SATURDAY NOTEBOOK - VETERANS AND FIRST TIME WINNERS VISIT WINNERS CIRCLE
‘ICEMAN’ FEELS THE HEAT IN DRAGSTOCK PN WIN - Battling temperatures well into the mid-90s and a heat index well over a hundred degrees, Shannon “Iceman” Jenkins fought through six tough trips down the eighth mile at zMAX Dragway Aug. 4, to win in Pro Nitrous at the ADRL’s Dragstock IX.
Rain and the track’s 10 p.m. curfew had delayed Friday’s night’s scheduled third round of qualifying to Saturday, in which Jenkins vaulted from fifth to the number-one position with a run of 3.879 seconds at 195.17 mph in his Al-Anabi Racing 2012 Camaro. His time held up through the already set fourth and final qualifying session before he entered into what turned out to be four rounds of eliminations for the Tuscaloosa, AL-based doorslammer-driving legend.
“I actually like racing that way. You get in a rhythm and just get ready for the next round and you don’t have a lot of time for the heat and conditions to change,” Jenkins said.
“But it was hot; it’s been some of the most miserable racing that I can remember this summer between all the tracks that we’ve been going to. It’s been trying; it’s hard on the team, hard on the car, hard on the track. Not that the track was terrible; it’s just that heat is heat and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Jenkins opened eliminations with a 3.934 pass at 193.65 mph against Ray Schuler, then ran an almost identical 3.933 at 193.54 opposite a red-lighting John Hall in round two. In the semis he easily handled series newcomer Chris Juliano with a 3.893 at 193.74 mph.
Meanwhile, Doug Riesterer and his ’68 Camaro from Victoria, TX, started from the number-10 position before taking down Robert Mathis, Keith Haney and Stan Allen to reach Jenkins in the final round.
Once there, Jenkins left with a .038 holeshot leading into a 3.870 wining pass at 194.02 mph, while Riesterer got out of shape and slowed to 4.231 at just 148.99 mph. It marked Jenkins 11th career win in his 12th Pro Nitrous final.
“The track’s been real tricky, so we were just trying to be real conservative and we really didn’t know how to step up on it tonight. It would’ve been a lot better if I had put some clutch in it,” Jenkins said later.
“We did make some changes and added some counterweight (to the clutch), but we needed what felt like nine more grams, which is like a mile, but hey, we got the win and that’s all that matters.”
GOOD 'OLE NO. 3 - While a supercharger isn’t intended to wiggle atop an engine, Tim Tindle could only smile and shake his head as a crew member wiggled the one atop the engine in his Frankie Taylor-owned Pro Extreme Corvette following his final round run.
A wiggling supercharger was just the cost of victory for Tindle as he drove past Quain Stott to take the Pro Extreme title in the ADRL Dragstock IV event at zMax Dragway.
“About a hundred feet before the end it just blew the blower off and all I could see was a wall of flames,” Tindle exclaimed. “Who knows what it was, something mechanical, but that’s okay, we won!”
Then, Tindle proclaimed just how potent the combination was despite the wounded engine.
“It still ran a 3.64!”
Tindle carried the load of the two-car Taylor Racing team throughout eliminations when fellow teammate Taylor was shut off in the first round with an oil leak.
With Frankie Taylor on the sidelines, Tindle's car became the flagship for the group. Taylor's crew dove in to help make sure Tindle proudly drove to the win.
Tindle used the added hands his advantage as he ran a 3.722 to beat John Stanley and then a 3.688 to drive around Mick Snyder. He ran a 3.709 to beat Terry Leggett before going against Stott in the final round.
“It’s always a concern when you see your teammate go out early like that,” said Tindle. “It puts a lot of pressure on you. But when something like this happens, you have more people thrashing on the car between rounds.”
Stott was no stranger to Tindle. Tindle had employed Stott as his tuner while racing in the NHRA Pro Modified series.
Fortunatel, Tindle focused more on his goals than who he had to race.
“I came into this race just wanting to win,” Tindle said. “”That’s all I was focused on. Quain is a good racer and he tuned me to both NHRA and IHRA event wins.”
Tindle described his qualifying effort as a struggle despite winding up No. 3. The No. 3 spot has been a good omen as all of his victories have come when he entered eliminations from this spot.
“Sure enough, every time from the No. 3 spot, and one was even in Topeka, Kan., the only time we ever raced there,” Tindle added.
Now he can add zMax Dragway to the list, the only time he’s ever raced there.
A WINNING TRADITION - Cary Goforth has a winning combination and it’s not confined to his Extreme Pro Stock Pontiac GTO.
If he races at a new venue in the ADRL series and the event carries the Dragstock moniker, there’s a strong likelihood he’ll win. And win he did in the Dragstock IV event at zMax Dragway.
Goforth, the defending series champion, was the quickest driver in each elimination round en route to defeating Richie Stevens in the final round.
“We’ve been lucky enough to win at two tracks we’ve never raced at before,” said Goforth, who also won the Spring Drags at Bristol Dragway.
While new tracks might be his forte, events named Dragstock provide an even greater success rate. Goforth’s victory marked his third dating back to 2008 in a Dragstock labeled race.
“Before I came here I got to thinking how well we had done at this particular event,” Goforth said. “There’s really no rhyme or reason why we do well at new tracks or at this event. I don’t try to drive any better at the new tracks or this event than I do at any others. It’s just worked out in our favor.”
Goforth qualified third and maintained a torrid pace in defeating Elijah Morton [4.144], John DeFlorian Jr. [4.133] and Brian Gahm [4.166] before running his best run of the event, a 4.108, to defeat Stevens.
It is a performance Goforth has sought all season long.
“I wouldn’t say we had a performance advantage,” said Goforth. “We’ve been trying to get our power back. I think at Martin we had the car to beat. I went in too deep in the semis, and this time I made sure I didn’t go in too far.”
This weekend the car was aggressive … the driver, not so much.
“I guess it comes as no secret I have had trouble cutting lights,” explained Goforth. “I don’t like that. I determined I was going to go in shallow all day and see what happened. Fortunately I came out on top.”
The Goforth versus Stevens match-up represented a battle between the top two point earners in the mountain motor Pro Stock division. With his victory over Stevens, Goforth extended his point lead by two rounds.
