North Star Dragway is the world's quickest drag radial class, currently holding the elapsed time record owned by Stevie "Fast" Jackson with a 3.75 this past April. The track prep controlled by owner Gene Nicodemus and starter David Strickland is second to none. Strickland, seen here with son Blake, were on their game again this past weekend providing an incredible racing surface for the drag radial competitors.
The Texas Small Tire Throwdown was held October 27-29th at North Star Dragway in Denton, Texas and brought the best of the best in small tire racing to the grounds for three days of spectacular drag radial racing. This, the final points race of the season for the Radial Tire Racing Association, was the event where three class Championships would be decided as Pro Drag Radial, X275 and Limited 275 all hosted nail biting title runs by the top contenders in each class. Action got underway on Thursday night with a six hour test session that previewed a great weekend of racing coming up under pleasant fall North Texas weather. This event also brought a massive crowd through the gates to catch Street Outlaws stars Justin "Big Chief" Shearer and Shawn Ellington's "Murder Nova" both in the house on drag radials and looking to mix it up with the elite drivers of the Pro Drag Radial category.
In the Pro Drag Radial contingent, Jeff Sitton and Taylor Lastor led the performance numbers in qualifying as the only drivers to dip into the 3.80s on a regular basis over the weekend. The "405" drivers Shearer and Ellington bowed out in round two of eliminations Saturday night, while Sitton and Lastor showed no mercy on their opponents as they marched to the final round. A pair of 3.70's wouldn't have been surprising in this all nitrous affair as Sitton and Lastor staged up for the last dance. Lastor took the starting line advantage but shortly past half-track shot a fireball out the top of his Camaro and had the best seat in the house to watch Sitton thunder to low elapsed time of the event with a 3.77 at 201 mph. Congratulations to Sitton and crew chief Stevie "Fast" Jackson on their Pro Drag Radial event victory.
X275 racing was hot and heavy as always at North Star Dragway. Incredibly close racing was provided for the capacity crowd as class points leader Clint Downs racked up round wins like free Halloween candy to meet Shane Fisher in the final round. Downs had clinched the 2016 RTRA X275 Class Championship just two rounds prior when number two in points Odie Sturgeon lost in the quarterfinals. Downs hoped to cap off the title weekend with a win but had to get around the always tough Shane Fisher. Downs was ready for the challenge proven by his .004 reaction time which he needed as his 4.48 at 157 mph narrowly held off Fisher's quicker but loosing 4.46 at 160 mph, the margin of victory just .0005 at the stripe. Congratulations to Downs and company on their RTRA X275 Championship and Texas Small Tire Throwdown victory.
In the Limited 275 class, an equally intense field of cars provided great drag racing under the lights in Texas. Stephen Barnett and Daniel Large entered the event in a heated points battle for the 2016 RTRA Championship, but Large's hopes faded quickly as he took an unexpected second round loss. Barnett was all smiles as his title was now locked up and the mission to cap off the weekend with a win in the final round was on. Barnett had qualified number one with a new Limited 275 elapsed time world record of 4.74 and marched to the final to meet number six qualifier Mark Brewton. Brewton saved his best for last as his career best 4.77 at 147 mph was enough to claim his first RTRA event win over Barnett's 4.80 at 145 mph. Congratulations to Brewton on the event big win and Barnett on the 2016 RTRA Limited 275 Championship.
With the 2016 Radial Tire Racing Association season under wraps and an incredible weekend of racing closing the small tire action in Texas for the year, all we can do is wait out the winter and anticipate next season. North Star Dragway will again host the country's quickest and fastest small tire cars with multiple events and the RTRA points series will resume with it's third consecutive season of points battle action. For more information visit http://www.rtraracing.com.
PRO DRAG RADIAL
"Big Chief" Justin Shearer was in the house and hoping for career best times in Texas in the "Crowmod" entry. Shearer was able to qualify fourth with a 4.01 at 193 mph on Friday night, just a few ticks from a career best number. In the second round of eliminations, Shearer went into a wild wheelstand and crossed the centerline just before the finish line. Despite the lack of any three second passes, Shearer and company wowed the crowd with some great racing and enjoyed a fun weekend at North Star Dragway.
Hometown racer Mark Moore lives just two miles from North Star Dragway and has more passes on this famed strip that likely any other racer on the property. His twin turbo Mustang tuned by Josh Lindsay qualified fifth with a 4.19 at 188 mph. Moore posted a career best 4.05 in the first round but in the semis, fell to eventual runner up Taylor Lastor.
Jason Brock unloaded his Baton Rouge, Louisiana based 2004 turbocharged Mustang on Saturday morning leaving him only one qualifying shot and his 4.47 qualified him eighth. In first round action, Brock went into a flame throwing power wheelstand which sent him across the centerline and ended his weekend. Certainly not what Brock had hoped for, but this wild run brought the fans to their feet.
