2022 PDRA NORTH VS. SOUTH SHOOTOUT - BUDDS CREEK EVENT PAGE
FINAL NOTEBOOK - AT THE HALFWAY POINT, BUDDS CREEK COMES TO A THRILLING CONCLUSION
HALSEY BACK ON TOP - Going into the Pro Nitrous final round, it was clear the North vs. South Shootout event trophy would stay in Maryland. With defending world champion Jim Halsey representing Havre de Grace and Fredy Scriba representing Millersville, the two drivers threw down one of the closest races of the day. Halsey was out of the gate first and stayed out in front through the eighth-mile finish line with his 3.691 at 205.88 in his Fulton-powered “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro beating Scriba and his 3.697 at 201.85.
“It's home. We’re close to home, and a lot of our fans and friends are here,” said Halsey, who thanked his team, including tuner Brandon Switzer, wife Cathy, Eric Davis, Michael McMillan, and Melissa Switzer. “It means a lot, especially to go back-to-back, last year and this year. We struggled a little bit [Friday], so winning today makes it even sweeter. My driving wasn't the greatest today, so I knew had to do my job in the final. It was close, but I was .030 to his .075. I was glad I could do that when I needed to do it.”
The three-time and defending world champion qualified No. 6 and ran a 3.778 at 205.10 to beat two-time Pro 632 world champion Wes Distefano and his 4.807 in the first round. Halsey then locked in the 3.60s for the rest of the day, recording a 3.698 at 207.15 over Dane Wood and a 3.687 over Chris Rini, who went red on a 3.689 pass.
In his second PDRA appearance of the season, Scriba qualified No. 4 in his Musi-powered “Sorcerer” ’69 Camaro before working his way through eliminations with progressively quicker runs. He ran a 3.80 to beat Derrick Ford, a 3.729 to defeat Billy Albert, and a 3.705 over a red-lighting Buddy Perkinson and his 3.69 in the semifinals.
STEDING STEADIES FOR PRO BOOST WIN - Pro Boost driver Kurt Steding has watched as his tuner and teammate, Todd “King Tut” Tutterow, has put together a solid points lead with wins at the first two races of the season. This weekend, it was Steding’s turn to taste victory, as he defeated Robert Gallegos in the final round. Gallegos left too soon with a .171 red light and slowed to a 3.97 at 140.30, while Steding was just .002 red and fired off a 3.612 at 208.75 to take the win in his screw-blown P2 Contracting ’20 Camaro.
“This win means a lot,” said Steding, who qualified No. 1 for the first time. “I struggled with the knee issue last year. I'd feel uncomfortable driving the car, and it's hard to give Todd feedback if you're not driving the car right. This whole team is just in sync. My side of the crew was just in sync and Todd just got it done. I had a smooth ride every single time. We’ve struggled with the car, we got it together now, and I'm super proud of everybody on this team. It just takes a good team to put it together. Thanks to the whole crew, my wife [Wendi], and my son [Ethan] for pulling me into the beams.”
Steding was on a mission all day, pairing solid reaction times with quick performances. He ran a 3.718 at 207.21 over Robert Cox in the opening round, then posted a 3.649 at 208.62 on a bye run in the second round. He left on Melanie Salemi in the race of the day in the semis, where he won with a 3.618 at 208.94 over Salemi’s 3.619 at 204.35.
Other than leaving early in the final round, the No. 2-qualified Gallegos had one of the best driving days of his young Pro Boost career. He was first off the starting line in all three prior rounds in his ProCharger-boosted BASF/Crash Champions ’22 Mustang, using a 3.75 to beat Derek Ward, a 3.648 to beat Preston Tanner’s 3.683, and a 3.634 to knock out Randy Weatherford and his 3.64 in the semis.
PLUCHINO DELIVERS - Second-generation Extreme Pro Stock hitter Johnny Pluchino is pushing hard for his second world championship in the class, and he came one step closer to achieving that goal with his second win of the season. Driving his father John’s Kaase-powered $hameless Racing ’13 Mustang, Pluchino posted a 4.071 at 178.07 in the final round to win over Tony Gillig, who slowed to a 5.309 at 93.47.
“This was such a team win,” said Pluchino, who took over the points lead. “We went up and down the racetrack every run this weekend. It was a total blast this weekend. We worked on things and we got through it. It was just a total team win. My dad, my guys, Rich, Brud, and every sponsor and every part that's on this car, I can't thank everybody enough. We got old Mo' on our side now. I feel really good. I feel really good in the car. We're real confident in the car. We're having fun right now, and that's what it's about.”
