MICKE IS THE MAN - Mark Micke’s twin-turbocharged M&M Transmission ’69 Camaro “shop car” set the pace with a 3.598 at 220.94 on Friday, and it’s recorded passes in the low 3.60-second range in every other session. He’s confident in his odds on race day. 
“It’s gonna be awesome,” said Micke, who collected a $10,000 low qualifier bonus from Pilot Electric and Red Line Oil. “These are the baddest drivers on the planet. I told my guys, who are a bunch of young guys, they don’t understand what we did. This is the pinnacle of anything I’ve ever done in racing. I’ve done a lot of s***, and this is more impressive. I don’t know what else to say. I was blown away.”

Sunday’s final eliminations pairings are determined by chip draw, and because Micke was the top qualifier, he drew first. Of all the people, he drew two-time NHRA Pro Modified race winner Lyle Barnett. 
“I love the chip draw because you don’t know – it’s just a roll of the dice,” Micke said. “I’m ready. It’s gonna be on in the first round. Who knows what’s gonna happen? To win a World Series of Pro Mod that’s the top of my career. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

Jim Halsey and Tommy Franklin qualified second and third, respectively. 
Halsey earned his spot with a 3.609, 209.17, while Franklin recorded a 3.617, 206.39.


HE’S FAST, YA KNOW? - Recent Lights Out 15 winner Stevie “Fast” Jackson was fourth with a 3.623 at 207.11 in the final session. 
PARTY TIME - Reigning PDRA Pro Boost world champion and 2023 WSOPM semifinalist Jason Harris rounded out the top five with a 3.623 at 205.22 in his ProCharged “Party Time” ’69 Camaro. 
THE FIRST ONE - Mike Bowman, the inaugural WSOPM winner in 2017, had the dubious honor of gaining the final spot in the quickest-ever 32-car Pro Modified field with a 3.664 at 206.07. It was a pass that would’ve put him in the No. 19 spot in last year’s event.
WHO RUNS WHO - First-round pairings: Mark Micke vs. Lyle Barnett, Jim Halsey vs. Stan Shelton, Kevin Rivenbark vs. Todd Tutterow, Mike Decker Jr. vs. Randy Weatherford, Kenny Lang vs. Johnny Camp, Preston Tanner vs. Keith Haney, Jason Scruggs vs. Dustin Nesloney, Marcus Birt vs. William Brown III, Kurt Steding vs. Travis Harvey, Mike Bowman vs. Chuck Parker, Stevie Jackson vs. Scott Wildgust, Scott Lang vs. Spencer Hyde, Eric Gustafson vs. Marcus Butner, Jim Widener vs. Ken Quartuccio, Tommy Franklin vs. Derek Ward, and Jason Harris vs. Steve King.

BO STILL KNOWS - That’s not bad for a debut. Former NHRA Pro Stock racer Bo Butner, who will race in the large displacement version of the class, held onto the No. 1 qualifier position on the strength of a 4.06 at 178.05 recorded on Friday.
“That’s a pretty good start for the Mountain Motor Pro Stock series if you ask me,” said Butner, as he held an oversized check for $1,500 from Feather-Lite Batteries during Saturday night’s chip draw. “I have a great car and a great team, as always. I’ll probably stay up all night working on [wife Randi Lyn Butner’s] car, but we will get it fixed. We’re having fun. This is a cool event. I am having fun driving these cars. It’s a learning step for me. No. 1 qualifier is badass, but we’ve got to close the deal tomorrow.”
Butner will face Derrick Reese in the first round. Reese is a rising star in the Mountain Motor Pro Stock ranks and will be a worthy opponent for Butner in the first round.
THE BEST OF THE REST - Jupiter, Florida’s Daryl Stewart qualified second in his Chassis Engineering ’12 Camaro with a 4.076 at 177.30. Two-time PDRA Extreme Pro Stock world champion Johnny Pluchino went to the third spot in his Feather-Lite Batteries ’13 Mustang with a 4.093 at 177.42. Texan Scott Benham drove the Team O Motorsports ’08 Cobalt to a 4.097 at 176.74 to qualify fourth. John Montecalvo, the reigning event champion, qualified fifth with a 4.099 at 178.10 in his Montecalvo Asphalt ’21 Mustang but damaged his engine and isn’t expected to return for eliminations. 

