2020 DUCK X NO MERCY 11 - EVENT NOTEBOOK
RACEDAY NOTEBOOK - BIRT IS THE KING OF THE RADIAL HILL
BIRT WINS BIG - Marcus Birt seemed as relieved as he was pleased after winning Duck X Productions' No Mercy 11 Radials vs. the World final in the wee hours of Oct. 18, at South Georgia Motorsports Park.
"We didn't start out running .50s consistently, but we ran them when we needed to," Birt said after making a 3.56-seconds pass at 204.48 mph over the SGMP eighth mile to defeat California's Jason Lee in the final round.
"We just wanted to race smart, man, so we didn't have to go to the other motor. That was the main thing; I really didn't want to go to the spare unless we absolutely had to."
Also visiting victory lane was Michigan racer James Miron, who only had to take the tree to win in Pro 275, Blake Copson in X275, and Georgia's own
Eddie Harrison in Limited Drag Radial. The Ultra Street win went to number-one qualifier Rylan McClaskey, while DXP Street went to top qualifier Martin Connelley, who also came out on top in the Limited 235 final.
Another 3.56-seconds pass after eight rounds of qualifying over the previous two days placed Birt and his nitrous-fed 2016 Corvette third on the RVW list behind polesitter David Reese at 3.53 and Melanie Salemi just three-thousandths quicker than Birt with another 3.56 effort.
A 32-car qualified field, saw five rounds of RVW eliminations on Saturday, with Birt opening with a 3.60 at 204.88 solo run after Bobby Dodrill failed to make the call with his unique blown 4X4 Chevy pick-up. Next up was a stripe-to-stripe lead over Tim Meisner that ended in 3.62 seconds for Birt, followed by a 3.55 at 205.57 that sent JR Gray packing after having won
Duck X's Sweet 16 RVW race just a week earlier at the same track.In the semi-finals, Birt posted a 3.54 at 205.72 to beat Kevin Rivenbark
and reach Jason Lee in the final round. Lee, the number-five qualifier, made his way through Heidi Carlisle, Taylor Lastor, and Ken Quartuccio before meeting Reese in the semis and riding a big .077 holeshot to the win after going 3.57 at 205.63 to Reese's 3.51 at 214.45-mph that set low elapsed time for the event.
With lane choice for the final, Birt lined up on the right, but left .031 behind Lee off the start. He quickly made up that time, however as Lee's '69 Camaro lost traction almost immediately and coasted to an 11-second finish.
"I thought we might have been a tad quicker, but we didn't really change anything for the final," Birt said. "He just maybe brought things in a little bit quicker, but we didn't go up on anything."
RADIALS VS. THE WORLD REMAINS RELEVANT - As far as race promoter Donald "Duck" Long is concerned, there's absolutely nothing wrong with his premier Radials vs. the World class.
Created by Long in 2010 as an official class to prove his beloved radial racers were every bit as good, as fast, and as worthy of respect as any of their slick-tired brethren, RVW initially pitted mostly front-halved, radials-clad rides in direct competition against similarly constructed cars with true 10.5-inch slicks out back.
Over the years, though, radial tires have grown in size to accommodate ever-escalating speeds and 33-inch tall, 10.5-inch wide slicks were allowed to meet similar needs. Additionally, the front-halved cars from both camps gradually began dropping out, giving way to full-tube-chassis machines.
Lately, though, Long is feeling tempted to push RVW to even farther reaches.
"I'm almost at this point willing to say if you want to bring any car out, full 17-34.5, full-blown Pro Mod kind of thing to Radials vs. the World, the weights are already set and as long as you meet the weight, I'm almost ready to say we'll run any door car at all, any Pro Mod, any tire they want to put on it as long as they take the wheelie bars off and meet the weight," Long stresses.
"You've got Pro Boost, Pro Nitrous, Pro Mod, you have all that out there, and that's still the rest of the world, you know? I mean, I'm not going to sit there and prep one lane just for those guys, though. They're going to have to go from the way we prep, but if they want to bring out the baddest Pro Mods with whatever size tire they want , I'm almost ready to say, go for it, go ahead and bring it.
