2020 PDRA MID-ATLANTIC NATIONALS - EVENT PAGE
SATURDAY NOTEBOOK - COX SEALS THE DEAL WHILE GALOT IS BUSINESS AS USUAL
LONG TIME COMING - A year without a Pro Nitrous victory, coupled with a first-round loss at the last race in Darlington, led perennial class favorite Jay Cox to try something different. He called on a group of friends, including chassis builders Rick and Rickie Jones, to help him get out of a rut. With guidance from his friends, Cox and his team made 33 test runs in the month between the Darlington and Virginia races.
It all paid off when Cox drove his Buck-powered Butner Construction ’69 Camaro to a 3.737-second, 200.35 mph victory over Jim Halsey in the final round. Halsey ran 4.529 at 117.46 in the runner-up effort.
“We got a bad car in the heat,” Cox said. “I didn't show it this weekend because we were behind on tuneup stuff, but it's a fast car. Didn't abort a run in the heat since Rickie’s been helping me. Rickie Smith and I tested together and he's helped me a lot, along with Jeff Pierce and Billy Stocklin. They all got me somewhat back on track. I just have to take this and build off of it. I don't ever claim to be smart, I just work hard. The amount of work we done in the last three weeks testing, to come out here and win for my guys means more to me than anything.”
Racing out of the No. 5 spot, Cox moved past the first round with a 3.821 at 200.08 when opponent Rob Hunnicutt broke after the burnout. Cox then used a 3.76 at 199.17 to beat Billy Albert and his 3.783 at 198.96 in their semifinal match.
Halsey, the defending world champion, previously beat fellow Switzer Dynamics-equipped racers John DeCerbo and Chris Rini.
GALOT IS A LOT - For the third race this year, a GALOT Motorsports entry went to the final round in Pro Boost. Team driver John Strickland beat teammate Kevin Rivenbark in the final round at the last race, the Carolina Showdown. This time, Rivenbark clinched the victory for GALOT team owners Earl and Peggy Wells. Rivenbark’s Steve Petty-tuned, ProCharger-boosted ’69 Camaro recorded a 3.694 at 201.73 to beat Pro Nitrous champion-turned-Pro Boost rookie Jason Harris and his 3.713 at 201.22.
“It would've been better if it was John and I [in the finals] again, but sometimes things happen,” said Rivenbark, the 2016 and 2019 world champion. “He's still in the points lead, though, and I should've moved up to second or third. Overall, it's been a great year so far even with all this COVID mess going on. The few races we have had this year, I think we've done well. It's always great to win for Mr. and Mrs. Wells, and we appreciate them giving us the opportunity to do this.”
Rivenbark went slightly quicker and quicker as the day went on and conditions improved. First, a 3.769 victory over Don Tolley, then a 3.700 on a second-round single. He dipped into the 3.60s with a 3.698 at 201.73 to defeat Johnny Camp’s 3.719 in the semifinals.
Aside from a 3.803 to beat Derek Ward in the first round, Harris was locked in the low 3.70s. He defeated Melanie Salemi in the second round, then moved on when Strickland went red in the semis.
NEXT LEVEL STUFF - Even with the second-quickest car in qualifying, Johnny Pluchino knew he needed to step up for the Extreme Pro Stock final round against JR Carr, who has two low qualifier awards and an event win since debuting a new car this season. Driving his father John’s Kaase-powered Strutmasters.com ’13 Mustang, Pluchino grabbed a major advantage on the starting line and never looked back as he powered to a 4.079 at 177.14. Carr slowed to a 4.323 at 163.08.
“Me and Dad loaded up and went to GALOT [Motorsports Park] two weeks ago and made a couple runs on a 104-degree racetrack,” Pluchino said. “We bolted Voss wheelie bars on it and tried a couple things to fix it early, make it a little better and it worked. We came out here, didn't even test, and we were fast. We had a really tough competitor in the final. JR Carr has obviously stepped his game up this year. That’s one hell of a team. We didn't fold under pressure.”
Pluchino, who earned his first Mountain Motor Pro Stock victory at the season opener, defeated Elijah Morton with a 4.100 at 177.23 in the first round. A consistent 4.099 at 176.65 followed to beat John DeFlorian Jr. in the semis.
Carr in his Frank Gugliotta-tuned ’20 Camaro dispatched Todd Hoerner and Chris Powers en route to the final round.
ESSICK SHINES IN PRO STREET - Outlaw 10.5 star Tim Essick missed the first Pro Street event in May, but he made up for it by winning the second-ever PDRA Pro Street race. Driving his home-built, ProCharger-boosted “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang, Essick knocked off low qualifier Ron Hamby in the final round. Essick left first and ran a 4.797 at 172.89, while Hamby slowed to a 9.331 at 45.83.
“This is the first time in the Pro Street stuff, so to go home with a win is just unbelievable,” Essick said. “It's a great group of people and we love racing with the PDRA. They're so welcoming and make you feel like family. Anything we can do to support them, we want to do that.”
