Late rain showers and falling temperatures forced race officials to postpone Friday’s qualifying action at the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) Brian Olson Memorial World Finals at Virginia Motorsports Park. The inclement weather set in during the middle of the second qualifying session for Top Sportsman, which featured a record 74 cars attempting to qualify.
All of the PDRA’s professional and sportsman classes received at least one qualifying session on Friday. Defending world champion Jason Scruggs leads the NAS Racing Pro Extreme field with his 3.546 at 217.53 mph. The other number-one qualifiers in the pro classes are Steve Jackson (Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous presented by MoTeC), John Strickland (GALOT Motorsports Park Pro Boost), Ashley Owens (Drag 965 Pro Extreme Motorcycle), Ron Green (DiSomma Racing Engines Outlaw 10.5), and Richard Penland (PDRA Extreme Pro Stock).
In the sportsman classes, Randy Perkinson’s 3.893 is the quickest performance in Ronnie Davis Top Sportsman presented by MagnaFuel, which will break down into two fields of the Elite 16 and Quick 32 cars at the end of qualifying. South Carolina’s Jody Stroud tops the 32-car Top Dragster qualifying order after their two sessions. The Junior Dragster classes also received two qualifying sessions before the rain set in, with Gavin Stanley leading Talbert Pro Junior Dragster and Arellyn Garner-Jones topping MegaCorp Top Junior Dragster.
In addition to the World Finals, the PDRA is also attempting to complete eliminations from the rain-delayed PDRA Sunshine State Shootout presented by Mel Bush Motorsports, originally held in Bradenton, FL earlier this month. Some rounds were completed at Virginia on Thursday night, then most of the Bradenton event champions were decided in final round competition on Friday. The winners were Chris Garner-Jones in Pro Extreme Motorcycle, Buddy Perkinson in Top Sportsman, Justin Kirk in Top Dragster, Mia Schultz in Pro Junior Dragster, and Arellyn Garner-Jones in Top Junior Dragster. The Bradenton event winners in Pro Extreme, Pro Nitrous, and Pro Boost will be decided on Saturday, which is scheduled to begin with the completion of Top Sportsman’s second session.
“The weather is supposed to be clear with temperatures in the 60s Saturday and Sunday, so we’re going to start where we left off with the rest of Top Sportsman’s second qualifying session,” said PDRA race director Bob Harris.
“We’ll also finish the remaining final rounds from the Bradenton race. If the weather looks good, we’ll try to give everyone their third qualifying session. We have 391 cars on the property with more coming in, so we want to give them a shot at the track. Our plan is to start eliminations by 5 p.m. and run as many rounds of the pro classes as we can tomorrow night. Right now, it looks like it will be Sunday before we’re totally finished.”
Harris and the PDRA officials have been tasked with making weather-related decisions at nearly every stop on the nine-race tour this year, but that didn’t make the call to postpone qualifying any easier.
“We put in a big effort to make this happen today,” Harris stressed. “Our goal all year has been to make Fridays better. We made a valiant effort to dry the track. We probably could’ve had the track dry by 10 p.m., but I don’t feel that it would be safe. With us being an organization run by racers with the wellbeing of the racers in mind, we decided it would be best to wait until we have a safe, dry track.”
Qualifying at the PDRA Brian Olson Memorial World Finals at Virginia Motorsports Park is scheduled to resume at 9:30 a.m. For official schedule updates, please visit www.PDRA660.com or www.Facebook.com/PDRARacing.