SATURDAY FINAL: FIRST TIME WINNERS HEADLINE ADRL MARTIN WINNER CIRCLE
Bob Rahaim couldn’t have picked a better place for his first American Drag Racing League (ADRL) win.
Racing at his home ADRL track, the Pro Nitrous standout delivered an incredible performance in front of a huge gathering of friends and family, going a career-best 3.797 at 197.10 miles per hour on Saturday to beat Pat Stoken in the finals of the Summer Drags VIII at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park.
It capped off a day the Grosse Point, Mich. native won’t ever forget.
“I’m feeling numb. This is pretty overwhelming. To do this at your home track and have everybody here, it’s just a storybook thing,” Rahaim said. “You couldn’t have scripted it any better.
“I can say my life is complete. I’ve always wanted to win one of these races and I’ve always wanted to do it at my home track with everybody here in person.”
Other Summer Drags VIII winners included Jason Scruggs (Pro Extreme), Alan Pittman (Mickey Thompson Extreme 10.5), Eric McKinney (Pro Extreme Motorcycle), John DeFlorian (Extreme Pro Stock), Mike Castellana (Aeromotive Fuel Systems Pro Modified), Bruce Thrift (Summit Racing Equipment Top Sportsman) and Bo Butner (SuperCar Showdown).
Rahaim, DeFlorian and Thrift were all first-time ADRL winners.
Rahaim’s career-best 3.797 came after a lengthy rain delay but it was the perfect combination and the perfect time for the run against Stoken, who was also seeking his first ADRL win.
“The team made a lot of great calls today and it couldn’t have went any better,” said Rahaim, who dedicated the team to crew chief Kevin Bowen after Bowen was recently hospitalized.
John DeFlorian let loose with a memorable celebration in the winner’s circle after picking up his first career ADRL win. Driving a Jerry Haas Race Cars 2012 Camaro, DeFlorian went 4.086 at 174.78 mph to beat Matt Bertsch in a matchup of first-time finalists and hand the Black Diamond Motorsports team, owned by Karen and Kevin Bealko, its first ADRL victory as well.
“I’m never speechless, but I’m almost speechless over this,” DeFlorian said. “This is just an amazing thing. This is something I’ve dreamed about. I’ve been trying to get one of these things for so long.
“I have to thank Kevin and Karen for just giving me this opportunity. This is something I’ve always wanted to experience and it’s beyond my wildest dreams.”
After breaking the world E.T. record (4.01) in June at his hometown track in St. Louis, DeFlorian didn’t qualify three weeks ago in Virginia. But the team put it together in Martin, qualifying No. 4 and knocking off 2012 event winners Dean Goforth, Todd Hoerner and Cary Goforth to get to the finals, running as quick as 4.10.
“We couldn’t seem to get all the pieces of the puzzle together and then Virginia couldn’t have been any worse,” DeFlorian said. “We had to get our act together and we finally put it all together for this race. It’s an incredible bunch of guys on this team.”
After a series of unfortunate events at recent races, Jason Scruggs put in a banner day, capped off by a new track record of 3.638 at 208.87 mph to beat Terry Leggett and his 3.689 at 205 mph in the finals.
Scruggs had four runs in the 3.60s during eliminations, including a 3.643 in the quarterfinals to get by Tommy D’Aprile. It gives Scruggs eight career wins, matching Joshua Hernandez for the most in Pro Extreme history.
“It was a very good day today and we’re real happy to get the win,” Scruggs said. “Every round here is tough. Tommy had a great run, and Terry and his team are a great group of guys.
“I’ve never had that much luck here, but the track was really good and things just worked out well.”
With Mick Snyder falling in the first round, Scruggs also inched back into the championship chase. Coupled with Scruggs’ win in Bristol, Snyder’s three-race winning streak and Scruggs’ win on Saturday, their two-car team is also in the midst of a potent stretch.
“I think all this did was give something people can talk about for a little bit,” Scruggs said. “Mick had won three in a row, so as a team we’re on a pretty good streak.”
Eric McKinney took a commanding lead in the Pro Extreme Motorcycle points race with a brilliant showing at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park. McKinney made it three wins in 2012 after running a 4.073 at 170.15 mph against first-time ADRL finalist Dave Norris.
