DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS - With seven collective Pro Nitrous world championships in the 10-year history of the PDRA, Jim Halsey and Tommy Franklin have lined up against each other in the final round more than a few times. It happened again at the Mid-Atlantic Showdown, where Halsey used a starting line advantage and a 3.628 at 208.33 to beat Franklin and his 3.613 at 206.86 on a holeshot. It was Halsey’s first win of the season and the first for his new Brandon Switzer-tuned, Fulton-powered “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro. 
“I'll be honest with you, sometimes I think I forgot how to drive. Today, I did OK,” Halsey said. “The tree was a little weird there [in the final]. Tommy flickered the bulb and I think it delayed the auto-start some, so we were both pretty tardy, but a win's a win. The car is running good and making laps. We didn't abort one run because of any issues with the car. I did a bad job of driving in Q1, but other than that, it's redeemed itself pretty good.”
Halsey’s weekend was all about redemption. He started the PDRA season at the East Coast Nationals at GALOT Motorsports Park two weeks ago as the No. 1 qualifier with a record-setting 3.608, but he lost on a holeshot in the semifinals. 
“Well, we had the car to beat at GALOT, I think, and I let the team down,” said Halsey, who thanked his team, as well as his colleagues back at home at Cecil County Dragway, Structural Concrete, and Crouse Construction. “With this bunch – Eric [Davis] and Michael [McMillan] and Cathy [Halsey] and Brandon [Switzer] and Brian [Chin], you don't want to be the weakest link because it makes you look really bad.”
As the No. 1 qualifier, Halsey got a first-round bye run, which he used to run a 3.66 at 207.08 to get lane choice over fellow Maryland-based driver Derrick Ford in the second round. Halsey left first and laid down a 3.648 at 207.29 to move past Ford, who slowed to a 4.174. Another Maryland native, Fredy Scriba, was waiting for Halsey in the semis. The two left the line together, but Halsey pulled ahead to win with a 3.639 at 206.70 over Scriba’s 3.66 at 207.66. 
Franklin in his Jeff Pierce-tuned, Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro kicked off race day with a big-time matchup against Brian Shrader, who earned his first-ever Pro Nitrous win at the season opener. Shrader ran a strong 3.681 at 204.01, but Franklin was first to the finish line with his 3.657 at 204.29. He improved to a 3.631 at 206.26 to beat Chris Rini’s 3.678 in round two, then went a hundredth quicker with a 3.621 at 206.83 in the semis to win over Marcus Butner and his 4.116. Franklin set low E.T. of all four rounds and the event as a whole. 
JUST CALL HIM HOLESHOT HYDE -  The two quickest drivers in a record-setting Pro Boost field, Melanie Salemi and Spencer Hyde, were left standing in the final round after a race day that saw several races decided by thousandths of a second. That included the final round, as Hyde left the starting line second but raced to a 3.577 in his screw-blown “Jack & The Green Stock” ’69 Camaro to drive around Salemi and her 3.606 at 207.66 by just three thousandths. It was the first Pro Boost win for Hyde, who won the 2023 World Series of Pro Mod. 
“We've had a good car at every race we've gone to since that race and we just couldn't get it done,” said Hyde, who thanked partners like Red Line Oil, Engineered Racing Services, and NGK Spark Plugs. “To come here and do it in the quickest field ever in Pro Boost means a lot. It was five hundredths of a second from No. 1 to 16. There were no easy rounds. There were no easy cars. You had to do everything right. We did everything right today and the chips fell our way. I owe it all to my guys. They got this thing turned around every round and [Mark] Savage did a killer job this weekend on the keyboard and I drove OK. It all came together and it's awesome.”
Hyde set low E.T. of all four rounds in eliminations, beginning with his 3.599 at 209.20 to take out Steve King and his 3.907. He raced further into the 3.50s with a 3.569 over a red-lighting William Brown III in the second round. In a semifinal rematch of the 2023 WSOPM final round against Kurt Steding, Hyde left first with a .011 light to Steding’s .018 and finished first with a 3.559 at 213.74, which was just four thousandths behind the recently set E.T. national record. 