“I reminded him this thing is far from over,” Goforth said. “I think you should expect lots of close battles between us. That’s a good team over there. What they’ve done with that team is phenomenal.”
Some might say the same about Goforth, as well.
THE WINNING BRAND - If Brad Brand had his way, he may not have won the Extreme 10.5 (XTF) class at Dragstock IX.
“I hadn’t been down the track good at all and if it hadn’t been for one of my crew guys I probably wouldn’t have made it again,” the Loganville, GA, racer admitted after beating Dan Myers in the XTF final at zMAX Dragway in Concord, NC. “He convinced me to turn things down and I’m glad he did.”
With a 3.984-seconds pass at 197.59 mph, Brand qualified his twin-turbocharged 2007 Mustang third in the eight-car field behind Billy Glidden and polesitter Alan Pittman, but once eliminations began he fought to find traction on the hot zMAX racing surface.
A tire-spinning 4.442 at 171.93 managed to boost Brand past an even more traction-challenged Todd Moyer in round one and a 4.497 at just 139.57 still advanced him from the semis when Glidden got out of shape and had to shutoff and coast to a seven-second finish.
“This morning in the first round when we smoked the tires I thought, ‘Man, it’s going to be a rough day,’ but it turned out to be okay. But seriously, we struggled all day and I’m just kind of stubborn about turning this thing down. But I just had to turn it down for the final and it worked,” Brand said after posting a winning 4.069 at 195.28 against Myers’ 4.727 at 119.98-mph effort.
“Man, I pedaled and it went into a big, turbo-like wheelstand just past half-track,” Myers said of his screw-blown ’57 Chevy from Ramona, CA. “I had to get out of it just to save the car.”
Three times Brand has raced the Mustang with the ADRL this year and three times he’s reached the final round, recording a runner-up finish to Pittman in April at Bristol, TN, but beating Pittman in June at Richmond, VA, before scoring again at zMAX.
Brand also was racing a turbocharged ’53 Corvette for R2B2 Racing at Dragstock IX, but narrowly missed getting it into the eight-car Pro Mod field for eliminations after he and Pete Farber ran identical 4.009 ETs in qualifying. At 191.10 mph, however, Farber was faster by .40 to take the final spot.
“I don’t even touch this car (Mustang) between races and it almost seems like I can do nothing wrong with it,” Brand said. “But the Vette is completely another story. I’m behind the eight ball with that thing. I’ve got a lot of testing to do with it.”
ANOTHER TWO-TIMER - Pro Extreme Motorcycle (PXM) rider Eric McKinney became the latest member of an elite club Aug. 4, when he won Dragstock IX at zMAX Dragway, near Charlotte. By defeating 2012 championship rival Casey Stemper in the final round, McKinney joined Pro Nitrous legend Shannon Jenkins, 2011 Extreme Pro Stock World Champion Cary Goforth and defending PXM champ Ashley Owens as the only two-time Dragstock winners when he added to his 2009 ADRL career-first win.
“I can’t thank my team enough, my mom, my dad, my Uncle Steve, Ashley Owens (who now tunes McKinney’s bike); I mean, they deserve all the credit for getting me here. This win is big,” McKinney declared after the victory extended his lead over second-place Stemper in the season-long points race.
McKinney practically ran the table at Dragstock IX, qualifying number-one with low ET of the meet at 4.074 seconds, setting low ET of each round of eliminations except the semis, and setting top speed of the weekend in the final when he ran 4.083 at 176.56 mph to beat Stemper’s 4.109 at 159.70 after both riders posted .007 reaction times.
In the preliminaries, McKinney beat Rob Hunnicutt, 2010 PXM champ Kim Morrell and Canada’s Terry Schweigert, while Stemper took care of Mac McAdams, Charlie Prophit and Ron Procopio on his side of the ladder.
After winning the previous ADRL event at Martin, MI, in July, the Charlotte victory marked the second time this year that McKinney won back-to-back events after also doing so at Reading, PA, and St. Louis earlier this summer.
McKinney described his final-round ride as “great, very smooth,” and said, “I heard him and I know we were close to at least the 330, but then I lost him.”
Still, despite his success, McKinney said he felt like he was struggling at the tree all day long. “In the semi-finals I had a .116 light and I’m not usually like that. I don’t know if it was the track or me, but I spent an hour practicing and practicing today to get ready for the final.”
And though he didn’t get to relive his first Dragstock win at Rockingham Dragway again, McKinney had nothing but praise for the event’s new home.
“This place is amazing,” he said of the ultra-modern zMAX Dragway. “I love it; I had a blast. When I came past the grandstands and looked up and saw the huge crowd there I was almost overwhelmed.
“I was probably as nervous as I’ve ever been before a round, but it was very cool to be there, too. It’s a shame we had to leave Rockingham as the home of Dragstock, but at least we moved up to a beautiful facility.”
REBOUND - Mike Janis knew when his Pro Modified Mustang was sliding on the roof during the NHRA Gatornationals in March he was bound to face an uphill battle for the rest of the season. Saturday in Charlotte he reached the top of the mountain.
Janis ran a 3.895-second elapsed time at 192.38 miles per hour to successfully repel an underdog effort from Dave Roemer in winning the Aeromotive Pro Modified division at the ADRL Dragstock event.
The victory marked his first in ADRL since the accident and second final round of 2012.
“It was a tough deal but we got through it,” said Janis. “We knew we had a good car before the crash. If not, I might not have fixed it so fast. I got right back after it. It was a bad accident but fortunately I didn’t get hurt. I kept myself motivated knowing the car was capable of delivering big moments like this.”
Janis ran strong the entire event, settling into the No. 2 qualifying position with a 3.902.
He opened the first round with an on-and-off the throttle 4.206 to beat Jeffrey Cummings, who also shook the tires, but aborted his run.
Janis turned up the wick in the semi-finals with a 3.919 to get by Jeff Naiser.
As focused as Janis was on his own preparation to race, he kept an eye on Dave Roemer, whose performances of late have enabled him to reach the final rounds in both this ADRL Dragstock event but also the NHRA Summit Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.
While Janis held an advantage over Roemer, he didn't take his eyes off thier competition.