"I mean, I feel like under the right conditions, the radial car with no wheelie bars is as fast as anything on the planet. We've proved that for the last 10 years, but there's still some cars out there and there's still some people with a few doubts in their minds, but I'm ready to finish it off and prove it."
One side effect of inviting all comers, however, is that newcomers who accept the RVW challenge may force traditional hitters to the sidelines or at least to lower classes on the Duck X Productions roster. Already, stars like Mark Micke, winner of the inaugural RVW Sweet 16 event, multi-time class finalist Tim Slavens, and perennial contender Mark Woodruff have abandoned RVW in favor of Pro 275 competition. Significantly, all three run traditional-style cars with original body panels and at least remnants of their original chassis.
Regardless, Long recognizes a potential upside here, too.
"I actually like it because there's no difference in engine combinations or transmission combinations between Radials vs. the World or Pro 275, so I think that you want to have top names in both classes. I mean, realistically, any of those guys could change to a brand-new, state-of-the-art, round-tube chassis and roll right back into RVW. They just choose not to take it to that next step as far as the car goes.
"I like have legitimate stars in Pro 275, too, because if you have Pro 275, but no stars in it, no characters, then it's not worth anything," he continues.
Established Duck X racer movement can work in the opposite direction, too, as evidenced by J.D. Campbell, a longtime X275 competitor who this weekend at No Mercy 11 made his Pro 275 debut.
"I like having some of the great guys, the household names over there in
Pro 275 because people are coming out to watch not only who's the baddest on a 315 tire, but who can get it done on that smaller 275 tire, too," Long says. "To me, one's just as exciting to the other."
WHEN OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS - After running a best of 3.92 at 189.97 mph in qualifying, James "Jimbo" Miron climbed his way through the No Mercy 11 Pro 275 field from the 21st-place starting slot.
He outlasted 12th-place starter Don Burton in round one, with Miron eventually advancing after a 5.84 performance beat Burton's 6.40 effort.
Round two saw Miron catch a huge break as Mo Hall turned on the red light by just one-thousandth of a second, negating a 3.79 at 194.41 in his nitrous-boosted 2012 Corvette, while Miron made another troubled pass at 8.37 and just 78 mph. Conversely, a late leave by Chris Daniels in the third round with a .281 reaction time wasted his 3.79 at 198.35-mph effort against Miron's 3.94 at 189.87 combination.
Significantly, in that same round, the twin-turbocharged '78 Malibu of Mark Micke exploded in flames just before crossing the finish line, but still advanced him past polesitter Paul Gargus to face Miron in the semis.
Needing time to make repairs, however, Micke and team owner Andy Carter lobbied Duck X officials and all remaining Pro 275 competitors--Ziff Hudson, Brian Anderson and Miron--to postpone the semi-finals to Monday morning when several other lower classes were still scheduled to run.
All agreed, except Miron.
"There's definitely some unhappy people, I know that, but I mean, that's racing. That's just the way it goes. I don't owe nobody nothing and they don't owe me nothing," Miron later explained. "That's just the way I look at it. You know, I spend thousands of dollars to get here just like everybody else does and I want a fair chance to win the money, just like everybody else does."
The first race in the semis finished on the starting line as Anderson left .059 too soon with his twin-turbocharged '91 Mustang to negate a 4.08 pass. Meanwhile, just prior to reaching the eighth-mile stripe, the driveshaft in Hudson's turbocharged '90 Mustang exploded, putting an early end to his No Mercy efforts, too.
That left only a 4.20 at 136.30 solo pass to advance Miron to the final, where he ran unopposed and just broke the beam for the win.
"We had lots of problems all week," he later explained. "We got here last Saturday and first we were having problems with the motor. We ran it for a day, it went to 3.85 and then we had to turn it down and fix it. And then once we got the motor fixed, we had nitrous problems somewhere in the wiring, the fuel was turning on but the nitrous, it wasn't turning on. So we'd been fighting that for two or three days.
"So we didn't even think we had a chance to get past the first round, let alone win the whole thing. If we could have sorted out the issue with the nitrous, it would have been a pretty good top contender, I think. We had Kenny Hubbard helping us but just didn't get it figured out and still squeaked our way through," Miron admitted.
