got to go up against a car that's on the bump at 3.69, so he's fast, too. Last year they were talking about how no one had even run a 3.60 before qualifying started and now we've got one on the bump. This really could be anyone's race."

THE X FACTOR - After completely rebuilding his ProCharger-equipped 2009 Dodge Challenger throughout the off season, Rob Goss proved the effort worthwhile with an outstanding 4.237-seconds pass at 169.40 mph in the eighth and final round of X275 qualifying Friday night for Sweet 16 at South Georgia Motorsports Park.

The record-shattering run ousted a prior record 4.268 from the top spot that Rich Bruder posted in round three on Thursday, while Manny Buginga, X275 winner last month in Lights Out 10 at SGMP, will start third with a 4.270 effort. In fact, each of the top six starters--including Ryan Milliken and his diesel-powered '66 Chevy II in sixth--ran quicker than Bruder's 4.29 record that stood from last spring's Outlaw Street Car Reunion event at Bowling Green, KY.

"Yeah, it's incredible how fast we're all going here," Goss recognized. "There are so many guys here running personal bests this weekend, even a lot who didn't qualify. Those are the guys I feel for. It's got to be hard to make your best pass and still not get in, but I hope they're still proud of that accomplishment."

Goss' car is carrying a brand-new, 478 c.i. billet-block Gen III Hemi outfitted with a ProCharger blower and 16 individual FuelTech coils connected to two spark plugs per cylinder, as the Drag Pak Challenger Gen III heads come from the factory.

"This is our first race with the new combination and we really didn't know what to expect," the Wyoming-based trucking company owner said. "We were able to test some at Holly Springs in Mississippi, where it showed good promise, but when we got here it just didn't react the same. Our numbers were a little off in the 60-foot and 330 numbers and we just kept trying to tune around it and tweak here and there. 

"And we're honestly still not quite there," Goss insisted while watching X275 officials going over his engine, making sure everything was legal and legit at his pit shortly after the record run (it was). "We could actually improve that pass, I think, just based on what we're seeing now. But we ran a .31 in the middle of the day and that's what we'll probably take into eliminations and see what happens. We'll just work with what we have, same as everybody."

In round one of racing Goss will take on Kenny Hubbard, who ran 4.340 at 165.88 mph to secure the 16th and final Sweet 16 starting position.    

A BOTTLE ROCKET - Even Marcus Birt was surprised when told he'd just made the quickest nitrous-boosted, eighth-mile pass in history--bar none. The 3.604 at 204.76-mph pass came in Saturday's first Radials vs. The World qualifying session, the sixth of 11 total pre-elimination rounds for promoter Donald "Duck" Long's Sweet 16 event at South Georgia Motorsports Park.

"They told me that was the fastest nitrous pass in history and I sure hope it's true. It feels good to hear after all the hard work we've done. It's been a battle," Birt said later in his pit. "To be honest, we went out there and kind of had an expectation of going maybe a .65 or a .66, and then we run a .60, so obviously we're really happy right now."

Coming into Sweet 16, the quickest RvW nitrous pass belonged to Jamie Hancock, who ran 3.687 last year at the same race, while PDRA Pro Nitrous record holder Jim Halsey made a 3.646-seconds run last fall in Virginia. (Note: at 2,450 lbs, minimum weight for PN cars is 200 lbs heavier than RvW.)

Driving a Jerry Bickel-built 2016 Corvette with a 959 c.i. Pat Musi engine under the hood, Birt crossed the 60-foot marker in .990 and hit half-track in 2.41 seconds. 

"It was so smooth. I mean, you wouldn't think it could be, as fast as the car is going, but it's just like going down the Interstate, that's how smooth the power comes in," he said. 

When pressed for why he thinks it all came together Saturday morning for a record-setting performance, Birt spread the credit around, but reserved special praise for tuner--and RvW rival--Steve Jackson, who qualified his own screw-blown '15 Camaro directly behind Birt in fourth.

"Man, I think (track prep specialist) Wade Rich has got the track just superb, the air is pretty good, and the car is happy. And I'll tell you, Pat (Musi) has got the best motor program in the world, hands down, it just couldn't be any better," he said. "But the problem before was we could just never get the motor happy, but now Stevie's got the motor where it wants to be. He's made all the difference."

Heading into eliminations among the quickest RvW field ever assembled, bookended by number-one starter Daniel Pharris at a record-shattering 3.578 at 214.11 and 16th-place Tom Blincoe at an equally impressive 3.694 at 201.31 mph, Birt knows race day will not be easy.

