2023 PDRA NORTHERN NATIONALS - EVENT PAGE
FINAL NOTEBOOK - FRANKLIN, HARRIS, PLUCHINO SCORE BIG WINS ON SATURDAY NIGHT
WINNING A STACKED HOUSE - Tommy Franklin secured his second victory of the season in spectacular fashion, driving his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro to triumph. After emerging victorious in the Summit Racing ProStars final, Franklin faced off against a formidable lineup of opponents, leading him to a final showdown against points leader Jim Halsey. Demonstrating his skill, Franklin secured a .020-second holeshot advantage and sped past the finish line with a blistering time of 3.639 seconds at 204.64 MPH, outperforming Halsey’s quicker time of 3.635 seconds at 207.38 MPH.
Sharing his appreciation for his team’s exceptional performance, Franklin pointed out, “My team flat-out rocks. There’s no doubt. I said it up there on the FloRacing interview – thanks to Jerry Bickel Race Cars, Pat Musi, Mark Menscer, and my crew. Ty-Drive let me let go on time, so I was happy with all of it. We go out here, man, and just fight for it. Ed Burnley, Rickie Smith, Marcus Butner, Jim Halsey – to go through that ladder, it’s just a stacked field, so it always feels good when you win. I say it all the time: the best racers, they live right here.”
Franklin’s victory narrowed the gap between him and points leader Jim Halsey, who has secured two wins in his Fulton-powered “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro.
Franklin commented on his performance, “I think that puts us probably three rounds behind them. We made up a little bit of ground [at Norwalk] and lost it back at the next race. Luckily, today we were able to get through and get to them in the final and gain one round. There’s three races left, three rounds to get, so we’ve got to do our part. It takes a good team to go out there and put the laps down that they do. When you can beat them, you feel just better about it. I give them much respect for what they do – Halsey and [tuner] Brandon Switzer and [crew chief] Eric Davis and all of them over there. They’re just a really good team, and that just makes it even better to know my team can go out there and pull off the win.”
Franklin’s impressive race day kickstarted with a rematch against Ed “Iron Man” Burnley in the Summit Racing ProStars final, where Franklin maintained his winning streak with a time of 3.706 seconds at 203.71 MPH, surpassing Burnley’s 3.765-second performance. Franklin continued his dominance by clocking an extraordinary time of 3.665 seconds at 204.17 MPH in the subsequent round, eliminating “Tricky” Rickie Smith, who clocked in at a slower 4.239 seconds. Franklin secured his place in the final round with a consistent 3.666 seconds at 202.98 MPH as Marcus Butner committed a .002 red light on a 4.016-second pass.
Halsey’s journey began with a victory over fellow Switzer-tuned driver Chris Rini, with a time of 3.674 seconds at 205.76 MPH compared to Rini’s 3.719-second run at 203.71 MPH. In the second round, Halsey enjoyed a bye run, which he utilized to deliver an exceptional performance of 3.649 seconds at 206.14 MPH. The Maryland driver continued his impressive streak in the semifinals, leaving the starting line first and clocking a time of 3.64 seconds at 206.42 MPH, surpassing Jim Widener’s weekend-best of 3.663 seconds at 203.80 MPH.
IT'S PARTY TIME! - Jason Harris, a two-time Pro Nitrous world champion, has been finding success in his return to the Pro Boost class this season. In his second race in the class, Harris secured his first win before triumphing over Kurt Steding in the final round at Martin. Harris displayed exceptional skill, achieving a perfect .000 reaction time in his ProCharged "Party Time" '69 Camaro. He then recorded the fastest pass of the weekend, clocking in at 3.605 seconds at 206.42 mph. Steding had a strong start but had to settle for a 3.789 at 158.17 mph in his screw-blown P2 Contracting '20 Camaro.
Harris humbly acknowledged the challenges of striving for flawlessness.