"I mean, we definitely won it off luck, but we 'll take it any way we can get it, I guess."
MICKE BURNS AFTER PRO 275 QUARTER-FINALS - Mark Micke was feeling pretty hot late Saturday night at No Mercy 11 after winning his Pro 275 quarter-finals match over number-one qualifier Paul Gargus. Just before he crossed the eighth-mile line in 3.76 seconds at 191.46 mph, explosive flames suddenly shot out from beneath the hood of Micke's twin-turbocharged '78 Malibu.
"We were getting after it hard because we knew we had to run fast. But we just got a little greedy with it out there when the lock-up came on and knocked the number-seven hole out of it and then blew a bunch of oil out," the Missouri-based racer explained.
"Nothing major, tore up some stuff and the fire kind of got under the intake and burned up some wires. So yeah, it didn't look good for a minute, but it looked worse than it really was."
So there was that, but Micke also was feeling the burn after learning his intended semi-final opponent, James "Jimbo" Miron refused to accommodate a request to delay their meeting to Sunday morning, despite the willingness of Duck X race officials and competitors Ziff Hudson and Brian Anderson in the second semi-final match.
"I guess it's just the way he's going to be," Micke observed. "It's disappointing, but it is what it is. But that's okay, we'll remember that."
UPSETTING X275 PERFORMANCES - Three consecutive pairings in round two of X275 eliminations resulted in holeshot wins. All three round winners also
came from the bottom half of the 32-car field to beat three top-half starters.
Earl Stanley's Mustang left with a huge .071 lead to win with a 4.28 at 164.71 mph over a quicker and faster 4.24 at 167.95 by Rob Goss in his '09 Challenger.
Next up was Shane Heckel with a stellar .003 light in his '91 Mustang that led to a 4.31 at 160.88 compared to a .047/4.28/169.02 combination for the '02 Firebird piloted by Mike Cermina.
Finally, Jamie Stanton posted a .017 reaction time in his '02 Camaro that gave him a .044 advantage over John Urist and led to a 4.28 victory at 167.59 over Urist's 4.24 at 172.43 in a '15 Mustang.
Stanley redlighted in the next round against Heckel, who posted a perfect .000 light in advancing to the semis, while Stanton fell to top qualifier Ron Rhodes. Heckel then backed off considerably to a .069 light, which was no match for Rhodes, who reached the final round against Blake Copson.
COPSON NAILS ANOTHER ONE - It started with a third-place qualifying position and finished with a trip to the winner's circle at South Georgia Motorsports Park. That was the basic path to X275 victory at No Mercy 11 for Blake Copson of Bridgewater, MA, who also won the Duck X Productions Magic 8 event earlier this year at Orlando, FL.
Driving a turbocharged '03 Mustang Cobra for team owner Manny Buginga, Copson ran 4.23 in qualifying to follow only Dom DiDonato's 4.22 and Ron Rhodes at 4.21 seconds in the top spot over 41 entries for the 32-car field.
"Manny put together a hell of a team and I just want to thank him for trusting me," Copson said shortly after setting low ET for No Mercy 11 with a 4.18 at 171.58 mph to defeat an explosive Rhodes in the final round.
Copson got there through wins over Mark Miering, Alan Felts, Brian Brooks and Brian Christie in the preliminary rounds.
On the opposite side of the ladder, Rhodes took down Jason Ragan and Dan Christopher before catching a break in round three when Jamie Stanton narrowly redlighted away a 4.25 pass against a 4.52 in Rhodes' lane. He regained his form in the semis, however, going 4.21 to beat Shane Heckel and secure lane choice for the final.
When the green flashed, Copson left with a .045 light in the right lane, with Rhodes just .003 behind in his preferred left lane. A tight battle ensued until just past the halfway point when a huge explosion suddenly slowed Rhodes' nitrous-huffing '68 Camaro.
"Yeah, we actually developed a gremlin here and I thought we had it fixed when we went and made nice clean hit in the semis," Rhodes recalled. "I was like, good, we got it fixed. So we loaded it up because we knew those guys were going to be tough, and we were ready to go maybe a .19 or a .20, but she let go at the end.