“I’ve been watching Dave for the last few races and knew I was going to have to do my job,” explained Janis. “He was running consistent and drives good. I watch all of that. By no means was I going to lay back and take him anything other than serious.”
On the grand stage of the ADRL’s premiere event, Janis was extremely complimentary of the eighth-mile series.
“Racing zMax Dragway and ADRL has been great,” Janis said. “It’s a different atmosphere, we enjoy ourselves, it’s laid back and both very serious and competitive. They run a competitive series and I hope it continues growing.”
THE KING IS CROWNED - “It’s about time!”
That was the declaration of Ronnie “The King” Davis immediately upon emerging from his Roush Yates-powered ’63 Corvette after winning the ADRL Dragstock IX Top Sportsman final Aug. 4, at zMAX Dragway in Concord, NC.
“This is a big win, a very big win; I was beginning to wonder if I was getting too old for this,” the three-time IHRA world champion and two-time NHRA Division 2 champ said of his career-first ADRL victory that came over Chip Forman in the final.
Davis qualified second behind only Travis Harvey with a 4.075 at 182.33 that briefly gave him both ends of the class records before Harvey officially backed up his pole-sitting 4.016 at 185.23 mph in the fourth and final session on Saturday.
Davis, however, missed out on his fourth qualifying run when his car wouldn’t start, forcing him to dial in on the 4.07 pass he’d run the night before instead of around the 4.30 he normally would have set up for in the final session.
Starting with a 4.06 dial, Davis ran 4.091 at 173.05 to defeat Joshua Vettel in round one, then ran 4.077 at 181.84 against a 4.07 to beat John Lassiter and 4.070 at 182.01 against a 4.06 dial in the semis against William Brown III.
“I like racing this fast,” the Suwanee, GA-based golf cart dealer declared after round two.
In the final round, Davis dialed in at 4.05, while Forman drew 4.15 on his windows. Forman left first with a great .009 light, but Davis wasn’t far off at .018 and his 4.085 at 162.98 easily took the win over Forman’s 4.599 at 168.77 after his ’68 Camaro lost traction midway through the run.
“I caught and passed him pretty quick and knew I had to be out in front so I lifted right before the finish,” Davis said. “The car was running dead on all day; if I hadn’t lifted in the final it would’ve run a 4.05, there’s no doubt about it.”
After struggling with consistency at both ends of the track in the ADRL season’s first few races this year Davis said he returned his chassis set-up to the way he’d been running it last year and his results improved immediately, beginning last month at the ADRL’s previous event in Martin, MI, and continuing at an outlaw Top Sportsman event where he reached the final just a couple of weeks before Dragstock IX.
“We’ve got a real good race car again and it makes up a lot for the driver,” he said. “The mechanical part is always going to be more consistent than the human part and it’s just me and Pete (March), my only crew guy, doing everything on the car at the track. So I set it up with Pete’s help, but I did say a little prayer before every run today.
“I couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out; to win Dragstock and to do it at zMAX, well, it couldn’t be much better for a first ADRL win—and like I said, it’s about time!”
ALL IS WELL IN HIS WORLD NOW - Frankie Taylor’s universe has returned to the proper rotation.
The past ADRL Pro Extreme series champion is no longer experimenting with a turbocharger combination. He has returned to his proven supercharger combination; and his pit area has even returned to the appearance of organized chaos.
Taylor also returned to the No. 1 qualifying position during the ADRL Dragstock event at zMax Dragway. His primary concern in the moments following his track record 3.665 elapsed time was not in improving his performance, but in picking up teammate Tim Tindle’s performance to the point they were the two quickest cars down the track.
Tindle came close, finishing as the third quickest, before going on and winning the event.
“We needed to be one and two,” Taylor said. “We need to be like Jason Scruggs and Mick Snyder are. It would have been great if he had taken the pole from me. As long as Scruggs and Snyder stayed behind us, would be fine with me.”
This kind of concentration would have been deemed a luxury during the first few races of the season. Taylor struggled with the nuances of a turbocharged combination and never qualified. He wasn’t even close.
Meanwhile, Tindle was able to make the cut at those races.
The turbocharged experiment lasted for two races before Taylor returned to what he knew and worked to move from behind the eight-ball. Taylor believes he’s reached the point, five races after returning to his supercharged combination, where he’s back where he should have been at the first race of the season.
“The turbo experience kind of got us behind and now we are trying to go through the car and un-program everything we put into the car trying to make the turbo work,” Taylor said. “We have found out the hard way, a time or two, what stuff we forgot to turn off or turn a different way. There were issues and at times we had traction control coming on too soon. I think we have it all back to baseline.”
Just because he’s shelved the turbo doesn’t mean Taylor isn’t willing to try again sometime.
“I’m still going to test some stuff over the winter,” Taylor admitted. “I’m going to watch [Todd] Tutterow and some of the other guys and see if they can get them close to the .60s and we might go back to playing with ours.”
And Taylor states he should be trusted because he’s learned his lesson already.
“It’s hard to abandon a combination which goes up and down the track time after time like a bracket car,” said Taylor.
TESTING FOR BRAINERD - Matt Smith isn’t used to showing up for a race where he doesn’t expect to qualify; much less contend for the win.
He's learned, there’s a first time for everything.
Smith and teammate Michael Ray made the long drive back from Sonoma, Ca., in order to attend the ADRL Dragstock event at zMax Dragway.
The NHRA Full Throttle series regulars are running with the ADRL’s Pro Extreme Motorcycle division, but in a different capacity.
“We never have an off weekend, short-handed, un-sponsored and testing every chance we can,” admitted Smith. “We paid to enter the race but the ADRL is limiting us to exhibition runs. This is not to interfere with their program.”
Smith and Ray are testing this weekend and in-between scheduled runs, the former series champion helped to tune his cousin Tyler Wilson. Wilson races a nitrous-injected Buell on the series.
Though Wilson failed to make the cut, Smith said they made progress in their test session.
“We put two new motors in and added two new tires, and have spent most of the time scuffing tires and developing clutch combinations,” said Wilson. “This way we don’t have to do this during the first pass in Brainerd.
“We know we can run as fast as the Buells, but not the Harleys,” said Smith. “We just want to get our program back to where Hector and his team are at.”
