Camp, Franklin, Pluchino, Gast and Pelcarsky Shoot to No. 1 Spots at PDRA Summer Shootout
Former Pro Nitrous driver Johnny Camp earned his first-ever Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) low qualifier award Friday night when he topped the Penske/PRS Pro Boost presented by WS Construction field at the PDRA Summer Shootout presented by Callies Performance. He recorded a 3.675-second pass at 201.40 mph at the Virginia Motorsports Park event.
Camp and fellow first-time low qualifiers Johnny Pluchino (Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock) and Jimmy Pelcarsky ($hameless Racing Pro Outlaw 632) led the pro classes along with Tommy Franklin (Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous) and Paul Gast (Drag 965 Pro Nitrous Motorcycle).
After PDRA officials moved the sportsman classes’ final qualifying session up to Friday to get ahead of an uncertain Saturday weather forecast, the low qualifiers are Buddy Perkinson in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by Tejas Borja, Michael White in Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster, Dewayne Silance in MagnaFuel Top Sportsman 32 and Bruce Mullins in Lucas Oil Top Dragster 32.
In the PDRA’s Jr. Dragster categories, Ashley Franklin joined her father, Tommy, as a No. 1 qualifier with her 7.901 effort leading the way in Coolshirt Pro Jr. Dragster. Asher Carroll used a .001 reaction time to grab the No. 1 spot in Gilbert Motorsports Top Jr. Dragster.
The #1 qualifiers from the PDRA Summer Shootout!
Johnny Camp’s offseason move over to Pro Boost from Pro Nitrous started to pay off Friday when he collected his first No. 1 qualifier award in his ProCharger-boosted “Hells Bells” ’69 Camaro. Camp drove the Brandon Stroud-tuned entry to a 3.675 at 201.40 to lead the 15-car field.
“We’ve been running with the PDRA since the beginning,” Camp said. “Ran Pro Nitrous for years and years, but this is our first No. 1 qualifier ever. We struggled a little bit earlier in the day. We were qualified eighth or ninth. But this was the boost we needed. Shoutout to Proline, ProCharger and Tatman Electric for everything they do for us.”
Two other Proline-powered ProCharger cars dipped into the 3.60s right behind Camp, with reigning world champion Kevin Rivenbark going 3.697 at 201.25 in his GALOT Motorsports ’69 Camaro to qualify No. 2 and Randy Weatherford using a 3.697 at 199.55 in the WS Construction ’17 Camaro to end up third.
In what has been a consistent trend all season, two-time Pro Nitrous world champion Tommy Franklin and defending world champion Jim Halsey battled all day for the No. 1 spot. Franklin took the top spot in the first qualifying session, then Halsey grabbed it in the second session. Franklin and his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro settled the score in the final session, posting a 3.683 at 204.05.
“It’s an emotional roller coaster out here,” Franklin said. “We come out No. 1 and felt good. Jim knocked us down into No. 2 and I was like, ‘That’s not happening – put some jet in this thing.’ We went back after it and ran a nice, solid pass. Everything’s good. That’s two No. 1 qualifiers in a row now. That’s important to Pat Musi for that [Nitrous Wars] engine builder deal. We get to keep that nitrous bottle and now we have two of them.”
Halsey didn’t trail far behind Franklin, firing off a 3.692 at 204.54 in his Fulton-powered “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro. Chris Rini took his Buck-powered ATI Performance ’69 Camaro to the No. 3 spot with a 3.704 at 203.12.
EXTREME PRO STOCK
While Johnny Pluchino qualified No. 1 numerous times on his way to two Pro Outlaw 632 world championships, he hadn’t qualified No. 1 in Extreme Pro Stock before Friday. Driving the Kaase-powered Strutmasters.com ’13 Mustang, Pluchino recorded a 4.095 at 176.12 in the final qualifying session to earn his first low qualifier award in the class after winning two of the three prior races.