"But the motor's fine," he added. "It's not hurt. Just my pride. But I guess if you're gonna' go out, go out in spectacular fashion, know what I mean?"
Copson knew he was in a tough side-by-side fight when he caught the explosion in his peripheral sight just before the two red rockets reached the eight-mile stripe.
"We were pretty even at that point and I'm sure it made a good picture when it happened, but from then on I was just waiting for the win," Copson said. "I'm just happy to bring this win to Manny and all the guys who work so hard on our cars."
DUCK X DEBUT FOR STREET OUTLAWS STAR - The long-awaited and anticipated raceday debut for Street Outlaws TV star Kye Kelley almost didn't happen at No Mercy 11, after the New Orleans native ran 4.14 at 186.33 mph to place 33rd of 56 entries in Pro 275, just two-hundredths behind Jon Thomas for the final official slot.
However, when Brian Chin of Ridge, NY, was unable to continue with breakage, Kelley, who now hails from Bogue Chitto, MS, was inserted into the 20th-place starting position. He was given that position rather than being added at the bottom of the field in order to preserve the anticipated pairings of all other drivers and teams, Duck X officials explained.
That sent Kelley to the line in round one against class veteran Frank Mewshaw and his Palm Beach, FL-based twin-turboed '88 Trans Am. When the green light came, Kelley left with a .090 light and posted a winning 4.06 at 186.61 in his nitrous-injected 2014 Camaro while Mewshaw struggled from stripe to stripe with a nearly 10-second result.
In round two of racing it was a much closer affair, as Kelley stepped up with a .048 light to barely edge the .049 by number-four starter Chris
Daniels in his Procharger-equipped, late-model Corvette from White, GA.
After a good side-by-side race down the SGMP eighth mile, though, Daniels pulled away at the end for a 3.80 win at 198.52 mph, with Kelley posting a solid 3.96 at 192.30 final result.
'FUN RACING' DEFINES LDR WIN FOR HARRISON - "This is the kind of racing you like to do, fun racing," said Eddie Harrison upon winning the Limited Drag Radial final with a solo run down the SGMP eighth mile.
After qualifying seventh, the Acworth, GA-based driver overcame a huge starting-line advantage by Matt Brewer to win the opening round, then did the same to Eric Jarvis in round two. He then turned the tables in round three, when a big .087 holeshot easily allowed Harrison's 4.02 to get by the slightly quicker 4.01 posted by second-place starter Daniel Ray.
A 4.08 at 184.80 pass in the semis sent Harrison and his '02 Camaro to the LDR final where they were supposed to meet fourth-place qualifier Paul Gargus and his '69 Camaro, but breakage in the semis against Richard Ragan kept Gargus in the trailer.
"Our goal this weekend was to make the first three-second run in Limited, so we're a little disappointed at not doing that, but the win definitely makes up for it," Harrison said. "At least we're the quickest big-block, twin-turbo car out here."
QUALIFYING NOTEBOOK -
REESE RESUMES RVW DOMINANCE AT NO MERCY 11 - Picking up right where he left off last weekend during Duck X Productions' Sweet 16 3.0 at South Georgia Motorsports Park, David Reese of Temple, GA, qualified number one over a 32-car Radials vs. the World field for No Mercy 11. Reese held the top spot for Sweet 16 qualifying, too, but lost to a holeshot by RVW rookie JR Gray in the final round of racing.
"We expected to go .52, but we knocked the burst panels out right at the end," Reese said of the 3.53 at 201.67 mph that secured the No Mercy pole position for his blown small-block 2019 Camaro. "It was still a good run, but it could have been a little faster."
Immediately following Reese at the top of the RVW list was Buffalo, NY's Melanie Salemi, who stepped up in the sixth and final qualifying session to post a 3.56 at 210.93 in the screw-blown '19 Camaro tuned by her husband Jon Salemi, while Marcus Birt ran 3.56 at 205.54 to start third with his nitrous-breathing 2016 Corvette.