"I think we can go some rounds if I can do what I need to do on the tree and the car stays where it is right now. I feel real good about it," he said. "But I think every pass has got to be almost picture perfect if you're gonna' have a chance to win. Like you're gonna' have to go low .60s and have an .020 bulb every time. And you're gonna' have to get out on a turbo car, there's no question about that. It's gonna' be all or nothing." 

VERSATILE, BUT FOR HOW LONG? - Just last month Alex Laughlin left South Georgia Motorsports Park  $50,000 richer after winning Radial vs. The World at Lights Out 10  with his screw-blown Speed Society C7 Corvette. 

Last weekend he was in Gainesville, FL, double-entered in the 50th annual NHRA Gatornationals with a roots-blown 2018 Camaro in Pro Modified and a naturally aspirated '14 Camaro in Pro Stock, reaching the final round in the latter class, though a dropped valve during his burnout for the final ended his chances. 

This weekend, he's back at SGMP with the Vette going after a $101-grand payday in promoter Donald "Duck" Long's Sweet 16 event.

"It’s unbelievable, because all three cars look sort of similar, but they're all so different from each other," Laughlin said after placing fifth with a 3.65 at 210.60 mph on the opening day of Sweet 16 qualifying.

"I ran a nitro-injected dragster along with Pro Stock in 2017 and a lot of people made a big deal about it because those cars are obviously so different and everyone talked about how hard that must be, but really, I think it was better because they are so different that it made it easier," he continued. 

"Now I’ve got three different door cars, sit in the same spot, the steering wheel is in the same place; it’s all the same stuff, just everything around me is different. One of them I leave with my left foot (RvW), one of them I leave with a transbrake that shifts on its own (PM), and the other I leave with a transbrake and I shift it (PS)."

To better manage the transitions, Laughlin explained he has to sit in each car before each run "just to kind of go through the motions beforehand." It's getting easier, too, he added.

"Last year, running just the radial car and Pro Stock from one weekend to the next I was kind of going through a phase where every time I got in a new car, for the first round it was like a throw-away run. And now I’m running three cars, but what’s really wild--and by no way do I mean to brag--but I really haven’t had any throw-away runs. I’ve really been good in all three cars," he said. 

"I don’t know if it's just something I’m just getting used to or what. I keep thinking, 'Well, this one is probably going to be a throw-away run,' and then it all starts to align. It’s fun. 

"I know that a lot of people had their reserves when I came over here because they’d say. 'Oh, he's just this NHRA guy,' but turns out I’m just like everybody else out here. I’m just here to have fun, run well, and be competitive. We’re all here for the same reasons."

In fact, Laughlin admits he likes his new-found, radial-racing lifestyle so much he may be ready to turn his back on Pro Stock for good.

"It sounds crazy, but you’re running three different cars and it’s the Pro Stock stuff that just eats the funds. I could almost run the radial car for a year on what it takes to run just one NHRA Pro Stock race," Laughlin said. "So I think this’ll probably be my last year in Pro Stock. I know I said that last year and here I am, but I think I really want to focus on Pro Mod and this radial-tire stuff.

"My rookie year in Pro Stock was in 2015, but I just didn’t have all the money I needed to run a full season and that’s where I’m at every year. The only full season I ever ran was in 2016 and even this year I’m still struggling."
To that end, Laughlin welcomes the potential big paydays that Radial vs. The World racing provides. Plus, he likes the media attention and fan interaction it attracts.  

"Man, winning at Lights Out was the biggest thing that I ever accomplished, honestly. You know, I would rather win one of these Duck races than the U.S. Nationals. Seriously. After that race it was everywhere; I just couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t scroll through Facebook for 30 or 40 seconds without seeing something about it," he said. 

"It was great for me. It was great for my sponsors and everything. It was huge. People love it. I’ve been racing for a long time and nobody had been a bigger fan of what I do until I started radial racing. It's what everybody likes--and it's a lot, lot cheaper to do."

RECORD RUNS ORDER OF THE DAY IN X275 - With an overwhelming 82 X275 entries fighting to make their way into the 16-car field for Duck X Productions' Sweet 16 event, the class was broken into two distinct groups--blue and red--running prior to and immediately after each round of Radials vs. The World qualifying. 