Smith has made an attempt to run the ADRL’s Pro Extreme division with a Buell but loss of sponsorship ended his opportunity.
“I was just getting it,” said Smith. “We were the only ones to do it with the EFI and S&S V-twin. We had it going and then Khalid [the Al-Anabi sponsorship] pulled out from under us. Our money was pulled out and I have to concentrate on the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle series. This is where I make a living. When he did that, I just shut down the program and my cousin bought the bike.”
Smith believes with the right budget, his Buell combination could be competitive on the ADRL series.
“We’ve been a 4.07 and there’s no doubt we can run it, if we can lose some weight,” said Smith. “If I am on the bike we can get it down to weight.”
MARTIN PUTS TEAM BEFORE SELF - After running a career-best 3.68 and reaching the semi-finals with his ’68 Mustang at the previous ADRL event last month in Martin, MI, Pro Extreme team owner and driver Todd Martin was heading to Concord, NC, for Dragstock IX with high hopes. He’s leaving, however, with bitter disappointment after punching a fist-sized hole in the side of his engine block during round two of qualifying Friday night at zMAX Dragway.
“Fourteen years I’ve been racing and never blew up an engine and this year I’ve destroyed four of ‘em,” the Mustang, OK-based racer said. “I don’t know what’s wrong, maybe we got a bad batch of rods or something, but we’ve gotta’ figure it out because this is getting expensive.”
It’s a tale of two cars for Martin, who also owns the ’58 Corvette that Brandon Pesz drives on the PX circuit. Pesz qualified second at Martin and slotted into the fourth position after three of four qualifying sessions at Concord with a 3.703 at 206.76 mph.
“Brandon came to me last night and said I should take the engine out of the Vette, or if I wanted I should just drive his car, but I told him, no, we’re a team and that’s not how it works,” Martin said.
Instead, he said, he’ll just play the role of team manager as Pesz goes after his first ADRL win.
“We win as a team and we lose as a team,” he said.
FRIDAY NOTEBOOK: COMING HOME TO DOORSLAMMER COUNTRY
GOT IT COVERED - Former two-time ADRL Pro Extreme (PX) champ Jason Scruggs wasn’t surprised to take over the number-one position in qualifying for Dragstock IX with a 3.677-seconds pass at 206.67 mph in Friday’s second session at zMAX Dragway, but it was a little quicker than he anticipated.
“We just set it up to make sure it went down the track and I thought it would run a 3.69 and it went a .67, so I was pretty happy with that,” the Saltillo, MS-based driver said. “Really, I was just happy to go from A to B because we just wanted to get in a position where we could come back tonight and see if we could run fast instead of just trying to get it in the show. We didn’t want to be behind the eight ball at night.”
Unfortunately, just as the third and final scheduled qualifying run was about to be preempted by a 10 p.m. curfew for the Concord, NC, racing complex, a late-night rain shower took the decision to postpone out of officials’ hands. Qualifying was scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. on Saturday, with Extreme 10.5, Pro Nitrous and Pro Extreme, along with several Pro Extreme Motorcycle teams still to complete their third qualifying sessions with one more qualifying round to go for all classes.
“Hopefully the weather tomorrow will be just a little cooler, maybe cloudy but with no rain. If we can run early tomorrow we’ll at least try to run a little faster,” said Scruggs, who like most ADRL competitors was racing at zMAX for the first time.
“This is the nicest facility I’ve ever raced at, but today it was real hot and it seemed like the rubber was having a little bit of trouble sticking to the track,” he said. “I think the track is just so smooth and there’s just something with the heat and all the moisture in the air—because there was something like 110 grains of water in the air—that the rubber was kind of moving around on the track.”
Rounding out the top five behind Scruggs and his Garret-built ’63 Corvette was Tommy D’Aprile at 3.706 and 203.40 mph, followed by Frankie Taylor, Brandon Pesz and current points leader Mick Snyder.
On the bubble in 16th place after 22 entries made qualifying attempts was 2009 PX champion Todd Tutterow in Harry Hruska’s twin-turbocharged ’70 Duster, who ran 3.900 seconds at a class-leading 210.54 mph, marking the fastest official pass by a turbo car in the eighth mile, though Tutterow ran as fast as 216 in testing the car earlier this summer.
CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC - There’s nothing to celebrate—not yet, anyway. That was the sentiment of New Iberia, LA’s Stan Allen after finishing Friday at Dragstock IX on top of the 16 car Pro Nitrous (PN) field with a 3.905 at 194.97 mph in his Reher&Morrison-powered ’69 Camaro.
“It’s not real to me yet. There’s still two more sessions and I’ve learned over the years that you ain’t won nothin’ until you actually won it, so I’m not getting over excited right now,” said Allen, who last started a PN race from the top spot at the 2006 ADRL season ender in Kennedale, TX.
He also said he doesn’t expect his current time to stand up through Saturday’s now two rounds of qualifying after rain postponed the scheduled Friday-night opportunity.
“I think we would’ve gone a little quicker tonight and I think everyone else would’ve, too, but we would’ve been right there,” Allen said. “I also think the track will get better, but we can step it up, too. I think the track will be really good in the morning, especially if we don’t get too heavy rain. We just have to wait and see.”
After experiencing an up-and-down season so far, Allen credits team owner Michael Bankston for stabilizing their efforts.
“As far as a team deal we changed up several people this year and now it’s starting to mesh together and everyone knows their jobs. But it all goes back to Mike; he’s got everything and everybody working really well together,” Allen stated.
“We had some electrical issues with the car at the last race (in July at Martin, MI), so we tore the car completely apart and went over everything and then Mike got everybody together and just said let’s slow down and think about what we’re doing; everybody’s got a job to do and if we all do our jobs and go A to B we should be okay and that’s what we’ve been doing.
“We actually slowed down and concentrated just on our own stuff and didn’t worry about what anyone else was doing or how fast they were going and I think that’s what’s helped us the most,” he added. “We slowed down to go faster.”
First-round qualifying leader Randy Weatherford dropped to second place, with Pat Stoken third and Robert Mathis fourth. Shannon Jenkins had the first non-’69 Camaro on the list with his 2012 Camaro placing fifth. Tommy Franklin held onto the 16th and final position ahead of four non-qualifiers with a 4.274 at 177.79 in another ’69 Camaro.