RECORD RUN PROPELS GARGUS TO PRO 275 POLE - The number-one start in Pro 275 for No Mercy 11 went to Remlap, AL's Paul Gargus with a record-setting 3.750-seconds run in his first Pro 275 outing with a new Procharger hemi-equipped '69 Camaro.
"That was only the ninth pass Paul's made in that car and it was a career best for him," Shane Stack said of the 3.75 at 200.83-mph run that gave his teammate qualifying bragging rights over 57 Pro 275 entries, which included Sweet 16 winner Tim Slavens, who struggled at No Mercy to miss the field with a disappointing 43rd-place result.
Gargus is a veteran Limited Drag Radial racer who also is racing in that class at No Mercy, starting fourth behind leader Norman Chang of Redwood City, CA, fellow Alabama racer Daniel Ray, and Florida's Carlton Thompson.
Heading into eliminations, the X275 qualifying lead went to Ron Rhodes of Townsend, DE, who went 4.21 at 167.66 in his '68 Camaro, with Dom DiDonato, who finished as Sweet 16 runner-up to Justin Curry earlier in the week, second at 4.22 seconds, followed by Blake Copson at 4.23 in third.
Also earning first-place status in qualifying for No Mercy 11 were Ryan McClaskey in Ultra Street, Martin Connelley in DXP Street, and Danny Niceley in Limited 235.
RVW ROOKIE GRAY WINS SWEET 16 - With a brand-new 2020 Camaro destined for Radials vs. the World action in the trailer, JR Gray rolled into South Georgia Motorsports Park last weekend for Sweet 16 Ver. 3. By Monday night (Oct. 12), the South Carolina native was $70K richer after beating his car builder, David Reese, with a holeshot in the final round.
"I felt like I had the better light and I knew I was out on him at 60 foot and at that point in time, I said to myself, 'Man, we got a damn drag race here,'" Gray recalled. "And you know, honestly, when we hit 330 (feet), I could tell he wasn't close enough, but I figured he probably had five or six miles an hour on me, so it wasn't over yet.
"Then I saw the win light come on as we blazed on through there and it's kinda' hard to describe, but I felt different with this win than I did when I was grudge racing so much," he continued.
"I was thinking of my dad, he died of cancer in 2013, and of how happy he would be. I don't even know if I've ever even been that excited for any win before and I'm hollering and feeling all kinds of emotions at the minute, just a lot of stuff I hadn't felt."
After starting his nitrous-huffing machine second with a 3.56-seconds effort in the eighth-and-final qualifying session, behind only Reese at 3.53, Gray made his way to the final with wins over Mike Decker, Ken Quartuccio and Rick Thornton, whose car failed to start for the semis. Reese, meanwhile, dove his own screw-blown 2019 Camaro past Alex Laughlin and Jamie Hancock, who both left too early, then overcame a .012 holeshot by Marcus Birt in the semi-finals.
Gray took delivery of his Pat Musi-powered ride just a few weeks before Sweet 16 and had just one full pass under his belt, a grudge match at Carolina Dragway that almost ended in disaster.
"The throttle hung open and I actually went through the quarter with it on the power. I remember thinking like, what am I going to do here? I'd never had a throttle stick before,'' Gray said.
"So I said, screw it, I'm just going to kick it to the firewall. Can't get much worse than where I'm going right now because I was rolling, and it broke it loose. Then it washed out a little bit, but I saved it and got it all under control. But it was kind of a hairy ride, you know?"
Despite being an RVW rookie at Sweet 16--in fact, competing in his first-ever class racing event--Gray credited his grudge racing background and confidence in his tuner, "Stevie Fast" Jackson, for keeping cool going into the final round.
"I've been in a million grudge races where this is the last pass this motor is ever going to make, and where you know, all of me and my friends money would be on the line, so I'm used to the feel of pressure because I've been in that situation so much," he said. "And me and Stevie have been racing together for five or six years now, he's been tuning me that long and I've learned so much from him. He's a wizard with these cars.
"So going into the final round, Stevie, he knows I've run for a lot of money before and he knows I'm here to win, whatever it takes, so he didn't even ask me how hard I want to run the motor. We both knew it would be the last pass, so he just clarified at one time we were putting everything in it. And I said that's fine with me; we either gonna' win or we ain't."
