2017 PDRA NORTH-SOUTH SHOOTOUT - EVENT NOTEBOOK
FINAL NOTEBOOK - RUNNING THE TABLE PROVES TO BE THE NORM AT THE CREEK
FIRST TIME IS THE CHARM - Supercharged Pro Mod racing veteran Wesley B. Jones had to face off against some of the most formidable competitors in Pro Extreme to earn his first PDRA event victory. First, Jones drove his Batman-themed ’41 Willys to a 3.609-second pass at 213 mph to defeat teammate and past world champion Jason Scruggs. He improved to a 3.598 at 214.66 in the semifinals over José Gonzales. He used a holeshot advantage and 3.601 at 212.46 to overcome the 3.551 at 217.25 laid down by No. 1 qualifier Terry Leggett and his Leggett Logging & Trucking ’71 Mustang.
“This feels pretty darn good,” Jones admitted. “I’ve been racing Pro Extreme for three or four years and Pro Mod racing for at least 15 years. I’ve won some other races, but to win one of these PDRA races is pretty impressive. It still hasn’t sunk in that I’ve won yet. I’m used to coming to the winner’s circle with Jason (Scruggs), and now it’s the other way around.
“To beat Terry on a holeshot means a lot to me as a driver. I knew he ran a .55 and his car was just bad to the bone all day. I’ve struggled to get my car going down the racetrack and running good since I wrecked it last April. Today, it was just stuck on that .59-60 number. We tried to make it go faster in the final; I don’t know why it didn’t. But we got the win and that’s what matters.”
RUNNING THE TABLE - No. 1 qualifier Jay Cox came to Maryland to prove a point, and his barrage of 3.6-second passes from qualifying through eliminations certainly made a statement. While it wasn’t his quickest pass of the evening, Cox’s 3.681 at 200.86 was enough to defeat defending Pro Nitrous world champion Tommy Franklin’s 3.691 at 202.42 in the final round.
“Tommy is a good racer and I figured he’d run a .67 or .68, so I wanted to match him and let the race go to whoever had the better light,” Cox said. “We made a change to make it go straight and we actually backed it down. I wanted the (et) record for (engine builder) Charlie Buck, but we did what we had to do to win and get the points.”
Cox started eliminations with a 3.698 at 200.17 on a bye run. His 3.677 at 201.55 over Jim Laurita in the second round was one-thousandth of a second off the Pro Nitrous et record. Cox slowed to a 3.716 at 180.48 on another bye run in the semifinals before ramping up his RJ Race Cars-built Clements Mechanical ’69 Camaro for the final round against the Pat Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro of Franklin.
“I haven’t always done so well at this track, so I wanted to come out here and dominate. We’ve been low of every single round except the semifinals, but I went 3.71 lifting at 330-feet. I went out there on E3 and that thing was on a .66 run, it just went left. I couldn’t get it to go straight and I didn’t want to give it away. That means a lot to me to go low. Pat and Lizzy (Musi) and Tommy (Franklin) by far have some strong cars, and for us to be able to go out there and outrun them speaks volumes. I talk a lot of junk, but I have a lot of respect for those guys. It’s going to be a dogfight until the end of the year,” Cox said.
RUNNING THE TABLE, PART 2 - When it came to Pro Boost competition, it wasn’t possible to find two cars paired closer in performance than No. 1 qualifier Tylor Miller and No. 2 qualifier Ty Tutterow. The two young Pro Boost stars met up in the final round for what was sure to be an epic battle. The win went to Miller at the starting line, though, as Tutterow left just a tick too soon. Miller recorded a career-best 3.70 at 197.91, while Tutterow’s 3.702 at 200.41 was negated by the red light.
“It was definitely a wild night for us,” Miller said. “This was the result of a lot of long nights working until 3 a.m., maintenancing everything so it was perfect for the race. My first light today was terrible. I just kept going shallow because I went red at Darlington and didn’t want to do that again. I just kept nailing the tree harder and harder, chewing it down 10 numbers at a time. I assumed Ty would be on top of it, so I wanted to cut at least a .020 light and that’s what I did.”
Miller, 27, and Tutterow, 22, were nearly even through eliminations. When Miller ran 3.775 on a first-round bye run, Tutterow ran 3.779 over Jeremy Ray. Miller’s Pee Dee Fleet ’69 Chevelle posted a 3.726 over Ric Fleck second round; Tutterow’s GALOT Motorsports ’69 Camaro went 3.724 over Casey Stemper. The pressure-packed final round was set up when Tutterow improved to a 3.717 over José Gonzales and Miller ran 3.72 over Brandon Snider in the semifinals.
“I work really well under pressure,” Miller said. “It seems like the more pressure you put on me, the better I do. Pressure doesn’t bother me. My biggest technique is to not think about the car next to me. I try to block out the other side of the track, focus on my lights, wait for the tree to drop and do my thing without worrying about what the other car is doing.”