Pluchino qualified sixth and started eliminations with a 4.156 at 177.04 victory over fellow past world champion Steven Boone and his 4.216. A 4.089 at 177.44 followed in the second round to knock out No. 1 qualifier Elijah Morton and his 4.11. Pluchino then recorded a consistent 4.086 at 178.00 on a semifinal single, earning lane choice for the final.
Before appearing in his second consecutive final round, Gillig qualified No. 2 in his Kaase-powered Dayco/Gillig-Wagner Motorsports ’10 GXP. He had to pedal his way to victory in the first and third rounds over Kurt Neighbor and Chris Powers, respectively, but his 4.08 at 177.32 over Justin Kirk’s 4.111 in the second round was the second-quickest pass of the day.
NEW WINNER - A new Pro 632 event champion was crowned for the third time in four races, as past PDRA Top Jr. Dragster world champion Lexi Tanner earned the win in her family’s Oakley-powered “Thunder” ’15 Camaro. She faced longtime friend and points leader Amber Franklin in the final round, running a 4.213 at 167.24 to deny Franklin her third consecutive event win. Franklin recorded a 4.282 at 146.04 in the runner-up effort.
“From starting out in the Jr. Dragster classes to moving up to Bracket Bash and Top Dragster to running 632 naturally aspirated and slowly adding the nitrous, it’s just been a long time coming and I'm so excited that it's finally here,” said Tanner, who thanked parents Andy and Missy, brother Preston, Oakley Motorsports, and M&M Transmissions. “I was so excited when we both won in the semifinals. I love racing [Franklin] because it's a win-win. I'm so proud of her this season and everything that she's done. I'm so thankful for our friendship.”
Tanner recorded career-best numbers in qualifying to enter eliminations from the No. 4 spot, then went to work consistently running in the low 4.20s to win rounds. She used a 4.237 at 168.98 to beat Stu Beaden’s 4.644, a 4.221 at 168.68 to edge out Mike Murphy’s 4.236, and a 4.23 at 166.91 to knock out Jason Ventura and his 4.304 in the semifinals.
Franklin, who defeated Tanner in the final round at the Doorslammer Derby to earn her first win, qualified No. 2 in her Musi-powered “OG Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro. The second-generation PDRA star improved in every round, stepping up from a 4.222 to a 4.179 in the first two rounds, then a 4.172 at 169.98 to beat Alan Drinkwater’s 4.222.
TOUGH ON TWO WHEES - The Pro Nitrous Motorcycle final round featured a side-by-side, 3.99-second battle between two of the toughest competitors in the PDRA’s lone two-wheeled class, multi-time world champion Travis Davis and veteran rider Paul Gast. Davis grabbed a starting line advantage on his Timblin-built Davis Transport ’19 Hayabusa and held that lead to win on a holeshot with his 3.996 at 175.39 beating Gast’s 3.994 at 172.78.
“When you race that red machine, you better bring your A game,” said Davis, who thanked wife Brandy, son Brayden, Dan Wagner with DTM, and Steve Nichols with Maxx ECU. “You better have everything loaded in there and be ready because [Gast] is a tough racer. He's been doing it a long time. The weekend was pretty good. We tested a new combination, a new motor that we built, on Thursday. It showed a little promise, but we took it out and put old reliable back in. Qualified with the 3.99 and felt like I could pick it up through the weekend, but then the heat got on us. I did what I had to do to win. Our close friend, Walt Timblin [of Timblin Chassis], is going through some health issues right now, and this race here is for him.”
Davis, who qualified No. 2, won the first round over Tyron Lemons with a 4.07 at 175.23. The Georgia rider ran a 4.04 at 174.89 in his second-round win over a red-lighting Mohammed Alawad.
Gast qualified No. 1 aboard his Fast By Gast ’16 Suzuki and continued to have the quickest bike through eliminations with a 4.005 at 177.32 in the first round over Gerald Smith and a 3.982 at 172.47 over Meshal Al-Saber and his 4.054 in the semis.
KASPER THE PRO STREET - For the second consecutive race, young gun Ty Kasper raced to the Pro Street final round in his turbocharged Victus Sports ’05 Mustang. This time, though, Kasper was victorious for the first time, knocking out defending world champion and home-track hero Tim Essick on a holeshot. Kasper made his best run of the weekend, a 4.067 at 192.22, to hold off Essick’s 4.053 at 185.38.