Driving Eddie Whelan’s screw-blown Al-Lee Installations ’23 Camaro, Salemi picked up her first round win on the starting line when Preston Tanner went red by .003 on a 3.638 at 206.07, but Salemi was ready with a 3.633 at 194.32. She joined Hyde in the 3.50s with a 3.597 at 208.59 to beat Johnny Camp’s 3.604 by just three thousandths. A consistent but slightly quicker 3.593 at 209.52 put her ahead of record holder Derek Ward and his 3.651 at the finish line in the semis. 
PLUCHINO GOES TWO-IN-A-ROW - Two weeks after winning the season opener at GALOT Motorsports Park, two-time Extreme Pro Stock world champion Johnny Pluchino scored a second consecutive win to kick off his title chase. Pluchino went into race day as the No. 1 qualifier in his Kaase-powered Feather-Lite Batteries ’13 Mustang, then improved every step of the way through eliminations. He fired off a 4.029 at 179.11 in the final round to get the win over Jeremy Huffman, who left the line too soon with a .126 red light on a 4.072 at 177.70. 
“There's nothing like momentum,” said Pluchino, who won this event in 2020. “When you’ve got a good car, you feel good and your crew’s jelled. There’s just nothing like momentum, and right now I'm gonna ride it as long as I can. I just want to thank my whole crew, including Keith Kelling at Kelling Equipment and Jon Pickett at Feather-Lite Batteries. Everybody puts their heart and soul into these trophies. My name is on the door, but it’s just as much a team deal as any sport out there.”
Pluchino cruised to a 4.070 at 177.91 in the first round when opponent Lester Cooper couldn’t make the run. He picked up a holeshot win over fellow past world champion and rival Chris Powers, running a 4.074 at 177.88 to Powers’ 4.047 at 177.46 to earn a semifinal bye run. He used that to throw down a 4.037 at 178.78 to get lane choice for the final. 
Huffman qualified third in his 3V Performance-powered ’10 Cobalt, then won first round with a 4.111 at 175.94 over Daryl Stewart’s 6.755. He stepped up to a 4.10 at 175.96 in the next round, while opponent Dave Hughes went red on his 4.156 pass. The Catawba, North Carolina-based driver cut a .014 reaction time and ran a 4.084 at 176.14 to beat Elijah Morton and his near-record 4.009 at 179.42 on a holeshot by just seven thousandths in the semis. 


WHEN IT MATTERED - Doug Nicholl didn’t have the quickest car in Pro 632 until the point when it really counted: the final round. The Dearborn, Michigan-based driver used a combination of consistent passes and quick reaction times to move through eliminations, ultimately facing 2022 world champion and No. 1 qualifier Amber Franklin in the final round. Nicholl left the starting line first and made his quickest pass of the season, a 4.155 at 167.36, in his Troy Russell-tuned, Musi-powered ’68 Camaro. Franklin was right there with her 4.167 at 170.77 in the runner-up effort. 
“Last year we finished good, but now we're starting out really good,” said Nicholl, who is now a two-time winner. “We’re just going to try to keep it rolling. We 100% know the power’s there. We're just trying to figure it out, going from two [nitrous] systems to one, but I think we're doing a damn good job figuring it out. I think there's way more in this thing. I think we'll be going 4.12, 4.13, 4.14 consistently for the rest of the season.”
Nicholl qualified No. 6 before using a 4.207 at 166.44 to defeat reigning world champion Jeff Melnick and his 4.261 in the opening round. He won the next round by just seven thousandths, running a 4.225 at 169.34 over Jayme Thompson’s 4.237. The margin of victory was even tighter in the semifinals, where a holeshot advantage and a 4.187 at 167.22 was enough to beat Walter Lannigan Jr.’s 4.181 by just one thousandth. 
