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Mark Micke Leads Record-Setting Field Into $100,000-to-Win World Series of Pro Mod Eliminations

Luke Nieuwhof photos

After five thrilling Pro Modified qualifying sessions, Mark Micke claimed the $10,000 low qualifier bonus Saturday night at the Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod presented by Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage and J&A Service at Bradenton Motorsports Park. Micke’s 3.598-second pass from Friday night kept him and his twin-turbocharged M&M Transmission ’69 Camaro at the top of the quickest 32-car Pro Mod field in drag racing history. Mike Bowman, who won the original WSOPM in 2017, is the No. 32 qualifier with a 3.664-second effort. 

Past NHRA Pro Stock world champion Bo Butner also maintained his No. 1 position in the second annual Mountain Motor Pro Stock Invitational in his Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage Camaro. Ron Green lowered his weekend best to reclaim his No. 1 spot from Friday in the inaugural Pro 10.5 Challenge in his ProCharged 2000 Firebird. 

Saturday also saw two final qualifying sessions for the sportsman classes, the inaugural Intercontinental Top Sportsman Championship presented by FTI Performance and the inaugural Intercontinental Top Dragster Championship presented by FTI Performance. Friday’s provisional No. 1 qualifiers, Bryan LaFlam in Top Sportsman and Frank Falter IV in Top Dragster, held on to their top spots. 

Following qualifying, drivers used a random chip draw to determine first-round pairings for Sunday eliminations. 

PRO MOD

Many fans of outlaw doorslammer racing connect Mark Micke with the drag radial classes due to his barrier-breaking, record-setting accomplishments in those classes in recent years. But he’s also an experienced Pro Mod driver who came into the World Series of Pro Mod with the best car he’s ever had. His twin-turbocharged M&M Transmission ’69 Camaro “shop car” set the pace with a 3.598 at 220.94 on Friday, and it’s recorded passes in the low 3.60-second range in every other session. He’s confident in his odds on race day. 

“It’s gonna be awesome,” said Micke, who collected a $10,000 low qualifier bonus from Pilot Electric and Red Line Oil. “These are the baddest drivers on the planet. I told my guys, who are a bunch of young guys, they don’t understand what we did. This is the pinnacle of anything I’ve ever done in racing. I’ve done a lot of shit and this is more impressive. I don’t know what else to say. I was blown away.”

As the No. 1 qualifier, Micke was the first driver to pull a poker chip out of the bag in Saturday night’s chip draw. He pulled the No. 1 chip along with fellow radial racer Lyle Barnett, meaning the two will be the first pair out after the national anthem on Sunday. 

“I love the chip draw because you don’t know – it’s just a roll of the dice,” Micke said. “I’m ready. It’s gonna be on in the first round. Who knows what’s gonna happen? To win a World Series of Pro Mod, that’s the top of my career. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

Jim Halsey and Tommy Franklin, with seven PDRA Pro Nitrous world championships between them, put their nitrous-assisted Camaros in the No. 2 and 3 spots, respectively. Halsey qualified second in his Brandon Switzer-tuned, Fulton-powered ’68 Camaro with a 3.609 at 209.17. Franklin was third with a 3.617 at 206.39 set in the final session in his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro. Two-time NHRA Pro Mod world champion Stevie “Fast” Jackson, who won the $50,000-to-win Radial vs. the World class at Lights Out 15 last weekend, took his screw-blown Motion Raceworks “Shadow 3.0” ’69 Camaro to the No. 4 spot with a 3.623 at 207.11 in the final session. Reigning PDRA Pro Boost world champion and 2023 WSOPM semifinalist Jason Harris rounded out the top five with a 3.623 at 205.22 in his ProCharged “Party Time” ’69 Camaro. 

Mike Bowman, who won the first WSOPM at Bandimere Speedway in 2017, ended up on the 32-car bump spot in his California-based, ProCharged ’69 Chevelle. His 3.664 at 206.07 would’ve put him in the No. 19 spot in the 2023 WSOPM field. 

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First-round pairings: Mark Micke vs. Lyle Barnett, Jim Halsey vs. Stan Shelton, Kevin Rivenbark vs. Todd Tutterow, Mike Decker Jr. vs. Randy Weatherford, Kenny Lang vs. Johnny Camp, Preston Tanner vs. Keith Haney, Jason Scruggs vs. Dustin Nesloney, Marcus Birt vs. William Brown III, Kurt Steding vs. Travis Harvey, Mike Bowman vs. Chuck Parker, Stevie Jackson vs. Scott Wildgust, Scott Lang vs. Spencer Hyde, Eric Gustafson vs. Marcus Butner, Jim Widener vs. Ken Quartuccio, Tommy Franklin vs. Derek Ward, and Jason Harris vs. Steve King.

MOUNTAIN MOTOR PRO STOCK
Luke Nieuwhof photo

NHRA Pro Stock standout Bo Butner held onto the No. 1 qualifier position in his debut race driving the Elite Motorsports-fielded Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage ’20 Camaro in the second annual Mountain Motor Pro Stock Invitational. Through five rounds of qualifying, no one was able to run quicker than Butner, who recorded a 4.06 at 178.05 on Friday.

