PRO BOOST CHAMPION HARRIS WINS PDRA FINALE, COX GOES OUT AS CHAMPION
Now that’s an exclamation mark on the season!
Second-generation drag racer Jason Harris made sure he didn’t become complacent in his Pro Boost championship season as he ended his third PDRA series title on a victorious note at the Brian Olson Memorial World Finals hosted by Virginia Motorsports Park outside of Richmond, Va.
Joining Harris atop the PDRA food chain were Jay Cox (Pro Nitrous) and John Montecalvo (Pro Stock).
Harris, who has two Pro Nitrous crowns in addition to his newest, came into the race with his first Pro Boost series championship already clinched. The 2023 season was a banner year, with Harris winning three times in six final rounds.
The final round victory over Randy Weatherford was decided by just .0002 seconds. Though Weatherford was first off the line, Harris drove around him and recorded a 3.581, 208.36 to Weatherford’s 3.60, 209.46. The season-finale has always been a tradition in Harris’ championship resume as he won the World Finals in 2014 and 2018 when he won his two Pro Nitrous championships.
“Randy and I have been racing for years, and I grew up watching him run Quick 8,” said Harris, who credited Jack Gaddy, Hoosier Racing Tires, M&M Transmission, Michael Bunton, and everyone else who supported his championship campaign. “It didn’t look that tight down there, but evidently, it was. He did his job on the starting line, and thank goodness my car pulled me through. It wasn’t like I was late, but I still wasn’t as good as he was. The car’s been flawless since we brought it out. This car is just a freak of nature right now. We brought it out at the World Series of Pro Mod, and it seems to find round wins whether I’m good or it’s good, either one. When you get a great combination and a great crew, you can’t ask for anything better than that.”
From the No. 4 qualifying spot, Harris made his way to the winner’s circle by beating Isaias Rojas, Dustin Nesloney, and “Nova Joe” Albrecht, before the victory over Weatherford.
Cox had a familiar opponent in the final round as he and newly minted Pro Nitrous champion Tommy Franklin met for the third consecutive final round. This time, Cox, who is competing in his final season, got on the scoreboard by winning the race with a 3.643, 206.54 in his Musi-powered Butner Construction “Pumpkin” ’69 Camaro, while Franklin went towards the right-side wall and lifted to a 3.785, 163.04.
“It’s like old times,” Cox said. “It was always me and him or Stevie [Jackson] in the finals. It felt like every weekend. It’s good, man. If I never sit in another car, Tommy is who I want to race my final round with. I’ve got the utmost respect for him as a driver, as a family man, and as a businessperson. If I never sit in one of these things ever again, I want to go out racing him.”
Sunday’s win marked the eleventh of Cox’s career and first since 2021.
Cox qualified third and was the second-quickest driver of each round before the final, beginning with his 3.66 at 206.01 to beat Chris Rini’s 3.724. He ran a 3.641 at 206.35 to defeat Travis Harvey and his 6.218 in the second round, then laid down a 3.636 at 206.76 to knock out Billy “The Kid” Albert and his 3.677 in the semis.
Franklin, the No. 1 qualifier for the second consecutive race, clinched the 2023 world championship when four-time and reigning world champ Jim Halsey lost in the first round.
Montecalvo, the longest-tenured Mountain Motor Pro Stock racer in the division, bookended a season that began with a huge win in the inaugural Mountain Motor Pro Stock Invitational at the Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Modified.
In a New York’s Long Island battle, Montecalvo scored the hometown victory by stopping a red-lighting Johnny Pluchino in the final round. Montecalvo cruised to his second-quickest pass of race day, a 4.055 at 178.40, for the win.
“This World Finals here is a tough race,” said Montecalvo, who thanked wife Lois Anne, crew members Doug, William, and Justin, and crew chief Brian “Lump” Self. “Look at the competitors I had today. It was a tough day. I’m elated. It’s been a struggle all day long. We got stuck in the left lane. We didn’t have lane choice. The left lane wasn’t the preferred lane, especially for me. I can’t see [the tree] in the left lane. I can see maybe a quarter of the top bulb – that’s about it. I’m trying to lean over and look at the bulb and drive the car at the same time. But hey, we got to run my friends, the Pluchinos, in the final. We’re all good buddies, and we live 30 minutes apart from one another. We hang out with one another. Nothing better than to run Johnny in the final.”
Montecalvo qualified sixth out of 20 cars and took out Tony Gillig, Elijah Morton, and John DeFlorian to reach the final round.
Series specialty winners also included Daryl Stewart (Pro 632), Paul Gast (Pro Nitrous Motorcycle), Scott Kincaid (Pro Street) and Derek Mota (Super Street).
The sportsman winners were Tim Molnar (Elite Top Sportsman), Steve Furr (Elite Top Dragster), Mark Payne (Top Sportsman 48), and Ken Batchelor (Top Dragster 48). Local racers Lee Dixon and Bootie Harris squared off in the final round of Edelbrock Bracket Bash presented by COMP Cams, with Dixon’s 4.378 on a 4.36 dial-in beating Harris and his 4.903 on a 4.90 dial-in.
In the Jr. Dragster categories, Brooks McMath (Pro Jr. Dragster) and Carter Jackson (Top Jr. Dragster), scored victories to close out the season.
Along with Harris, the 2023 PDRA world champions are Tommy Franklin in Pro Nitrous, Alan Drinkwater in Extreme Pro Stock, Jeff Melnick in Pro 632, Chris Garner-Jones in Pro Nitrous Motorcycle, Bill Riddle in Pro Street, Blake Denton in Super Street, Donny Urban in Elite Top Sportsman, Steve Furr in Elite Top Dragster, Chad Traylor in Top Sportsman, TG Paschal in Top Dragster, Brayden Davis in Pro Jr. Dragster, and Wyatt Stanley in Top Jr. Dragster.