Franklin opened eliminations in her Musi-powered “OG Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro with a 4.201 at 169.25 on a first-round bye run. She improved slightly to a 4.192 at 170.04 over a red-lighting Bobby Bladen in round two. The second-generation PDRA champion used her best light and best E.T. of the day, a 4.164 at 170.79, to defeat newcomer Chevy Floyd, who ran a 4.167. 
MARYLAND STATE CHAMPIONSHIP -  It was an all-Maryland Pro Street final round between one of the most accomplished drivers in the class, Tim Essick, and a new driver making his debut, Brian Weddle. On his way to the final, Weddle took out young phenom Scott Kincaid, who won his fifth consecutive Pro Street race at the season opener. It looked like Weddle was going to pull a Kincaid and win in his debut, but Essick in his ProCharged “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang won on a holeshot with a 3.933 at 192.22 over Weddle’s 3.925 at 198.23. 
“This one is just as good as winning a championship,” said Essick, who thanked his team, Walt and Raven at ProCharger, UPR Products, Maxima Racing Oil, Jack at Billet Atomizer, and Precision Racing Suspension. “For a long time, it felt like it was one thing after another. Weddle taking out Kincaid was just a blessing in disguise. That man’s a machine. We've had a very good weekend – a hard weekend – but when they're hard, that's normally when they're the best. From the tuner standpoint, I was a little aggressive, but I was able to make up for it as the driver. It’s hard to put into words.”
Essick qualified No. 2 and steadily improved in each round, starting the day with a 4.043 at 186.00 to beat Jerry Morgano. He cracked into the 3-second range with a 3.992 at 189.92 over Tommy Mauro’s 4.288 in the second round, then made a huge step up to a 3.912 at 191.67 in the semifinals to eliminate rookie Dan Norris, who slowed to a 5.254. 
Weddle put his screw-blown ’68 Camaro in the No. 5 spot in qualifying before making a conservative 4.05 at 194.38 to beat Bill Devine in the first round. He got everyone’s attention with a 3.937 at 196.27 over Kincaid’s 5.125 in the second round, then improved again to a 3.92 at 197.57 to move on past a red-lighting Joel Wensley Jr. in the semis. 
MOTA FOR THE WIN - Last year’s Super Street world champion, Blake Denton, and championship runner-up, Derek Mota, raced through three rounds to meet up in the final round. Mota in his turbocharged East Point Recovery Centers ’93 Mustang lowered his own E.T. national record with his 4.561 at 164.91 to put an exclamation mark on the end of his dominant weekend at the Mid-Atlantic Showdown. Knowing he was a tenth behind Mota in the semifinals, Denton pushed the tree too hard and went red by .117 seconds before making his best pass of the day, a 4.674 at 155.52. 
“My team worked our asses off changing stuff, trying new stuff, and putting all the effort in,” said Mota, who thanked supporters like East Point, Menscer Motorsports, Harts Turbos, DiSomma Racing Engines, and Mickey Thompson Tires. “You give Jamie [Miller, tuner] a bunch of runs on a racetrack with no aborted runs and these are the results. I think that's what makes us succeed. We don't abort runs. We learn from every run. Man, this is awesome. I’ve got all my sponsors, my family, and my fiancée. This is where I got engaged last year and we came back and won it again. This is such a team sport and my team did their job this weekend. I'm glad I didn't let them down on the tree again.”
Mota, the defending event winner, qualified No. 1, which gave him a first-round bye run. He lifted to a 4.738 at 136.80, then threw down a 4.60 at 164.01 on a single in the second round when opponent Gage Llamas couldn’t make the run. Semifinal opponent David Knight grabbed a sizable holeshot advantage but lifted to a 7.554, while Mota established a new record with his 4.567 at 164.53 before lowering it again in the final. 
Denton qualified third in his nitrous-fed ’76 Camaro, then set low E.T. of the first round with his 4.705 at 154.32 to get the win over Steve Damianidis. In a rematch of the final round from the season opener, Denton cut a .001 reaction time and recorded a 4.679 at 154.83 to defeat Matt Schalow and his 4.687. His starting line skills were put to use again in the semis, where he ran a 4.682 at 155.10 to beat Dan Whetstine’s 4.666 on a holeshot. 
