2021 PDRA EAST COAST NATIONALS - EVENT NOTEBOOK/ RESULTS
WINNERS ARE CROWNED IN PDRA SEASON-OPENER
CAMP CONTINUES RUN TO THE TOP - Longtime Pro Nitrous racer Johnny Camp earned his first-ever win in the series last year after making the move to Pro Boost with a ProCharger-boosted ’69 Camaro under the Proline Racing umbrella. This weekend, Camp stepped up when it mattered most, using a holeshot advantage and a 3.668-second pass at 203.61 mph to hold off Kevin Rivenbark’s 3.644 at 205.13 in the East Coast Nationals final round.
“It feels great to start the season with a win,” Camp said, thanking NGK Spark Plugs, Proline Racing Engines, Chris Tatman Electric, and Camp Bros. Concrete Pumping. “We have a new engine package, a little bit different cylinder head. I can't say enough about Proline. Awesome crew. It's not me, it's all of us. It's a team effort. In my opinion, these are the best drivers here in PDRA. Even to qualify and go rounds means you're doing something.”
Camp’s Brandon Stroud-tuned “Hells Bells” Camaro qualified No. 3 before running a 3.689 at 204.26 to defeat Don Tolley in the first round. The Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based concrete contractor picked up his first holeshot win of the day in the second round, leading Daniel Pharris and his 3.652 to the eighth-mile finish line with a 3.659 at 205.16. Camp earned his spot in the final by eliminating fellow Proline customer Randy Weatherford in a 3.652-to-3.667 semifinal match.
Rivenbark, driving the ProCharger-boosted GALOT Motorsports ’69 Camaro previously driven by his teammate and reigning world champion John Strickland, went 3.70 to beat Jason Harris and his 3.721 in the first round. He dipped into the 3.60s with a 3.678 in a second-round win over No. 1 qualifier Todd Tutterow, who went red. The two-time world champion left first and finished first in his semifinal race with Jason Lee, running a 3.662 to Lee’s 3.677.
HALSEY DOES IT AGAIN - Two-time Pro Nitrous world champions Jim Halsey and Tommy Franklin added another final-round match to their growing head-to-head record as the two continue to lead the class. Halsey added the win to his column, ripping off a 3.649 at 206.26 in his Brandon Switzer-tuned ’68 Camaro to eliminate Franklin’s 3.673 at 204.17.
“Tommy and I were talking about it in the staging lanes – we can't get away from each other,” Halsey said. “He's top of the class. If you're going to be the man, he's the guy you've gotta beat.”
Halsey’s Fulton-powered entry performed flawlessly all weekend, from a No. 1 qualifying performance to low E.T. of the event and a string of passes in the 3.60s. He started race day with a 3.676 at 205.47 next to John Hall, who walked away from a frightening crash. A 3.653 at 205.76 over Jim Widener followed in the second round, then Halsey’s 3.631 at 207.24 to defeat Tony Wilson’s 3.701 in the semis made a statement going in the final round.
“I'm pretty impressed myself, to be honest,” Halsey said. “The way the car ran today, it was just a pretty smooth day for us.”
Franklin admittedly struggled during prerace testing and early qualifying, but his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro was back to consistently quick performances once eliminations started. He steadily improved, going from a 3.736 over Dave Roemer’s 3.799 and a 3.692 over Fredy Scriba to a 3.681 to defeat Ron Muenks in the semifinals.
WINNING FOR SONNY - Extreme Pro Stock racer Chris Powers went into the East Coast Nationals with an extra motivating factor inspiring him to chase victory at the season opener. He wanted to win the event in memory of legendary engine builder Sonny Leonard, who passed away in January.
When engine damage prevented opponent Steven Boone from making the call for the final round, Powers was able to deliver a win for Leonard. He chose to take the tree and idle down the track in his Sonny’s-powered Sonny’s Racing Engines ’14 Camaro while announcer Derrick Beach described Leonard’s accomplishments and impact on the sport.
“[The win] meant everything to us,” Powers said. “We've worked our butts off. That's all we wanted to do is get to the winner's circle and put something on for Sonny for all his dedication and hard work for this class and all of motorsports that he's done. I'm just glad that we were fortunate enough and had the horsepower under the hood to get it done. I know he rode with us. I'm just glad we were the ones to get it done for him. His daughter [Kelly] and folks from Sonny’s are here. It's awesome for them to support us like they do and give us the best they've got.”
Powers defeated Dwayne Rice in the first round with a 4.106 at 174.55 after qualifying No. 3. He cut a near-perfect .001 reaction time and set low E.T. of eliminations, a 4.075 at 176.12, in the semifinals over defending world champion Johnny Pluchino.
Boone, the 2018 world champion, nearly matched Powers’ performance in the opening round with his 4.107 to eliminate Elijah Morton. He ran a 4.115 in his Allen-powered Boone Motorsports ’07 Cobalt in the semifinals, winning over a red-lighting John Montecalvo.