“It was unbelievable. We changed some stuff and really stepped it up. You’re only as good as the people surrounding you and they make my program easier,” McKinney said. “They keep everything routine and we just keep plugging away. This was an awesome weekend.”
McKinney was outstanding on the tree during eliminations, capped off with an .006 and .013 reaction times in the semifinals and finals, respectively. McKinney also finished as the No. 1 qualifier after going 4.10 in the final qualifying session to take momentum into eliminations.
“That was definitely a confidence-booster,” McKinney said. “There’s nobody easy out there, so everyone has to do their jobs. This bike is consistent and comfortable and that’s big.”
Alan Pittman gladly took a lucky break in Mickey Thompson Extreme 10.5, denying Billy Glidden’s chance at history in the process.
Glidden went 3.917 – a weekend-best in the class – but had an .001 red light, handing the win to Pittman and his 4.042 at 195.28 mph. It’s the third win in 2012 for the XTF points leader, and Pittman also kept Glidden from picking up an ADRL-record 14th career win.
“I won already when Terry Leggett made it to the finals. I mean, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him and his wife,” Pittman said. “I felt real good and then I pulled up to the starting line and I had it in low gear but the car wouldn’t move forward.
“So I had to stick it in high gear and leave in high gear, so he definitely would have had me beat if he hadn’t turned it red.”
Bruce Thrift was remarkably consistent in picking up his first win in Summit Racing Equipment Top Sportsman, finishing off a standout day with a 4.376 at 153.61 mph in the finals to beat William Brown III.
“I’m real excited. This is the real deal for Top Sportsman racing,” Thrift said. “This is the cream of the crop in this class. You really have to get after it just to get in. This was just awesome.”
Mike Castellana was superb in his fourth trip to the finals in Aeromotive Fuel Systems Pro Modified, winning his fourth race of the year with a 3.827 at 196.35 mph, giving him the quickest pass in the history of the class.
Driving a 2012 RJ Race Cars Camaro, Castellana beat Pat Musi in the finals to add to his points lead. It also gives him 13 career wins to match Glidden and Ashley Owens for the most in ADRL history.
“Our main concentration is to win the Pro Modified championship and this is all because of my crew. They do a great job and they got it right,” Castellana said. “It’s been a great year and I can’t say enough about it.
“I really have to thank KH (Al-Thani) and Al-Anabi Racing for making this happen.”
Bo Butner made it four wins in the SuperCar Showdown, slipping past Drew Skillman in a great side-by-side pass with a 5.77 at 119 mph, inching past Skillman and his 5.80 at 118.57 mph.
In Pro Junior Dragster, Devin Isenhower won with a 7.88 at 81.68 mph, knocking off Lane Ledford.
The sixth stop on the 10-race 2012 ADRL Tour takes place Aug. 3-4 at the state-of-the-art zMAX Dragway in Charlotte for ADRL Dragstock IX.
SATURDAY FINAL SESSION
SATURDAY - SESSION TWO
FRIDAY: RIESTERER, STANTON LEAD RAIN-SOAKED FIRST DAY AT ADRL MARTIN EVENT
American Drag Racing League (ADRL) Pro Nitrous driver Doug Riesterer is trying for his third straight win in the class, and the talented Texan got off to a strong start on Friday at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park.
On a rain-soaked day in Martin, Mich., Riesterer delivered the most impressive run of the day, going 3.80 at 195.22 mph on new Hoosier Tires to set a track record and take the top qualifying spot at the Summer Drags VIII.
Riesterer is trying to become the first driver in Pro Nitrous to win three straight races since Rickie Smith did it in 2010.
“We put new tires on, it was a different day and a different track. You never know what to expect,” Riesterer said. “We put our best guess into it and I thought there was about a 20 percent chance it would go down the track. With new tires, you usually struggle but hopefully this is a good indicator.”
Two separate rain delays that totaled six hours wiped away one total round of qualifying and only three classes (Extreme Pro Stock, Summit Racing Top Sportsman and Aeromotive Fuel Systems Pro Modified) finished two qualifying sessions.
With the inclement weather, the second qualifying session will resume on Saturday at 10 a.m., leading to the third qualifying session. Eliminations are scheduled to begin at their regularly scheduled time of 3:30 p.m.
