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Hunter Patton Picks Up Summit $50K Payday on Saturday of the 28th Annual Million Dollar Drag Race

After four days of massive car counts, incredible victories, intense competition, and unmatched excitement, Saturday’s sunrise would provide the last opportunity for racers to profit during the 28th Annual Mickey Thompson Million Dollar Drag Race. 

Following the new entry time trial session, No Box competitors were called to the staging lanes for the final Summit $50K race of the weekend. A healthy field of 626 door cars and dragsters made their way towards the finish line during first round, and without a buyback, no second chances would be available. 

The fifth round featured a case of déjà vu as Nick Hastings and John Ratulowski faced off as the final bottom bulb racers. Ratulowski put together an .019 total package but gets .013 change when Hastings is .004 up front and runs dead on with a two for the win. Hastings added another $1,000 No Box bonus to his bank balance and moved into the door car side where he was eliminated the next round on a breakout. 

By the time round number eight arrived, only six drivers made the cut: Turtle Dickerson, Cody Wiggins, Jesse Fritts, Brian Canady, Steve Collier, and Hunter Patton. Dickerson turned on the dreaded red bulb by 5 thousandths beside Fritts, who let go .016 green for the win. Collier missed the tree while Wiggins did the opposite, laying down a .005 pack with his perfect reaction time to advance into the semifinal. Only eight-thou separated the pair on the tree, but Patton ran one above his dial to seal the deal over Canady. 

Fritts was holding on to the wait-and-see bye which came at an ideal time as he launched with a .003 light but had to pull over and seemingly check for a mechanical issue. Patton had the starting line advantage with a .006 light and took .002 at the stripe for the win over Wiggins, who was .027 and dead-on-zero for the loss. 

The 10th round matchup and closing pass of the event was between the deadly dragster driving Patton from Indiana and the Illinois native, Fritts, who faced an unexpected shake-up to his game plan. Fritts rolled into the water box behind the wheel of Joey Moore’s Camaro after his own Camaro roadster was unable to return to the $50K final round. 

Patton took early control of the race with an .018 light and throttled to run .02 above his dial for the win, while Fritts missed the tree and dialed in his last-minute rental race car. The flashing win light in the left lane resulted in Patton breaking the door car domination at this year’s Million Dollar Drag Race to snag a win for the dragsters. 

Patton’s return to big money bracket racing success filled the winner’s circle as he expressed what it means to take home the Saturday Summit $50K victory. He said, “It feels great to be back. It’s been a long while, but hard work and dedication gets you back.”

Fritts took his first spin at a post-race interview and chose an optimistic view of his Million Dollar Drag Race experience. He said, “I’m not upset about today, I’m fortunate to get as far as I was and to be able to even stage up in the final thanks to Joey Moore…As a twelve-year-old, I looked up MotorManiaTV and thought, ‘Oh, that’s the OG Million. I’m going to stay up ‘til 4 AM and watch, and I’ll go to school at 7 in the morning.’ So, to be here right now is pretty surreal.”

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Eventually, the full pit area would slowly recede to vacant asphalt as tow rigs depart World Wide Technology Raceway, leaving the 28th Annual Million Dollar Drag Race in the rearview mirror. However, for the Folk family, that just meant preparation can begin for the 29th edition of the OG Million.

The Million Dollar Drag Race thanks Lucas Oil and Vintage Trailers for sponsoring the MotorManiaTV livestream for the duration of the event. For more information on The Million Dollar Drag Race, visit www.themilliononline.com

This story was originally published on September 18, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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