“Being perfect is a good job of messing up," Harris said. "I had been good earlier today and I kind of went bad. I knew Kurt was going to be there, so I just needed to do the best I could. I knew that Brandon Stroud was gonna give me a good tuneup and Pro Line gave me the power. You can’t ask for anything better than that. I’ve just got to thank everybody for staying behind me. Hoosier Race Tires kept me stuck. Pro Line took me to the finals. It was just up to me to screw up. I did a pretty good job of not doing that, but it was on a fine line. I can’t thank everybody enough. It was an awesome crowd here in Michigan. It looks like I’m gonna have to stay up north because that’s the place I can win.”
Harris also took a moment to pay tribute to his longtime friend and Southeast racing legend Harold Denton, who is currently recuperating from surgery.
Denton, who drove Jim Ruth's "Party Time" Pro Stocker in the 1980s, encouraged Harris to adopt the name and embrace its legacy. Harris expressed his admiration for Denton and Ruth.
“He stands behind me and gave me the option to take this name and take it on. In the ’80s, that was what I looked up to was him, and I just love that Jim Ruth car.”
Harris put on an impressive display throughout the race. In the opening round, he secured a close victory over James Beadling, crossing the finish line with a time of 3.685 seconds at 203.44 mph compared to Beadling's 3.689. Harris continued his strong performance by executing a remarkable .002 reaction time and improving to a 3.633 at 205.67 mph in a win against Melanie Salemi and her 3.758. The semifinals proved to be another gripping race, with Dustin Nesloney taking a slight lead off the line, but Harris ultimately emerged victorious with a time of 3.62 seconds at 205.01 mph, just edging out Nesloney's 3.628 by a margin of .006 seconds.
Starting from the No. 2 position, Steding began his journey with a solid 3.658 at 207.37 mph win over Joel Wensley Sr., who recorded a time of 5.194. In the second round, Steding benefited from his opponent, Scott Wildgust, committing a red-light foul by .002 seconds. Steding advanced with a time of 3.628 seconds at 207.18 mph. In the semifinals, he improved slightly to a 3.622 at 207.66 mph, successfully eliminating Pro Boost newcomer Scott Lang and his 3.632.
IT'S A TEAM SPORT - Extreme Pro Stock teammates Johnny Pluchino and Alan Drinkwater emerged as the top contenders, ultimately meeting in the final round for the first time.
Pluchino, a two-time and reigning world champion, reached the final round for the first time this season, while Drinkwater aimed to secure his second win as a rookie. However, both drivers encountered challenges on the starting line, with a double foul. Drinkwater fouled first, handing Pluchino the win.
Drinkwater, driving the Kaase-powered IronListing.com ’08 Mustang, unfortunately went .023 red which Pluchino was only .004 red but managed to run a 4.08 at 177.30. This win on his birthday marked Pluchino's first victory of the season.
Reflecting on this thrilling showdown, Pluchino acknowledged the exceptional performance of both cars throughout the day.
“Both cars were running great all day long,” said Pluchino, who thanked partners like $hameless Racing, Ram Clutches, Hoosier Racing Tire, Maxima Oils, and Jon Kaase Racing Engines. “Alan is a hell of a driver. We were both out there pushing the tree and we made two pretty good runs. For the two of us to come in here and take all the other cars out, it's pretty special. There's a lot of good competition, so to come out there with your team car and go one and two is a feat. It's a pretty good birthday present. It feels even better because it's been a while. I don't know if I love winning more or hate losing more, but I'll tell you what, right now, winning feels really good. Especially with all these people that are here with me. These are my people and I love them and I hope they're as happy as I am.”
Pluchino's father, John, who previously won the PDRA Martin race in 2016, emphasized the personal involvement of the team's sponsors in their triumph.
“There's two good things about this win – I don't have to buy him nothing for his birthday now, and the names on this car, Feather-Lite Batteries and Kelling Equipment Repair, are here with us,” the elder Pluchino said. “Not only are they our sponsors and help us, but they're here working on the car with us. You don't see too much of that too often. It's really, really nice.”
