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PDRA’s Best Fighting for World Championships as Season Wraps Up at World Finals

Tara Bowker photo

The Professional Drag Racers Association’s (PDRA) ninth season will wrap up this weekend at the Proline Racing Brian Olson Memorial World Finals presented by ProCharger, Oct. 13-16. World championships will be on the line as the all-eighth-mile series returns to its home track, Virginia Motorsports Park (VMP), for the third time this season.

“The Brian Olson Memorial World Finals is a huge race for all of us at PDRA and VMP,” said Tyler Crossnoe, series director for PDRA and VP of racing operations at VMP. “There’s so much on the line at this race, which makes things especially exciting for the fans. The conditions are usually some of the best we see all year, so the racers are running on the ragged edge chasing world records and personal bests.”

The World Finals is the biggest race of the season for the PDRA, as every single class is represented, with many of them seeing their largest fields of the year. Plus, the Larsen Motorsports Jet Dragsters will light up the night on Friday and Saturday. On Friday night, the series will hold its annual Trunk or Treat and Costume Contest, with awards for Best Dressed Team, Best Decorated Trailer/Pit Area, Best Kids Costume, Best Adult Costume, and Best Decorated Golf Cart.

“The PDRA and VMP teams really step up to make this a special race for the fans and racers,” Crossnoe said. “Along with two days of qualifying and incredible on-track action, you add in the fun Halloween activities in the pits and it becomes one big year-end party.”

In Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous, the championship battle is primarily down to two contenders. Points leader Jim Halsey is seeking an unprecedented fourth consecutive world championship in his Fulton-powered “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro. Chris Rini is a little over three rounds behind Halsey after grabbing his first two wins in Pro Nitrous at the last two events.

Todd “King Tut” Tutterow carries a significant points lead in WS Construction Pro Boost presented by P2 Contracting and Ty-Drive into GALOT with two wins to start the season and back-to-back runner-up finishes at the last two events in his screw-blown P2 Contracting ’20 Camaro. But E.T. record holder and three-time low qualifier Melanie Salemi is chasing him down with a win and a runner-up finish.

A strong field is expected in Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock presented by AED Competition, where 2020 world champion Johnny Pluchino is back on top with three wins in his Kaase-powered $hameless Racing/Strutmasters ’13 Mustang. He doesn’t have a commanding lead, though, as consistent late-round finisher Tony Gillig is just over a round behind Pluchino. JR Carr, Elijah Morton, and defending world champion Chris Powers are also within striking distance.

Second-generation PDRA star Amber Franklin is leading the way in $hameless Racing Pro 632, where she has two wins in four final-round appearances behind the wheel of her Musi-powered “OG Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro. Walter Lannigan Jr., looking for his first world championship and the third in a row for $hameless Racing, is Franklin’s closest challenger with three runner-up finishes.

The two most recent world champions in Drag 965 Pro Nitrous Motorcycle, Travis Davis and Chris Garner-Jones, are dueling yet again for the 2022 title. Davis, a multi-time champion, has two wins aboard his Timblin Chassis Hayabusa, while Garner-Jones is trying to defend his first championship with one win so far.

With two wins in Menscer Motorsports Pro Street presented by AFCO, defending world champion Tim Essick is the points leader in his ProCharger-boosted “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang. Essick holds the lead over Ty Kasper by around two and a half rounds. Kasper won back-to-back races over the summer, reaching the winner’s circle for the first time in his young career at Maryland.

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While not racing for a world championship, PDRA’s new small-tire class, AFCO Super Street presented by Menscer Motorsports, will compete at the World Finals as the last of four races in its first season. The class has seen a different winner at all three races, with Wes Ervin, Ron Rhodes, and Dan Whetstine claiming wins.

Less than one round separates Henry Underwood and Chris “Nitrous” Nyerges, the top two championship contenders in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by US Rail. Four other drivers are mathematically eligible.

Nick Meloni, the defending world champion in MagnaFuel Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers, is seeking another title with a nearly three-round lead over Joe Roubicek. The two drivers will battle it out in one of the most competitive Top Sportsman fields of the season.

The championship scenario in Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster presented by Laris Motorsports Insurance is tense, with three drivers within 18 points of each other on top. Past world champion Steve Furr leads defending world champion Pete Maduri and Larry Roberts.

Tisha Wilson is the points leader in Lucas Oil Top Dragster presented by Laris Motorsports Insurance, maintaining a lead that started with her win at the season opener. She leads Nick Meloni by just over three rounds.

In the Jr. Dragster classes, the Coolshirt Systems Pro Jr. Dragster presented by PRP championship is coming down to Chris Suppers and Justin Kerby. With two wins and runner-up finish, Suppers is a little over two rounds ahead of Kirby and his one win and two runner-up finishes. One of the tightest championship battles is brewing in Classic Graphix Top Jr. Dragster presented by PRP, where less than a round separates points leader Hannah Sheppard, Gavin Wood, and Carter Jackson.

The Proline Racing Brian Olson Memorial World Finals presented by ProCharger will begin with prerace testing from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday. Jr. Dragster and sportsman qualifying will kick off at 9:30 a.m. Friday, followed by the first pro qualifying session at 12 p.m. Pro qualifying will continue with a second session at 5:30 p.m. The Jr. Dragster and sportsman classes will get one more qualifying session Saturday at 9:45 a.m. Pro classes will be back on track for qualifying sessions at 1 and 5:30 p.m. Top Sportsman, Top Dragster, and Edelbrock Bracket Bash presented by COMP Cams will run first round after Q3 for pros. Sunday’s racing action will begin with the Jr. Dragster classes at 10:15 a.m. Pre-race ceremonies and first round of pro eliminations are scheduled for noon.

Tickets are available for $15 on Thursday and $20 per day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. A weekend pass is available for $60. Kids 12 and under get in free. Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate.

This story was originally published on October 11, 2022. Drag Illustrated

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