Shawn Ellington and the famed "Murder Nova" came down to Texas to held teammate Justin Shearer represent the "405" and after several aborted runs due to wheelstands, Ellington posted a 4.34 at 171 mph to qualify seventh. In round two, Ellington met his match when his 4.52 came up short to eventual event winner Jeff Sitton's stout 3.83. The Street Outlaws stars enjoyed their weekend in Texas and spent time with the fans who packed the stands to catch the stars in action.
Winston, Georgia based racer Norman Bryson wheeled his 903 cubic inch nitrous powered 1969 Camaro to some amazing runs over the weekend, qualifying third with a 3.97 at at 188 mph. Bryson advanced to the semi-finals where he fell to his engine builder Taylor Lastor.
Rodney Whatley had a chance to make a run for the 2016 Radial Tire Racing Association Pro Drag Radial Championship in his wickedly loud and fast screw blown Camaro, but in Thursday testing action Whatley blew the motor in the blown car and rushed home to load up his Limited Drag Radial nitrous powered entry in hopes to gain as many points as possible. The nitrous car is roughly four tenths slower and qualified sixth with a 4.32. Despite a massive wheelstand Friday night, Whatley was able to make the call for eliminations but bowed out in round two to Norman Bryson. After the final calculations, Whatley missed the Championship by just two points.
Thomas Patterson made his first appearance at North Star Dragway under radial tires with his 632 cubic inch nitrous assisted 1968 Camaro. Patterson and company lived in the 4.50 range all weekend but his 4.56 wasn't enough to win first round of eliminations.
Taylor Lastor qualified at the top of the Pro Drag Radial field with a 3.84 at 191 mph and plowed through the field to meet Jeff Sitton in the final round. In what was expected to be a final featuring side by side 3.70 passes, Lastor's car blew up just past the 330' foot mark and coasted to a losing 4.03 at 146 mph to Sitton's low elapsed time of the event, a winning 3.77 at 201 mph.
Jeff Sitton was behind the wheel of the world's quickest drag radial car over the weekend, a car he owns and typically Stevie "Fast" Jackson drives. This weekend Sitton was doing the driving with Stevie Fast calling the tuning shots. After qualifying second with a 3.88 at 197 mph, Sitton ripped through the competition to meet top qualifier Taylor Lastor in the final round of Pro Drag Radial. Sitton and Jackson proved why they are the best of the best and saved their top run for the final as a 3.77 at 201 mph blast took the win light.
Chris Shortridge posted a 4.58 at 157 mph lap to qualify 13th in the 29 car field of X275 entrants. Shortridge is a regular attendee of the drag radial events at North Star Dragway, but bowed out in round one to Zack Weidel.
Zack Weidel made his RTRA X275 debut in his Eufaula, Oklahoma based 1965 Chevy Nova packing a 388 cubic inch LS motor. After qualifying number twenty with a 4.67 at 150 mph, Weidel fell in round two to eventual event winner Clint Downs.
Chris Bullard's 2000 Ford Mustang could only muster a 4.82 at 149 mph which qualified number twenty four and was unable to make the call for first round eliminations.
Michelle Kato was recognized in the drivers meeting and presented with the Radial Tire Racing Association's "Most Improved" award by RTRA founders Gene Nicodemus and Rodney Whatley. Kato raised eyebrows this spring by posting several career best numbers in RTRA competition and backed it up with another strong performance in Texas. Kato's 588 cubic inch Ford powered "4.63 bracket car" qualified her sixteenth and in round two, another 4.63 came up short to Jimmy White at the stripe.
JD Campbell's beautiful Reher & Morrison small block powered 1968 Camaro posted a 4.55 at 154 mph to qualify number seven. Campbell looked to be a contender but in round two, had issues against eventual event runner up Shane Fisher.
Jeff Coletta's Walker, Louisiana based 1991 Ford Mustang packing Chevy power qualified number twelve with a flame throwing 4.57 at 155 mph. In round two action, Colletta blew the tires off at the hit of the throttle and could do nothing but watch Shane Heckel blast to down the eighth mile for the win.
Jimmy White Jr. made the tow from Arlington, Tennessee in his wicked 1989 Ford Mustang X275 entry powered by a 457 cubic inch Ford. White was the number six qualifier with a 4.55 at 158 mph and advanced to the semi-final round to meet RTRA X275 points leader Clint Downs. In a spectacular drag race, White was .028 on the tree and thundered to a 4.47 at 160 mph which unbelievably came up short to Downs' 4.48 at 157 mph. It was all settled on the starting line as Downs' .011 reaction time was barely enough to hold off White at the stripe. MOV .005
Kenny Hubbard pummeled the competition in qualifying and led the twenty nine car field with a stellar 4.45 at 158 mph in his Jeff Naiser powered 1974 Chevy Nova. In a big round two upset, Hubbard had issues shortly after leaving the starting line and had the best seat in the house to watch Bob Bales post a winning 4.54 at 159 mph to end Hubbard's weekend earlier than expected.