WHO GETS WHO, MMPS EDITION - First-round pairings: Randi Lyn Butner vs. Scott Benham, Tony Pontieri vs. Johnny Pluchino, Dwayne Rice vs. Kurt Neighbor, Bo Butner vs. Derrick Reese, Rick Cowger vs. John Montecalvo, Daryl Stewart vs. Alan Drinkwater, Tony Gillig vs. Dillon Voss, and Matt Giangrande vs. Elijah Morton.

GREEN LEADS THE SHOW - Ronnie Green Jr. came out of the gate in Friday’s qualifying swinging and went to the top. He closed the gate, doing the same thing. The second-gen Green needed a hero run in the final qualifying session to take back their No. 1 spot from Friday night. Bill Lutz, led by son Kenny and co-tuner Patrick Miller, went to the top in the fourth session on Saturday with a 3.948-second pass. Green posted a 3.944 at 196.50 in his ProCharged 2000 Firebird in Q5 to secure the top spot. 
“This is very special,” said Green, who earned a $500 bonus and custom baseball bat from Victus Sports and Kasper Performance Edge. “We struggled a lot and have come a long way. It’s all thanks to my kid here. He worked really hard. We had to be a part of [this race]. Hopefully, we will have some luck tomorrow and get through.”
Green, 27, did this one for Dad. 
“That’s pretty awesome,” Green Jr. said. “We work real hard at the shop and at the racetrack, so I’m just glad that’s all paying off.”
THE REST OF THE BEST - Lutz’s 3.948 at 194.04 in his screw-blown “Big Boost” ’67 Camaro put him second on the sheet. Two-time PDRA Pro Street world champion Tim Essick moved up late in qualifying to the third spot with a 3.969 at 187.89 in his ProCharged “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang. Florida resident Jerry Morgano just missed the 3-second zone with his fourth-ranked 4.001 at 197.77 in his turbocharged ’02 Cobra Mustang. Ty Kasper was also close with a 4.008 at 196.27 behind the wheel of his turbocharged Victus Sports “Sinatra” ’05 Mustang. 
WHO GETS WHO, 10.5 EDITION - First-round pairings: Dan Norris vs. John Carinci, Nick Agostino vs. Tim Essick, Ron Green vs. Jerry Morgano, Joel Wensley Jr. vs. Bill Lutz, Kallee Mills vs. Scott Kincaid, Ty Kasper vs. Bill Riddle, Nick Schroeder vs. Richard Reagan, and Jesse Lambert vs. Chris Cadotto.
THE TOP SPORTSMEN - Bryan LaFlam from Arizona led the pack in Top Sportsman, clocking a 3.729 at 197.08 in his supercharged LaFlam Motorsports ’67 Mustang. Close behind, Buddy Perkinson achieved a 3.745 at 191.97 mph in his nitrous-fed LAT Racing Oils ’69 Camaro, securing the second position. Tim Molnar, also utilizing nitrous, placed third with a time of 3.764 at 198.09 in his ’68 Camaro.
The top two positions in Top Dragster remained unchanged from Friday, with Maryland’s Frank Falter IV locking in the No. 1 spot in his supercharged “Candy Man” ’21 Miller dragster with a 3.743 at 202.27. Kentucky’s Ashley Johnson held on to the No. 2 position with a 3.752 at 194.38 in her supercharged ’13 Spitzer entry. Michael White, in his North Carolina-based ProCharged dragster, bumped into the top three with his 3.799 at 190.24. 




OH MICKE! - It rarely takes doorslammer racing icon Mark Micke long to establish himself as the driver with the car to beat.

Micke jumped to the top of the 64-car qualifying order in his twin-turbocharged M&M Transmission ’69 Camaro with a 3.598 at 220.94 in the heat of the day during Friday’s second of three qualifying sessions. He’s got a murderer’s row of world champions, record holders, and other accomplished Pro Modified racers left with two shots to knock him off.
“We’ve got some of the baddest [racers] in the world and I’m so proud of my team,” Micke said. “It’s a testament to all the hard work my guys do. I gotta let that sink in a bit – it’s pretty badass.”