DOMINATION BEGINS AT HOME - After two rounds of Extreme 10.5 (XTF) qualifying for the ADRL’s Dragstock IX at zMAX Dragway were completed Aug. 3, the top three positions were held by the three screw-blown cars in the eight-car field.
Points leader Alan Pittman and his ’09 Mustang held the top spot with a 3.981-seconds run at 195.65 mph that came in the second session. A third scheduled round was postponed to Saturday by the track’s curfew and a late-night rain shower.
Chuck Ulsch and his ’68 Camaro were second at 4.023, followed by Dan Myers and his California-based ’57 Chevy. Former class champ Billy Glidden had the first non-blown entry qualified in fourth to round out the provisional top half of the field with his nitrous-boosted 2010 Mustang.
In fourth through eighth were Bill Devine, Brad Brand, Todd Moyer and Dennis Sugrue, respectively, with all four driving turbocharged cars.
MCKINNEY COVERS FIELD BEFORE RAINS HIT - As the leader after two rounds of qualifying for Dragstock IX, Pro Extreme Motorcycle points leader Eric McKinney was waiting last in the staging lanes at zMAX Dragway when rain came to postpone what remained of the ADRL two wheelers’ third round to Saturday morning.
No matter, he seemed to have the field covered with a 4.119 at 174.71 that came in the second round—but not without some serious work in the pits.
“We’ve been having serious crank problems this year,” McKinney revealed. “We broke a crank in the final round (of the ADRL’s previous event last month) in Michigan and we broke another one today in that first pass with a brand-new crankshaft. We went out with the exact same tune-up we had in it at Michigan and it ran a 4.14 and we’ve gone over everything and it all seems to be okay, so we’re not sure where the problem is yet.
“So we took that motor out between rounds and put in our back-up motor and it went 4.11, so that was pretty good. We still have our ‘super-duper’ motor in the trailer, too, but we’re saving that for tomorrow just in case we need it (in eliminations),” he added.
Qualifying number one and winning the race obviously were McKinney’s first order of business at zMAX, but he also was keeping the big picture in mind as he battles Casey Stemper—who mustered only a 12th-place result after two attempts—for the 2012 PXM season title.
“I want to keep our momentum going and try to wrap this championship up in the next race or two,” McKinney stated. “We’re definitely thinking about that.”
Ron Procopio was second in both sessions to McKinney and also improved his qualifying time from 4.157 to 4.140 seconds.
“I’m happy with that,” Procopio insisted. “I’d be happy if they wanted to straight to eliminations now.”
Travis Davis made a huge jump up from the 16th and final position to third place with a 4.142 at 168.58 in round three before the wet stuff arrived, pushing Charlie Prophit down to fourth and 2010 class champion Kim Morrell into fifth. Six riders remain outside the 16-bike field before the completion of round three and a scheduled fourth session on Saturday.
INTERNATIONAL TRAVELER - Adam Flamholc, the pride of Malmoe, Sweden, has become an ADRL regular in 2012, competing in the Pro Modified class against the likes of veterans Mike Castellana, Rickie Smith, Pat Musi and Mike Janis. But it was Flamholc on top of the provisional eight-car qualified list for Dragstock IX after three rounds at zMAX Dragway, near Charlotte.
Flamholc ran a near-career-best 3.891 at 193.54 in the third session on Friday to edge ahead of the 3.902 by Janis, who also stepped up in that same round. Smith was third, followed by Dave Roemer, Don Walsh Jr., Jeff Naiser, Jeffrey Cummins Jr. and Pete Farber with a fourth and final opportunity to qualify scheduled for Saturday.
“We are very happy, very happy,” said Flamholc, who owns a couple of engine-building business in Sweden. “I’m so happy for my crew; they work very hard and give up a lot to do this.”
Flamholc and most of his crew members fly back-and-forth between Sweden and the U.S. for each ADRL national event, usually arriving just in time to set up and race before heading back to the nearest airport. For this race, however, they arrived a day earlier and Flamholc credits that decision for their early Dragstock success.
“We’ve had some issues the last couple of races, mostly electrical stuff from the car sitting without any attention between races,” Flamholc explained. “So this time we picked the car up on Wednesday night in Richmond and we had all day here (at zMAX) on Thursday to go over everything. We worked like crazy yesterday, but we found some stuff to fix and I think it really helped.”
MISSING BERT - Dean Goforth misses a gentleman he describes as “the best cutting up buddy” a man could have.
Goforth’s friend is the late Bert Jackson, who was killed while racing at last year’s ADRL Dragstock event. The 68-year old Goforth understands life goes on but a year later, he can only shake his head and smile in remembering the good times.
“We cut up something awful,” Goforth said, as he reminisced. “It was an all the time kind of deal. It was every race, too. I really miss that.”
Jackson was killed on September 10, 2011 when he hit the guard wall hard at Rockingham Dragway. Obviously incapacitated, the ran off the end of the track with the throttle hung open. Jackson was transported to First Health Richmond Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead by a medical examiner.
Goforth sometimes finds it difficult to fathom how his partner in comedic mayhem isn’t around.
“There was the smile,” Goforth continued, “He never lost that. You always knew by the look on his face that he was glad to see you. If he wasn’t glad to see you, he was clearly a good faker, but I doubt it. He just liked people … everybody.”
Has he found another good cutting-up partner to fill the void.
“Oh gosh no,” Goforth answered quickly. “You can never replace a Bert Jackson. Guys like Bert are rare. No sense looking for a replacement, they aren't out there. A lot of us are run of the mill people, but not him. He was above the standard. He makes me laugh thinking about him now.”
If anyone knows the importance of a good laugh, it’s Goforth. Last November, he nearly died of a staph infection whichdeveloped after he got a splinter in his finger. He endured many painful days and there were moments he forced himself to laugh. It was the only medicine he knew to fight his illness.
“I didn’t laugh a lot, but I knew I needed to … if only by squeezing one out,” Goforth admitted.
Thinking back to his moments of scuttle-butting with Jackson made him laugh then and today, he’ll still break out in a chuckle when a memory crosses his mind.
