LAGANA HEADLINES SUNDAY GRAND BEND NITRO JAM WINNERS

Written by Larry Crum.


Call it a draw. Call it a split.
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But whatever you call it, don’t think this battle over just yet.

In a battle of two of the fastest nostalgia Nitro Funny Cars in world, Pennsylvania’s Peter Gallen claimed round one on Saturday while Alberta’s Tim Boychuk proved top dog on Sunday, splitting the much anticipated matchup between the two during the Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals at the Grand Bend Motorplex in Ontario.
 
“Peter is a pretty tough opponent to go against so we were thrilled to get the win this afternoon,” Boychuk said. “It is nice to split with him. They have a great car and a great team and they know how to put the numbers down so anytime you can beat a team like that it is really special.”
 
Gallen set a blistering pace to open the weekend, temporarily setting a new world record in the process, but Boychuk was able to battle back and pick up his own Ironman trophy on Sunday with the two quickest laps of the afternoon to split the weekend and leave the title of nostalgia racings fastest driver unanswered – for now.
 
“They have proven they are a very worthy opponent and it has been a blast racing against them. When we go west it is Mark Sanders and out here they are the team to beat so it makes for a fun weekend to have that competition,” Boychuk said. “I am just thrilled with our performance. That thing was hauling the mail this afternoon and that allowed us to come out of here with a win.”
 
In addition to the great final between Boychuk and Gallen, other pro winners from Sunday’s Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals included Bobby Lagana Jr. who swept Top Fuel and picked up his second consecutive Nitro Jam championship in the process, Ron Maroney in Nostalgia Fuel Altered, Jay Turner in Nitro Harley and Jack Grainy in the Pro Mod Invitational.
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Sportsman winners from championship Sunday included Bill Wilson (Top Sportsman), Ed Smith (Top Dragster), Pete D’Agnolo (Super Stock), Craig Marshall (Stock), Barry Ryan (Quick Rod), Dave Klomps (Super Rod), Andrew Stirk (Hot Rod), Will Steckly (Mod ET), Dave Elrod (Top ET), Peter Thomson (Harley Destroyers), Amanda Grennan (Junior 13-18) and Luke Schwemler (Junior 8-12).
 
After a wild and wacky opening night, things went rather smoothly on Sunday under sunny skies with absolutely blistering conditions. Despite the heat, however, many racers actually saw their numbers improve leading to some very exciting racing to close the weekend.
 
And one of those drivers was Boychuk.
 
Boychuk put down his two quickest laps of the weekend during the afternoon on Sunday, saving the best for last in the win over Gallen. Boychuk, behind the wheel of the “Troy Lee Designs” Pontiac, posted a 5.863 elapsed time at 236.63 miles per hour in the Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car final, edging Gallen and the “Poverty Stricken” crew by just a few feet at the line. Gallen crossed the finish line with a 5.959, 240.64 in the runner-up effort.
 
Boychuk reached the final with a 5.878, 235.56 in a round one win over Troy Martin. Despite a successful weekend, Gallen was unable to back up his potential world record time from Saturday.
 
Consolation round winners from Sunday included Martin who defeated Greg Jacobsmeyer and Laurie Cannister who defeated Dunn.
 
In Top Fuel Lagana won his fourth consecutive Top Fuel Ironman and 11th this season allowing him to seal his second straight Nitro Jam championship. Lagana was presented with the award during Sunday’s opening ceremonies.
 
3“We had a great year and had a lot of fun going up against Bruce and those guys,” Lagana said. “We have become pretty close friends with those guys and that has made the ride even more special. I hated to see it come down to a tough weekend for Bruce, but those guys are first class and they won’t let it slow them down.
 
“We have been racing Bruce for 12 years now and we hope to spend another decade doing the same.”
 
Even with the trophy in hand, Lagana still had two solid laps on Sunday to sweep the weekend. Of those passes Lagana’s quickest lap came in the final with a 5.041, 267.96. In the other lane Litton, who replaced Todd Paton in the championship pairing, blew up on the line giving Lagana a victory lap to close out the 2011 Top Fuel season in Nitro Jam competition.
 
