After last visiting victory lane in September 2010 for his career-first ADRL win at Norwalk, OH, Jim Laurita finally made it back June 9, after defeating first-time finalist Matt Suite for the Pro Nitrous title at the ADRL Simply Phones U.S. Drags VI in Petersburg, VA.
Driving for just the third time with a clutch in his Switzer Dynamics '68 Camaro, the Morgantown, WV, coal mining company owner started from the number-one position with an outstanding 3.771-seconds pass at 198.90 mph that stood up as low ET and top speed of the meet. Following him on the qualifying list were teammate Pat Stoken at 3.806 and 196.85 mph, John Hall, Steve Jackson and Danny Perry.
"It's taking an awful lot of work and we've got this new car here in only its third time out, but things are really starting to come together," said Laurita, who raced through Robert Patrick, Randy Weatherford and Jackson in order to reach Suite driving Steve Vick's ADRL-branded '68 Camaro. "I've got a fantastic crew and Brandon Switzer of Switzer Dynamics tuning on it for me, so I couldn't be happier with the performance, especially after just three races, it's really something.
"But it's not just about the car; it's about getting me dialed in, too, getting the crew dialed in; I mean, I've been racing for three years with an automatic (transmission), so this has been a pretty big change."
In the final round, Suite put together a game 3.934 at 185.95-mph effort, but it was no match for Laurita, who left first with an impressive .021 light, easily his best of the day, then ran 3.822 at 198.09 to set low ET and top speed of eliminations.
"Everything worked perfect in the final," Laurita said. "I just stayed calm, went up there and did my thing. And the car was perfect, porpoising on every gear change, I couldn't have asked for a better or smoother run, really."
Meanwhile, the winner's circle beckoned.
"You know, when we won that race in Norwalk I would never have thought it would take nearly three years before we were back here," Laurita admitted. "Hopefully, it won't take that long to do it again."
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