And with his first RVW win in the books Gray won't have to wait long to potentially add another chapter. One week later he was qualified third after four of an expected six rounds of qualifying for No Mercy 11 at the same track.
"With Stevie and David Reese and Pat Musi behind us we've just got a real strong team. So yeah, I think we could do it again," Gray said. "I mean, it's just hard to beat KTR (Killin' Time Racing)."
THURSDAY'S BEST - David Reese returned to his perch atop the Radial vs. The World 32-car field during second-day qualifying at No Mercy 11, the popular radial tire racing event promoted by Duck X Productions.
Reese, of Temple, Ga., was Wednesday's early leader but fell to second behind Ken Quartuccio at the end of the day. Pro Modified standout Kevin Rivenbark bolted on the radial tires and ended up third with a 3.596.
Marcus Birt (3.607) and Rick Thornton (3.611) rounded out the top five.
The top three in PRO 275 remained unchanged from Wednesday as Manny Buginga finished atop the Pro 275 field off the strength of his 3.795 on Thursday. Mo Hall (3.802) and Ziff Hudson (3.803) rounded out the first three spots.
Ron Rhodes remained atop the X275, stepping up in Thursday's lone session, going from a 4.234 to a 4.214 elapsed time at 167.66 miles per hour. Second quickest Dom Didonato (4.237) and Mike Cermina (4.238) both stepped up and retained their spots.
SLAVENS SUCCEEDS IN SWEET 16 PRO 275 - Sometimes it really is better to be lucky than good. That was the take of Missouri's Tim Slavens after winning the Sweet 16 Pro 275 title earlier this week at South Georgia Motorsports Park.
Slaves has been a regular SGMP's Duck X Productions events for years and even came close a couple of times with runner-up results, but this past Monday (Oct. 12), he finally broke through with a trip to SGMP's victory lane.
"Yeah, I kind of had to pinch myself there for a couple of days to see if it was real," Slavens admitted of his race-winning solo pass in the final. "It was kind of one of those situations where you got to be there to win it kind of thing."
With a 3.82 at 207.85 mph Slavens qualified his twin-turbocharged '69 Camaro sixth in a field of 41 entries. Eric Dillard led the 16-car qualified field with a 3.77 at 194.80 in Manny Buginga's Procharger-equipped '02 Mustang, followed by Jeff Miller, Marty Stinnett, Ron Green and Ziff Hudson.
In the opening round of racing, Slavens left with a huge .129 holeshot, but quickly got into a pedaling contest with 11th-place starter Robert Adel and eventually won with a 5.14 over Adel's quicker 5.07 pass. The second round then wound up as a solo pass for Slavens after Marty Stinnett was unable to continue after his first-round win.
"The third round was an absolute nail biter. It was the best race of the day for us against Frank Mewshaw, a super close race," Slavens said of leaving with a .004 light to Mewshaw's .005, then posting a 3.870-seconds effort against a 3.879 to reach the Pro 275 final against Mark Micke.
Micke, the number-eight qualifier, ran through Chris Daniels and a redlighting Dillard, but his semi-finals win over Mark Woodruff in the semis proved costly with a broken motor in his '78 Malibu.
"We gave him time to get it fixed, but that turned out to be kind of anti-climatic as well, because he did the burnout and it broke again," Slavens said of being sent on another single for the race title.
It turned out to be one more lucky break, too.
"It rolled out, knocked the tires off and I gave up at that point, obviously," Slavens said. "I was just glad to get the win. However it happened, it occurred and we're still a blessed bunch of folks over here."
QUARTUCCIO KILLS 'EM ON WEDNESDAY - Just two days after finishing the Duck X Sweet 16 3.0, Ken Quartuccio decided to go on a killing spree during first day qualifying at the No Mercy 11 drag radial event at South Georgia Motorsports Park, located outside of Valdosta, Ga.
Quartuccio, nicknamed the Serial Killer in the drag radial world, ran a 3.567 elapsed time at 216.10 behind the wheel of his turbocharged Corvette, to not only leapfrog provisional No. 1 qualifier David Reese but also to establish himself as the quickest and fastest car on the property after two sessions.