Winner of the "long haul award" goes to Paul Hennum who showed up at North Star Dragway two days early for some pre-race testing in his Blaine, Minnesota based 1994 Ford Mustang. Hennum was able to qualify 22nd with a 4.71 and stepped up to a 4.66 at 153 mph in round one to defeat LeWayne Brown. In second round, Hennum blew the tires off and watched Sean Lyon post a 4.59 to advance.
Fellow "long hauler" Sean Lyon came from Panama City, Florida to mix it up with the Texas X275 boys and girls and proved to be a contender early by qualifying third with a strong 4.50 elapsed time. Lyon knocked out Paul Hennum and RTRA Championship contender Odie Sturgeon to meet the tough Shane Fisher in the semi-finals. Despite improving on his elapsed times in every round to this point, his 4.54 at 160 mph came up short at the stripe to Fisher's 4.47 at 159 mph.
Shane Heckel wheeled his Baytown, Texas based 1991 Ford Mustang to the number four qualifying spot with a 4.51 at 158 mph. In the quarterfinals, Heckel lined up with RTRA X275 points leader Clint Downs and went .009 red with a 4.53 to come up short to Downs' 4.48 at 157 mph blast.
T.J. Gatlin's turbocharged 1971 Chevy Nova qualified number two with a 4.49 at 156 mph and looked to be a heavy favorite as eliminations got underway Saturday evening. In second round, Gatlin took out Kevin Cram on a holeshot but in third round had issues against Shane Fisher and bowed out with a 5.60 to Fisher's 4.70.
Shane Fisher's Dewitt, Arkansas based 1993 Ford Mustang is always a top runner at North Star Dragway's RTRA events. Fisher surprisingly struggled in qualifying with a best of 4.65 at 156 which only earned him the number 18 position. Eliminations got underway and in first round Fisher and company improved to a 4.53 for the win, a 4.49 for the win in round two, a lucky 4.70 in the quarters and in the semi-final posted a 4.47 at 159 mph to take out Sean Lyon to move into the final round. In the final, Fisher and Clint Downs crept into the beams ready to crown a winner. Fisher ripped off low elapsed time of the event with a booming 4.46 at 160 mph hit, but his .031 reaction time fell short to Downs' .004 reaction time and Downs' slower 4.48 at 157 took the win in an amazing final round of X275 action. MOV .0005 at the stripe.
Clint Downs of Yukon, Oklahoma came into the final RTRA points race of the year leading the X275 points standings. Odie Sturgeon was the only driver with a chance to make a run for the title and Sturgeon bowed out in round three of competition. In the final round, Downs already had the 2016 RTRA X275 Championship locked up and hoped to cap off a title weekend with a win at the last points race of the year. Downs met Shane Fisher in the last dance and in the closest final round in RTRA X275 history, his .0005 package with a 4.48 at 157 with a .004 reaction time took the win over Fisher's quicker 4.46 at 160 mph with a .031 reaction time. What a final round in X275 to cap off the Texas Small Tire Throwdown at North Star Dragway.
Grand Prairie, Texas racer Derek Lewis qualified his 1970 Chevy Nova in the number four spot with a 4.83 at 144 mph and battled his way to the semi-finals to meet RTRA Limited 275 points leader Stephen Barnett. In the semis, an incredible drag race unfolded as Lewis busted off a career best 4.77 at 145 mph but lost on a holeshot to Barnett's 4.78 at 145 mph.
Jim Staples wheeled his 1981 Chevy Corvette to the third qualifying position with a 4.81 at 148 mph and advanced to the quarterfinal round to match up with Mark Brewton. Staples met his match when he had problems off the starting line while Brewton moved into the semis with a 4.95 at 144 mph.
Daniel Large entered the Texas Small Tire Throwdown in second place with a solid shot and running for the Championship against points leader Stephen Barnett. Barnett and Large as expected led the field in qualifying, Barnett number one and Large number two. In a huge round two upset, Large bowed out when he spun the tires against Nathan Bevilacqua which sealed the deal for Barnett's 2016 RTRA Limited 275 Championship.
Stephen Barnett of Magnolia, Texas entered the event leading the RTRA Limited 275 points standings and dropped a bomb on the competition during qualifying Friday night with a new class elapsed time world record, 4.74 at 146 mph. Barnett locked up the 2016 RTRA Limited 275 Championship during the middle rounds of eliminations and marched to the final to Mark Brewton. In the final, Brewton posted a career best 4.77 at 147 mph to take the surprise win over Barnett's 4.80 at 145 mph. Despite the final round loss, it was all smiles and hand shakes in the Barnett and company pit area as they'll enjoy the off-season as RTRA Champions.
Mark Brewton of Winnfield, Louisiana enjoyed an awesome weekend in his 1972 Chevy Nova. Brewton qualified number six with a 4.91 at 144 mph and blasted through the field to advance to the final round of Limited 275 to meet 2016 Class Champion Stephen Barnett. Brewton wowed the crowd with a stellar 4.77 at 147 mph, his best pass of the weekend, to take out the points leader in the last dance of the night and claim his first RTRA Limited 275 event win.