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Franklin, Tutterow, Gillig, Lannigan, Garner-Jones and Essick Lead Rain-Shortened Friday Qualifying at PDRA American Doorslammer Challenge

Photos by Tara Bowker and Roger Richards

Two-time Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous world champion Tommy Franklin earned the No. 1 qualifying spot for the second race in a row at the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) DeCerbo Construction American Doorslammer Challenge presented by Callies. Franklin’s 3.686-second pass at 204.98 mph was the quickest after two Friday sessions in Pro Nitrous, the only class that completed a second session before rain showers paused the Summit Motorsports Park event. All other classes will compete their second qualifying session Saturday morning.

The provisional low qualifiers in the other pro classes are Todd Tutterow in WS Construction Pro Boost presented by P2 Contracting and Ty-Drive, Tony Gillig in Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock presented by AED Competition, Walt Lannigan Jr. in $hameless Racing Pro 632, Chris Garner-Jones in Drag 965 Pro Nitrous Motorcycle, and Tim Essick in Menscer Motorsports Pro Street presented by AFCO.

In the sportsman classes, the provisional No. 1 qualifiers are Donny Urban in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by US Rail, Craig Addis in Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster presented by Laris Motorsports Insurance, Steve Drongowski in MagnaFuel Top Sportsman 32 presented by Vortech, and Bryan Keller in Lucas Oil Top Dragster presented by Laris Motorsports Insurance.

After one qualifying session in the Jr. Dragster classes, the provisional low qualifiers are Ava Meloni in Coolshirt Systems Pro Jr. Dragster presented by PRP and Wyatt Stanley in Classic Graphix Top Jr. Dragster presented by PRP. Meloni posted a 7.911 in her TT Motorsports ’19 Mike Bos dragster to lead the 30-car qualifying order. Stanley cut a perfect .000 reaction time in his Cynthiana, Kentucky-based ’14 Halfscale dragster.


Tommy Franklin and his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro are getting on a roll in Pro Nitrous, where the two-time world champion qualified No. 1 for the second consecutive event. He recorded low E.T. of both sessions with his 3.688 at 205.19 in the first session and the 3.686 at 204.98 in the second session.

“We’ve just been working on consistency and going up and down the racetrack,” Franklin said. “It’s fast. We’re trying not to kill parts or do anything stupid out there. My team is awesome. The racetrack has been great. Between the Pat Musi power and the Jerry Bickel race car, everything is coming together right now. I thank the Lord for everything we’ve got. Our team is really starting to put some good runs together. We’ve always been there and always had it, but sometimes it seems like you can’t find your way.”

Three-time and defending world champion Jim Halsey grabbed the No. 2 spot with his 3.689 at 205.76 in his Fulton-powered “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro. Returning Pro Nitrous hitter Chris Rini qualified third in his Buck-powered ATI Performance ’69 Camaro with a 3.708 at 202.09.


There were just a couple pairs of Pro Boost cars left to run in the second session before the rain started. Points leader Todd “King Tut” Tutterow took full advantage of his opportunity to run, posting a 3.636 at 208.39 in his screw-blown P2 Contracting/FTI Performance ’20 Camaro to pass Johnny Camp, who was the low qualifier going into the session.

“Ty [Tutterow] said it when we were up there – maybe it was a blessing we didn’t run good on the first run so we’d get this run in,” said Tutterow, who won the first two races of the season. “It worked out that we did get to make the run, and it worked out in our favor. We’re running good. We’ve actually been testing stuff here and it’s worked out good. Most of the times when you’re testing stuff, you go backwards. This seems to be going forward, so I’m excited about this weekend.”

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Camp in his Brandon Stroud-tuned, ProCharger-boosted “Hells Bells” ’69 Camaro made the best run of Q1, a 3.663 at 205.82, to take the provisional No. 2 spot. Melanie Salemi matched Camp’s E.T., but with a speed of 202.76, she’s currently the No. 3 qualifier in her roots-blown “Purple Reign’s Sidepiece” ’19 Camaro.


Mountain Motor Pro Stock veteran Tony Gillig is one session away from claiming his first No. 1 qualifier award in PDRA Extreme Pro Stock after posting a 4.084 at 176.81 in his family’s Kaase-powered Dayco/Gillig-Wagner Motorsports ’10 GXP. He’s hoping to improve on Saturday to hold on to the No. 1 spot going into eliminations.

“With how the run looked on the graph, we were pretty aggressive,” said Gillig, who returned to MMPS competition last season. “The clutch locked up early. There’s some left to be had out there. I think if the air is similar, I think we can go a .07. I’m sure other guys out there can do the same. With the right calls and the right conditions tomorrow, hopefully we can stay on top of the heap. It would be cool to qualify No. 1. I haven’t done that in a long time. Just happy we made a good run out of the box, and looking forward to race day. We hope it’s a long day.”

