There's only one first time. That was "Stevie Fast" Jackson's message June 9, as soon as he beat Mark Micke for the inaugural Pro Drag Radial (PDR) title at the conclusion of the ADRL Simply Phones U.S. Drags VI at Virginia Motorsports Park.
"How about that?" he asked excitedly before even unbuckling the seatbelts in his Procharger BBC-equipped '93 Mustang. "Those other guys might win some down the road, but there can only be one first winner in the books and we got it done! Yeah!"
That he got it done in the car that he basically made a name for himself in before it was sold to Al-Anabi Racing team owner Sheikh Khalid Al-Thani of Qatar last year made the win all that more special to Jackson.
"I feel very blessed. When Sheikh Khalid called me and said he wanted to send the orange Mustang back over here for me to run it in the Pro Drag Radial deal I couldn't believe it," Jackson said. "I thought when I left Qatar (early this year) that I wouldn't even see it again until next season, but dang, when I saw it sitting there on the shipping dock it was like seeing a child being reborn or something, if you can imagine that. I mean, that's my baby!"
Jackson, from Martinez, GA, also had the honor of being half of the first pair to make an official pass for the class as he lined up alongside the nitrous-fed '02 Camaro of Kyle Huettel as Pro Drag Radial qualifying opened the ADRL U.S. Drags about 4 p.m. on Saturday (June 8). A lengthy delay for track drying and grooming after a brief, but heavy morning rain shower also cost all classes a third scheduled round of qualifying.
Jackson didn't make it down the track under power that first attempt, but ran 4.539 at 178.50 mph in round two and slotted into 12th place after 24 entries made attempts on the VMP eighth mile. Huettel was first with a straight-off-the-trailer 4.280 at 175.16 mph, though he lost in round one upon encountering what would become all-too-familiar traction problems for the entire class. Tim Lynch, Jeff Cooner, Kevin Fiscus and Keith Berry rounded out the top five in qualifying, while Kenny Hubbard secured the 16th and final position for race day with a 4.624 at 163.39 mph.
Jackson improved to his best pass of the weekend with a 4.523 at 177.21 for a first-round win over Berry's twin-turboed '02 Corvette, then faltered a little to 5.504 at 171.43, but still managed to get by Steve Woolley and his '66 Chevy II to reach Hubbard in the semis. Hubbard got away first in his supercharged 2000 Camaro, but lost grip early while Jackson motored past for a 4.803 win at 166.64 and a date with Micke in the final round.
Micke and his Jefferson City, MO-based '78 Malibu qualified 15th with a 4.575-seconds pass at 177.88 mph, but on race day improved considerably to 4.408 at 183.37 in a first-round win over a traction-challenged Lynch. Micke won over a tire-smoking Paul Majer in round two and beat Mark Woodruff in a pedaling contest in the semis as both racers struggled to find traction.
In the final round against Micke, Jackson left with a humungous .168 advantage off the start--though he posted an atrocious .217 reaction time himself. "Oh my gosh, neither one of us had a light, we both sat there for an hour," Jackson said upon receiving the run's timeslip from a crewmember. "That's kind of embarrassing," he added with a laugh.
Jackson took the win in 4.526 seconds and going 178.26 mph, with Micke a distant runner-up at 4.790 seconds and only 138.81 mph.
"I went up there determined to just run my own race. I knew I couldn't outrun him if he hooked up, but I was determined to not beat myself," Jackson said later. We just wanted to not make any mistakes, make a good lap and make him beat us. If you can do that, very often the results are very favorable.
"This was a tough weekend, a tough, tough weekend, but my guys worked their butts off and they deserved this one. It's also been tough doing double duty (Jackson also raced an Al-Anabi '68 Camaro in Pro Nitrous), but Sheik Khalid, he had faith in me and I'm just so thankful for his generosity. I want to dedicate this win to him."
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