Other No. 1 qualifiers after Friday included Bubba Stanton (Pro Extreme), Todd Moyer (Mickey Thompson Extreme 10.5), Billy Vose (Pro Extreme Motorcycle), Cary Goforth (Extreme Pro Stock), Mike Castellana (Aeromotive Fuel Systems Pro Modified) and Bob Gulitti (Summit Racing Equipment Top Sportsman).
Immediately after Riesterer finished his 3.80, a heavy and driving rain came at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park.
When racing resumed, several competitors delivered strong runs including Bob Rahaim’s 3.846, and 3.85s from Jim Laurita and Robert Patrick. With his spot for eliminations secured, Riesterer will strive for continued consistency on Saturday.
“If I knew it was going to rain, I probably would have calmed it way down,” Riesterer said. “I’m really happy with the 3.80. It was a nice run. We’ll probably keep the same approach for (Saturday).”
Pro Extreme grabbed the spotlight for only one session on Friday, but Bubba Stanton made the most of it with an incredible 3.669 at 207.04 mph. It was nearly a career best run for the 2006 PX world champion who seems to be rounding into form.
“We’ve had our troubles and we’ve struggled most of the year,” Stanton said. “We’re thinking that we’ve finally got all the bugs out and the car is really responding to all the changes we’ve made.”
Frankie Taylor’s 3.674 has him second, while Brandon Pesz and Alex Hossler ran 3.682 and 3.698, respectively.
Mick Snyder, the PX points leader and winner of the last three events, is currently not qualified with two sessions remaining. Meanwhile, Stanton is hopeful for several more strong performances on Saturday.
“I think it’s got a little better in it, but we’re not going to try a whole lot,” Stanton said. “We want to go rounds and be consistent. Going rounds, that’s what we’re here for.”
Cary Goforth had a welcome sight in Extreme Pro Stock, running a 4.068 at 175.62 mph. It was a significant turnaround for Goforth, the 2011 XPS world champion, after he had struggled at the recent U.S. Drags in Richmond, Va.
“We’re finally getting back to form. We’ve got a long way to go, but it wouldn’t be any fun if it wasn’t the best guys in the world,” Goforth said. “Right now we’re happy and we hope that translates into (Saturday).”
Doug Kirk had a strong pass in the night session as well, running a 4.071 at 174.92. But Goforth instantly knew his Jerry Haas Race Cars 2010 GXP was on one of its better recent runs this season.
“The car took off and set me back in the seat, and that’s always a good indicator,” Goforth said. “Then I hit the shift light and I knew it was on a great run.”
Mike Castellana delivered a brilliant pass under the lights in Aeromotive Pro Modified, running a 3.874 at 188.15 mph to take the top spot through two runs.
Jeff Naiser is right behind with a 3.893 at 188.14 mph.
A pair of passes in the 3.90s were thrown out in the first round in Mickey Thompson Extreme 10.5 when Dan Myers crossed the centerline during his run with Alan Pittman, disqualifying both passes. Myers ran 3.99 and Pittman put together what would have been a round-best 3.97.
With that, Todd Moyer claimed the top spot with a 4.196 at 191.88 mph.
Billy Vose’s 4.1566 gave him the top spot in Pro Extreme Motorcycle, as the two-time ADRL champion also went a round-best 169.75 mph. Casey Stemper, coming off a win in Virginia, is second with a 4.1586. Paul Gast is the only other rider in the 4.10s, putting together a 4.16.
Bob Gulitti put together an historic pass in Summit Racing Top Sportsman after his 4.05 at 177.73 mph gives him the quickest run in the history of the class.
Gulitti will have a chance to back up the run on Saturday to set a new E.T. world record and also become the No. 1 qualifier for the first time in 2012. It would also end Chuck Mohn’s string of No. 1 qualifiers that has included all five races this season. Mohn is currently No. 2 with a 4.095 at 173.70 mph.
Three-time class winner Bo Butner was the top qualifier in the SuperCar Showdown, running a 5.849 at 117.62 mph. Making the first-ever pass in the new 2013 Mustang Cobra Jet, Wes Wells went an impressive 6.023 at 115.96 mph.
In Pro Junior Dragster, Kyle Dvorak was the No. 1 qualifier with a 9.9186 at 82 mph.
FRIDAY SESSION ONE
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