Micke failed to capitalize in the third session but was no slouch as he stopped the timers with a 3.635, 217.95.
“I’m really confident – we threw that 3.59 in the heat. That was a style run,” said Micke, who mentioned having a staging snafu with Vergotz during Q3. “It lit a fire under my ass. If you have a bad run, it just motivates me harder. I got all the confidence in the world. I’ve learned that when you’re on a roll, you just ride it. I wish eliminations were tomorrow because I’m ready.”

PDRA superstar Jim Halsey, who typically only races against other nitrous competitors, was second with a 3.609, 209.17. 
“It took a lot of hard work that Brandon [Switzer, tuner] put in,” Halsey said. “He spent most of his winter putting this car together, and his hard work paid off.”
Reigning PDRA Pro Boost world champion Jason Harris was third with a 3.623, 205.22 in his ProCharged Party Time Racing ’69 Camaro. 

“This is the biggest race of the year,” Harris said. “It starts off the year, and we had a great race last year and ended up with a great season, so hopefully we do the same thing. I was third last year, and I hope we can carry this momentum tonight into Sunday.”
Defending WSOPM champion Spencer Hyde is fourth with a 3.627 at 208.20, while Kurt Steding was fifth. 
Kevin Rivenbark sits on the 32-car bump spot with his 3.671 at 206.76 in the Shelton family’s screw-blown Culp Lumber ’19 Mustang. 

ABOUT THE WEATHER - The dreaded “R” word, aka rain, is forecast for Saturday. Both headlining classes are scheduled for two more qualifying sessions, but if the liquid sunshine hits, the fields will be set for Sunday’s final eliminations. 

BO KNOWS BIG ENGINES - There was a time when 500-inch engines in Pro Stock were mountain motors. Bo Butner was almost three years old when the Mountain Motor Pro Stock format was introduced in 1977.
Butner, making his debut in the large displacement style of Pro Stock this weekend, posted two runs in the eighth-mile 4.09-second range before a final qualifying pass of 4.06 at 178.15, which secured the provisional top spot in the 16-car field.
“It’s good to have a great team and great car behind you,” said Butner. “You have a lot of confidence when you’re capable of showing up and winning. It’s not always that way. I drove a lot of stuff for a lot of other people and didn’t have that feeling. It’s still new to me. That was my fourth hit ever. It’s different than driving my 500-inch Pro Stock Camaro, but this is a lot of fun, too. I can’t wait to get on a quarter mile next week.”

Butner had pretty much led the way from start to finish in qualifying until  
Daryl Stewart ran 4.076 at 177.30 to move around him. He was able to get the top spot back despite a run where his Camaro moved around on him a little bit. 
“It was a little left, but I don’t know, we are just having fun,” said Butner at the end of the day. “I was pretty close to the center line. You just want to go just quick and fast enough, right? That’s how it is.” 
Two-time PDRA Extreme Pro Stock world champion Johnny Pluchino sits third with a 4.093, 177.42, while defending event winner John Montecalvo is fourth quickest with a 4.099 at 178.10. Second-generation drag racer Scott Benham rounds out the top five with his 4.099 at 177.11 in the Team O Motorsports ’08 Cobalt.

IMPACT STATEMENT - The inaugural Pro 10.5 Challenge debut attracted 24 drivers trying to qualify for the 16-car, $25,000-to-win show. 

Outlaw 10.5 standout Ron Green did his best to ensure he became a part of drag racing history on Friday in Bradenton. 

Green drove his ProCharged 2000 Firebird to a 3.97 elapsed time at 198.32 to take over the provisional No. 1 spot in the third qualifying session. Tuned by son Ronnie Green Jr., Green took the top spot from fellow class veteran Jerry Morgano. 
“We needed that run out there,” Green said. “We had to put a sleeve in, and we got it all back together. My son does the tuning and I give him all the props because I’m just holding the steering wheel.”
Morgano recorded a 4.001 at 197.77 earlier in the day to end up second. Ontario, Canada’s Nick Agostino is third with a 4.014, 97.54, while Scott Kincaid sits fourth at a 4.019 at 193.89 in his screw-blown ’69 Camaro. Joel Wensley Jr., rounded out the top five with his 4.022 at 192.91 in his ProCharged ’14 Camaro. 

