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Melanie Salemi Holds on to Top Spot in Outlaw Pro Mod at Bradenton’s Snowbird Outlaw Nationals

Chris Sears

Nobody could top Melanie Salemi’s 3.589-second blast in Outlaw Pro Mod Saturday night at the 51st annual Snowbird Outlaw Nationals presented by Motion Raceworks at Bradenton Motorsports Park. Salemi’s 3.589 at 206.95 MPH from Friday held up through three Saturday qualifying sessions that saw just over 40 drivers attempt to make the 32-car field.

Salemi and her team had Eddie Whelan’s roots-blown Slice-and-Ice Camaro in the staging lanes for the fifth and final qualifying session, but when no one outqualified them, the team elected to sit out the run to be ready for Sunday eliminations.

“We’ve made nine test runs and four qualifiers already,” Salemi started, “so if we want to have things as fresh as they possible can be for tomorrow, we felt that if we were still No. 1 by the end of the night, we would sit it out. Unfortunately, that didn’t make for the greatest show for the fans, but I did go up there and throw out some t-shirts for the kids. Hopefully that pays off. Tomorrow morning, we’ll get up and everything is serviced already, so we’ll be ready for round one.”

Earlier in the day, Salemi recorded a 3.634 at 204.45 in the third session and a 3.591 at 205.35 in the fourth session. Between testing and qualifying, Salemi is confident her team has what it will take to go rounds on Sunday. She goes into race day as the defending event champion hoping to pick up the $51,000 check at the end of the day.

“I think it’s going to take consistency, going down the racetrack quickly,” Salemi said. “I don’t think we’re gonna have to go out there and set the world on fire every round. We’ll definitely try to get lane choice as much as we can and just make A-to-B runs. Hopefully I’m having a good day on the tree and we can get it done.”

Salemi was the only driver to dip into the 3.50s, but 27 drivers behind her ran in the 3.60-second range. The other four drivers in the top 5 were separated by just six thousandths of a second. Kurt Steding qualified No. 2 with a 3.606 at 209.04 in his Todd Tutterow-tuned, screw-blown P2 Contracting ’20 Camaro. Three-time PDRA Pro Boost world champion Kevin Rivenbark took Scott Tidwell’s ProCharged Q80 Racing ’69 Camaro to the third spot with a 3.608 at 208.49. Mark “Tydo” Werdehausen, driving the twin-turbocharged “Wolverine II” ’69 Camaro that the late Tim Slavens debuted at the 2021 Snowbirds, set a career-best 3.612 at a record 221.42 to end up fourth. Four-time PDRA Pro Nitrous world champion Jim Halsey rounds out the top 5 with a 3.612 at 209.30 in his Fulton-powered “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro. Jeff Jones took the bump spot with a 3.718 at 205.26 in his screw-blown PJS Racing ’18 Corvette.

PRO 275

Multiple drivers made big moves in the final qualifying session for Pro 275. Driving Tommy Youmans’ ProCharged Mustang, Marcus Birt jumped to the No. 1 spot with a 3.74 at 201.52. Three-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown, who held the No. 1 spot going into the final session, slipped to second despite improving to a 3.745 at 201.13 in Manny Buginga’s ProCharged “Fred” ’03 Mustang. Mike “Hollywood” Decker III moved up to third with a 3.786 at 199.64 in his screw-blown Decker’s Salvage ’19 Corvette, jumping up from the No. 16 spot.


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Friday’s provisional top 3 qualifiers in Limited Drag Radial held on to their spots after two Saturday sessions. Larry Salvator in his ’03 Mustang qualified No. 1 with a 3.92 at 194.74. Ziff Hudson took the No. 2 spot with a 3.957 at 180.04 in his turbocharged Mustang, and Matt Bell is third in his ’93 Mustang with a 3.96 at 191.40.


Florida’s own Ryan Milliken claimed the No. 1 spot in X275 on the strength of his 4.168 at a class-record 183.24 in his diesel-powered ’69 Nova on Friday night. Kenny Hubbard in his ProCharged ’74 Nova moved around Dean Marinis with a 4.186 at 169.96 for the No. 2 spot. Marinis didn’t improve on his 4.193 at 169.23 in Ducky Johnson’s Mustang, but he held on to a top 3 position.


Some of the biggest improvements of the day happened in Ultra Street, where the top of the qualifying order was completely rearranged. Shawn Pevlor fired off a 4.462 at 150.83 in his Ohio-based, nitrous-fed ’93 Mustang to qualify No. 1. Haley James followed in second with a 4.488 at 159.32 in her turbocharged “War Eagle” ’00 Mustang. James Spina, Friday’s provisional low qualifier, was the third driver to dip into the 4.40s with a 4.499 at 155.10 in his ProCharger-boosted ’90 Mustang.


Outlaw 632 low qualifier Dillon Voss maintained his top spot with his 4.154 at 170.88 from Friday night. Friday’s No. 2 and 3 qualifiers, Alan Drinkwater and Daryl Stewart, switched spots with their improved performances on Saturday. Stewart laid down a 4.163 at 170.56 in his Clayton Murphy-tuned Chassis Engineering ’12 Camaro to qualify second, while Drinkwater also stepped up to a 4.167 at 169.66 in Kenny Floyd’s naturally aspirated ’04 Escort to sit third.

Along with the heads-up classes, the Snowbird Outlaw Nationals include index and Jr. Dragster classes. The low qualifiers in those classes are Mac McAdams in 4.60 Bike, Gary Varney in 5.50 Index, Jeff Mount in 6.50 Index, Robert Wilson in 7.50 Index, Lauren Sandrey in 7.90 Index Jr. Dragster, Zandir Cook in 8.90 Index Jr. Dragster, and Colton Lindquist in 11.90 Index Jr. Dragster.

Complete qualifying results and elimination ladders can be found on the Bradenton Motorsports Park Facebook page.

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Eliminations at the 51st annual Snowbird Outlaw Nationals presented by Motion Raceworks will kick off Sunday at 9 a.m. beginning with Jr. Dragsters.

This story was originally published on December 3, 2022. Drag Illustrated

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