Jerico Balduf’s first full pass in his new blown ’69 Chevelle couldn’t have gone much better.
After a pair of test hits to the 60 and then 330-foot mark on Thursday, Balduf unleashed an impressive pass in the heat of the day on Friday, going 5.792-seconds at 246.12 mph during the first qualifying session of the CTECH World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS.
With Jeff Pierce making the tuning calls on the new car, Balduf had confidence he could make a respectable pass right out of the gates. But jumping to the fifth spot in a loaded field on the car’s first full pass certainly wasn’t what he expected — not that Balduf was complaining.
“I’m stoked. It couldn’t have worked out any better,” Balduf said. “Jeff is doing a great job tuning it and we were all pretty pleased last night. We knew it was going to go, but this was a little unexpected. I’m ecstatic right now.”
It puts Balduf on track to have a strong weekend and with $50,000 on the line at Orlando Speed World Dragway, it could be perfect timing for him.
The team was pleased during testing and everything translated perfectly into a strong opening run. It’s been since the IHRA Pro Mod days that Balduf last made a quarter-mile Pro Mod run, and he was all smiles on Friday in Orlando.
He crushed his previous best quarter-mile run of 5.89 and now has his sights set on more.
“We got very comfortable pretty quickly in this car,” Balduf said. “I’m not as nervous as I thought I would be. It’s a great race and a great turnout, and we’re having a good time. A run like that gives us a lot of data for and we’ll just keep trying to make laps. My mind’s a little blown right now.”
Balduf also had high praise for Pierce, who has become one of the top tuners in the Pro Mod ranks. Balduf is capable of tuning his own car and often does when going eighth-mile racing in the PDRA, but adding Pierce’s expertise pays off in a number of ways.
For one, Balduf knows he’s going to get a top car and with Pierce consistently making the right calls, the Edgewater, Fla. native only can completely focus on driving.
“You know you’re in good hands with Jeff,” Balduf said. “You can trust him with everything. If he’s tuning it, I don’t even have to ask what he’s doing. I know it’s under control and I can just drive. He’s smart as hell.”
Balduf showed his skills right off the bat as well, even while making his first pass with manual shifting in six years.
NHRA Pro Mod instituted a new rule that manual shifting is required for each car, which throws a major challenge back into the class. That’s just fine with Balduf, who loves that aspect of racing and the fact it puts a little more responsibility — and pressure — into the driver’s hands.
“I love it. I’m a huge fan of the rule,” Balduf said. “When they said they were going to make it manual shifting, it became anyone’s game.”