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Final ProStars Spots On The Line at PDRA North vs. South Shootout

Tara Bowker photo

As the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) rolls into Maryland International Raceway this weekend, June 15-17, for the fourth of eight points races on the 2023 schedule, racers are eying the final spots to compete in the third annual Summit Racing Equipment ProStars race. Along with racing for championship points and event victories at the Fulton Racing Engines North vs. South Shootout presented by Penske Racing Shocks, drivers will be earning points to lock in the final spots for the race-your-way-in ProStars field.

“For the last three races of the 2022 season and the first three races of this season, our racers have been racking up ProStars points,” said Tyler Crossnoe, series director, PDRA. “That nearly year-long points chase will come to a close this weekend. While some spots have already been locked in, there are many more still up for grabs. Racers can earn points through participation and standout performances in qualifying and eliminations. These racers are already hyper-competitive, but this will just ramp up the competition level this weekend.”

The third annual Summit Racing Equipment PDRA ProStars race will take place July 22 at Virginia Motorsports Park during the track’s Night of Fire.

The North vs. South Shootout at Maryland International Raceway is one of the longest-running events in the history of the PDRA, which is celebrating 10 years this season.

“MIR is a staple on the PDRA tour,” Crossnoe said. “Royce Miller and his team are always great to work with. This track has played host to some incredible events and moments across numerous different forms of drag racing, and we’re proud to hold one of our marquee events here. Our racers are ready to put on a thrilling show for all the Maryland fans.”

With two wins and a semifinal finish to start the year, four-time and reigning world champion Jim Halsey continues to reign over Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous in his Fulton-powered “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro. The Maryland native is also the back-to-back defending event champion. Two-time world champion Tommy Franklin is just a couple rounds behind Halsey with a runner-up and a win at the last race on tour. Jay Cox has reached the semifinals at all three races, ready to strike at any moment.

WS Construction Pro Boost presented by P2 Contracting and Ty-Drive saw some major shake-ups at the last race. Two-time Pro Nitrous world champion Jason Harris scored his first-ever Pro Boost win in his ProCharged “Party Time” ’69 Camaro, giving him a two-round lead over Travis “The Carolina Kid” Harvey. Harvey also earned his first Pro Boost win one race prior, putting him one round ahead of season-opener winner Melanie Salemi in the top three.

Past world champion Chris Powers maintained his points lead in Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock presented by AED Competition through Norwalk, but numerous different racers are challenging him. Powers’ win in his Sonny’s Racing Engines Camaro at Virginia was flanked by first-time wins for Dwayne Rice and Alan Drinkwater at the first and third races, respectively. Drinkwater, now second in points, is the only driver to reach the semifinals more than once this season. He’s followed by Elijah Morton, who was runner-up to Powers at Virginia.

A previously two-way battle between reigning M&M Transmission Pro 632 world champion Amber Franklin and newcomer Jeff Melnick saw a third contender enter the picture at Norwalk. Michigan’s Doug Nicholl qualified No. 1 and reached the final round, where he lost a close race to Melnick. Now with two wins and a runner-up, Melnick is the points leader ahead of Franklin and Nicholl. Defending event winner Lexi Tanner is just outside the top three in fourth.

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The two-wheeled machines of Drag 965 Pro Nitrous Motorcycle will be back in action at Maryland after sitting out the last race. Just six points separate the top two in points, Meshal Al-Saber and Brayden Davis. Kuwait’s Al-Saber has been quick at the first two races with one low qualifier award aboard Brad McCoy’s Q80 Racing entry, but he’s seeking his first win of the year. Davis, the 17-year-old son of reigning world champion and event winner Travis Davis, won in his debut at the season opener. Past world champion Chris Garner-Jones is the most recent winner on tour and sits third in points.

Points leader Bill Riddle has reached the final round in Menscer Motorsports Pro Street presented by Afco at all three races, winning the second one at Virginia in his roots-blown Corrigan Race Fuels ’89 Camaro. Maryland’s own Tim Essick has been thrashing to get his car ready for the North vs. South Shootout after wounding an engine at Norwalk. He’s second in points with a win and a runner-up ahead of Nick Agostino and defending event winner Ty Kasper, who’ve both reached the semis twice.

The PDRA’s newest class, Afco Super Street presented by Menscer Motorsports, has seen first-time winners in its first two of six races this season. Blake Denton qualified No. 1 at both races in his nitrous-fed ’76 Camaro, then earned his first-ever PDRA “660 Man” trophy at Norwalk. He holds the points lead over Derek Mota, who won the season opener, and past winner Dan Whetstine.

On top of the heads-up competition in the pro classes, the North vs. South Shootout will include fast bracket racing in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by PAR Racing Engines, Laris Motorsports Insurance Elite Top Dragster, MagnaFuel Top Sportsman presented by Corbin’s RV, and Laris Motorsports Insurance Top Dragster. Local bracket racers will have their own place on the PDRA stage in Edelbrock Bracket Bash presented by COMP Cams.

The rising stars of the PDRA will face off in the highly competitive Jr. Dragster classes, Coolshirt Systems Pro Jr. Dragster presented by PRP and Classic Graphix Top Jr. Dragster presented by PRP.

Spectator tickets are available for $20 on Thursday, $25 on Friday, and $30 on Saturday. Kids 5 and under get in free. Tickets can be purchased at or at the gate.

Fans who can’t attend the race in person can watch the official event livestream on

Pre-race testing will be available to North vs. South Shootout competitors on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Top Sportsman and Top Dragster will run one qualifying session Thursday at 7 p.m. The Jr. Dragster classes will start qualifying Friday at 9:30 a.m., with professional qualifying kicking off at 2 p.m. Friday Night Fire, with back-to-back pro qualifying sessions, begins at 5:30 p.m. Final qualifying for the Jr. Dragster classes is set for Saturday at 9:30 a.m., followed by sportsman and Jr. Dragster eliminations. Pre-race ceremonies and pro eliminations will begin at 3 p.m.

This story was originally published on June 12, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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