Goforth can barely describe the day when the baby picture on the window of the Pro Stocker Jackson drove became the focal point of a “moment”. The baby picture was of team owner Enoch Love.
“I found this baby picture and it wasn’t something you’d find in a newspaper,” Goforth said with a smile. “It went something like this …”
Goforth described how he did his best to mask the humor and look angry as he playfully confronted Jackson.
“Boy … I’m mad and I felt like I should come to you and tell you about it,” Goforth said, successfully masking the joke.
“I told him, ‘it’s not right and I am being mistreated here. I’m going to tell you about.”
Goforth said Jackson was taken aback and falling for the joke … hook, line and sinker.
“That picture on the side of your car, I wanted to put mine on the side of my car and the ADRL wouldn’t let me. I showed him the picture.”
Then Goforth started laughing and uttered, “I think it’s discrimination.”
Goforth said the look on Jackson’s face was priceless.
“I had gotten him good, and he knew it,” Goforth admitted.
Then Goforth sighed and classified the memory of one of the good days which had passed. He says the realization which comes to pass when the racing community loses a friend makes the racers think about their own mortality.
“I think it makes us all realize it could happen to us,” said Goforth. “It makes you realize just how special those moments are. You realize what you mean to one another. Bert sure did mean a lot to me.”
And in the pits, Jackson meant a lot to others as well.
MIXED REACTIONS - Tommy Mauney was there in September 2004 when the inaugural Dragstock at Carolina Dragway changed the face of outlaw doorslammer racing forever by leading directly to the formation of the American Drag Racing League (ADRL) the following year. He also was there when the NHRA visited zMAX Dragway with its national-event circus for the supertrack’s first race in September 2008.
With zMAX hosting Dragstock for the first time this weekend, Mauney couldn’t help but recall the past.
“It’s kind of bittersweet for me because I still remember where the ADRL came from and I still like the old, backyard, cow-pasture tracks, but it’s definitely nice to come to a place like this,” he said.
“This place is absolutely unbelievable. I mean, just to able to be a part of something here is a pretty big deal to me; it’s the nicest track I’ve ever been to, that’s for sure. I’m sure all the racers like coming to places like this, but I can’t help but miss some of the other places we’ve been.”
Though Mauney had visited zMAX in the past, until today (Aug. 3), he’d never turned a wheel on the racing surface. Unfortunately, that first qualifying attempt resulted in an early shut-off 4.466 at 138.51-mph pass that placed him a tentative seventh in the eight-car Pro Mod field for Dragstock IX.
“We had something happen there that was kind of self inflicted,” Mauney explained. “When we unloaded the car out of the trailer this morning we rubbed the clutch linkage, the cross shaft, on the trailer door and it bent the clutch stop on it. Then, when I let the clutch go on the starting line it came back past the stop and wedged the pedal and kept the throw-out bearing from where it’s supposed to be until finally it just threw the clutch out of it. That was a first for me; I thought I’d done everything, but never that.”
Unfortunately, Mauney’s second attempt was even more troubled as the car shook the tires early and he coasted to a five-second pass at just over 97 mph.
The famed chassis builder is driving a ’69 Camaro created in his Shelby, NC, shop for car owner Sandy Merrell and motivated by an 867 c.i., nitrous-huffing Fulton motor.
“It’s got all the good stuff, but the car right now has but 13 hits on it, so we’re still chasing some stuff on it. Maybe we’ll get it together here,” he said. “There’s still time.”
THE VICIOUS CYCLE - One month ago Dylan Stott was on top of his racing world. Friday in Charlotte, during the first day of the ADRL Dragstock at zMax Dragway, he was taught a tough lesson regarding drag racing’s peaks and valleys.
Friday evening, the recently crowned Jegs All-Star, found himself in a valley. Stott is unqualified headed into the fourth and final session of Top Sportsman qualifying.
Even when you come from a family of strong racing pedigree, some lessons provide harsh reminders.
“Everything was real good, up until this weekend,” said Stott, whose cousins are past Pro Modified champions, Quain and Mitch Stott. “Had three shots at the track and cannot get past the Christmas tree.”
This is a stark contrast from the weekend he experienced at the NHRA Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, Ill. He could do no wrong and everyone who has contacted Stott let him know this.
“There have been a lot of people online, on the phone and in-person congratulating me,” said Stott. “I guess when you have all this support, you look at the stories and everything and you start to get all kinds of confidence.”
When the confidence soars, he understands there’s the potential his fortunes can go the other way. He counts Friday’s 4.99 pass as proof positive.
“Chicago was just one race … you have to keep forging ahead,’ said Stott. “Drag racing is very humbling. You’re on top one week and the next, you’re not in.”
And, at 19 years old, the young Stott is facing the harsh reality.
DOUBLE-DUTY - “Bad Brad” Brand is hoping familiarity works in his favor this weekend, two times over, as he competes in both Pro Modified and Extreme 10.5 (XTF) during the ADRL’s Dragstock IX.
Brand, who crew chiefs for R2B2 Racing’s Leah Pruett in the NHRA Pro Mod series and occasionally races there himself, is driving R2B2’s twin-turbocharged ’53 Corvette in Pro Mod at Dragstock, as well as his own twin-turboed 2007 Mustang in the XTF class.
That NHRA experience may pay off for Brand at zMAX Dragway in Concord, NC.
“We’ve come up here a couple of times to test; in fact, one of the first times I ever drove for R2B2 was up here in testing. I’ve tested both the Corvette and the Firebird here,” Brand said. “Then at the NHRA race here a few months ago (April), I was tuning Leah and she went to the final and I actually drove the Vette to the semis, so we’ve been on this track many a time; I probably have at least 50 or 60 runs on this track.”
Also in April, Brand made his 2012 ADRL debut at Bristol Dragway with his XTF Mustang and drove it to a runner-up finish against Alan Pittman. He showed up again a couple of months later with both cars at Richmond, VA, where he won the Extreme 10.5 class in dominating fashion, but struggled somewhat with the Corvette.
“I didn’t really have much time in the Vette when we got there after we’d changed a whole bunch of stuff, so I’m hoping to do a lot better with it here, that’s for sure. Hopefully we can show (R2B2 owner) Roger (Burgess) we actually can get something done with the Vette in the ADRL,” Brand said.