“This means the whole world,” said Kasper, who thanked sponsors Victus Baseball Bats, Vibrant Performance, ATI Transmissions, FuelTech, and J&E Automotive. “Thursday night, we had all the rods out of it. Last night, we had the transmission out of it. We're still struggling, but we get to it and we'll get it fixed. All the hard work has finally paid off. I can tell you there's no better feeling in this world. I can't thank my dad, my brother, and my girlfriend enough. They help me out all night, all day. I just can't believe it. Such a great feeling. I'm ready for the next one already.”
Kasper was scheduled to face No. 1 qualifier Nick Agostino in the first round, but Agostino hurt his engine in qualifying and couldn’t make the call. Kasper posted a 4.291 at 197.48 on the bye run, then used a 4.182 at 192.63 to beat Steve Crisafulli’s 4.285.
Essick qualified No. 2 in his home-built “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang before running a 4.147 at 185.38 to knock out defending event winner Jesse Lambert in the opening round. He improved to a 4.062 at 186.67 in his semifinal win over Norwalk winner Bill Riddle and his 4.195.
WHO WON THE FIRST ONE? - The new Super Street class was created as a place for racers from multiple different small-tire drag radial classes to race on 28x10.5-inch slicks, and the final round showcased that diversity. Ultra Street record holder Wes Ervin lined up against former grudge racer turned X275 class racer Aria Connolly, with Ervin taking the win with his 4.907 at 150.15 in his nitrous-assisted ’88 Chevy S-10. Connolly slowed to a 10.781 at 47.04 in her nitrous-fed ’89 Mustang.
“It's wild. It's a different feeling,” Ervin said. “It’s not as easy as everybody said it was going to be. Radials are too easy. They spoil you. You've gotta have your stuff together to do this.”
“As of Monday, we didn't know if we were even going to make the race,” added crew chief Brandon Layfield, who thanked Dave Hanlon, Santhuff, RC Comp, Guy Mancini, and BES Racing Engines. “We didn't even have a motor in it. Went out to Delmar, tested on Tuesday, moved 50 feet. We felt really defeated. We came here on a limb and it paid off.”
Ervin qualified No. 1 and started race day with a 5.244 at 146.32 on a single. He then stepped up to a 4.908 at 151.32 to beat Dan Whetstine’s 6.199 in the semis.
Connolly, who qualified No. 2, reached the final after a 4.952 at 146.00 first-round win over Dennis Moore and a 4.987 at 145.89 semifinal win over Kaitlin Quartuccio and her 5.192.
THE SPORTSMAN WINNERS - A .002 reaction time in the Elite Top Sportsman final round wasn’t enough for No. 1 qualifier Buddy Perkinson to get the win over Henry Underwood, as Underwood laid down a 3.902 on a 3.89 dial-in in his ProCharged ’63 Corvette to beat Perkinson’s 3.857 on a 3.82 dial-in in his nitrous-fed LAT Racing Oils ’69 Camaro.
The Top Sportsman 32 final round was over on the starting line when Dickie Smith went .013 red in Mike Corbin’s ’07 Stratus, but North Chesterfield, Virginia’s Robbie Crenshaw was ready with a .010 light and a 4.347 on a 4.34 dial-in in his Albert-powered ’89 Cutlass to grab the win.
Past Elite Top Dragster world champion Steve Furr returned to the winner’s circle for the second time this season on the strength of a superior reaction time in the final round. He left first against Rikki Molnar, then ran a 3.953 on a 3.89 dial-in in his ProCharged ’13 American dragster to defeat Molnar and her 4.227 on a 4.22 dial-in.
Nearby Waldorf, Maryland’s own Dickie Smith missed out on the Top Sportsman 32 win, but he made up for it with the win in Top Dragster 32. He was .003 off the starting line in his ’18 Racetech dragster and posted a 4.387 on a 4.37 dial-in to get the final round win over Mt. Airy, Maryland’s Frank Falter IV, who ran a 4.125 on a 4.09 dial-in in his supercharged “Candyman” ’22 Miller dragster.
The next race on the 2022 PDRA world championship tour is the Drag 965 Summer Shootout presented by Classic Graphix, July 14-16 at Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie, Virginia.