To reach the final round, Johnny Pluchino showcased exceptional starting line performances in the preceding rounds. He began with a victory over Dwayne Rice, who went red by .008 on a 4.168 pass, with Pluchino clocking a 4.154 at 175.10. In the second round, Pluchino outperformed No. 1 qualifier Elijah Morton with a holeshot advantage, eliminating him with a 4.108 at 176.61 despite Morton's quicker 4.081. In the semifinal, Pluchino's opponent, Tony Gillig, self-destructed with a .006 red light, allowing Pluchino to advance with a 4.10 at 176.82.
Not to be outdone, Alan Drinkwater showcased his competitive prowess by delivering impressive performances in his journey to the final round. In the opening round, Drinkwater posted the second-quickest pass of the session, a 4.097 at 176.40, defeating Kurt Neighbor's 4.288. In the second round, Drinkwater powered through with a 4.084 at 176.47, surpassing Dennis Firkus' 4.134. He continued his success in the semifinals, securing a holeshot victory with a .005 reaction time and a 4.101 at 175.51 against former world champion Chris Powers and his quicker 4.089 pass.
NOTHING TO HOLD HIM BACK - In the pursuit of a PDRA world championship, Jeff Melnick, the Pro 632 points leader, has shown incredible resilience despite battling Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Riding in Alan O’Brien's nitrous-assisted, AMC small-block-powered Greenbrier Excavating & Paving '20 Camaro, Melnick showcased his determination by clinching his third win in five races. His impressive performance included a final round finish where he laid down a remarkable 4.159 at 156.20, leaving Jason Ventura trailing behind with a 4.435 at 166.24.
Reflecting on his recent triumph, Melnick expressed gratitude for the team's unwavering support.
"Well, it’s just been a heck of a week," Melnick said. "The whole rule change stuff that came about was a big step to get over, and then I haven’t been feeling good all week. The chemo has got me drained pretty good. Plus, I’ve got some sort of head cold – and it’s not COVID, I tested. It’s been a struggle with my health. So, lots of stuff to overcome this week. But the team just kept pushing and it motivated me to keep pushing and just get in the car. No matter how bad you feel, you give it 100% effort for like 30 seconds. That’s all you need. Just focus for 30 seconds, get your stuff together, quit coughing in the car, try not puke in your helmet, and get the job done. That’s how it’s been all week."
The weekend turned out to be a remarkable one for Melnick and O'Brien. Melnick secured victory in the ProStars final round on Thursday, subsequently earning the No.1 qualifier position on Friday. O'Brien, on the other hand, claimed the ProStars runner-up spot and the No.1 qualifier award with his unique quad-turbocharged Elite Top Dragster entry. Melnick cherished the occasion even more as he had his family, including his wife and kids, by his side.
Commenting on the collective effort that led to his success, Melnick praised his team.
"It’s great when everyone’s together, and the team effort, I can’t say enough about [engine builder] Barry Allen, [tuner] Patrick Barnhill, Alan O’Brien, Greenbrier Excavating & Paving, and the whole group. They’re just bad to the bone."
In the opening round of the race, Melnick capitalized on his No.1 qualifier status and secured a first-round bye. However, he didn't let this advantage hold him back and still displayed his skills by pulling off an impressive run, clocking in at 4.143 at 170.97, defeating his semifinal opponent Lexi Tanner, who recorded a 4.222.
Meanwhile, Jason Ventura had a standout performance in his Brand X Marine '70 Camaro, having a career-best day. Ventura emerged victorious in the first round with a time of 4.164 at 171.82, surpassing Doug Nicholl's 4.208. He continued his strong showing in the following rounds, producing a time of 4.153 at 171.76, earning him a spot in the finals. However, reigning world champion Amber Franklin's hopes were dashed as a result of a .004 foul.
FIRST TIME - Westland, Michigan’s Chris Cadotto and central Ohio’s Bill Lutz found themselves racing in the Pro Street final for the first time.
Lutz, in particular, had a remarkable journey as his team pulled an all-nighter to make repairs after a major mechanical failure during his No. 1 qualifying attempt on Friday night. On the other side of the bracket, Cadotto showcased a series of impressive 3-second passes in his screw-blown ’97 Dodge Ram nicknamed “The Brick.” Continuing his streak, Cadotto clinched victory with a blazing 3.962-second run at 182.70 mph, setting the low elapsed time (E.T.) record for the event. Lutz, in his screw-blown “Big Boost” ’68 Camaro, finished as the runner-up with a time of 4.723 seconds at 114.18 mph.