Several competitors are chasing down Gillig, including Elijah Morton, who’s currently second with a 4.088 at 177.44 in his Allen-powered Morton Brothers Motorsports ’19 Mustang. JR Carr, who’s qualified No. 1 at both previous races this season, is third with his 4.091 at 177.53 in his Frank Gugliotta-tuned ’20 Camaro.

PRO 632

Walt Lannigan Jr. and the $hameless Racing team are in a familiar position as the provisional No. 1 qualifiers in Pro 632. Lannigan qualified No. 1 at the last two races as the new driver for the team following two-time and reigning world champion Wes Distefano’s move up to Pro Nitrous. Lannigan’s 4.176 at 170.47 in the Musi-powered $hameless ’68 Camaro leads the way with one session to go.

“It was smooth,” Lannigan said of the run. “Troy [Russell, crew chief] made a few changes and he predicted what the car would run, and it did exactly what we wanted it to do. We’re happy with the final result. Hoping that will hold out tomorrow. We’re very motivated. I’m new to the car. I’m just getting acclimated with the car. Now, I can be one with the car. I think everything will just show itself in due time.”

Amber Franklin, who won the last race on tour, is No. 2 with her 4.216 at 169.15 in her Musi-powered “OG Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro. Chris Holdorf in his Nelson-powered Dewitt Custom Concrete ’53 Corvette rounds out the top 3 with a 4.236 at 167.93.


Points leader and defending world champion Chris Garner-Jones was the only Pro Nitrous Motorcycle rider to dip into the 3-second zone during Friday’s lone qualifying session. He’s the provisional No. 1 qualifier on the strength of his 3.988 at 178.33 aboard his T.T. Jones Racing Hayabusa.

“It was bittersweet,” Garner-Jones said. “We did make a good run, especially after the [4.05 at 178] run we made [in Thursday testing], but we hurt it right at the finish line. But I feel good. We just freshened it up with new pistons and rings. We should go a little faster tomorrow, especially if the weather’s good.”

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Motorcycle drag racing veteran Paul Gast was close to the 3s with his 4.002 at 177.67 on his Fast By Gast Hayabusa to follow Garner-Jones in the No. 2 spot. Ashley Owens is third with a 4.035 at 174.32.


Reigning Pro Street world champion Tim Essick made a strong 4.08 at 187.65 pass during Friday’s qualifying session to lead the field in his ProCharger-boosted “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang. He’ll chase his second win of the season, but not before trying to improve in Saturday’s final qualifying session.

“This puts us in a good position,” Essick said. “We’re at the same disadvantage as everybody else. One hit, we don’t really have anything to build or work on, but we have some notes to go back to and data from this race last year. The goal was let’s do something that we know is gonna go down smooth, then we can compare and make it faster for race day. I think we’re sitting in a good spot for the race.”

Michigan’s Bill Riddle threw down a 4.124 at 183.69 in his supercharged Corrigan Race Fuels ’89 Camaro to sit No. 2. Ty Kasper in his turbocharged Victus/Kasper Performance Edge ’05 Mustang is third with a 4.259 at 165.38.


A pair of past world champions led the way in Elite Top Sportsman, with Donny “Hollywood” Urban posting a 3.775 at 197.59 in his nitrous-fed ’69 Camaro to take the provisional No. 1 spot. Buddy Perkinson is second with his 3.802 at 195.28 in his Musi-powered LAT Racing Oil ’69 Camaro. Doylestown, Ohio’s Glenn Butcher rounded out the top 3 in his Albert-powered ’68 Camaro.

Steve Drongowski, who won the PDRA season opener in Elite Top Sportsman, is the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Top Sportsman 32 in his family’s Buck-powered ’55 Chevy with a 4.135 at 176.19.


Two Ohio-based drivers raced to the top of the Elite Top Dragster qualifying order. Wadsworth’s Craig Addis in the ProCharger-boosted RAB Trucking ’21 Spitzer is the provisional low qualifier with a 3.776 at 194.80. Mike Knott, from nearby Wakeman, piloted his supercharged Born Implement ’08 Spitzer to a 3.789 at 191.57 to qualify second. Larry Roberts is third with a 3.824 at 188.57 in his South Carolina-based ’16 Race Tech dragster.

Macedonia, Ohio’s Bryan Keller is just outside the 16-car Elite Top Dragster field, but he’s the provisional low qualifier in Top Dragster 32 with a 4.164 at 127.62 in his supercharged KB Trailer Sales ’12 Spitzer dragster.

The PDRA DeCerbo Construction American Doorslammer Challenge presented by Callies will continue Saturday morning at 9 a.m. beginning with Jr. Dragster final qualifying. Top Sportsman and Top Dragster will also get a final qualifying session before resuming Q2 for Pro Boost and the other pro classes that didn’t run.

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This story was originally published on May 27, 2022. Drag Illustrated


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