“That’s a pretty good start for the Mountain Motor Pro Stock series if you ask me,” said Butner, as he held an oversized check for $1,500 from Feather-Lite Batteries during Saturday night’s chip draw. “I have a great car and a great team as always. I’ll probably stay up all night working on [wife Randi Lyn Butner’s] car, but we will get it fixed. We’re having fun. This is a cool event. I am having fun driving these cars. It’s a learning step for me. No. 1 qualifier is badass, but we’ve got to close the deal tomorrow.”

Butner will face Derrick Reese in the first round. Reese is a rising star in the Mountain Motor Pro Stock ranks and will be a worthy opponent for Butner in the first round.

Jupiter, Florida’s Daryl Stewart qualified second in his Chassis Engineering ’12 Camaro with a 4.076 at 177.30. Two-time PDRA Extreme Pro Stock world champion Johnny Pluchino went to the third spot in his Feather-Lite Batteries ’13 Mustang with a 4.093 at 177.42. Texan Scott Benham drove the Team O Motorsports ’08 Cobalt to a 4.097 at 176.74 to qualify fourth. John Montecalvo, the reigning event champion, qualified fifth with a 4.099 at 178.10 in his Montecalvo Asphalt ’21 Mustang but damaged his engine and isn’t expected to return for eliminations. 

First-round pairings: Randi Lyn Butner vs. Scott Benham, Tony Pontieri vs. Johnny Pluchino, Dwayne Rice vs. Kurt Neighbor, Bo Butner vs. Derrick Reese, Rick Cowger vs. John Montecalvo, Daryl Stewart vs. Alan Drinkwater, Tony Gillig vs. Dillon Voss, and Matt Giangrande vs. Elijah Morton.

PRO 10.5

One of multiple father-son teams competing in the Pro 10.5 Challenge, Ron Green and Ronnie Green Jr., threw down a hero run in the final qualifying session to take back their No. 1 spot from Friday night. Bill Lutz, led by son Kenny and co-tuner Patrick Miller, went to the top in the fourth session on Saturday with a 3.948-second pass. Green posted a 3.944 at 196.50 in his ProCharged 2000 Firebird in Q5 to secure the top spot. 

“This is very special,” said Green, who earned a $500 bonus and custom baseball bat from Victus Sports and Kasper Performance Edge. “We struggled a lot and have come a long way. It’s all thanks to my kid here. He worked really hard. We had to be a part of [this race]. Hopefully we have some luck tomorrow and get through.”

Green Jr, who’s just 27, found it rewarding to put his father on top of the 24-car Pro 10.5 qualifying order. 

“That’s pretty awesome,” Green Jr. said. “We work real hard at the shop and at the racetrack, so I’m just glad that’s all paying off.”

Lutz’s 3.948 at 194.04 in his screw-blown “Big Boost” ’67 Camaro put him second on the sheet. Two-time PDRA Pro Street world champion Tim Essick moved up late in qualifying to the third spot with a 3.969 at 187.89 in his ProCharged “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang. Florida resident Jerry Morgano just missed the 3-second zone with his fourth-ranked 4.001 at 197.77 in his turbocharged ’02 Cobra Mustang. Ty Kasper was also close with a 4.008 at 196.27 behind the wheel of his turbocharged Victus Sports “Sinatra” ’05 Mustang. 

First-round pairings: Dan Norris vs. John Carinci, Nick Agostino vs. Tim Essick, Ron Green vs. Jerry Morgano, Joel Wensley Jr. vs. Bill Lutz, Kallee Mills vs. Scott Kincaid, Ty Kasper vs. Bill Riddle, Nick Schroeder vs. Richard Reagan, and Jesse Lambert vs. Chris Cadotto.

TOP SPORTSMAN

Bryan LaFlam from Arizona led the pack in Top Sportsman, clocking a 3.729 at 197.08 in his supercharged LaFlam Motorsports ’67 Mustang. Close behind, Buddy Perkinson achieved a 3.745 at 191.97 mph in his nitrous-fed LAT Racing Oils ’69 Camaro, securing the second position. Tim Molnar, also utilizing nitrous, placed third with a time of 3.764 at 198.09 in his ’68 Camaro.

TOP DRAGSTER

The top two positions in Top Dragster remained unchanged from Friday, with Maryland’s Frank Falter IV locking in the No. 1 spot in his supercharged “Candy Man” ’21 Miller dragster with a 3.743 at 202.27. Kentucky’s Ashley Johnson held on to the No. 2 position with a 3.752 at 194.38 in her supercharged ’13 Spitzer entry. Michael White in his North Carolina-based, ProCharged dragster bumped into the top three with his 3.799 at 190.24. 

Sunday’s on-track activities begin at 10 a.m. with Super Pro time trials, followed by the first round of eliminations in Top Sportsman and Top Dragster. Pro Mod eliminations will kick off at noon. 

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Visit www.DragIllustrated.com or www.Facebook.com/DragIllustrated and www.Facebook.com/WorldSeriesofProMod for event results and updates. 

Tickets are still available at https://bit.ly/wsopm2024. Fans watching from home can tune in to the official livestream at https://flosports.link/3uYLot3

This story was originally published on March 2, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.