THE SPORTSMAN WINNERS - Ohio-based Elite Top Sportsman standout Glenn Butcher packed the winner’s circle with family, friends, and fellow racers to celebrate his win over Tim Paap in an all-nitrous final round. Paap left the starting line just one thousandth too soon and coasted to a 7.328 on a 3.79 dial-in in his ’16 Corvette. Butcher in his Albert-powered ’69 Camaro slowed a bit from his 3.73 dial-in with a 3.776, but he walked away the winner. 
Reigning Pro 632 world champion Jeff Melnick returned to his winning ways in Top Sportsman when he turned on the final round win light in Top Sportsman 48. Melnick posted a 4.189 on a 4.18 dial-in in his ProCharged Exotic Fabrication ’02 Avenger to score the win over Virginia’s Chad Traylor, who left first but ran a 4.225 on a 4.19 dial-in in his ’63 Corvette. 
Past Elite Top Dragster world champion Kellan Farmer was visibly relieved when he returned to the winner’s circle with his ProCharged ’20 Race Tech dragster after defeating Mike Kopko in the final round. The Race Tech Race Cars shop foreman was first off the starting line and ran a 3.776 on a 3.76 dial-in to beat Kopko’s 3.851 on a 3.83 dial-in in his ProCharged ’12 M&M dragster.
Moments after losing in the Top Sportsman 48 final round, Chad Traylor got into his ’22 Maddox dragster and used a .006 reaction time and a 4.418 on a 4.41 dial-in to get the Top Dragster 48 win over fellow double-duty driver Nick Meloni, who broke out by just one thousandth with a 4.219 on a 4.22 dial-in in his TT Motorsports ’16 Dan Page dragster. 

THE JUNIOR SCENE - The young rising stars of the PDRA’s Jr. Dragster classes also had a full day of competition, with wins going to Ashley Franklin in Coolshirt Systems Pro Jr. Dragster presented by Philadelphia Racing Products and Landen Lewis in Classic Graphix Top Jr. Dragster presented by Philadelphia Racing Products. Franklin, the daughter of Pro Nitrous runner-up Tommy Franklin, left the line first in the final round and ran a 7.926 to defeat the 7.947 of Ayden Christian, both on a 7.90 index. A significant starting line advantage helped Lewis turn on the final round win light over James Beattie III, with Lewis running a 9.08 on a 9.06 dial-in to Beattie’s 9.017 on an 8.97 dial-in. 







SALEMI SETS THE PACE—For the second consecutive race, Pro Boost made a statement with an ultra-competitive 16-car field. Driving Eddie Whelan’s screw-blown Al-Lee Installations ’23 Camaro, Melanie Salemi threw down a 3.585 at 209.01 to lead the record-setting field into race day. The perennial Pro Boost contender will start race day facing Preston Tanner, who ran a 3.638 at 206.07 to set a new record for the quickest bump spot in class history. 
“It’s a testament to all of the hard work that goes on on our team, not only at the racetrack but at the shop,” Salemi said. “The guys that work for us have been instrumental in every little bit of our success. Mike Stawicki builds us a really badass engine program, and the guys at the shop stay late and come work on the weekends if we need them to fix little things on the car here or there. There’s never a time when the focus is not 100% on our team and winning races. We’ve qualified No. 1 a lot of times, and now we need to win a lot of times.”
Canadian Pro Mod star Spencer Hyde, who won the 2023 World Series of Pro Mod, fired off a 3.59 at 213.47 in the first session to qualify second in his screw-blown “Jack & The Green Stock” ’69 Camaro. Kurt Steding in his new screw-blown P2 Contracting ’69 Camaro rounded out the top three with his 3.592 at 208.07. 
Six drivers did not qualify, with five of those drivers also running in the 3.60-second range, including season opener winner Todd “King Tut” Tutterow.