“And even though I’ve never driven a 10.5 car before on this track, it’s real smooth and very consistent down track, so just knowing the track I think it’s gonna’ go real good. I hope so, anyway.”
CHARTING HIS PATH - If it’s possible for a points leader to fly under the radar, ADRL Extreme Pro Stock points leader Cary Goforth might have found a way to do it.
Amidst a number of recent firsts and recent records in the class, Goforth has quietly crept up into the points lead, putting him in prime position to repeat as world champion in arguably the ADRL’s closest class.
Since Goforth’s lone win at Bristol in April, his father, Dean, has won, Todd Hoerner picked up an historic first with a victory in an EFI-powered car, Richie Stevens Jr. won his first ADRL race (and then got engaged to NHRA Pro Stock star Erica Enders), and John DeFlorian re-set the world E.T. record (that Goforth previously held) and won his very first ADRL race as well.
But between all the firsts, Cary Goforth still finds himself in first in a tightly-packed class heading into the stretch run that starts this weekend at Dragstock IX at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte.
“I guess we are flying under the radar a little bit, but there’s so many guys in this class that are deserving of attention,” Goforth said. “We’ve gotten about as much as we deserve. We need to get with it a little bit and continue to get better.”
There’s not a whole lot Goforth has to do to get better, but Goforth is comparing his performance to that of 2011 when the stars aligned perfectly and Goforth won three races, a world championship and was named the ADRL Driver of the Year.
That set a difficult precedent to repeat, and even Goforth is aware of that.
“It’s hard to compare last season to this season because seasons like last year don’t come around very often,” Goforth said.
“Within the team perspective, we’ve done pretty well. I feel like my car should have been to a couple more finals, but that’s being a greedy racer and thinking whatever we’ve done is not good enough. But we’ve been blessed to have a good year.”
There’s no denying that and after a brief rough stretch that sent Stevens into the points lead, Goforth turned it on in Martin.
He qualified No. 1 with a 4.06, which came off an uncharacteristic No. 1 1 qualifying spot in Virginia and was Goforth’s first No. 1 qualifier since the season-opening race, advancing to the semifinals.
Goforth lost on a rare and uncharacteristic red light to DeFlorian, but he still had plenty of positives to reflect on, including jumping back into the points lead.
“We had some issues that put us off course for a little while. After Martin, we felt like we got back on course with those issues and the power we’ve been looking for in the car,” Goforth said. “We’re still leading the points, and that just shows how strong this team is.”
But as well as Goforth has been performing – even if it has been under the radar – he isn’t satisfied.
He only leads Stevens by 126 points and seven total drivers (Stevens, Dean Goforth, Gahm, Hoerner, DeFlorian, Pete Berner, and John Pluchino) are within five rounds.
“We need to step on the gas harder. We want to pull away, but I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be close the rest of the way. That’s Pro Stock for you,” Goforth said. “I’m predicting at this event we’ll have our first repeat winner.”
Goforth didn’t necessarily say that repeat winner would be him, but six different drivers have found the winner’s circle in Extreme Pro Stock in 2012.
That’s a tribute, Goforth said, to a class that continues to get better and more competitive.
“I’m proud of that. The class has absolutely taken a step forward. I think it’s the best class out there,” Goforth said. “There’s a lot of guys out there who are capable of winning. It’s always going to be close.”
Goforth’s father, Dean, is right in the mix as well, which brings a smile to Cary’s face, especially after the trials and tribulations Dean and the Goforth family went through over the winter.
Dean had a near-fatal staph infection that he eventually overcame, but it made for several tense moments. Dean, though, is back and driving as well as he ever has.
He trails Cary by just more than three rounds and it’s helped push Cary in the process.
“He’s driving so much better and it seems like he’s taken a different mindset to how he approaches it. It’s been 30 years since I’ve seen him drive like this. Having him out here motivates me and we motivate each other,” Goforth said.
“If I have to take this No. 1 (sticker) off my car for any reason, I want it to be him, but I really don’t want to take it off at all. We have to step up and race like a champion.”
HOME SWEET HOME - Charlotte race fans were as passionate as they could be, standing four rows deep for hours untold to watch their favorite drivers racing the eighth-mile. Their passion was in watching race cars, preferably coupes and sedans.
There was only one requirement to fuel their appetites. These vehicles had to have working doors and each driver had to hold on for dear life while attempting to race a straight line.
This weekend, when the American Drag Racing League’s [ADRL] Dragstock event rolls into zMAX Dragway, there will be many memories of the now defunct Shuffletown Dragway, which is now partially covered by Interstate 485. There will certainly be a few fans hanging on the fences just like in 1987 at Shuffletown.
The ADRL specializes in Pro Modified-style drag racing, highly regarded as a taste born in the Carolinas. Charlotte is regarded by many drag racing historians as one of the primary birthplaces of this kind of racing, where racers stuffed oversized, nitrous-fed engines between the fenders of their race cars and attempted not to wreck.
Many races were won at Shuffletown with at least one tire drifting into the grass.
Just ask North Carolina Hall of Fame inductee Tommy Mauney, who will race this weekend at zMAX Dragway.
"I stirred up the dust a time or two," Mauney, a two-time world champion admits. "It definitely wasn't the kind of racing for the weak at heart."
The chassis builder from from Shelby, N.C., raced and won many races as part of the fledgling Quick Eight/Pro Modified doorslammer movement. These cars were labeled as doorslammers, a drag racing term used to describe full-bodied race cars.
“Shuffletown wasn’t the largest track, especially when you compare it to zMAX Dragway, but the impact it left on this style of racing was huge,” said Mauney, who will race in the Pro Modified division this weekend. “When we raced like we did back then, we had no idea this would take off the way it did. We just came to race.”
Doorslammer drag racing was clearly blue collar, and for those who watched these cars, nitro racing couldn't hold a candle. By this time in drag racing, nitro racing had just about disappeared from the local scene.
Shuffletown’s promoter Clinton Mashburn, whose son Doug is now the starter at zMAX Dragway, made his local racers the equivalent of those nitro stars. In doing so, he began matching up some of his quicker bracket racers in heads-up, no breakout match races. Eventually, it made more sense offering a purse and allowing these racers to race just like the professional drag racers on the major circuits.