“We have a lot of confidence in this car,” Pluchino said. “I have a lot of confidence in how I’m driving right now. We got a good program going and we’re just going to ride this wave as long as we can. This routine doesn’t get old. You’ve gotta stay humble and enjoy every one just like you did the first, second and third.”
Pluchino held off 2019 championship runner-up Chris Powers, who steered his ATI Performance Products ’14 Camaro to a 4.098 at 174.93 to get the No. 2 spot. JR Carr took the No. 3 slot with a 4.103 at 175.52.
PRO OUTLAW 632
In just his second race in Pro Outlaw 632, Jimmy Pelcarsky shot to the top of the qualifying sheet with his nitrous-assisted, 480ci-powered ’15 Camaro posting a 4.179 at 170.41. Pelcarsky’s RJ Race Cars-built entry bucks the trend of the class-standard 632ci powerplant, instead opting for the small-block combo.
“We’re here to shake things up,” Pelcarsky said. “We worked hard all winter long, spent a lot of money on the car and my brand-new engine. It’s a Ron Hutter Racing engine. He is the baddest man on the planet. And Rickie Jones Jr, he’s the man. He’s got this car so balanced, it’ll go down a dirt road. If we get to race tomorrow, I think I’m going to win my first trophy. That’s how confident I am.”
Points leader Wes Distefano ended up No. 2 after his Musi-powered $hameless Racing ’68 Camaro recorded a 4.228 at 172.19. Past world champion Dillon Voss qualified third with a 4.242 at 169.04 in his Voss-powered Race Star Pro Forged Series ’17 Corvette.
PRO NITROUS MOTORCYCLE
A computer gremlin prevented motorcycle drag racing veteran Paul Gast from putting up representative numbers in the first two qualifying sessions, but his 4.024 at 174.39 in the final session made up for it. He enters Saturday eliminations from the No. 1 spot aboard his Fast By Fast Hayabusa.
“I like to think I’m usually fairly calm and collected up there, but I was a little nervous [going into Q3],” Gast said. “When I saw that the ignition controller wasn’t acting up, I knew it was probably going to whip right on down through there. How quick, I wasn’t sure. I was hoping for a .03 or a .04, so the .02 was quite a pleasant surprise.”
The No. 2 and 3 slots were decided by a fraction of a mile-per-hour, as perennial championship contender Chris Garner-Jones took second with his 4.057 at 172.67 narrowly edging out defending world champion Travis Davis and his 4.057 at 172.30.
A 3.819 at 197.88 put Buddy Perkinson and his Musi-powered LAT Racing Oil ’69 Camaro atop a trio of 959ci-powered entries at the top of the Elite Top Sportsman field. The Virginia native is followed by John Benoit with a 3.858 at 196.70 in his Buck-powered ’17 Camaro and 2018 world champion Donny “Hollywood” Urban’s 3.909 at 187.47 in his Nesbitt-powered ’69 Camaro.
Past world champion Dewayne Silance posted a 4.008 at 186.23 in his Buck-powered ’68 Camaro to top the 32 cars making up the second Top Sportsman field.
Multi-time low qualifier Michael White added another Elite Top Dragster No. 1 spot in his ’57 Chevy-themed, centrifugal supercharger-boosted ’11 Maddox dragster with a 3.798 at 189.31. Chaz Silance chased with a 3.828 at 187.83 driving his blown Buck-powered Worth dragster. With a 3.874 at 187.52, Chase Beverly rounded out the top 3.
Virginia’s own Bruce Mullins missed the 16-car Elite Top Dragster field with his 4.001 at 179.52, but it was enough to put the longtime racer and race car painter No. 1 in the Top Sportsman 32 field in his ProCharger-boosted American dragster.
The Summer Shootout presented by Callies Performance continues Saturday with Edelbrock Bracket Bash eliminations beginning at 9 a.m. Sunday is available as a rain date if needed.