The Summit Racing Equipment Mid-West Drag Racing Series (MWDRS) presented by J&A Service began its 2022 season in record-setting fashion at the Xtreme Texas Nationals, as Dustin Nesloney (Stroud Safety Pro Mod) and Sean Bellemeur (J&A Service Top Alcohol Funny Car) raced to victory Saturday night. Both drivers set personal bests, track records, or series records on the way to the winner’s circle at Xtreme Raceway Park.
Stroud Safety’s Tommy Cunningham earned the event win in Slammers, the second-chance race for Pro Mod competitors who don’t qualify or lose in the first round.
In the sportsman classes, Rod Moore won in Voss Wheelie Bars Top Sportsman, while Jessica Ogden was victorious in Race Star Wheels Top Dragster.
The Xtreme Texas Nationals also included the Jr. Dragster categories, where Mia Rhodes picked up the B&C Trailers Jr. Dragster Pro win over Alexis Kesterson in a double red-light final round. Defending champion Tyler Wells won in Zimmerman Properties Jr. Dragster Sportsman, using an 8.989 to defeat Kale Moberly, both using an 8.90 dial-in.
At the 2021 MWDRS season finale, Dustin Nesloney won the second-chance Slammers race after losing first round in Pro Mod. An offseason later, Nesloney’s position completely reversed, as he raced through the toughest field in MWDRS Pro Mod history to grab his first Pro Mod win. Nesloney used a holeshot advantage and a 3.579 at 209.21 mph to defeat Daniel Pharris and his 3.577 at 211.07 in the final round.
“It hasn’t really set in yet,” Nesloney said. “There were 29 cars that showed up and we ended up qualifying sixth and when it was all said and done we walked away with the win. It was just a heck of a race. It came down to the tree. It hasn’t sunk in yet. We come from the boat racing world and this is my first true victory in the car.”
Driving his Brandon Stroud-tuned, ProCharger-boosted ‘17 Camaro, Nesloney started eliminations with a 3.638 at 206.80 to beat Ed Thornton. He stepped up to a 3.61 at 207.85 to finish ahead of Todd Martin’s 3.688 at 202.61 in the second round. A 3.66 at 206.90 gave Nesloney the semifinal win over defending series champion Joey Oksas, who crossed the centerline.
On the other side of the ladder, Pharris was continuing to perform at the high bar he set as the No. 1 qualifier in his Steve Petty-tuned, ProCharged GALOT Motorsports ’69 Camaro. He won first round with a 3.658 at 208.33, then improved to a 3.60 at 208.43 to eliminate series founder Keith Haney in the second round. Pharris then laid down low E.T. of eliminations, a 3.576 at 210.97, to win over Taylor Lastor, who was disqualified after shutting off after the burnout.
In the final round, the pair of Proline-powered drivers recorded the quickest side-by-side pass in MWDRS Pro Mod history.
“The final was just unbelievable,” Nesloney said. “I didn’t know we won at first because I got to the other end and I was calling Brandon on the radio and didn’t hear back. I knew I didn’t red light and I never saw Daniel. I got out there on him and never saw him. I went through the traps, got the car shut down, called them on the radio, then turned the corner and saw the light blinking on the scoreboard and was like, ‘OK, I guess we won.’ Our crew and Proline’s whole group had tackled Brandon and they were celebrating on the starting line. We came out with this car in October and it already has its first win.”
Nesloney was only planning on running around half of the eight MWDRS races this season, but his win at the season opener has him reevaluating that plan.
“I told the crew if we won we’re going to Memphis, so I guess we’re going to Memphis now,” said Nesloney, who thanked tuner Brandon Stroud, crew chief Cody Childress, Proline Racing’s Eric Dillard and Steve Petty; wife Dena and children Kaylee and Kendall; and his company, Force Pressure Control. “We were going to hit both Ferris races and both Tulsa races. I guess we’ll just take it as it comes and if we keep having results like this, I guess we’re going to run the whole season.”
TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR
As the back-to-back and defending MWDRS Top Alcohol Funny Car champion, Sean Bellemeur was the odds-on favorite to win at the season opener. Bellemeur and the “Killer Bs” team, led by car owner Tony Bartone and tuner Steve Boggs, lived up to the hype, qualifying No. 1 and winning the event with a new series record in the final round. Bellemeur’s 3.56 at 216.66 defeated Annie Whiteley and her 5.292 at 93.48.
“We put a new car together over the winter and that thing has been absolutely flawless,” Bellemeur said. “It was really a picture-perfect weekend. The weather was great, the fans were great, the performances were really great. As far as my team and Steve and Tony, what else is there to say about them? They just continue to rise to the occasion. When the conditions throw you a fastball and you’re Steve Boggs, you hit it 450 feet. That’s exactly what he did.”
Bellemeur in his Hussey Performance Camaro started eliminations from the No. 1 spot after recording a 3.578 at 216.03 in qualifying. He earned a first-round bye run, using it to run a 3.626 at 213.78. He ended up unopposed in the semifinals as well, dropping a 3.573 at 216.35 to earn lane choice for the final round.
Waiting for Bellemeur in the final was Whiteley, who qualified No. 2 in her J&A Service Camaro and had low E.T. of first round with her 3.613 at 214.59 over Bryan Brown’s 3.701. Whiteley dipped into the 3.50s with a 3.594 at 215.62 in the semifinals, defeating Chris Marshall and his 3.649.
“You’re starting to see some cars step up,” said Bellemeur, who thanked sponsors Hussey Performance, Red Line Oil, Mastercam, Talon Air, and NGK Spark Plugs. “Annie ran a .59. Chris Marshall will tell you he’s ‘struggled’ and ran in the low .60s and really fast. The guys and gals were cutting killer reaction times. You could definitely see that they’re coming for us, and we welcome it. I think it’s really good for the class and it’s going to be really good for the Mid-West Drag Racing Series. There’s going to be some great racing all year long.”
Tommy Cunningham missed the ultra-quick Pro Mod field in his screw-blown ’67 Mustang, but the Stroud Safety owner bounced back nicely with a win in the Slammers competition. He stepped up to a 3.703 over Robert Costa in the first round and picked up from there, ultimately ripping off a 3.664 to beat Tony Williams in the final round.
The Top Sportsman winner was decided on the starting line in the final round, as Waxahachie’s Melvin Goss left the line .012 too soon, allowing Rod Moore to race on to victory despite breaking out with a 4.318 on a 4.34 dial-in. Moore, who was the No. 3 qualifier, previously defeated J. Yates, Monte Weaver, and Kelly Land on the way to the final.
It was a big weekend for the Ogden family, as defending event winner Jessica Ogden picked up the win again in Top Dragster, while her father, James, qualified No. 1 in Top Sportsman for the first time. In the final round, Ogden used a .000 reaction time and a 4.379 on a 4.35 dial-in to defeat Rusty Baxter, who slowed from his 3.87 dial-in to a 4.891. Ogden defeated Jonathan McClain, Steve McDermott, and Chanse Bullock before getting a bye run in the semis.
The 2022 Summit Racing Equipment Mid-West Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service season will continue April 22-23 at the MWDRS Memphis Nationals at Memphis International Raceway in Millington, Tennessee.