2020 PDRA CAROLINA SHOWDOWN - EVENT PAGE
FINAL NOTEBOOK -
FRANKLIN EMERGES AS WINNER IN PRO NITROUS - Rinse and repeat was the order of business for Tommy Franklin at the Carolina Showdown. He matched his performance from the season-opening East Coast Nationals in late May, qualifying No. 2 and winning the race. His Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro was locked in the 3.60s through eliminations, recording low E.T. of each round. Franklin set low E.T. of the event in the final round with a 3.648 at 204.73 alongside No. 1 qualifier Jim Halsey, who slowed to a 4.492 at 119.33.
“The goal is to win every one of [the races],” Franklin said. “But I think that's everybody's goal when we pull in. That's all we try to focus on. I say it all the time: this is the toughest competition in drag racing. There's some awesome teams out here: Halsey, [Jay] Cox, [Chris] Rini, Lizzy Musi. All of them are just super-fast, so to outrun them and be quick of the event just means a lot.”
Franklin’s road to the winner’s circle started with a 3.692 at 204.64 victory over Aaron Glaser, followed by a 3.681 at 205.10 to drive around Musi’s .006 reaction time and 3.736 in the second round. Franklin earned lane choice in the final round by ripping off a 3.659 at 204.64 on a single in the semifinals.
Halsey easily moved past first round with a 3.733 while Tony Wilson didn’t record a time in the other lane. He stepped up to a 3.699 on a competition single in the second round, then ran a 3.845 to defeat Andrew Handras in the semifinals.
ALL-GALOT ALL THE TIME - It was an all-GALOT Motorsports, all-ProCharger-boosted, all-Pro Line-powered, all-’69 Camaro final round in Pro Boost, as teammates John Strickland and Kevin Rivenbark squared off in a final round for the first time since 2016. Strickland used a holeshot advantage and 3.668 at 202.16 to finish ahead of the defending world champion and his 3.684 at 203.71.
“It's been a long time since an all-GALOT final,” said Strickland, who was the runner-up at the last race. “This is our second year with the Pro Line group, so it was really exciting for the whole group to be a part of a GALOT team final. [Team owner] Mr. [Earl] Wells has done a really good job of putting us in situations where we have some of the best equipment and the best people with us. We couldn't ask for a better group of guys to work with. They're constantly improving. ProCharger stepped up and they're improving their product all the time and giving us what we need to be successful.”
Strickland’s “Dirt Digger” ’69 Camaro improved on each pass in eliminations, starting with a 3.725 at 201.88 to eliminate Clint Satterfield. He dipped into the 3.60s with a 3.695 at 202.61 over Johnny Camp’s 3.726 in the second round. In one of the best races of the day, Strickland grabbed a slight starting line advantage over Randy Weatherford and held the lead through to a 3.661 at 203.34 victory over Weatherford’s 3.67 in the semifinals.
Rivenbark was only about a number off Strickland’s pace through race day. He was quicker with a 3.722 to beat Eric Gustafson in the first round, then raced past Derek Ward with a 3.73. Semifinal opponent Jason Harris went .002 red to negate his 3.692, but Rivenbark was ready with a 3.675 at 204.08.
CARR WINS EXTREME PRO STOCK - A wire-to-wire performance put JR Carr and his brand-new RJ Race Cars-built ’20 Camaro in the PDRA Extreme Pro Stock winner’s circle for the first time. The Mountain Motor Pro Stock veteran recorded low E.T. of the event, a 4.035 at 178.50, in the final round to defeat Elijah Morton and his 4.113 at 175.37 in his Allen-powered Morton Brothers Motorsports ’18 Mustang.
“I've had wins in other series, but this series is tough,” Carr said. “I'm not an eighth-mile guy. They had to kind of convert me. Tommy and Judy [Franklin, PDRA co-owners] and Tyler [Crossnoe, series director], they're good people and they do a great job. These are top-notch cars. The competitors, they want to tear your head off every time you line up. This is just a brutal deal. We won today, and I'm tickled pink.”