“It took us a long time to get everything sorted out on this long-wheelbase vehicle to do what it does,” Cadotto said. “To make an unorthodox platform like this perform the way we do, it takes a lot of hard work, a good team, a lot of dedication, and a lot of money. Of course, my wife helps with everything too. We’ve been running 3s for a couple of years now. With a good air day, I think we can get it into the 3.80s, believe it or not. I think Pro Street next year is going to be starting to look like Pro Mod. We’re all going to be separated by a few hundredths. It’s going to be really exciting.”
Cadotto, having qualified in the third position, began the event with a tremendous victory in the first round against points leader Bill Riddle, who faced ongoing struggles in qualifying rounds. Cadotto’s time of 4.029 seconds at 190.52 mph outperformed Riddle’s 4.658-second run. In the following round, Cadotto further solidified his dominance with a swift 3.964-second pass at 191.25 mph, achieving the low E.T. record for the round, defeating Joel Wensley Jr. and his 4.145-second effort. Although Cadotto’s performance slightly dipped in the semifinals with a time of 4.044 seconds at 185.72 mph, it proved sufficient to overcome reigning world champion Tim Essick, who finished with a time of 4.207 seconds.
Lutz faced his fair share of challenges during the event. On Friday night, a torque converter failure caused his screw-blown engine to over-rev, resulting in a fireball and significant damage. Fortunately, a collaborative effort among numerous teams and friends helped rebuild Lutz’s car in time. Lutz capitalized on a first-round bye, running a cautious 5.094 seconds. Another fortunate turn of events occurred in the second round when Ron Green incurred a red light foul, allowing Lutz to coast through with a time of 5.182 seconds at 97.28 mph. In the semifinals, Lutz’s opponent, Nick Agostino, struggled with mechanical issues and inadvertently rolled through the staging beams before the tree activated. Lutz, however, remained poised and fired off a remarkable 3.977-second performance at 192.72 mph, almost matching his No. 1 qualifying time.
THE SPORTSMAN REPORT - Past world champion Dan Ferguson raced to his second consecutive win in Elite Top Sportsman competition after getting his first win in several years at the last race in Maryland. Driving Dean Young’s nitrous-fed ’68 Camaro, Ferguson left the starting line first and ran a 3.813 on a 3.81 dial-in in the final round to defeat No. 1 qualifier Bryan LaFlam. LaFlam ran a 3.797 on a 3.77 dial-in in his supercharged ’67 Mustang.
The two most recent Top Sportsman world champions, Nick Meloni (2021) and Joe Roubicek (2022), squared off in the Top Sportsman 32 final round. Meloni was first off the line in his Nesbitt-powered TT Motorsports ’69 Camaro and ran a 4.275 on a 4.26 dial-in to win over Roubicek, who broke out with a 4.246 on a 4.25 dial-in in his Sonny’s-powered ’68 Camaro.
Ohio’s Tom Martino was on the verge of a double-up after winning the delayed Summit Racing ProStars final round earlier in the weekend, but Ashley Johnson put a stop to that in the Elite Top Dragster final round. Johnson used a .006 starting line advantage and a 3.842 on a 3.83 dial-in in her supercharged ’13 Spitzer dragster to beat Martino. Wheeling his ProCharged Lucas ’22 Maddox dragster, Martino ran a 3.885 on a 3.87 dial-in.
Kalamazoo, Michigan’s own Treyton Parker knocked out touring PDRA regular Dickie Smith in the Top Dragster 16 final round to score a special home-track win. Parker was quicker off the starting line, winning with a 4.528 on a 4.50 dial-in in his ’20 American dragster to Smith’s 4.40 on a 4.39 dial-in in his ’18 Race Tech dragster.
UP NEXT - The next stop on the PDRA’s 2023 schedule is the Red Line Oil Carolina Nationals, Sept. 14-16, at Darlington Dragway in Hartsville, South Carolina.
