A 2020 season shortened and shifted by the COVID-19 public health crisis will conclude this weekend as the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) will crown its world champions at the Proline Racing Brian Olson Memorial World Finals, Oct. 22-25 at Virginia Motorsports Park. It’s the series’ sixth race in a season that was originally set to include eight events.
“There’s nothing like closing out the season with our biggest race of the year,” said Tyler Crossnoe, race director, PDRA. “In terms of car count and excitement, this race is always huge. We’re going to crown our 2020 world champions, hopefully set some new records and see some incredible racing.”
Two world championships have already been decided. Johnny Pluchino won the DragWars event two weeks ago, securing his place as a Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock world champion, joining his father, John, who won the title in 2016. Two-time and defending Drag 965 Pro Nitrous Motorcycle world champion Travis Davis also won at DragWars and locked up his third title in the process.
Just one round of competition separates points leader Tommy Franklin and defending world champion Jim Halsey in Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous. Franklin, a two-time world champion, drove his “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro to three wins in four final rounds, while Halsey recently won his first race of the season in his fourth final round.
In Penske/PRS Pro Boost presented by WS Construction, perennial championship contender John Strickland (feature image) in the ProCharger-boosted GALOT Motorsports ’69 Camaro is leading Jason Harris by less than one round after a win and a runner-up finish at the first two races of the year. Harris, a two-time Pro Nitrous world champion, is still chasing his first Pro Boost win with two runner-up finishes in the class. Defending world champion Kevin Rivenbark sits behind Harris by just several points, with first-time winners Johnny Camp and Kurt Steding also mathematically eligible.
Consistent finalist Wes Distefano went to the final round in $hameless Racing Pro Outlaw 632 at all five races so far, winning DragWars at GALOT earlier this month to extend his lead over Dillon Voss by just over three rounds. Voss, a two-time world champion, is being chased by Black Flag Motor Sports drivers Walter Lannigan Jr. and Chris Holdorf.
Virginia native Buddy Perkinson sits atop the MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman points with a two-round lead over class veteran John Benoit. Past world champions Donny “Hollywood” Urban and Dewayne Silance are also fighting for top three finishes.
Steve Furr appeared to have the Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster class locked down after three consecutive wins to start the season, but his lead has slipped to just under two rounds over 2018 world champion Chaz Silance. Silance was runner-up to Furr at the season opener, then added a win and semifinal finish at the last two races to move in on Furr.
Incredibly, 17 drivers in MagnaFuel Top Sportsman remain in contention for the championship. Mark Payne is the points leader going into the World Finals, with Stacy Hall, Mike Butler, Glenn Teets III and Thomas Brown making up the rest of the top five.
Kendall Payne, son of Top Sportsman points leader Mark Payne, is leading the points in Lucas Oil Top Dragster in a battle between two young guns. Payne leads Josh Duggins by less than two rounds, while Duggins is followed closely by Nick Meloni, Steven Boone and Rikki Molnar.
It’s the Kaylee Love and Nyck Shirkey show in Coolshirt Pro Jr. Dragster, where Love leads by just 9 points. Love slipped up in the first round at the last race, where Shirkey got his first win of the season. Love and Shirkey are the only drivers left in contention.
The PDRA’s youngest racers compete in Gilbert Motorsports Top Jr. Dragster, which is led by Mid-Atlantic Showdown winner Lane Morgan. Alyssa Rabon, Zach Shirkey and Danika Miles are chasing Morgan for the title.
The MagnaFuel Top Sportsman class, which regularly draws upwards of 100 entries at the World Finals, will be run as the Teets Memorial Top Sportsman race. The race is named in memory of Terry Teets, a local Top Sportsman racer who passed away in June following a courageous cancer battle. Thanks to increased prize money from the Teets family, the 16-car Elite Top Sportsman class will pay $4,500 to the winner and $1,250 to the runner-up, while the 48-car regular Top Sportsman class will pay $3,500 to win and $1,000 to runner-up.
Drag 965 Pro Street, PDRA’s new small-tire class, will rejoin the series for its third race of the season. The World Finals will also include an eight-car Pro Mod shootout featuring the Outlaw Diesel Super Series, as well as an eight-car No-Time Big-Tire Shootout.
As a special exhibition to heat up the World Finals, Larsen Motorsports will bring its pair of jet dragsters to make passes on Saturday. Drivers Elaine Larsen and Dewayne Hill will run after the first pro session Saturday afternoon and at the conclusion of qualifying around 7 p.m.
Spectator tickets for the Proline Racing Brian Olson Memorial World Finals are available for $15 for Thursday testing and $20 for Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Kids 12 and under get in free with a paid adult ticket. Tickets are available at www.PDRA660.com.
The Proline Racing Brian Olson Memorial World Finals will kick off with prerace testing from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday. Qualifying will begin Friday at 10 a.m., with pro sessions at 12:30 and 5 p.m. Saturday’s qualifying will also start at 10 a.m. and include pro sessions at 12:30 and 5 p.m., while Edelbrock Bracket Bash, the Jr. Dragster classes and Top Sportsman 48 and Top Dragster 48 will run first round of eliminations at 2:30 p.m. Those classes will continue eliminations Sunday at 10:15 a.m., followed by pro eliminations at 11:15 a.m. The race will conclude Sunday evening.