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Mark Micke’s 3.598-Second Pass Leads 64-Car Friday Field at World Series of Pro Mod

Luke Nieuwhof photos

One month after winning the U.S. Street Nationals from the No. 1 spot at Bradenton Motorsports Park, Pro Mod driver Mark Micke ended Friday’s three qualifying sessions at the Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod presented by Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage and J&A Service as the provisional No. 1 qualifier. With a 3.598-second pass at 220.94 MPH, Micke leads a group of 64 drivers attempting to qualify for the $100,000-to-win, 32-car Pro Mod field. 

The WSOPM weekend also includes the second annual Mountain Motor Pro Stock Invitational and the inaugural Pro 10.5 Challenge. Past NHRA Pro Stock world champion Bo Butner is the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Mountain Motor Pro Stock, while Outlaw 10.5 veteran Ron Green is on top in the Pro 10.5 Challenge. 

Sportsman racing is also represented with the inaugural Intercontinental Top Sportsman Championship presented by FTI Performance and the inaugural Intercontinental Top Dragster Championship presented by FTI Performance. PDRA standouts Bryan LaFlam (Top Sportsman) and Frank Falter IV (Top Dragster) are the provisional low qualifiers after three Friday sessions. 

All classes are scheduled to get two more qualifying sessions on Saturday before drawing chips to determine first-round pairings for Sunday eliminations. 

PRO MOD

Outlaw doorslammer racing hero Mark Micke jumped to the top of the 64-car qualifying order in his twin-turbocharged M&M Transmission ’69 Camaro when he fired off a 3.598 at 220.94 in the heat of the day during Friday’s second of three qualifying sessions. He outpaced world champions, record holders, and many other accomplished Pro Modified competitors with two shots to improve on Saturday. 

“We’ve got some of the baddest [racers] in the world and I’m so proud of my team,” Micke said. “It’s a testament to all the hard work my guys do. I gotta let that sink in a bit – it’s pretty badass.”

Micke was hoping to improve during the third session in the evening, which featured the second annual Rivals Night grudge races. Micke, who was originally set to face “Turbo” Todd Moyer, ended up facing John Vergotz in his nitrous-fed ’69 Camaro. While Micke didn’t improve, he laid down a 3.635 at 217.95 to beat Vergotz’s 3.702. He’ll try to record a couple more big numbers on Saturday before going into Sunday eliminations. 

“I’m really confident – we threw that 3.59 in the heat. That was a style run,” said Micke, who mentioned having a staging snafu with Vergotz during Q3. “It lit a fire under my ass. If you have a bad run, it just motivates me harder. I got all the confidence in the world. I’ve learned that when you’re on a roll, you just ride it. I wish eliminations were tomorrow because I’m ready.”

Four-time PDRA Pro Nitrous world champion Jim Halsey drove his brand-new, nitrous-assisted ’68 Camaro to a 3.609 at 209.17 in his Rivals Night pairing against Tony Wilson to take the provisional No. 2 spot. 

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“It took a lot of hard work that Brandon [Switzer, tuner] put in,” Halsey said of his big number. “He spent most of his winter putting this car together and his hard work paid off.”

Reigning PDRA Pro Boost world champion and 2023 WSOPM semifinalist Jason Harris returned to the familiar No. 3 spot with his 3.623 at 205.22 in his ProCharged Party Time Racing ’69 Camaro. He paired that run with a .003 reaction time to take out fellow Big Dog champion Travis “The Carolina Kid” Harvey and his 3.65 in their Rivals Night matchup. 

“Getting that win against Travis during Rivals Night was awesome – he and I go way back,” said Harris, who thanked sponsors Southern Diamond Company, Hoosier Racing Tire, and SP Tools. “This is the biggest race of the year. It starts off the year, and we had a great race last year and ended up with a great season, so hopefully we do the same thing. I was third last year, and I hope we can carry this momentum tonight into Sunday.”

Reigning WSOPM champion Spencer Hyde in his now-infamous, screw-blown “Jack & The Green Stock” ’69 Camaro raced to the No. 4 spot with a 3.627 at 208.20. He recorded those numbers in a rematch of the 2023 final round against Kurt Steding during Rivals Night. Steding posted a 3.63 at 207.02 in his brand-new, screw-blown P2 Contracting Camaro to qualify No. 5, but he beat Hyde on a holeshot for a .005 margin of victory. 

Kevin Rivenbark sits on the 32-car bump spot with his 3.671 at 206.76 in the Shelton family’s screw-blown Culp Lumber ’19 Mustang. 

