Home track hero Tommy Franklin will chase his third consecutive Pro Nitrous victory from the No. 1 spot at the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) Proline Racing Mid-Atlantic Showdown presented by Frederick Line-X at Virginia Motorsports Park. Franklin fired off a 3.703-second pass at 202.94 mph to lead the field.
Also qualifying No. 1 in the PDRA’s professional classes were John Strickland in Penske/PRS Pro Boost presented by WS Construction, JR Carr in Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock, Dillon Voss in $hameless Racing Pro Outlaw 632 and Ron Hamby in Drag 965 Pro Street.
The PDRA’s sportsman classes completed two of their three qualifying sessions. The provisional low qualifiers are John Benoit in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by Tejas Borja, Bryan Keller in Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster, Don Klooster in MagnaFuel Top Sportsman 32 and Josh Duggins in Lucas Oil Top Dragster 32.
In the Jr. Dragster classes, Mallory Logan threw down a perfect 7.900 in the last pair of the second session to earn the provisional No. 1 spot in Coolshirt Pro Jr. Dragster. Maryland’s Zach Shirkey used his .004 reaction time to top the Gilbert Motorsports Top Jr. Dragster field.
Two-time Pro Nitrous world champion Tommy Franklin always enjoys performing well at Virginia Motorsports Park, as it’s not only the Fredericksburg, Virginia, native’s home track, but he also owns and operates the track with his wife, Judy. It was important to him to lay down a number like his 3.703 at 202.94 in his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro, especially after winning the first two races of the season.
“I just think it makes it special that we don’t get our teeth kicked in when we’re here,” Franklin joked. “You come here and you want to do good in front of your home crowd. We never get time to test down here, so it’s not like there’s an advantage. But it is nice to do well in front of our friends and family that come down here to see us.”
Narrowly missing the No. 1 spot was Chris Rini, who posted a 3.707 at 201.34 in his Buck-powered ATI Performance ’69 Camaro. With a 3.716 at 203.55, defending world champion Jim Halsey rounds out the quick 3 in his Fulton-powered ’68 Camaro.
Points leader John Strickland wasn’t necessarily shooting for the No. 1 spot when he rolled to the starting line for the third and final qualifying session. It was simply a byproduct of his goal to change qualifying positions to get off the same side of the eliminations ladder as his teammate, defending Pro Boost world champion Kevin Rivenbark. Strickland’s 3.686 at 200.29 in his ProCharger-boosted GALOT Motorsports ’69 Camaro moved him just past Rivenbark, who ended up No. 2.
“The [Proline] guys have worked hard at making the car go fast. It just feels good,” Strickland said. “I was kind of surprised because we were lagging back. This last [qualifying session], I said I either have to fall way back or move way ahead because me and Kevin were on the same side of the ladder. We had to get off the same side even if I end up being last. Steve [Petty, tuner] says, ‘You’re moving up.’ It didn’t feel like a .68, but it was still a good, straight smooth pass.”
Rivenbark in his identically prepared GALOT Motorsports ’69 Camaro used a 3.696 at 201.64 to qualify second. Fellow Proline/ProCharger driver Johnny Camp followed behind in third with his 3.706 at 200.71.
EXTREME PRO STOCK
A month after JR Carr’s first-ever No. 1 qualifier award and event win at the Carolina Showdown at Darlington, the Washington-based Extreme Pro Stock veteran found himself qualified No. 1 again on the strength of a 4.067 at 177.74. Tuned by Frank Gugliotta, Carr led all three sessions in his ’20 Camaro with a 4.09 and another 4.06.
“It feels really good to back up what we did a few weeks ago at Darlington,” Carr said. “Again, we have a bracket car. Every little change we made, it picked up just a tick. We’re really, really happy with our setup.”
Second-generation Mountain Motor Pro Stock driver Johnny Pluchino qualified a career-best No. 2 with a 4.078 at 176.88 in the Strutmasters.com ’13 Mustang. John DeFlorian Jr., back for his first race of the season, posted a 4.082 at 176.24 to qualify third.
PRO OUTLAW 632
Since failing to qualify at the season-opening East Coast Nationals at GALOT Motorsports Park, 2017 Pro Outlaw 632 world champion Dillon Voss has been on a mission. He won the Carolina Showdown at Darlington in June, then added another accomplishment Friday when he drove his family’s nitrous-assisted Voss Racing Engines ’17 Corvette to a 4.239 at 169.57 to qualify No. 1.
“When we left GALOT, we kind of left everything there,” Voss said. “We knew what was wrong with the car, so we were able to fix our issue and capitalize on that at Darlington. We’ve got really good momentum now. We moved from last in points to fourth, and this weekend we hope to move to No. 1. We’re chasing this year’s championship like we chased ’17 pretty hard. Hopefully we can double up on the championship trophies this year.”
Fellow Floridian Christopher Holdorf followed Voss with a 4.262 at 165.78 in his Nelson-powered ’53 Corvette. Wes Distefano took the No. 3 spot after driving his Musi-powered $hameless Racing ’68 Camaro to a 4.263 at 170.69.
In the PDRA’s new small-tire class, Pro Street, Ron Hamby shot to the top of the qualifying order with his 4.058 at 181.91 in his nitrous-assisted ’64 Chevy II. Maryland racer Tim Essick took his home-built, ProCharger-boosted ’18 Mustang to the No. 2 spot with a 4.099 at 182.82. Brian McGee’s 4.113 at 184.77 rounded out the top 3.
By just one thousandth of a second, consistent Top Sportsman frontrunner John Benoit grabbed the provisional No. 1 spot in Elite Top Sportsman with his 3.804 at 199.88 in his Buck-powered, nitrous-assisted ’17 Camaro. Buddy Perkinson’s 3.805 at 196.90 put him No. 2 in his Musi-powered ’69 Camaro, followed by Henry Underwood with a 3.912 at 186.64.
A similarly close battle for No. 1 took place in Top Sportsman 32, where Don Klooster and Donny Urban both posted 4.044 E.T.s in their nitrous-assisted entries. It was Klooster’s faster 175.96 speed that put him in the top spot going into Saturday’s final session.
Ohio’s Bryan Keller steered his supercharged KB Trailer Sales dragster to a 3.783 at 198.52 to qualify No. 1 in Elite Top Dragster. He’s followed by the centrifugal supercharger-boosted dragsters of Michael White with his 3.825 at 190.78 and Chase Beverly with a 3.863 at 186.38.
Josh Duggins leads Top Dragster 32 with his 4.163 at 167.22 in his PAR-powered Maddox dragster.
The PDRA Proline Racing Mid-Atlantic Showdown presented by Frederick Line-X continues Saturday with sportsman final qualifying and eliminations in all classes.