FRIDAY NOTEBOOK - FRIDAY'S ACTION DELIVERS PLENTY OF ENTERTAINMENT AT THE NORTHERN NATIONALS
HARD WORK PAYS OFF - Jay Cox’s hard work and dedication paid off as he secured the top spot in Pro Nitrous with his Musi-powered Butner Construction “Pumpkin” ’69 Camaro. Cox impressed spectators with a remarkable final session run of 3.643 at 206.61, securing the coveted No. 1 position. In addition, he emerged as the victor in the Structural Concrete Nitrous Wars engine builder challenge, besting Jim Halsey, who ran a 3.65 at 206.90 and qualified second despite a red-light start.
Cox credited extensive testing and thanked his sponsors, Butner Construction and Smithfield Collision. He recognized Pat Musi’s engines in adverse conditions.
“It’s taken a lot of testing to get to this point,” said Cox. “I’m good in good air and good conditions. These [Musi] motors are badass in the heat. They’re fast. They make a lot of power. I’ve just not been good with them. So, we did a lot of testing in the heat. I’ve just got a good combination for hot weather. Tyler [Crossnoe, series director] and Jimmy [Bradshaw, track prep specialist] have done phenomenal jobs giving us a consistent racetrack, and I would say that’s probably the most important thing because when it’s consistent, I can go up there every round and pick away at it.”
The resolve of Cox and his Smithfield-based team was tested earlier in the weekend when a broken axle threatened to derail their campaign. However, the Butner Construction team, with limited manpower, worked tirelessly throughout the night to restore the “Pumpkin” to its winning form.
“Marcus [Butner] had his guys drive up a whole entire rear end [from North Carolina],” Cox said. “We’re short-handed this weekend. We worked about 13 hours on this thing last night, never went to bed, and put everything up under the back of it brand-new. It speaks volumes to my guys, man. They don’t get enough credit.”
Behind Cox and Halsey, Jim Widener from Indiana showcased his talent by steering his BES-powered ’17 Corvette to a third-place qualifying position, recording a solid 3.673 at 204.82.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS - The Pro Nitrous class was one of several divisions that completed their final rounds during qualifying following the third annual Summit Racing Equipment PDRA ProStars race.
This special event, held during Virginia Motorsports Park’s Night of Fire on July 22, was marred by a significant timing system failure, preventing the timely conclusion of the final rounds. However, two-time world champion Tommy Franklin emerged victorious in the Pro Nitrous category, posting an impressive 3.703 time. Ed “Iron Man” Burnley, who had a red-light start on a 3.794 pass, settled for second place.
In Pro Boost, Travis “The Carolina Kid” demonstrated prowess as he triumphed over young talent Preston Tanner in the ProStars final round. Behind the wheel of his ProCharged GALOT Motorsports ’69 Camaro, Travis claimed victory with a time of 3.646 seconds at 207.09 mph, securing his spot in third place for the final qualifier. Despite Tanner’s valiant effort, a red light by a mere 0.0009 seconds on a 3.712-second pass dashed his hopes.
In the Pro 632 final round, held during Thursday’s testing session with the previous rules set, Melnick faced off against reigning world champion Amber Franklin. Employing his exceptional skills, Melnick emerged victorious with a time of 4.138 seconds, while Franklin recorded a time of 4.196 seconds. This win marked Melnick’s third triumph in points-earning competitions this season, solidifying his position as a promising contender in Pro 632.
Before his Friday night incident, Pro Street racer Bill Lutz had an exceptional day on the track, notching a victory in the ProStars final round against points leader Bill Riddle. Lutz clocked an impressive 4.01, while Riddle had to pedal to a 5.043.
GIVING THEM THE BUSINESS - Preston Tanner found redemption in the Boost Wars engine builder challenge during the final qualifying session. Displaying exceptional skill, Tanner secured a win for Team WYO Motorsports with a remarkable reaction time of 0.002 seconds and a time of 3.662 seconds in his screw-blown Strange Engineering ’15 Corvette. His opponent, Scott Wildgust, representing Team Noonan, secured the runner-up position with a reaction time of 0.007 seconds and a time of 3.67 seconds in his screw-blown Smokie’s Garage ’19 Camaro.
