In the Pro Nitrous semi-finals for Dragpalooza IX, Canfield, OH's John DeCerbo became the third ADRL driver to experience a serious accident this weekend at Rockingham Dragway. During second-round qualifying on Saturday, Pro Extreme rookie Monte Grace hit both walls shortly after launching his screw-blown '68 Camaro and nitrous racing legend Shannon Jenkins suffered the first crash of his long and storied career when his 2012 Camaro rolled over at the end of his third and final Pro Mod qualifying attempt. Fortunately, each driver walked away from the wrecks and none were seriously injured.
In DeCerbo's case, his Tim McAmis-built '68 Camaro lost traction and made a hard left from the right lane and got up on its two right-side wheels, narrowly missing eventual Dragpalooza winner Stevie Jackson as it crossed the track. The car struck the left guardwall nearly head-on shortly before the eighth-mile finish line, where a brief, but huge fireball erupted before it slid to a stop near the quarter-mile mark.
"I think the car just hit the transition from the concrete to the asphalt and it just smoked the tires and it was just out of control. It wasn't shaking, it just smoked the tires," DeCerbo said later in his trailer. "It just turned left and there was nothing I could do. I did hit the parachutes hoping they would slow me down, but I knew I was going to hit the wall, I saw it coming. After that I was just along for the ride."
DeCerbo credited the ADRL safety crew for their quick response and McAmis for providing him with a safe ride. Surprisingly, he also said the car may not be as badly damaged as it initially appeared.
"It looks like it's just front-end damage. It'll probably need a new front clip, or at least that's what we're assuming, but we'll figure it out," DeCerbo said. "Up until that our weekend was going pretty good. We were trying out a new combination and we were going rounds; it just didn't turn out as good as it should have. But cars can be replaced and I'm okay, so we're fine."
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