After qualifying No. 2, Essick moved past Paul Gargus in the opening round. In the semifinals, he used a sizable holeshot advantage and a 4.109 at 184.60 to hold off Brian McGee’s 4.098 at 182.26 in his nitrous-assisted ’90 Mustang.
Hamby defeated Charlie Cooper in the first round and had a single in the semifinals.
THE SPORTSMAN WORLD - Elite Top Sportsman low qualifier John Benoit carried over his quick performance from Friday qualifying into consistent performance Saturday. In a battle of Buck-powered Camaros, Benoit ran a 3.888 on a 3.85 dial-in in his ’17 model next to Dewayne Silance’s 4.148 on a 4.05 dial in his ’68 model to deny Silance his second consecutive event win.
A wire-to-wire battle in Top Sportsman 48 ended with Stacy Hall winning with his 4.364 on a 4.34 dial-in to defeat John Prime’s 4.088 on a 4.06 dial-in.
Even Elite Top Dragster defending world champion Kellan Farmer couldn’t stop Steve Furr on his undefeated run, which extended to three consecutive event victories after Farmer went red to Furr in the final round. Furr in his centrifugally supercharged American dragster broke out with a 3.912 on a 3.92, but Farmer’s red light negated his 3.994 on a 3.99 dial in his nitrous-assisted Racetech dragster.
Rikki Molnar and Jack Trussell squared off in their pair of 632ci-powered dragsters to race for the Top Dragster 48 event title. Molnar had the starting-line advantage and recorded a 4.486 on 4.46 dial to Trussell’s 4.492 on a 4.48 dial.
ON TAP - The next race on the adjusted 2020 PDRA tour is the Northern Nationals, Aug. 20-22 at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa.
FRIDAY NOTEBOOK - HOME IS RIGHT FOR PRO NITROUS LEADER, STRICKLAND HAS THE BOOST
HOME IS WHERE THE HORSPOWER IS - Two-time Pro Nitrous world champion Tommy Franklin always enjoys performing well at Virginia Motorsports Park, as it’s not only the Fredericksburg, Virginia, native’s home track, but he also owns and operates the track with his wife, Judy. It was important to him to lay down a number like his 3.703 at 202.94 in his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro, especially after winning the first two races of the season.
“I just think it makes it special that we don't get our teeth kicked in when we're here,” Franklin joked. “You come here and you want to do good in front of your home crowd. We never get time to test down here, so it's not like there's an advantage. But it is nice to do well in front of our friends and family that come down here to see us.”
Narrowly missing the No. 1 spot was Chris Rini, who posted a 3.707 at 201.34 in his Buck-powered ATI Performance ’69 Camaro. With a 3.716 at 203.55, defending world champion Jim Halsey rounds out the quick 3 in his Fulton-powered ’68 Camaro.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED - Points leader John Strickland wasn’t necessarily shooting for the No. 1 spot when he rolled to the starting line for the third and final qualifying session. It was simply a byproduct of his goal to change qualifying positions to get off the same side of the eliminations ladder as his teammate, defending Pro Boost world champion Kevin Rivenbark. Strickland’s 3.686 at 200.29 in his ProCharger-boosted GALOT Motorsports ’69 Camaro moved him just past Rivenbark, who ended up No. 2.
“The [Proline] guys have worked hard at making the car go fast. It just feels good,” Strickland said. “I was kind of surprised because we were lagging back. This last [qualifying session], I said I either have to fall way back or move way ahead because me and Kevin were on the same side of the ladder. We had to get off the same side even if I end up being last. Steve [Petty, tuner] says, ‘You’re moving up.’ It didn't feel like a .68, but it was still a good, straight smooth pass.”
Rivenbark in his identically prepared GALOT Motorsports ’69 Camaro used a 3.696 at 201.64 to qualify second. Fellow Proline/ProCharger driver Johnny Camp followed behind in third with his 3.706 at 200.71.
THE SPORTSMAN REPORT - By just one thousandth of a second, consistent Top Sportsman frontrunner John Benoit grabbed the provisional No. 1 spot in Elite Top Sportsman with his 3.804 at 199.88 in his Buck-powered, nitrous-assisted ’17 Camaro. Buddy Perkinson’s 3.805 at 196.90 put him No. 2 in his Musi-powered ’69 Camaro, followed by Henry Underwood with a 3.912 at 186.64.
A similarly close battle for No. 1 took place in Top Sportsman 32, where Don Klooster and Donny Urban both posted 4.044 E.T.s in their nitrous-assisted entries. It was Klooster’s faster 175.96 speed that put him in the top spot going into Saturday’s final session.
Ohio’s Bryan Keller steered his supercharged KB Trailer Sales dragster to a 3.783 at 198.52 to qualify No. 1 in Elite Top Dragster. He’s followed by the centrifugal supercharger-boosted dragsters of Michael White with his 3.825 at 190.78 and Chase Beverly with a 3.863 at 186.38.
Josh Duggins leads Top Dragster 32 with his 4.163 at 167.22 in his PAR-powered Maddox dragster.
The PDRA Proline Racing Mid-Atlantic Showdown presented by Frederick Line-X continues Saturday with sportsman final qualifying and eliminations in all classes.