Manny Buginga fired the first big shot Thursday night at South Georgia Motorsports Park with an unprecedented 4.270 pass in his '03 Mustang  to take over the lead. His bragging rights were short-lived, however, as just a couple of pairs later Rich Bruder lowered the record to 4.268 seconds over the SGMP eighth mile.

"The car just works," Bruder says of the ProCharger-equipped '88 Mustang he used to drive on the streets of Edison, NJ, before he and his crew chief brother Nick, turned it into a race car more than 15 years ago. Over the years, the Bruder Bros. Mustang has been nitrous-boosted, roots-blown, turbocharged and even carried a previous ProCharger set-up.  
"It's great once you have a car figured out and you can throw any powerplant in there and it’ll duplicate. People like Mark Menscer, Doug from Performance Transmission and Marty Chance, they made it that way. It’s good to work with a car that we can make changes in the tune-up and the car just reacts. It’s a lot easier to do that with a car that’s workable."

Also finding the 4.20s in Friday's early sessions were Sheridan, WY's Rob Goss at 4.273 in his '09 Challenger, Dean Marinis out of Whitestone, NY, with a 4.284 in his 2000 Mustang, and Brian Brooks going 4.286 in his Parker, CO-based '93 Mustang. Prior to this event, the only 4.20 recorded in the class came at last spring's Outlaw Street Car Reunion in Bowling Green, KY, where Bruder qualified with a 4.298-seconds effort.

With at least one more full X275 qualifying round to go, Ken Quartuccio and his '93 Mustang held the final spot in the Sweet 16 field with a 4.356, already making this the quickest X275 field in history.   



I LIKE DREAMIN' - Steve Petty had a dream and on Thursday night at South Georgia Motorsports Park it (almost) came true.

"I actually dreamed last week that we ran a .58 with a 6 and it went .58 with a 7," crew chief Petty remarked after his driver, Kevin Rivenbark, became the first to the .50s with a 3.587-seconds pass at 206.67 mph over the eighth mile at South Georgia Motorsports Park. The 60-foot time was .917 and Rivenbark ran 2.39 seconds to half track. 

"It actually had the front end lift up and went a little bit left and he had to steer it back over so that’s probably where my thousandth went," Petty added.

The record-setting run came in the last of five qualifying sessions on Thursday, with at least three more planned for Friday at promoter Donald "Duck" Long's Sweet 16 event that eventually will pay $101,000 to the winner Saturday night. It placed Rivenbark and his ProCharger-boosted '69 Camaro firmly on top of what's already the quickest RvW field in history, anchored by current 16th-place holder Jamie Hancock at 3.731 and 195.39 mph.

Following Rivenbark on the qualifying list after day one was Daniel Pharris and his twin-turboed '17 Mustang at 3.61 and 214.08 mph, just six thousandths short of the then-record-setting pass of 3.613 seconds set by Rivenbark last month at SGMP while qualifying for Long's Lights Out 10 event.
"Man, I can't believe we came here and set the record again," the Clinton, NC-based driver said. "It's been unbelievable how good this car has been right from the start. The ProCharger is just so much smoother off the hit and it's just a nice, smooth ride all the way down track. It's so good now, but I think there's even more there if the conditions are right."

Petty confirmed the smooth application of power is critical to the unprecedented elapsed times the Pro Line Racing Camaro is now posting.

"The whole secret to it is the FuelTech, the power management capabilities in it," he said. "I think that’s one of the things that blower power is missing. I really think electronics is going to be the future and somebody needs to jump on it. There's a tip for someone out there."

Heading into Friday's action, Steve Jackson and his screw-blown '15 Camaro sat third (3.63/210.14), Marcus Birt was fourth in his nitrous-fed 2016 Corvette (3.65/204.32), and Lights Out winner Alex Laughlin rounded out the top five at 3.65 seconds and 210.60 mph in the Speed Society supercharged C7 Corvette.

Beyond setting records, Rivenbark also has his sights set on redemption after leaving with a red-light start against Laughlin in the Lights Out semis.

"I don't want to get ahead of myself, but man, I feel like we should've won Lights Out and I really feel like we can win this one," he said. "That one (LO10) was on me, that was my mistake, and I sure don't want to let everyone on our team down. They all work so hard, Steve and the guys here and at FuelTech and Pro Line, and I also want to thank my team owners, Mr. Earl Wells and his wife Peggy, for all they do for us. I just want to finish the job this time."

Indeed, it would be a fitting end to a dream weekend.