DAVIS WINS PRO NITROUS MOTORCYCLE - In a quest for improved performance, three-time and defending Pro Nitrous Motorcycle world champion Travis Davis upgraded the engine management technology in his Timblin Chassis ’18 Hayabusa over the winter. The work resulted in a career-best performance and a win for Davis, as he used a 3.995 at 175.30 to defeat championship runner-up Chris Garner-Jones and his 4.078 at 173.90 in the final round.
“We just kept picking at it round by round,” said Davis, crediting Dan Wagner at DTM Performance, Steve Nichols with MaxxECU, and Dalton Perry at Perry’s Performance for contributing to his performance, along with longtime supporters like Timblin Chassis and Monster Cylinder Heads. “We went the 3.95 [in the semifinals] and it showed that we probably could go faster, so we turned it up a little bit more and it got the tire out there. We were trying to go for the record. Being that you're that close to it, you have to just try for it. We'll try it again at the next one. We’re pleased with everything.”
Davis qualified No. 1 and recorded low E.T. of the first round, a 3.997 at 176.77, on a competition single. The Douglas, Georgia-based rider then improved his career-best E.T. from a 3.98 to a 3.958 at 178.71 in a semifinal victory over Brad McCoy.
Garner-Jones qualified one spot behind Davis before riding his Jones Racing ’11 Hayabusa to a 4.046 at 173.49 to beat Gerald Smith in the opening round. He stepped up to a 4.02 at 173.85 on a single in the semifinals.
NEW CLASS, NEW WINNER - Longtime Outlaw 10.5 competitors Jesse Lambert and Tim Essick were the last two drivers standing in Pro Street, a small-tire class PDRA unveiled in 2020 and revamped over the offseason. Lambert qualified No. 1 in his twin-turbo ’04 Mustang and continued to lead the class in eliminations. He used a 4.019 at 199.73 to drive around Essick, who left the starting line first but trailed by just .007 at the finish line with a 4.054 at 183.29.
“It's really nice to come out here to the first race with this new class and win,” said Lambert, who mentioned supporters Joe Newsham from J&E Automotive, Adam and Andy Lambert at PRS Shocks, Cutaway Creations, Billet Atomizer, AMS2000, and VP Racing Fuels. “We're really excited about this class. I really think it's going to be something big – a lot of opportunity here. I'm excited to have my family here with me. We really worked hard this weekend. It was worth it.”
Lambert started race day with a competition single, then fired off a 4.025 at 200.02 on a semifinal single, where he was set to face Chris Cadotto.
Essick qualified No. 3 in his ProCharged “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang and pulled out round wins over Anthony Matney and Ty Kasper before facing Lambert in the final round.
FARMER TOPS THE DRAGSTERS - A pair of ProCharger-boosted entries squared off in the Elite Top Dragster final round, as 2019 world champion Kellan Farmer took on No. 2 qualifier Michael White. A quicker reaction time helped White seal the deal, securing the win with a 3.811 on a 3.79 dial-in in his ’15 Maddox dragster. Farmer, debuting a brand-new ’21 Race Tech dragster with a new ProCharger combination, followed with a 3.915 on a 3.90 dial.
Racing out of the No. 35 spot in the Top Dragster 48 field, TG Paschal managed to make it to the final round to take on No. 4 qualifer Matthew Buck. Buck had the better reaction time in his West Palm Beach, Florida-based ’00 Worthy dragster, but he slowed to a 4.48 on a 4.10 dial-in while Paschal ran a 4.552 on a 4.52 dial in his ’12 Race Tech dragster to get the win.
UP NEXT - The 2021 PDRA season continues at the inaugural Doorslammer Derby presented by Classic Graphix, April 29-May 1, at Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Ky.
QUALIFYING NOTEBOOK - FAMILIAR FACES ARE THE NORM ATOP THE LEADERBOARD
DON'T MESS AROUND WITH JIM - Jim Halsey added yet another low qualifier award to his list of accomplishments in Pro Nitrous when he dropped a bombshell 3.65 at 207.08 to close out the final qualifying session. The defending world champion enters race day with the quiet confidence that helped him earn the last two championships.
“There’s no better way to start the season than qualifying No. 1,” Halsey said. “Our hard work over the winter paid off. It felt pretty good. In Wednesday testing, I was a little nervous. I hadn’t been in the car for a couple months and felt a little rusty. I think we knocked the rust off on that run.”
Ron Muenks, the 2020 Mid-West Drag Racing Series Pro Mod champion, qualified No. 2 in the Jeff Pierce-tuned Dave’s Claremore RV “Purple Gorilla” ’68 Camaro on the strength of a 3.67 at 205.04. Two-time Pro Nitrous world champion Tommy Franklin stepped up to a 3.687 at 204.94 in his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro to qualify third.
