Lagana doubles, Boychuk sweeps on championship Sunday at Castrol Raceway
And once a year a dozen or so drivers get a chance to make their hometown fans proud with a shot at glory at Castrol Raceway.
For the second year in a row, that is person is Tim Boychuk.
For the second consecutive year Boychuk dominated at his home track of Castrol Raceway with a huge victory in the biggest Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car competition in western Canada, edging fellow Edmontonian Mike Grekul to take the crown at the Mopar Rocky Mountain Nitro Jam Nationals Sunday in Edmonton. Boychuk ran a 3.831 elapsed time at 198.85 miles per hour in the eighth-mile final to defeat Grekul and continue his reign of terror at Castrol Raceway.
“I am speechless, I get choked up just thinking about what this means,” said Boychuk, driver of the “Troy Lee Designs” backed Pontiac Funny Car. “It was such a crazy weekend with the rain and so many great competitors gunning for us that my emotions are just up and down right now.
“The only thing I do know is that I have a great, consistent crew that gets me down the track and I am thrilled to come away a winner once again.”
Joining Boychuk in taking home Ironman trophies on championship Sunday at Castrol Raceway were Bobby Lagana Jr. (Top Fuel), Jay Turner (Nitro Harley), Wayne Hofer (Pro Modified) and Ron Maroney (Nostalgia Fuel Altered).
Sportsman winners from Sunday’s Mopar Rocky Mountain Nitro Jam Nationals were Darryn O’Conner (Top Sportsman), Scott Hearn (Top Dragster), Mike Pople (Quick Rod), Chad Barclay (Super Rod), Tony Osredkar (Hot Rod), Sheldon Erfle (Super Stock), Mark Faul (Stock), Dan Coss (No Box), John Melnyk (Box) and Kaitlyn Crooks (Junior Dragster).
But by far Sunday’s biggest winner was Boychuk.
After sweeping the Mopar Rocky Mountain Nitro Jam Nationals in 2010, Boychuk hoped to continue that streak at Castrol Raceway with another strong outing and did just that by dominating the Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car class.
Boychuk qualified first on the charts on Saturday with a 5.788, 242.02 to lead all competitors and carried that momentum into Sunday with three solid laps to take the win.
In the final Boychuk was thrown a bit of a curveball as weather forced the remainder of the event to be finished in the eighth-mile, but it mattered very little as Boychuk left the line first and cruised to an easy victory with a 3.831, 198.85 in the win. Grekul in the “Pleuger and Geiger” Mustang finished with a 4.399, 132.96 in the runner-up spot.
“It doesn’t really change anything running to the eighth-mile. We just line it up and do our thing,” Boychuk said. “The only thing is that I really didn’t want to shut it off.”
Boychuk also downed Brad Thompson in round one and then met up with “Mr. Explosive” Mark Sanders in the semifinals. After putting down his best pass of the weekend the round before, Sanders gave it his all in trying to get around the quick Canadian, but his efforts fell short as Boychuk cruised to the win.
“The day certainly didn’t start like we had hoped. Our first pass we were really loose and my crew could basically see the side of my car from the starting line,” Boychuk said. “It felt like I was back behind the wheel of a sprint car, but someone was looking after us and it all worked out in the end.”
Grekul advanced to the finals from the third position on the charts, defeating Todd Lesenko and Mike Savage along the way.
Another big winner on Sunday was North Carolina native Jay Turner who bested a field of the best Canadian Nitro Harley competitors in the business to bring home his fourth Ironman of the season.
Turner qualified second on the charts on Saturday and followed that path to meet up with fellow Nitro Jam competitor and No. 1 qualifier Steve Dorn who both made the long haul to Edmonton to compete at Castrol Raceway.
In the final Turner ran a 4.374, 163.18 in the eighth-mile, besting Dorn who ran a 4.693, 141.68 in the runner-up effort. Turner also defeated Ken Kent and Ron Houniet on his way to the victory. Dorn looked like the bike to beat in the early going, consistently firing off one great elapsed time after another, but he couldn’t put it together in the end.
“It is great to come all the way up here to Edmonton and get a win,” Turner said. “Anytime we get to race it is exciting, but to get to race against a group of great competitors like this and win is incredible. And after all that, to meet up with Steve in the final and beat him it makes the win even more special. We look forward to taking this trophy back home with us.”
In Top Fuel Bobby Lagana completed the weekend sweep with a pair of wins over Bruce Litton both Saturday and Sunday to continue his dominance of the class.
After downing Mike Strasburg in round one, Lagana faced off with Litton and easily cruised to a victory with a 3.308, 244.83 in the final to pick up the win. Litton, for the second night in a row, smoked the tires immediately off the line.
In the consolation round Kyle Wurtzel picked up his first career Nitro Jam win over Strasburg.
Sunday’s other Nitro Jam shootout was contested in Nostalgia Fuel Altered as Ron Maroney in “Nanook” swept the category with a win over Tom Padilla’s “Nasty Benjamin” for the second night in a row. Maroney ran a 4.405, 173.27 in the final to Padilla’s 4.562, 148.05.
In the consolation pairing Randy Bradford recorded his first Nitro Jam round win over Jason Richey.
Rounding out Sunday’s professional winners was Wayne Hoffer in the West Coast Pro Modified Association who recorded a win over Vern Mills in the final. Hoffer made a nice, clean pass in the final, recording a 4.335, 171.47, while Mills’ machine made a hard right across the centerline right out of the gates to finish without a time.
The Rocky Mountain Funny Car class was also scheduled to complete their runs on Sunday, but the shortened eighth-mile distance forced the two finalists to complete their finals at a later date. The drivers remaining in competition were Ron Sekura and Eddy Plaizier.
After a full day of racing, the sportsman cars closed out the weekend with champions crowned in 10 different classes.
In Top Sportsman Darryn O’Conner (St. John, B.C.) drove his ’04 Chevrolet Cavalier to a victory over Gerry Rolheiser with a 4.802, 144.27. In Top Dragster Scott Hearn (Sherwood Park, Alb.) defeated former Junior Dragster competitor Natasha Cherchuk with a 4.819, 143.17 winning pass.
In the Stock categories Sheldon Erfle (Saskatoon, Sk.) piloted his ’56 Bel Air to a win over Jared Erichsen with a 7.682, 88.41 winning pass, while Stock winner Mark Faul (Tacoma, Wash.) drove his Chevelle to a win over Tom Skjonsberg with a 7.353, 89.78.
Rod winners included Mike Pople (Calgary, Alb.) in Quick Rod who ran a 5.808, 132.82 to defeat Mike Shannon, Chad Barclay (Kelowna, B.C.) in Super Rod who ran a 6.583, 109.98 to defeat Mike Shannon and Tony Osredkar (Drayton Valley, Alb.) in Hot Rod who ran a 7.115, 100.18 to defeat Jacob Slinger.
Wrapping up Sunday’s winners were Dan Coss in No Box who defeated Mitch Peach with a 6.554, 103.28, John Melnyk in Box who defeated Garnet Rose with a 6.252, 108.61 and Kaitlyn Crooks in Junior Dragster who defeated Brayden Ochitwa with a 7.887, 81.67.
Next up for the IHRA Nitro Jam tour is a trip across Canada to Grand Bend, Ontario for the Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals at the Grand Bend Motorplex with even more thrilling Nitro Jam professional drag racing action.
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