GOFORTH SEALS THE DEAL - Past PDRA Extreme Pro Stock champion Cary Goforth earned his first event win of the season when he defeated No. 1 qualifier Trevor Eman in a remarkably close final round. Eman in his Aruba.com ’11 Mustang left the starting line first, but Goforth’s Dean’s Casing Service/Dewayne Higgins Trucking ’15 Camaro charged ahead to win by just five inches, 4.053 at 177.95 to Eman’s 4.06 at 177.84.
“We had a lot of fast racers here this weekend,” Goforth said. “Especially in the semifinals, you got down to probably the four quickest cars here based on qualifying. I knew when we went into the finals to run Trevor that we had our work cut out for us. I knew we had to be good on all stages. We probably weren’t as good as we should’ve been. I pulled a couple gears early and that cost us a little bit. That’s just being a greedy racer. We’re happy with the win, don’t get me wrong; we just could’ve been better.”
Goforth qualified in the two spot and ran 4.287 to beat John DeFlorian first round, then improved to a 4.033 on a bye run and a 4.028 over John Montecalvo in the semifinals. The Holdenville, Okla.-based driver leaves Maryland with the Extreme Pro Stock points lead.
“I think we found our bug we’ve been chasing. Hopefully we can carry on this momentum through the rest of the year. We still have a lot of tough guys behind us, so we just can’t let up,” Goforth added.
HISTORY ON TWO WHEELS - Pro Extreme Motorcycle finalists Travis Davis and Eric McKinney made PDRA history when they recorded the first side-by-side 3-second pass in the two-wheel category. Davis was ahead from start to finish in the 3.987-to-3.995 final round, both at 176 mph.
“McKinney and I are real good friends,” said Davis, who won his third consecutive race. “We’ve been talking about how nice it would be to run 3s side-by-side. It’s hard enough to run that number, but getting two bikes to do it side-by-side is something else. Luckily I was on the winning end of it this time.”
Davis slowed from his third-place qualifying effort in his 4.143 first-round win over Rob Garcia, then improved to a 4.046 to defeat Burke Forster. The Douglas, GA-resident dipped into the 3-second range with a 3.994 over No. 2 qualifier Chris Garner-Jones in the semifinals. Davis’ 3.987 at 176.26 in the final round was just one-thousandth of a second away from the official et record.
“When it was hot today we struggled some, but the numbers came back when the cool Maryland air set in,” Davis said. “We just have to find a good tune-up for the hot weather now. I’m just glad to get the win. Thanks to my wife Brandy and my son Brayden, Walt Timblin, and Perry’s Performance.”
TOP WINNERS CROWNED - The Top Sportsman Elite 16 final round came down to two of the quickest cars on the property. Virginians Randy Perkinson and Billy Albert squared off, with Perkinson leaving the starting line first and posting a 3.924 on a 3.92 dial-in in his Buck-powered ’16 Camaro. Albert, who built the motor in his Stan Nance-owned ’17 Camaro, ran a 4.099 on a 4.09 dial-in for the runner-up finish. Before reaching the final round, Perkinson defeated Tim Lawrence, Tim Molnar and Bruce Thrift.
With a massive field of Top Sportsman entries, a Quick 32 field was added to accommodate the additional cars. The Quick 32 win went to Mike Koontz, who drove his ’00 Chevy S10 pickup to a 4.728 on a 4.73 dial-in over Ronnie Proctor’s breakout 4.355 on a 4.36 dial-in.
Mechanicsville’s own Jerry Langley drove his Race Tech-built dragster to the Top Dragster final-round win over touring regular Matt Cooke. Using a narrow holeshot advantage, Langley ran a 4.628 on his 4.62 dial-in to defeat Cooke’s 4.104 on a 4.01 dial-in. Cooke was chasing his second consecutive win on the PDRA tour. Langley defeated Camrie Caruso, Travis Laster and Jason Kirby before facing Cooke.
FRIDAY NOTEBOOK – TOP RUNNERS SHOW TRUE COLORS IN FIRST DAY QUALIFYING
BAD TO THE BONE - North Carolina logger Terry “Legbone” Leggett came out on top of the Pro Extreme field after a tight day of qualifying. Leggett’s supercharged ’71 Mustang crossed the eighth-mile mark in 3.538 seconds at 216.83 mph. Leggett was also the No. 1 qualifier at the GALOT race in April.
“It feels mighty good to go No. 1 tonight,” Leggett said. “Our first race this year was the GALOT race and we just had an outstanding weekend. Then we went to Darlington and had lots of gremlins. We started out that same way in testing yesterday, then we had more little gremlins on the first run today. Maybe we got them off our back now and we can have a good weekend.”