Mauney was no stranger to professional drag racing, having raced Pro Stock a few years earlier. He jumped into the new series of racing against local heroes such as Ed Hoover, Charles Carpenter, Sonny Tindal, Blake Wiggins, Michael Martin and Wally Stroupe.
Mauney’s nitrous-injected small block [355-cid] Opel GT was one of the more popular cars capable of holding its own against Camaros, Trans-Ams, Corvettes and Novas displacing as many as 615 cubic inches.
“Every weekend was a battle,” Mauney said. “The competition was just as fierce there as anywhere else.”
This weekend’s ADRL Dragstock event will present a modern day version of the old Shuffletown days albeit in a much larger arena. Race fans will see cars pushing in upwards of 2,500 horsepower and channeling this energy through a suspended chassis.
The ADRL’s Dragstock represents a debut for zMAX Dragway as this event marks the first time the palatial facility has hosted one of these events. This flagship event for the eighth-mile drag racing series debuted at Carolina Dragway [Jackson, S.C.] in 2004, before moving to Rockingham in 2006.
Count Mauney as one of those seasoned drivers who will race zMAX for the first time this weekend.
“It’s going to be fun and yeah, I’ll probably think about those days while racing at Shuffletown,” said Mauney. “The Carolinas are rich in doorslammer history and in my own little way, I am proud that I was around to be a part of it. For those fans who came to watch us race back in the day, we felt we owed it to them to drive the cars to the edge and make it as exciting as we could. When you look at it, nothing has changed, really.”
MOVING FORWARD - Buoyed by a positive test session this week, Keith Haney and Monroe Guest are looking for improved performance in this weekend's ADRL Dragstock IX at zMax Dragway.
Haney's two-car team will race in its second ADRL event of the season, with Haney driving the KeithHaneyRacing.com Pro Nitrous Chevrolet Camaro and Guest in the John Woods Performance Auto Pro Mod Chevrolet Camaro.
The goals may be modest for this weekend, but Haney is trying to build a winning team by taking the proper steps. For Charlotte, qualifying both cars is the first goal.
"That is our goal," Haney said. "Our goal is to qualify and have an opportunity to win a race. We feel like we've got the cars. Finding the setup to that track is going to be the key to it all."
Haney and Guest tested their cars at Tulsa Raceway Park earlier this week, working well into the night to avoid the Oklahoma heat.
"We tested Monday night until 1 in the morning," Haney said. "We had a good test session. We think the cars are ready to go."
Haney's team got a late start to the ADRL season, which is already seven races old, building new cars for each class.
"The rest of the ADRL's got six races under their belt, and we've got one. They're testing probably way ahead of us, too. We did a lot of testing, but we had motor issues. Now we don't have any motor issues and need to test more."
Testing, Haney said, is the only way to get better.
"We're way behind the 8-ball to the rest of the field," Haney said. "We've switched motor programs, and everything's going great now. We just switched transmissions over in both cars, too. We're excited, Monroe's excited, the whole team's excited. We feel like we can come and compete."
A switch to Reher-Morrison engines has given the team an excellent baseline upon which to build, so Haney can now focus on tuning the cars.
"Switching to them, we're really happen with how that's going," Haney said. "We've had no motor issues at all. Now we're fine-tuning our setups trying to find what the car likes and what the car needs. We're finding our stride, and that takes testing. We've done a little bit of that."
TURNAROUND NEEDED - Dont count Top Sportsman veteran Ronnie Davis out yet. The five-time IHRA Top Sportsman world champion and two-time NHRA Division 2 champ may have struggled somewhat through the first half of the ADRL schedule and hasnt made an NHRA Division 2 appearance since March, but The King, as many know him, has regained his trademark confidence and swagger.
I wont ever quit something I started, he declares. That just wont happen.
The Suwanee, Georgia-based golf cart dealer is hoping to build on some recent success, too, and turn his ADRL season around this weekend (Aug. 3-4), in Dragstock IX at zMAX Dragway, near Charlotte.
Davis qualified his nitrous-boosted, 822-cubic-inch, Roush Yates-powered 63 Corvette in the number-one position for the inaugural Mean 16 Outlaw Top Sportsman Shootout last month at Douglas Motorsports Park in south-central Georgia. He went on to reach the final round before the race was cut short by late-night dew settling on the racing surface.
It was disappointing to not finish the race, especially after I ran dead on my dial three times in a row (in the preliminary rounds), but track conditions were getting unsafe with all the dew, says Davis, who was all set to face second-place qualifier Chuck Mohn in the final. So after consulting with the promoter, Nathan Vanbeekwho did a great job with the race, by the waywe all decided to play it safe and just split the purse.
Davis also used the Douglas outing as a test session for Dragstock. In six of 10 scheduled ADRL eighth-mile events completed so far, hes qualified four times in the top five, but has not yet advanced beyond the quarter-finals.
Ive had some challenges at the ADRL races that I'm just not used to having and it caused me to lose my edge, he admits. I have just one helper, so we both have our hands full, but thats the way I've raced for the last 25 years. And I call all the shots, do all the tuning and chassis work, so if it does go wrong, its my fault.
The good thing is the car is back to working the way its supposed to and we're going to turn this around now, Davis declares. Im really looking forward to racing at zMAX, too, and cant think of a better place to turn it up and turn this deal around.
Meanwhile, Davis thoughts also are turning back toward NHRA Div. 2 competition on the quarter mile, where he drives a second Tommy Mauney-built car, but powered by a smaller 738 c.i. Roush Yates motor.
Davis began this years Top Sportsman campaign in February with the Div. 2 season opener at Orlando, Florida, competing in the class he helped bring to NHRA and that his Davis Golf Cart Sales has sponsored throughout its 12-year history. He was second in points one month later after three events, but stuck to his pre-season plan to go after the ADRLs inaugural Top Sportsman championship.
I'm still in a good points position in NHRA Division 2 because even though I've only been to three races and I havent raced there since March down in Valdosta (Georgia), I still have five more (races) I can claim for points, so I will go out of my division to get more races in, he explains. So we will be back on that track soon. And with Mauney and Roush Yates on my side it makes me feel even better. Were ready to turn this thing around.
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