Reese dropped to second in his supercharged Camaro after failing to improve on his Q-1 3.589.
Sweet 16 winner J.R. Gray was not in the field after the first day.
Over in Pro 275, the Manny Buginga express continued to run through the field, laying down a 3.795 elapsed time at 196.42 miles per hour. Two days earlier, veteran doorslammer driver Eric Dillard drove a Mustang from the same team to the No. 1 qualifying position. Presently, a 4.152 is what it takes to get in the 16-car field.
Ron Rhodes made his long journey from Delaware worth his while, at least provisionally, as he took the top spot in X275 with a 4.243, 167.78 to finish the first session ahead of Dom Didonato, who ran a 4.245.
Other provisional No. 1 qualifiers included Mark Roger (Ultra Street), Martin Connelly (DXP Street), Daniel Ray (Limited Drag Radial), and Jason Terrell (Limited 235).
CURRY CAPTURES X275 WIN AT SWEET 16 - Texas racer Justin Curry put together a string of 4.20s to take home the X275 win worth $50,000 from Sweet 16 3.0, presented by Duck X Productions at South Georgia Motorsports Park.
A 4.27 at 163.57 mph placed Curry and his '68 Camaro sixth on the qualifying list of 40 entries, led by Manny Buginga at 4.23 seconds in his turbocharged '02 Mustang.
Curry opened eliminations with a 4.29 at 169.74 to take down Jon Urist in the opening round, then ran 4.25 at 167.09 over a redlighting Ron Rhodes in round two. In the semis, Curry maintained consistency with a 4.27 pass at 167.01 mph over Alan Felts, who also lost at the start line with an early start.
Waiting for Curry in the final was Delaware's Dom DiDonato, who previously ran a trio of 4.27-second runs in dispatching Eric Moore, Kenny Rodriguez and Robert Williams from eliminations.
With a solid .013 reaction time, his best of the day, Curry left with a slim .002 advantage over DiDonato, then posted a 4.259 winning time at 166.56 mph to beat DiDonato's 4.26 at 171.77 combination by eight-thousandths of a second.
"It was so close I had no idea who was gonna' win so I rode it out an extra 500 feet," DiDonato said. "I just knew he was right there beside me."
CAMPBELL GOES 'BAD FISHIN' IN PRO 275 - His nitrous-fed '68 Camaro was a fixture in the X275 class, but J.D. Campbell was at No Mercy 11 this weekend debuting a brand-new twin-turbocharged ride for Pro 275 action. Early this fall, Campbell purchased the fan-favorite "Bad Fish" '68 Cuda from fellow Texan Marty Robertson, who campaigned the car in Radials vs. the World trim.
"I just felt like it was time to step up," Campbell explained. "I've always dreamed of having a big car, where you sit back in the car and it's stretched out with a longer wheelbase. And with my Camaro I just couldn't do that. We would've had to cut it up.
"So, the main reason for making this step was I want to go faster. I want to step up from X275, where we felt like we were kind of plateaued."
Campbell and crewman Allen Martin not only accepted, but looked forward to the challenge of running a turbocharged car for the first time, too.
"We knew every nut and bolt on the other car and raced it for six years and went all over the country with it. So we knew it pretty well," Campbell pointed out. "Then you know you're going to go through stuff with a new car. It's just kind of the unsaid rule, but I'm anxious to see what we can do."
A brief test session at Xtreme Raceway Park, Campbell's local track in Ferris, TX, delivered only a pair of aborted half-track passes. Still, he remained upbeat about his chances with the Bad Fish going forward.
Campbell's stated goal for No Mercy was a three-second pass. However, after five qualifying rounds on Friday, he placed 34th of 56 entries with a 4.14 at 186.69-mph combo. Career-best numbers, but not quite enough to enter eliminations Saturday morning.
"When the power came on down track with my old car, the small-block nitrous car, it was kind of done at a couple-hundred foot and then you were just along for the ride and the G-meter was steadily falling off. This car at a couple hundred foot it just starts getting down and doing what it's supposed to do. So it starts laying you in the seat and the G-meter takes off. So quite a bit difference there," Campbell observed. "But a fun ride for sure!"