FRIDAY NOTEBOOK - THE BATTLE IS ON IN QUALIFYING AT BUDDS CREEK
SUPER SUBSTITUTE - Two-time Pro Nitrous world champion Tommy Franklin broke both his hands in an off-track accident a couple weeks before the North vs. South Shootout, forcing him out of the seat of his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro. He called on 2020 Elite Top Sportsman world champion Buddy Perkinson to drive the car at Maryland, and with a 3.693 at 204.32, Perkinson ended up grabbing his first low qualifier award in the class. It’s the third consecutive low qualifier award for the car.
“That's a dream come true,” Perkinson said. “It wouldn't be possible without Judy and Tommy and the whole Franklin Motorsports team. There's a lot of people over here. They have four race cars, and it’s a lot going on. To be able to step into an established, winning, championship program, that's something that people dream of, and frankly, you never really get that opportunity. I'm just trying to do the best I can for them, and hopefully play the spoiler and keep some people from getting some points.”
Chris Rini, who’s making his return to Pro Nitrous competition this season, qualified second with a 3.696 at 203.74 in his Buck-powered ATI Performance ’69 Camaro. Perennial contender Jay Cox grabbed the third spot in his Musi-powered Butner Construction “Pumpkin” ’69 Camaro with a 3.699 at 205.29.
PLEASANT SURPRISE - P2 Racing driver Kurt Steding fired off a 3.636 at 208.17 during the second Pro Boost qualifying session to put his Todd Tutterow-tuned, screw-blown P2 Contracting ’20 Camaro in the No. 1 spot going into the final session. Despite a slew of other drivers running well into the 3.60s, Steding was able to hold on to his low qualifier title on the strength of his speed.
“I wasn't even expecting it,” Steding said of his run. “It popped up and felt good going to No. 1. That's my first No. 1 qualifier in the PDRA. I've been on the top a lot and been knocked right back down, so this feels really good. Todd did a great job tuning. The crew did a great job. I have to thank everybody involved – my wife [Wendi] and Todd and Todd's wife [Denise] and the whole crew.”
Robert Gallegos tried to swipe away the top spot, but just missed with his 3.636 at 206.10 in his ProCharger-boosted BASF ’22 Mustang. Todd “King Tut” Tutterow in his screw-blown P2 Contracting/FTI Performance ’20 Camaro qualified third with a 3.638 at 208.33.
MORTON SETS THE PACE - Mountain Motor Pro Stock veteran Elijah Morton set low E.T. of all three qualifying sessions, breaking JR Carr’s season-long No. 1 qualifying streak in Extreme Pro Stock. Morton stepped up each time his Allen-powered Morton Brothers Motorsports ’19 Mustang went down the track, ending up with a 4.066 at 177.39 in the third session.
“I’m so proud of my guys,” Morton said. “We have Allen Competition Engines, Larry Jeffers Race Cars, and AED Carburetors on board. [AED] is here helping me tune. We had a little work done with Modern Racing to get my staging helped up a little bit, so I’m proud of that as well. My car has been flawless all weekend. It's run the fastest every round. Of course, it's not over until the last round. We were able to hold on to it. The Allen Competition Engines pulled it out when it needed to. We stepped up every round. So glad for our team here.”
Tony Gillig in his Kaase-powered Dayco/Gillig-Wagner Motorsports ’10 GXP qualified No. 2 with a 4.077 at 176.70. Carr, who has the points lead after winning the last race in Norwalk, is third with a 4.08 at 178.00 in his Frank Gugliotta-tuned Maxima/CP-Carrillo ’20 Camaro.
LANNIGAN LEADS QUICK PRO632 - Four different drivers dipped into the 4.10s in Pro 632, but Walter Lannigan Jr. was the quickest of those four with his 4.16 at 171.21. Lannigan, driving for the championship-defending $hameless Racing team, has now qualified No. 1 at three of four races in the Musi-powered $hameless Racing/Race Star Wheels ’68 Camaro.
“All I can tell you is I have a bad A-team – Troy Russell, Bill, Alan, Sergio, all the guys,” Lannigan said. “Everybody is just as important as the next guy. It couldn't be done without them. It's always a group effort.
“You just have to be on your driving game,” Lannigan continued, speaking of the competition in Pro 632. “Amber [Franklin] gave me a good lesson today. I was kind of not on my game, but tomorrow is a different story. It's a driver's race right now. It's not so much horsepower, you just have to be on your game as a driver.”