MORE OF THE SAME - Ken Quartuccio, fresh off his victory at the previous race in Maryland, has made his mark again by securing the number one qualifying spot in the Pro Boost class for the first time in his career. Driving his ProCharged ’69 Camaro, Quartuccio delivered an impressive performance with a time of 3.616 seconds at 204.17 mph.
Outpacing the competition, Quartuccio was among the 14 drivers in the 16-car qualified field to break the 3.60-second barrier. Leading the points standings, Quartuccio seeks to extend his lead by clinching back-to-back victories.
Reflecting on his remarkable season, Quartuccio expressed gratitude to his tuner, Jamie Miller.
“We’ve really been fast all year,” said Quartuccio, who credited tuner Jamie Miller for his efforts, especially in improving the car’s 60-foot times. “At GALOT, I red-lit. At Virginia, I lost on a holeshot, both in the semis. So we were good all season; we just needed to get the package together. And honestly, my car always ran good in the heat, and we’re in my time of the year, and that’s where it’s really shining. I’ve got a great group of guys right now, and Mark Micke and Mark Menscer stepped up big time to help me behind the scenes with my program. My guys are killing it, and we’re working our butts off, but it’s showing it now.”
Amidst the fierce competition, Kurt Steding made his presence felt by delivering an impressive performance. Piloting his Todd Tutterow-tuned screw-blown P2 Contracting ’20 Camaro, Steding blazed through the track with a time of 3.623 seconds at 207.76 mph, earning him the second qualifying spot between Quartuccio and Travis Harvey.
FIRST TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME - One of the most consistently quick drivers in Extreme Pro Stock, Elijah Morton, earned his first No. 1 qualifier award of the season and secured the Horsepower Wars engine builder challenge win for Allen Competition Engines. Racing Dillon Voss and his Voss-powered ’06 Cavalier in the Horsepower Wars final round, Morton posted a 4.073 at 177.17 in his Allen-powered Morton Brothers Motorsports ’19 Mustang to get the win and the No. 1 spot.
“We’ve got a fast race car,” Morton said. “If we can keep the driver driving like he’s done today, then I think we’ve got a chance to win the race. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings to double up. It’s been a while. I’ve had, I believe, eight final rounds without a win. Feels good to get this [Horsepower Wars] win, even though it’s not the race win. We’ll keep pounding, and hopefully, it’ll work out for the best. But there’s a lot of great competition here, and it’ll take a good job to get it done.”
Morton battled back and forth with Chris Powers for the No. 1 spot. Powers settled into the No. 2 position with his 4.087 at 175.71 in his Sonny’s Racing Engines ’21 Camaro. Rookie and recent first-time winner Alan Drinkwater qualified third in his Kaase-powered IronListing.com ’08 Mustang with a 4.105 at 176.61.
THE ROOKIE DELIVERS - Jeff Melnick, a rookie in Pro 632, showcased his strong performance as he secured the top spot in qualifications while driving Alan O’Brien’s Greenbrier Excavating & Paving ’20 Camaro. With a remarkable run of 4.148 seconds at 170.65 mph in the final session, Melnick demonstrated his prowess under the new rules package, reminiscent of his previous achievement at the ProStars race two weeks ago, where he was a finalist.
“We did go testing this week working on the combination,” Melnick said. “These guys haven’t stopped working on this thing since the last event, to be completely honest. We figured some things out in testing. We came out yesterday and tested here all day. We were able to run the ProStars final, so we put everything back the way it was, ran that, switched it all back, and made even more changes throughout the day yesterday. These guys are just the best like I’ve said before. [Tuner] Patrick Barnhill and [engine builder] Barry Allen and Alan O’Brien are literally some of the smartest people I’ve ever been around my entire life, and they just can figure stuff out. They’re very good at what they do, and I’m very lucky to be driving this car for them.”