THE TOP SPORTSMEN - There are two sportsman divisions in competition this weekend, and both are fast-paced bracket racing. FTI Performance sponsors both Top Sportsman and Top Dragster shootouts. 
Arizona’s Bryan LaFlam was the quickest of four Top Sportsman drivers to run in the 3.70s with his 3.729 at 197.08 in his supercharged LaFlam Motorsports ’67 Mustang. Buddy Perkinson recorded a 3.745 at 191.97 in his nitrous-fed LAT Racing Oils ’69 Camaro to sit second. Another nitrous runner, Tim Molnar, is third with a 3.764 at 198.09 in his Ohio-based ’68 Camaro. 
The top three drivers in Top Dragster also ran in the 3.70s, with Frank Falter IV’s 3.743 at 202.27 in his supercharged “Candy Man” ’21 Miller dragster sitting on top. Ashley Johnson is second with a 3.752 at 194.38 in her supercharged ’13 Spitzer entry. Will Creasman posted a 3.799 at 190.24 in his Leicester, NC-based dragster for the provisional third spot. 
Super Pro will be the first thing on track at 11:30 a.m., followed by the fourth qualifying session for the sportsman classes. The heads-up classes will be back on track at 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. for their fourth and fifth qualifying sessions. 

HOLDING GRUDGES - One of the traditions each year for the World Series of Pro Modified has been the Friday evening Rivals Night, aka grudge night. It’s not unlike rival weekend in college football over the post-Thanksgiving 

The first salvo fired on social media came from small tire and Pro Modified racer Keith Haney, directed at his opponent Marcus Birt. 

Apparently, what started their ruckus was some good-natured ribbing when Birt placed some of his hero cards in Haney’s card holder at the Yellowbullet Nationals last year. Haney returned the favor.

“We’re gonna see how much pep he’s got in his step – he’s going to get the champion,” Haney said. “He’s coming to the big boy world now. He may have ran good in Jose[Gonzalez] ’s car last year, but he’s got to do it in his own this year.”

Apparently, Birt had enough pep and stopped Haney in the battle of handout card disses. 

The Mark Micke vs. Todd Moyer match became a natural rivalry in the days leading up to the World Street Nationals in Bradenton, Fla., back in February. At any event at Bradenton Motorsports Park, where there are fast doorslammers and testing, there is usually one racer willing to let it all hang out to the quarter-mile for the chance to be the world’s quickest and fastest. 

Last December, past NHRA champion Jose Gonzalez drove Mickie’s Camaro to the then quickest and fast doorslammer run in history with a 5.359 elapsed time at 272.94 mph. The mark held for about a month until “Turbo” Todd Moyer became the quickest and fastest doorslammer driver in history at 3.457 seconds and an astonishing 233.92 mph in the eighth mile and a 5.14 in the quarter mile in his twin-turbocharged 2014 Camaro. 

Unfortunately, the clash of titans never happened as Micke faced John Vergotz instead and won the match. 

There was also a pair of Carolina Quick Eight rivalries as former STP Pro Stock teammates Todd Tutterow and Rickie Smith met up, fueled by their famous YouTube two-minute staging duel at a Quick Eight event at their declared home track in Farmington, NC. 

Now racing a blower car, Tutterow beat his longtime friendly foe Smith in their match. 

Just down the road at Piedmont Dragway, a rivalry was fueled in the Big Dog doorslammer racing between Jason Harris and Travis Harvey. En route to the third spot, Harris settled the old track rivalry, at least for this evening, with a win.

Mike Decker Jr.,  two-time NEOPMA champion, called out the reigning Snowbird Outlaw Nationals winner Lyle Barnett. That one was fueled by Decker’s irritation that announcers called Barnett the best in the business. Two NHRA Pro Modified wins, including the NHRA U.S. Nationals, would prove Barnett is “pretty good.”

Winning the match against Decker confirmed it, too. 