RUN FIT FOR A KING - Todd “King Tut” Tutterow, who won the inaugural PDRA Pro Boost world championship in 2014, kicked off his return to the class with a monster performance to lead a stacked field. Tutterow, driving a second screw-blown P2 Contracting ’20 Camaro for team owner and teammate Kurt Steding, unleashed a 3.662 at 206.35 to take the No. 1 spot by speed.
“Kurt's given me an opportunity to come over here and run PDRA, and it looks like it's going to be a good deal,” Tutterow said. “The .66 just shows how good the track is. All the different categories are close, and all the combinations in Pro Boost are close.”
Randy Weatherford missed the No. 1 spot by just 2 mph, recording a 3.662 at 204.35 in his ProCharger-boosted WS Construction ’17 Camaro. Johnny Camp in the ProCharged “Hells Bells” ’69 Camaro claimed the No. 3 slot with a 3.667 at 204.42. James Beadling is just outside the top 3 in his roots-blown ’68 Camaro with a 3.669 at 203.71 in fourth.
THE CARR TO BEAT - Mountain Motor Pro Stock veteran JR Carr closed out the 2020 season with a win at the World Finals and a runner-up finish in the championship points standings. He ended up back in the headlines to start the season, qualifying No. 1 in his Frank Gugliotta-tuned ’20 Camaro. He stepped up to a 4.048 at 179.47 in the second session.
“This year is the first year that we’ve started out with the same stuff we left with, other than some more power,” said Carr, thanking class sponsor Liberty’s Gears, as well as sponsors CP-Carrillo, Maxima Oil and Moroso. “That's an easy change to adjust to. Last year we were working with a new car and a new crew. We're always changing something trying to be better, and this is going to be the first time we really didn't change anything. I have more confidence today than I've had all last year because I know what to expect.”
After struggling in testing, defending world champion Johnny Pluchino posted a 4.09 at 177.91 in his Kaase-powered Strutmasters.com ’13 Mustang to qualify second. He edged out Chris Powers, who ran a 4.093 at 174.93 in his Sonny’s-powered ’14 Camaro. Powers and most of the Extreme Pro Stock competitors are sporting special decals paying tribute to the late engine builder Sonny Leonard, who passed away over the offseason.
DAVIS LEADS BIKES - Three-time and defending Pro Nitrous Motorcycle world champion Travis Davis rode his way to the top of the qualifying order on the strength of a 4.044 at 174.91 aboard his Timblin Chassis ’18 Hayabusa, which underwent some changes over the winter. The performance sets up Davis for eliminations, where the Douglas, Georgia-based entry typically comes alive.
“From what we're seeing, we have plenty of room to pick up and go faster,” said Davis, who thanked Dan Wagner at DTM Performance, Steve Nichols at MaxxECU, Timblin Chassis, his father, John, at Cyclemasters, wife Brandy, son Brayden and Perry’s Performance. “We're just taking small steps and trying to pick up every round. Usually on race day is when I start picking things up, so I'm actually a little bit ahead of the game compared to where I normally am. I think we'll be good if we can keep everything together.”
Championship runner-up Chris Garner-Jones grabbed the No. 2 spot with his Jones Racing ’11 Hayabusa running a 4.087 at 170.51. Cleveland, North Carolina’s Brad McCoy qualified third with a 4.128 at 171.21 on his ’20 Hayabusa.
BENOIT IS THE TOP SPORTSMAN - Consistent low qualifier John Benoit piloted his nitrous-fed, Buck-powered ’17 Camaro to a 3.735 at 203.80 mph to sit atop the Elite Top Sportsman qualifying order after two sessions. Defending world champion Buddy Perkinson is No. 2 with a 3.799 at 195.03 in his Musi-powered LAT Racing Oils ’69 Camaro. Tim Molnar rounds out the top 3 in his ’68 Camaro with a 3.843 at 194.86.
In Top Sportsman 32, made up of the 32 cars outside the 16-car Elite Top Sportsman field, Zach Houser is the provisional low qualifier with a 4.07 at 176.86 in his ’00 Firebird.
THE TOP DRAGSTERS - Wadsworth, Ohio’s Craig Addis took his new ProCharger-boosted ’21 Spitzer dragster to the No. 1 spot in Elite Top Dragster, standing out with a 3.735 at 193.77. Perennial frontrunner Michael White moved up to the No. 2 spot in the second session with a 3.80 at 191.70 in his ’57 Chevy-themed ’15 Maddox dragster. Kathy Fisher, driver of the ProCharger-boosted “Dragoness” ’15 American dragster, is qualified third with a 3.813 at 187.11.
In Top Dragster 48, Bill Earnest is the No. 1 qualifier in his ProCharged, PAR-powered ’14 Miller dragster with a 3.977 at 183.15, which is just a few thousands away from qualifying for the 16-car Elite field.
ON TAP - The PDRA East Coast Nationals presented by FuelTech continues Saturday with sportsman and Jr. Dragster final qualifying beginning at 9:15 a.m. Sportsman and Jr. Dragster eliminations start at 12:30 p.m. Pre-race ceremonies and pro class eliminations will begin at 3:25 p.m.