After recovering from a major motor meltdown in the opening round of Pro Nitrous qualifying, Doug Riesterer began putting together impressive run after impressive run that looked destined to end in a visit to victory lane at Memphis International Raceway. A brief lapse of attention at the most crucial moment, however, resulted in a runner-up finish for him at the ADRL Memphis Drags III.
Running alongside Bob Rahaim—whom Riesterer trailed at the head of the PN points standings by just 57 heading into Memphis—the Victoria, TX, racer laid down a then-track-record 3.823-seconds pass at 193.60 mph to take over the number-one spot with his ’68 Camaro, while Grosse Point, MI’s Rahaim slotted into second with a 3.848 at 195.51-mph effort.
With only 15 entries in the class, Riesterer earned a solo pass for round one of eliminations and remained consistent with a 3.826 at just 178.76, as he had to back off at the last second to avoid crossing the center line. No matter, he improved to a new record 3.788 at 194.24 to defeat a game Johnny Pilcher in round two, then had a fortuitous 4.244 single in the semis after Burton Auxier’s car caught on fire during its burnout.
Meanwhile, Rahaim and his ’69 Camaro made it past John Hall with a 3.865 at 195.03 in round one, posted another solid 3.851 at 195.59 against a redlighting Robert Mathis in round two, and then caught a break of his own in the semis when Pat Stoken threw away a sure 3.812 win with a stunning -.245 red-light start while Rahaim suffered through a traction-challenged, 5.153-seconds pass.
That left only the final, where if he won Riesterer would pass Rahaim for the points lead (though after missing one race earlier this year, Riesterer is not eligible for a 250-point, end-of-year “perfect attendance” bonus).
The two Camaros staged, the green lights came on, and Rahaim left with a .085 light while Riesterer remained static for .242 before moving. That huge delay negated another track record 3.772 pass at 194.74 mph and allowed Rahaim to take the win and extend his points advantage with a 3.834-seconds pass at 196.30 mph.
“I was dead-a** late,” Riesterer fumed after the run, later explaining he made a mistake during his staging procedure that threw off his concentration. “I forgot to hit the transbrake and just when I was trying to get it the lights came down. It was a stupid mistake that never should’ve happened, but all we can do is move on from this and see what happens in the next two races. We’re not done yet.”
Rahaim said he was thrilled to pick up his second win of the year—and of his ADRL career—but also realized it came with a bit of good fortune.
“Sometimes it just works out,” he said. “I got lucky in the semis and again in the final, but it’s really great to get this win with my crew chief Kevin Bowen here with me. You know, Kevin had some health problems and couldn’t be with us when we won up in Michigan, so I’m just happy that he’s here with us today and made some great calls to help get us here.”
Rahaim also revealed his crew found and repaired a broken rearend housing on his car in their race-day morning inspection at Memphis that he said made the car drive much better.
“I had been feeling something weird, especially when I was backing up, it wouldn’t track straight,” he said. “So I’m glad we got that sorted out and maybe it’ll help us go faster.
“Right now, though, I couldn’t be happier. I really feel like I’m the luckiest man in the world.”
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