Carr qualified No. 1 Friday night – another first for the Pasco, Washington-based driver – and raised the bar in the first round by going 4.053 at 179.07 over Dwayne Rice. He improved even further to a 4.036 at 178.93 in the semifinals to knock out points leader Johnny Pluchino, who went .006 red on a 4.092 pass.
Morton, who took runner-up honors to Pluchino at the season opener, qualified No. 6 and took out 2018 world champion Steven Boone in a 4.125-to-4.175 first-round match. He went .018 red and lifted to a 4.95 in the semifinals, but opponent Chris Powers went red first on his 4.084 pass.
BACK-TO-BACK - Even though he won the East Coast Nationals at GALOT Motorsports Park in late May, defending world champion Travis Davis wanted to make some changes to his Timblin-built Hayabusa for the Carolina Showdown. When those changes didn’t work, Davis returned to what worked at GALOT. It worked again, as he strapped a holeshot advantage on Chris Garner-Jones in the Pro Nitrous Motorcycle final round and held on with a 4.045 at 175.71 to beat Garner-Jones’ quicker 4.003 at 172.91.
“It's nice to go back to back,” Davis said. “We hadn't done anything to the bike since we left GALOT. The day before we got here, I changed the nitrous system completely. Put a whole different system on it. Tried it during the three qualifiers, didn't like what I seen and went back to the old setup for first round. We ran all weekend with no Racepak data until after first round. I got data and then I was able to start picking it away. We’re still behind on the performance side a little bit, but you win 'em how you can win 'em.”
Davis qualified No. 2 despite not liking what he saw with the new system. He moved past Terry Wynn in the first round with a 4.111 at 173.54 to Wynn’s 8.729. The Georgia native stepped up to a 4.065 at 174.96 in the semifinals, eliminating Richard Gadson and his 4.632.
Garner-Jones was on pace to back up his No. 1 qualifier performance with a victory. He set low E.T. of each round, beginning with a 4.037 to easily defeat Gerald Smith. His 4.02 on a semifinal single gave him lane choice in the final round.
VOSS REBOUNDS IN GALOT - A DNQ at the East Coast Nationals motivated 2017 Pro Outlaw 632 world champion Dillon Voss and his family-based team to rebound in a big way at the Carolina Showdown. He qualified No. 2 in his Voss-powered ’17 Corvette and steadily improved to a winning 4.21 at 170.52 alongside Wes Distefano’s 4.25 at 170.20 in his Musi-powered $hameless Racing ’68 Camaro in the final round.
“We're going hard after points this year,” Voss said. “DNQ'ing at GALOT was a hard setback. We actually met No. 1 in points [Walter Lannigan Jr.] in the semis, so we gained a couple rounds of points on him. Man, we literally went from zeroes to heroes this weekend. It feels really good. The car is running awesome. My dad [Kenny], Cory, Mark, my wife [Heather], all of them, are just doing a hell of job to get the car in the order it needs to be to chase a championship this season.”
Voss paired a .008 reaction time with a 4.263 at 170.58 to win first round over JR Ward and his 4.375. His semifinal victory over Lannigan was courtesy of a 4.227 at 169.92 to Lannigan’s 4.267.
Distefano, the No. 1 qualifier and defending winner at Darlington, opened eliminations with a safe 4.307 to beat the 4.778 of Mike Murphy. The Michigan driver earned an odd semifinal victory when Chris Holdorf left before the tree activated. Still, Distefano laid down a 4.236.
UP NEXT - Next month, the PDRA heads north for the North-South Shootout presented by Frederick Line-X, July 16-18 at Maryland International Raceway in Budds Creek, Maryland.
FRIDAY QUALIFYING - FAMILIAR FACES TOP PDRA QUALIFYING
HALSEY IS THE TOP GUN - Pro Nitrous front-runners Jim Halsey and Tommy Franklin were paired up for all three qualifying sessions. First, Halsey narrowly edged out Franklin in a low-3.70-second battle. Franklin evened the score with a 3.675 to take the top spot in the second session. Finally, Halsey took the top honors with his 3.664 at 206.61 in his Fulton-powered “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro to conclude the final qualifying session.