Rivals Night results: Bob Glenn beat Robert Abbott, Jim Widener beat Mike DiDomenico, Raymond Matos beat Dmitri Samarukov, Scott Wildgust beat Paolo Giust, Jeff Rudolf beat Chad Green, Steve King beat Scott Palmer, Preston Tanner beat Melanie Salemi, Kevin Rivenbark beat Randy Weatherford, Ken Quartuccio beat Jason Lee, Mike Decker III beat Derek Ward, Scott Lang beat Joe Albrecht, Chris Cline beat Blake Housley, Tommy Franklin beat Marcus Butner, Stan Shelton beat Tommy Cunningham, Jim Halsey beat Tony Wilson, Chuck Parker beat Mike Bowman, Lyle Barnett beat Mike Decker Jr, Jason Harris beat Travis Harvey, Jason Scruggs beat Alex Laughlin, Mark Micke beat John Vergotz, Justin Swanstrom beat J.R. Gray, Marcus Birt beat Keith Haney, Todd Tutterow beat Rickie Smith, and Kurt Steding beat Spencer Hyde. 

MOUNTAIN MOTOR PRO STOCK

Luke Nieuwhof photo

Pro Stock standout Bo Butner raced to the provisional No. 1 spot behind the wheel of the Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage ’20 Camaro Mountain Motor Pro Stock entry in the second annual Mountain Motor Pro Stock Invitational. Butner posted two runs in the 4.09-second range racing to the eighth mile before a final qualifying pass of 4.06 at 178.15 secured the provisional top spot in the 16-car field.

“It’s good to have a great team and great car behind you,” said Butner. “You have a lot of confidence when you’re capable of showing up and winning. It’s not always that way. I drove a lot of stuff for a lot of other people and didn’t have that feeling. It’s still new to me. That was my fourth hit ever. It’s different than driving my 500-inch Pro Stock Camaro, but this is a lot of fun too. I can’t wait to get on a quarter mile next week.” 

Heading into the last session of the day, Butner was No. 1 with a 4.094 at 177.09, and during the final session, Daryl Stewart of Jupiter, Florida, ran 4.076 at 177.30 to move around him. Butner rolled up to the starting line and launched hard, but his car made a quick move to the center line and he was able to keep it under power and in his lane to move back to the top spot. 

“It was a little left but I don’t know, we are just having fun,” said Butner at the end of the day. “I was pretty close to the center line. You just want to go just quick and fast enough, right? That’s how it is.” 

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Stewart took the No. 2 spot with his 4.076 in his Chassis Engineering ’12 Camaro. Two-time PDRA Extreme Pro Stock world champion Johnny Pluchino is third with a 4.093 at 177.42 in his Feather-Lite Batteries ’13 Mustang. Defending event winner and multi-time world champion John Montecalvo in his Montecalvo Paving ’21 Mustang is fourth with a 4.099 at 178.10. Texan Scott Benham rounds out the top five with his 4.099 at 177.11 in the Team O Motorsports ’08 Cobalt. 

PRO 10.5

In its WSOPM debut, the inaugural Pro 10.5 Challenge saw 24 drivers try to qualify for the 16-car, $25,000-to-win show. Outlaw 10.5 favorite Ron Green drove his ProCharged 2000 Firebird to a 3.97 at 198.32 to take over the provisional No. 1 spot in the third qualifying session. Tuned by son Ronnie Green Jr., Green took the top spot from fellow class veteran Jerry Morgano. 

“We needed that run out there,” Green said referencing the thrash they had Thursday night, thanking DiSomma Racing Engines, Justin Smith, Stan Shelton, and Joel Wensley for help with parts. “We had to put a sleeve in and we got it all back together. My son does the tuning and I give him all the props because I’m just holding the steering wheel.”

Morgan in his turbocharged ’02 Mustang recorded a 4.001 at 197.77 earlier in the day to end up second. Ontario, Canada’s Nick Agostino is third with a 4.014 at 197.54 in his turbocharged ’69 Camaro. Young gun Scott Kincaid posted a 4.019 at 193.89 in his screw-blown ’69 Camaro for the No. 4 spot. Another young gun, Joel Wensley Jr., rounded out the top five with his 4.022 at 192.91 in his ProCharged ’14 Camaro. 

TOP SPORTSMAN

Arizona’s Bryan LaFlam was the quickest of four Top Sportsman drivers to run in the 3.70s with his 3.729 at 197.08 in his supercharged LaFlam Motorsports ’67 Mustang. Buddy Perkinson recorded a 3.745 at 191.97 in his nitrous-fed LAT Racing Oils ’69 Camaro to sit second. Another nitrous runner, Tim Molnar, is third with a 3.764 at 198.09 in his Ohio-based ’68 Camaro. 

TOP DRAGSTER

The top three drivers in Top Dragster also ran in the 3.70s, with Frank Falter IV’s 3.743 at 202.27 in his supercharged “Candy Man” ’21 Miller dragster sitting on top. Ashley Johnson is second with a 3.752 at 194.38 in her supercharged ’13 Spitzer entry. Will Creasman posted a 3.799 at 190.24 in his Leicester, NC-based dragster for the provisional third spot. 

Super Pro will be the first thing on track at 11:30 a.m., followed by the fourth qualifying session for the sportsman classes. The heads-up classes will be back on track at 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. for their fourth and fifth qualifying sessions. 

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 1, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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