Amber Franklin secured the second spot in the qualifications, achieving her best time of 4.173 seconds at 170.45 mph in her Musi-powered “OG Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro. Meanwhile, Doug Nicholl from Dearborn, Michigan, secured the third qualifying position, driving his Musi-powered ’68 Camaro to finish at 4.183 seconds and 169.75 mph.
REBOUND DEFINED - Ohio-based racer Bill Lutz experienced a thrilling moment during Friday night’s PDRA Pro Street qualifying round. Lutz, a seasoned outlaw racing veteran, secured his first-ever No. 1 qualifier award. However, the achievement was overshadowed by a dramatic incident that culminated in a fiery explosion, adding an exclamation mark to the end of his impressive 3.976-second, 201.61 MPH pass.
Despite extensive damage to his screw-blown “Big Boost” ’68 Camaro, Lutz, and his dedicated team, including his son Kenny and co-tuner Patrick Miller, are determined to make the necessary repairs overnight.
Reflecting on the incident,
“It was a good run,” Lutz started to explain. “The car was right down the middle of the track, and I thought it was on a perfect pass, and all of a sudden, it just erupted into flames inside the car. Upon further inspection, we found that it literally blew the two-piece converter into pieces. That’s why I had so much fire inside the car with me. I couldn’t see where the hell I was going. Luckily, two races ago, I started wearing a head sock, so I just got a little bit of fire on my face, but nothing major compared to what it would have been. Couldn’t see where I was going. So I just figured I’d spin the car out, barely touched the wall. We’re going to fix it, and we’ll be ready for E1 tomorrow.”
Securing the No. 2 spot was Tim Essick, a two-time and reigning world champion, with a time of 3.986 at 186.95 in his ProCharged “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang. Joining the top ranks was Michigan native Chris Cadotto, who achieved a time of 3.999 at 190.60 in the unique screw-blown ’97 Dodge Ram known as “The Brick.” With these results, the top three spots at the PDRA Pro Street qualifying round were all occupied by racers who completed their runs in under 4 seconds.
Despite the setbacks Bill Lutz and his team faced, their determination remains unwavering as they work diligently to repair their damaged Camaro in time for tomorrow’s E1 race.
THE SPORTSMAN REPORT - Arizona’s Bryan LaFlam made the quickest pass in Top Sportsman to lead the 16-car Elite Top Sportsman field into eliminations. He recorded a 3.782 at 194.13 in his supercharged ’67 Mustang to lead the nitrous-assisted entries of Tim Molnar and Chris “Nitrous” Nyerges. Urban ran a 3.816 at 197.89 in his ’68 Camaro, while Nyerges wasn’t far behind with his 3.824 at 196.68 in the Buck-powered Schween Motorsports ’20 Corvette.
Mark Payne, in his turbocharged House of Payne ’06 Cavalier, was just a hundredth away from qualifying in the Elite field, but his 4.162 at 174.69 was quick enough to give him the No. 1 spot in the Top Sportsman 32 field.
Elite Top Dragster saw an all-3-second field after three qualifying sessions, with Alan O’Brien leading the way in his one-of-a-kind ’11 Race Tech dragster. Powered by a quad-turbocharged AMC powerplant, O’Brien fired off a 3.785 at 199.65 in his Greenbrier Excavating & Paving entry. Charles J. Careccia posted a 3.79 at 194.05 in his supercharged ’96 Horton dragster to qualify second. Frank Zeffiro, in his ’06 Mike Bos dragster, went a 3.798 at 193.63 to round out the top 3.
Behind the 16-car Elite field, Nick Meloni qualified No. 1 in Top Dragster 16 with his 4.277 at 161.52 in his New Hampshire-based TT Motorsports ’16 Dan Page dragster.
ON TAP - Competition at the PDRA Northern Nationals presented by Talbert Manufacturing will continue Saturday, beginning with final qualifying for the Jr. Dragster classes at 10 a.m., followed by sportsman and Jr. Dragster eliminations. Pro eliminations will begin at 1:30 p.m. Pre-race ceremonies for the Northern Nationals nitro show begin at 5:50 p.m.