“I’m not sure if we would’ve been faster than Tommy’s 3.67 in the second round or not,” Halsey said. “We broke a transmission. It is what it is. We probably could’ve went a little faster tonight, but we just wanted to get down and get data. It’s always good to end the day on top.”
Franklin qualified second after his 3.675 at 204.55 run in his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro, while Chris Rini slotted into third with a 3.693 at 201.88 in his Buck-powered ATI Performance ’69 Camaro.
NEW CLASS, SAME OLD RESULT - After winning two world championships in Pro Nitrous, Jason Harris made the move to Pro Boost for the 2020 season. He earned his first low qualifier award in the class when his Boone-Harris Racing ’18 Camaro lit up the scoreboard with a 3.674 at 203.90. He dedicated the performance to the team’s late longtime backer, Jimmy Boone.
“This has been a trying year for us, losing Jimmy Boone,” Harris said. “He was our main man behind us. He'd been with us for a long time, whether we were racing against him or racing with him. This No. 1 qualifier is for him. You can't ask for anything better than going No. 1. Considering everything that's going on in the world right now, it seems kind of miniscule, but right now I'm as happy as I can be. I can't thank my guys enough. I just feel like I'm the guy holding the wheel.”
Harris was followed in the top three by two other drivers racing with ProCharger-boosted, Pro Line-powered entries, who both also recently switched over from Pro Nitrous. Randy Weatherford sits in the No. 2 position with a pass of 3.678 at 202.61 in his WS Construction ’17 Camaro and Johnny Camp is third in his “Hell’s Bells” ’69 Camaro with a 3.687 at 203.34.
DEJA VU - Wes Distefano, who dominated Pro Outlaw 632 at the PDRA’s last visit to Darlington Dragway last fall, made the first step toward another event sweep when he took his Musi-powered $hameless Racing ’68 Camaro to the No. 1 spot with a pass of 4.227 at 171.23.
“You always feel good when you can qualify No. 1,” Distefano said. “You see it all the time: a guy goes No. 1 and wins the race. Look at Walter [Lannigan Jr.] at the last race – that's exactly what he did. Last year when we were here in Darlington, we were No. 1 and we won the race. It's always a good feeling when you're going into race day No. 1. It gives the driver and the crew a vote of confidence.”
Past world champion Dillon Voss grabbed the No. 2 spot after a 4.254 at 169.62 in his Voss-powered ’17 Corvette. Lannigan sits No. 3 with a 4.263 at 166.05 in his Nelson-powered Black Flag Motorsports ’53 Corvette.
BENOIT TOPS TOP SPORTSMAN - Vermont’s John Benoit steered his nitrous-assisted ’17 Camaro to a 3.821 at 198.33 to lead Friday qualifying in Elite Top Sportsman. Benoit also qualified No. 1 at the East Coast Nationals.
Jeff Pittman’s 4.078 at 177.28 in his nitrous-assisted ’68 Chevelle put him No. 17 out of all the Top Sportsman entries, but that’s good for No. 1 in the Top Sportsman 32 field.
STROUD HAS THE TOP DRAGSTER - East Coast Nationals low qualifier Jody Stroud is chasing another No. 1 qualifier award after making a 3.741 at 196.34 pass in his supercharged “Zombie” Spitzer dragster.
Defending Elite Top Dragster world champion Kellan Farmer is sitting just outside the Elite field, with a 4.033 at 177.73. Though it puts him No. 1 in the Top Dragster 32 field, Farmer will look to improve in Saturday’s final qualifying session.
ON TAP - The PDRA Carolina Showdown presented by ProCharger will continue Saturday at 9 a.m. with a final qualifying session for the sportsman classes, followed by first round of eliminations. Pro class eliminations will kick off at 3:30 p.m., with the final rounds scheduled for 9:45 p.m.