Four of the other seven competitors behind Leggett are separated by just thousandths of a second. Darlington race winner Mattias Wulcan is second with a 3.551 at 212.59 in the “Black Bird” ’69 Camaro, followed by past world champion Jason Scruggs in the “Mississippi Missile” ’69 Camaro at 3.558 at 219.65. Valdosta race winner Tommy D’Aprile and the Mel Bush Motorsports ’15 Corvette are fourth with a 3.565 at 213.27, while GALOT race winner Mike Recchia is in fifth at 3.566 at 215.68.
PUMPKIN TOWN - The ultra-competitive Pro Nitrous class is topped by Smithfield, North Carolina’s Jay Cox, who jumped to the top of the 21-car order with a 3.684 at 201.46 in his Clements Mechanical “Pumpkin” ’69 Camaro. It’s the second time Cox has held the provisional No. 1 qualifying position this season.
“We got that No. 1 qualifier spot at the first race of the year, then Musi-motored cars got it the last two races,” Cox said. “I take pride in that No. 1 spot. It’s just a good rivalry we have going with the Musi cars. I’m just tickled for (engine builder) Charlie Buck and all of my sponsors. I’ve struggled at this racetrack a lot in the past. I guess struggling so bad here had me and my crew guys fired up. We wanted to come up here and prove a point.”
The cool forecast for Saturday has Cox and the rest of the field priming their nitrous-assisted power plants for ideal conditions.
“The track is going to be really good tomorrow,” Cox added. “Jason Miller and the PDRA are doing a great job with the track. It’s only supposed to hit a high of 78 degrees tomorrow, but the air temperature doesn’t really matter as much as direct sunlight. If we can get a little cloud cover to go with those cool temperatures, it’s going to be fast all day. It’s going to be a fun little race.”
Chasing Cox in the second spot is defending world champion Tommy Franklin with a 3.697 at 204.76 in his “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro. Randy Weatherford’s clutch-equipped W.S. Construction ’69 Camaro is third with a 3.729 at 200.32.
ON THE MAIN ISLAND - Trevor Eman and the Aruba.com ’11 Mustang continued a hot streak Friday night when he recorded a 4.022 at 178.80 for the provisional number-one spot and a potential PDRA Extreme Pro Stock record. Eman is coming off of a win at Darlington and a No. 1 qualifying effort at GALOT.
“We struggled a little bit earlier in the day,” Eman said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make any test runs yesterday, so we felt a little behind compared to everyone else. You get data to work off of whether you make a good run or bad run, so we had data to look at from Q1 and made the changes we thought were necessary to get down the track. I must admit I didn’t expect it to run a 4.02, but hey, we’ll take it.”
Eman will be the new Extreme Pro Stock elapsed-time record holder if he can back up the 4.02 with a 4.04 on Saturday. Though he’s focused on winning the race, Eman can’t ignore the potential to walk away with the record.
“If we get our last qualifying session in early enough before the heat settles in, (the back-up run) may be possible. We’re definitely just concentrating on getting down the track every run. But if we happen to back up the record in qualifying, we’ll take that too.”
Longtime mountain-motor Pro Stock star Cary Goforth is close behind Eman in second with a 4.034 at 177.91 in his Dean’s Casing Service/Dewayne Higgins Trucking ’15 Camaro. Defending world champion John Pluchino is third with a 4.044 at 177.46.
REDEMPTION FOR MCKINNEY - After suffering a holeshot loss in the PDRA Spring Nationals final round two weeks ago, Eric McKinney was looking for redemption. The three-time PDRA world champion found it in the form of a 4.039 at 175.25 during the night session, giving him the provisional top spot.
“Hopefully we can stay in the No. 1 spot,” McKinney said. “There are a few of these guys who can run well in the heat, but we can do that too. We ran well in the heat here last year when the race was in July. The heat is a problem, but it doesn’t bother us.”
As strong as the performance was, McKinney expects even better numbers out of not only himself, but his competitors once eliminations begin.
“Going into eliminations tomorrow, the weather is going to get cool, and the track here is awesome. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some 3-second runs tomorrow night. Hopefully one of those 3s will be us.”
Behind McKinney in second is Chris Garner-Jones with his T.T. Jones Racing Hayabusa with a 4.058 at 171.66. Points leader Travis Davis, who won the last two races on tour, is third with a 4.062 at 173.18 aboard his Timblin-built Suzuki.
SILANCE LEADS DRAGSTERS - Jacksonville, North Carolina’s Chaz Silance leads the Top Dragster field with his Buck-powered Worthy dragster with a 3.825 at 191.38. Kathy Fisher and her Procharger-equipped “Dragoness” American dragster jumped right to the number-two spot to start the day, running 3.836 at 188.86. Defending world champion Justin Kirk is in third with a 3.916 at 184.77.