Franklin, a two-time winner this season, just missed out on her second consecutive No. 1 qualifier award, posting a 4.167 at 170.79 in her Musi-powered “OG Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro to end up No. 2. Rookie Alan Drinkwater, who won the season opener, qualified third with a 4.193 at 169.17 in Kenny Floyd’s Kaase-powered ’04 Escort.
STILL FAST BY GAST - Motorcycle drag racing veteran Paul Gast missed the first Pro Nitrous Motorcycle race of the season, but he’s making up for it with big performances on his Fast By Gast ’16 Hayabusa. After qualifying No. 1 and winning the last race, the 73-year-old rider qualified No. 1 again with his 3.972 at 172.94.
“The conditions here in Maryland are a little tough, but still capable of running good times,” Gast said. “I ran about the same as I did in Norwalk under different conditions. We were smart enough to not touch the bike. We just maybe put some rings in it and checked it all out. But for the most part the bike's doing really good. I did just have a teeny, little malfunction there with the clutch, but was able to get through it. I was hoping to run a little better there. It still runs really good. Even when it's hot out or really wet out, these nitrous vehicles tend to really still run good. I don't blame conditions for much because we have controls for a lot of things that we can step the thing up at any point. I'm proud of the bike.”
Multi-time world champion Travis Davis was the only other rider to dip in the 3-second range with his 3.998 at 175.80 to qualify second. Ashley Owens was close, though, recording a 4.000 at 175.23 on his McKinney Motorsports ’14 Suzuki to take the third spot. Defending world champion Chris Garner-Jones qualified No. 9, just missing the eight-bike field.
AGOSTINO HEADS INTO SATURDAY NO. 1 - In the third of six races for the Pro Street class, Ontario, Canada’s Nick Agostino grabbed his second No. 1 qualifier award in his turbocharged, small-block-powered “Cannoli Express” ’69 Camaro. Agostino fired off a 4.02 at 206.48 in the second session to lead the nine-car qualifying order.
“We’re pretty happy with that,” Agostino said. “I wasn't thinking there was going to be too many 3-second runs out there today with the conditions and the heat and the air. I think the last run was closer to 100 [water] grains. Turbo alcohol cars don't like 100 grains. We're happy with No. 1 again. I'm not sure what's going to happen [in eliminations]. We're just looking at things over here. We might've grabbed a bearing, so we're just looking through stuff to make sure we're OK. That's why we sat out the last run so we can have a look at it, and hopefully we have a chance to get everything ready for tomorrow.”
Defending world champion and local racer Tim Essick was the second-quickest with a 4.064 at 186.69 in his ProCharger-boosted “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang. Bill Riddle, who picked up his first-ever win at the last race, qualified third in his supercharged ’89 Camaro with a 4.083 at 187.63.
PERKINSON HEADLINES SPORTSMAN - Past Elite Top Sportsman world champion Buddy Perkinson made the best run of the day by a bunch, driving his Musi-powered LAT Racing Oil ’69 Camaro to a 3.734 at 201.94. Donny “Hollywood” Urban had the next best performance, a 3.83 at 194.83, in his nitrous-fed ’69 Camaro. Chris “Nitrous” Nyerges followed in right behind Urban with a 3.836 at 196.67 in the Buck-powered Schween Motorsports ’20 Corvette to sit third.
Top Sportsman points leader Joe Roubicek is just outside the 16-car Elite field, though his 4.214 at 166.33 in his Sonny’s-powered ’68 Camaro puts him in the top spot in Top Sportsman 32.
A pair of Buffalo-area racers went to the top two spots in Elite Top Dragster, as Victor Puglia piloted his Puglia-built supercharged dragster to a 3.756 at 194.44 to lead the field. Defending world champion Pete Maduri is second with a 3.777 at 192.69 in his ProCharger-boosted Dynabrade ’17 Chrome-Worx dragster. Michael White posted a 3.82 at 189.28 in his supercharged ’15 Maddox entry to round out the top three.
Patrick McMath is the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Top Dragster 32 with his 4.276 at 163.49 edging out Dickie Smith’s identical E.T. by speed.
ON TAP - The PDRA North vs. South Shootout presented by Line-X and Iron Man Quick Connect Push Bar will continue Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. with final qualifying for the sportsman and Jr. Dragster classes. Pro eliminations will kick off at 3:30 p.m.