“We made it down both times today. The track was 139 degrees and we were still on pace for a 4.91 lap in the final, but we tossed the belt off,” Lagana said. “We were obviously pretty excited to be able to run that quick and it gave us some stuff to work with in the future.
 
“Overall I thought it was a great weekend and the fan support was tremendous. There were so many fans last night and all of them came down and talked about how great the show was. That makes the weekend even more special because it really is all about them.”
 
In Nitro Harley Saturday winner Steve Dorn won the battle of the numbers, but left before the green light giving Jay Turner his second Ironman in three tries during the Canadian portion of the Nitro Jam tour. With the win in hand, Turner limped across the line with an 8.060, 200.35 to claim his fifth Ironman of the season, the most of anyone in the class. Dorn was top qualifier with a 6.497, 207.24.
 
In the consolation round Jake Stordeur defeated Mike Pelrine.
 
Wrapping up the nitro categories was nostalgia Fuel Altered as Jim Maroney in “Nanook” claimed a big win over Tom Padilla’s “Nasty Benjamin” machine in the closest final of the afternoon. Both drivers were late on the start, but Maroney was a tad quicker and that proved the difference as he crossed the line with a 6.386, 226.13 to Padilla’s 6.343, 217.81. Maroney was also the top qualifier entering the finals.
 
“It was a wild weekend for sure. We started off Saturday crossing the centerline and taking out some cones so that prevented us from doing anything yesterday, but today it ran straight as an arrow and fast enough to get the win,” Maroney said. “This was an incredible weekend. Grand Bend is an awesome place and we can’t wait to do this again in the future.”
 
In the consolation round Jim Maroney defeated Jason Richey.

The Pro Mod Invitational finished up the professional ranks as Jack Grainy bested Eric Latino in the quarter-mile final. Grainy, who qualified second entering eliminations, ran a 6.117, 233.56 to pick up the win. No. 1 qualifier Latino crossed the finish line with an identical 6.117, 240.00 in the runner-up spot. 5 
In front of a packed house throughout the course of the weekend, sportsman racers finished up under the sweltering conditions on Sunday as well and experienced similar results with several drivers running quicker than expected.
 
In the fastest sportsman category Ed Smith (LaSalle, Ont.), who earlier in the day was named Best Engineered for the weekend, bested John Pizzo in the Top Dragster final. Smith ran a 7.495, 158.52 in the win. In Top Sportsman Bill Wilson (Ingersoll, Ont.) ran a 7.307, 188.38 behind the wheel of his 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier to defeat Howard Michael.
 
By far the most interesting pairing of the afternoon came in the Stock final as father-son duo Craig and Bob Marshall of Columbus, Ohio met in the finals driving identical Mopar powered 1973 Darts. And in this matchup it was actually the son coming away the winner as Craig crossed the line with an 11.151, 114.59.

In Super Stock Peter D’Agnolo (Rochester, N.Y.) drove his ’67 Camaro to a win over Thomas Fletcher using a 9.477, 128.08 in the final.

 
In the Rod categories Barry Ryan (Howell, Mich.) ran a 8.929, 157.89 to defeat Kathy Fisher in Quick Rod, Dave Klomps (Brucefield, Ont.) ran a 10.059, 142.40 in a win over John Cira in Super Rod and Andrew Stirk (Orangeville, Ont.) ran a 10.918, 134.12 in a win over Scott Jahren in Hot Rod.
 
Other sportsman winners included Peter Thomson (Burlinton, Ont.) who defeated Chris Fox in Harley Destroyers, Dave Elrod (Harrod, Ohio) who defeated Bill Riddle in the Box ET finals, Will Steckly (Milverton, Ont.) who defeated John Lewis in the No Box finals, Sarah Grennan (Sarnia, Ont.) who defeated Gillian Bishop in the 13-18 Junior Dragster category and Luke Schwemler (Ahmsterburg, Ont.) who defeated Jesse Searson in the 8-12 Junior Dragster category.
 
Next up for the Nitro Jam tour is a stop in Martin, Mich. for the Northern Nitro Jam at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park the weekend of August 12-13.

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