Other races included Rivals Night results: Bob Glenn beat Robert Abbott, Jim Widener beat Mike DiDomenico, Raymond Matos beat Dmitri Samarukov, Scott Wildgust beat Paolo Giust, Jeff Rudolf beat Chad Green, Steve King beat Scott Palmer, Preston Tanner beat Melanie Salemi, Kevin Rivenbark beat Randy Weatherford, Ken Quartuccio beat Jason Lee, Mike Decker III beat Derek Ward, Scott Lang beat Joe Albrecht, Chris Cline beat Blake Housley, Tommy Franklin beat Marcus Butner, Stan Shelton beat Tommy Cunningham, Jim Halsey beat Tony Wilson, Chuck Parker beat Mike Bowman, Jason Scruggs beat Alex Laughlin, Justin Swanstrom beat J.R. Gray, and Kurt Steding beat Spencer Hyde. 

We have one question. How come no one called out Stevie “Fast” Jackson?



HE’S BEEN AROUND FOR A WHILE - Ken Quartuccio receives most of his drag racing accolades for his exploits on the skinny tires. Truth be known, he’s got roots in the early years of Pro Modified, which dates back to 1992.

Quartuccio knew he needed to be there when the World Series of Pro Modified was moved to Bradenton, Fla, after previous stints in Denver and Orlando. 
“It’s my favorite track and I always do well there,” Quartuccio said.
Coming off a race win at the PDRA’s North vs. South Shootout in July 2023, Quartuccio suffered a major crash at the following PDRA event in Michigan that required rebuilding the entire car.
“My crew and the people helping me rebuilt the whole car within one race,” Quartuccio said. “It’s basically a new car again. At U.S. Street [Nationals] last month, it showed it’s back to where it was, so we are excited for this event.”
Quartuccio and his team converted the Camaro to Radial vs. the World trim for Lights Out 15 in February, where the team made a quarter-final-round appearance and clocked a 3.55-second run.
Quartuccio was invited to last year’s World Series of Pro Mod, but a mechanical failure forced him out in the first round.
“Bradenton is like my home track, and I’ve won so many races there,” Quartuccio said. “I’m looking for redemption in 2024. I’m an outlaw racer at heart and the big money and one-off stuff is all I live for. I’m as outlaw as you can get. That’s what I like best. I want to race every combination, and there will be racers from different associations at this event. You’re judging yourself against everybody and that’s what I like.”
With one Pro Mod race under his belt this year and this weekend’s World Series of Pro Mod, Quartuccio is just getting started with a very busy 2024 Pro Mod season. He is planning on racing more PDRA races in the Pro Boost category, several Outlaw races, and more RVW events, and he’s going to be driving one of Scott Tidwell’s NHRA Pro Modified machines for the entire season.
“I’m 54 and going to take advantage of the time and do a lot of racing this year,” he explained. “I’m lucky my wife and kids are very supportive.”

NMCA CHAMPION GIVING WSOPM A WHIRL - After winning the 2020 NMCA Xtreme Pro Mod championship, Eric Gustafson took a planned hiatus from driving to focus on business and family. He put the team in the capable hands of his crew chief, Cameron Hensley, and co-crew chief/tuner, Jason Lee, who took over driving duties for the next few years. 
What Gustafson didn’t know is that he would suffer two significant personal health setbacks during this time, but being the competitor that he is, he has returned to full health and is ready to take on the best this weekend.
Gustafson returned to competition at the U.S. Street Nationals at Bradenton in late January and got back behind his 1969 Coast Packing/R&E Racing Camaro Pro Mod on Friday in a newly rebuilt ride.
“It’s essentially a brand-new, rebuilt car,” Gustafson said. “The chassis was in great shape. We made some significant changes to make the car more competitive. It was time to hit the reset button.”
His car is about as much of a reset as it gets.
“Tim Lyons just freshened the ’69 with a new body, lots of carbon and tin work, and we rewired the car as it had one of the original Haltech ECUs, so we cleaned all of that up,” said Lee. “It has the Nexus R5 now, and we pulled the Racepak stuff out. It gave us a more versatile car by removing some weight. We had been wanting to do that for a long time.” 
The refurbished Camaro runs a Noonan Race Engineering 4.9-bore-space Hemi and ProCharger F4X-140 supercharger connected to a Liberty Gears transmission with a Quick Drive.
Gustafson attempted to return to driving in 2021 at a Mid-West Pro Mod event in Texas, but health issues arose right after that, and he was sidelined through 2022 and 2023.
“The plan was for me to still drive after winning the NMCA championship but not compete in a series as my kids are getting older and their activities take precedence. Unfortunately, it was a little more prolonged recovery than I was initially hoping for and a challenge I was not looking for, but you don’t always get to choose in life,” Gustafson said.
Gustafson tested before the U.S. Street Nationals, where he qualified No. 15 and reached the third round. The outing prepared Gustafson for his WSOPM debut this week. 
“Certainly, I need the experience since the World Series of Pro Mod is an elevated level of competition,” Gustafson said. “You need to bring your A-game. I’ve driven Pro Mods before, but I need to stay focused, level-headed, and take my super competitive side out of the equation to get reacclimated.
“The bigger part of this is obviously I want to win and win the right way, but the opportunity to drive again and be with fellow competitors in this arena versus being there as a bystander is something I feel has been lacking in my life.”