HALSEY DOES IT AGAIN - Four-time Pro Nitrous world champion Jim Halsey is on a war path this season after finishing second in the 2023 championship hunt. He earned his second consecutive No. 1 qualifier award in his new Fulton-powered, Brandon Switzer-tuned “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro by posting a 3.63 at 208.26 in the second session, which ended up being the final session due to the weather.  
“Actually, we weren’t trying to run super-fast on that run,” Halsey said. “We had messed up on Q1, so we just wanted to make sure we got down the track. It was a good run – can’t dispute that – but we were hoping for better [in the third session]. Being No. 1 qualifier, I think we got a bye to run first round, so we’ll probably let it hang out and see how much the track will take tomorrow and go from there.”
Young gun Marcus Butner, who is pursuing his first Pro Nitrous world championship with tuner Jay Cox, fired off a 3.639 at 206.01 in his Musi-powered “Heartbreaker” ’69 Camaro to end up second. Three-time and reigning world champion Tommy Franklin wheeled his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro to a 3.642 at 204.98 to qualify third. 

PLUCHINO CAN QUALIFY NO. 1, TOO - Two-time Extreme Pro Stock world champion Johnny Pluchino opened his 2024 PDRA season with a win at GALOT Motorsports two weeks ago. During his winner’s circle interview, he noted that he doesn’t typically qualify No. 1, instead finding more success on race day. He proved in Friday qualifying that his Kaase-powered Feather-Lite Batteries ’13 Mustang can shine in qualifying too, though, as he fired off a 4.046 at 178.80 in the final session to qualify No. 1 at the Mid-Atlantic Showdown for the second year in a row. 
“We didn’t test and we only had two qualifiers,” said Pluchino, who thanked his crew and sponsors. “On the first run, we changed a couple of things with our clutch program a little bit from the last race and we missed it. Had to take a shot at it. When you miss it heavy, you go out there and you’ve got to back it back down. We only had one more run. It makes the decision a little bit difficult. We didn’t drain it by any means, but we made the best run of the day, so we’re No. 1. Our game plan for race day is kick everyone’s ass. Simple as that.”
The several cars behind Pluchino on the qualifying order were stacked up, with Elijah Morton coming in second with a 4.052 at 177.39 in his Allen-powered Cashion Fishing Rods ’19 Mustang. Jeremy Huffman built on success in testing by recording a 4.058 at 178.14 in his 3V Performance-powered ’10 Cobalt to qualify third. 


FRANKLIN DELIVERS AGAIN IN 632 - Past Pro 632 world champion Amber Franklin qualified No. 1 at the season opener, but a semifinal exit had her looking for redemption going into the Mid-Atlantic Showdown. She got a little bit of that on Friday night when she laid down a 4.133 at 171.49 in her Musi-powered “OG Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro to collect a second consecutive No. 1 qualifier award. 
“It feels good to get two No. 1s back to back,” said Franklin, who thanked partners like Pat Musi Racing Engines, Red Line Oil, and Hoosier Racing Tires. “I let the team down last race, which is never a good feeling as a driver, so I definitely want to redeem myself. They give me a good ride and I’ve got to do my part tomorrow on race day. If I can just do my part on the tree, I think we can go plenty of rounds and hopefully turn on all the win lights this time and take home a win.”
Longtime Pro 632 standout Walter Lannigan, driving for Chris Holdorf in his Nelson-powered Dewitt Custom Concrete ’10 GTO, ran a 4.174 at 174.05 to qualify No. 2. Jayme Thompson wasn’t far behind with his third-ranked 4.175 at 168.60 in Meade Baldwin’s “Rodzilla” ’69 Camaro. 