LAFLAM I AM - To say Bryan LaFlam is excited about competing this weekend is an understatement. He’s battling against the best in the business in the inaugural FTI Competition Converters Intercontinental Top Sportsman Championship.
“We’re very excited and blessed to be invited,” said LaFlam. “Looking over the list, there’s some stiff competition, but we’re also doing it to have fun, and hopefully, we come out on the victorious end at the end of the day.”
The Top Sportsman class, derived originally from the AHRA’s Top Comp class in the 1970s, was the impetus for the creation of Pro Modified. The $50,000 top prize is an incredible motivator. 
“Preparation was different in the offseason because there’s not much of an offseason anymore,” LaFlam said. “I was just glad to get invited early enough before I completely tore my whole package apart. I know it’s going to be a competitive field and I want to be as competitive as I can be, and having the exact same combination from finishing last year, I feel is the best bet for me.”

LaFlam was ready and proved such by driving to the top spot in Friday’s qualifying. 
LaFlam is familiar with some of the racers on the list because of his history of racing in the PDRA.
“We’ve had a few run-ins in the past, and they’re all positive, except I ended up being on the losing end in a couple finals – three finals this past year – so I’m hoping to redeem myself,” he said.
Even though the Arizona native turned Mooresville, N.C. resident has been putting a lot of thought into the inaugural FTI Competition Converters Intercontinental Top Sportsman Championship, LaFlam confessed that he hasn’t focused much on the purse.
“I’m going to try not to because I don’t want it to affect me,” stated LaFlam. “I just want to go and have fun and race within our means and our program. However, it is exciting to be able to race for a large amount of money for a single race, but I’m just trying not to let the pressure get to me over that, but you know it’s going to happen to everyone. I don’t care what they say.”
In addition to winning the $50,000, plus taking home the bragging rights and hardware, LaFlam is looking forward to something else the WSOPM offers.
“I’m really looking forward to something different, like the fun and lighthearted environment I hear about,” he concluded.

THE DOUBLE-DUTY KID - Driving a Pro Modified is hard enough. But driving a Pro Modified and then climbing behind the wheel of a Top Dragster to battle it out with some of the nastiest gunslingers to bracket race?
In Pro Mod, Harvey – the 2023 Big Dog Series champion – is piloting his new screw-blown 2019 Chevy Camaro tuned by Steve Petty. At last year’s event, he qualified 27th and earned a first-round victory against Robert Abbott before falling to Marcus Birt in round two. 
“I’m feeling a lot better and more confident than I was last year,” said Harvey. “We had a new combination last year starting out. It was great. But this deal, we’re a lot more prepared to come and run against the fast guys now. I think we’ll be great coming out of this race.”
With $100,000 on the line – and an extra $50,000 in Harvey’s case – a lot of drivers might feel added pressure. However, Harvey is one of the few drivers who isn’t new to running for huge money and doesn’t expect nerves to affect him as they might others.  
“It’s a lot (of money), but I’ve raced for more than that before in one run,” Harvey said. “You don’t really think about it because it will get in your head. But the money is not for me. I want to win. I wanna beat all of them and win the race.”