THE NEXT GENERATION STEPS INTO THE PRESENT - Past Pro Jr. Dragster world champion Ethan Steding earned the first major accolade of his “big car” career when he ended Pro Street qualifying as the No. 1 qualifier in his roots-blown P2 Contracting “College Fund” ’24 Camaro. Nearly half of the 16 cars in the class ran in the 3-second range, but it was Steding’s 3.939 at 195.45 in the Todd Tutterow-tuned hot rod that appeared at the top of the qualifying order. 
“This means the world to me,” said Steding, the son of Pro Boost star Kurt Steding. “With the WYO Motorsports guys backing me, and P2 Racing, I knew everything was going to go good. Two weeks ago at GALOT, everything went well. Without my dad, though, I definitely couldn’t be doing this, along with WYO, Ty-Drive, Noonan, and my mother. I’m really excited for race day. These guys here [in Pro Street], though, they’ve been doing it way longer than me, so I know I got something on my back for sure, but I believe we’re ready. I think we can take on these guys.”
Two-time world champion Tim Essick qualified second in his ProCharged “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang with a 3.944 at 189.95. Steding’s fellow rookie, Dan Norris, charged to a 3.959 at 170.67 in his roots-blown ’22 Mustang to qualify third. 

MOTA DELIVERS THE GOODS AGAIN - Derek Mota, who qualified No. 1 at the last three races of the 2023 Super Street season, has continued to lead the way in qualifying at the first two races of the new season. The Peabody, Massachusetts-based driver steered his turbocharged East Point Recovery Centers ’93 Mustang to a 4.618 at 164.65 in the final session. That run solidified his position at the top of the order, which he established with a 4.626 in the first session. The performance bolstered Mota’s confidence in his hot rod after making offseason changes to fit the 2024 rules. 
“Tonight, we’re much happier,” Mota said. “We struggled at GALOT with some converter issues because of the weight. We knew we had to go there with data that we had. We ordered some stuff when we left there, put it in Wednesday night here, came out [Thursday] and made some good laps in the heat of the day and tonight. The car is just getting faster and faster. It’s my team behind me my ,sponsors, and just everybody involved in this program. We’re never going to stop working. Whatever it takes. We’ve just been trying stuff and trying to get our car back, and I think we got it now.”
“Wheelstand Dan” Whetstine qualified second with a 4.657 at 156.77 in his ProCharged “Red Velvet” ’90 Mustang. Reigning world champion Blake Denton charged to the third spot in his nitrous-fed ’76 Camaro with a 4.685 at 154.86. 
THE SPORTSMAN REPORT - Past Elite Top Sportsman world champion Tim Molnar recorded a 3.717 at 201.49 in his nitrous-fed, Albert-powered ’68 Camaro to top the 16-car field. Fellow Ohioan Glenn Butcher in his Albert-powered ’69 Camaro ran a 3.737 at 198.03 to qualify second. Bryan LaFlam ended up third with a 3.761 at 196.42 in his supercharged LaFlam Motorsports ’67 Mustang. 
Massachusetts-based Top Sportsman racer Jeff Simons just missed out on the Elite field, but his 3.952 at 182.48 in his ’69 Camaro put him on top of the Top Sportsman 48 field. 
Top Dragster was set to have a third qualifying session before the early evening rain showers led to schedule adjustments. After two sessions, Frank Falter IV in his supercharged “Candy Man” ’22 Miller dragster topped the Elite Top Dragster field with a 3.706 at 202.82. Virginia’s own Brian Anderson in his ProCharged ’23 Race Tech dragster qualified second with a 3.732 at 193.52. Michael White and his 3.768 at 190.94 in his ProCharged ’15 Maddox dragster rounded out the top three. 
By just four thousandths of a second, Tony Elrod came up short of making the 16-car Elite field, but he did secure the No. 1 spot in Top Dragster 48 on the strength of his 3.859 at 187.39. 
ON TAP - On-track action at the Kaeser Compressors Mid-Atlantic Showdown presented by Classic Graphix will begin at 9 a.m. starting with Jr. Dragster final qualifying, followed by sportsman and Jr. Dragster eliminations. Pre-race ceremonies and pro eliminations are set to kick off at 2 p.m.