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Shrader, Tutterow, Pluchino, House, McKinney, Kincaid and Denton Score Season-Opening Wins at PDRA East Coast Nationals

Tara Bowker photos

Longtime nitrous doorslammer racer Brian Shrader broke through to claim his first Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous victory Saturday night at the season-opening Summit Racing Equipment East Coast Nationals presented by FuelTech at GALOT Motorsports Park. Pro Nitrous was guaranteed a first-time winner, as Shrader defeated Fredy Scriba in the final round at the first of eight championship points races on the 2024 Red Line Oil PDRA Drag Racing Series schedule. 

Shrader was joined in the winner’s circle by professional class winners Todd Tutterow in WS Construction Pro Boost presented by P2 Contracting and Ty-Drive, Johnny Pluchino in Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock presented by AED Competition, Andy House in PDRA Pro 632, Eric McKinney in Drag 965 Pro Extreme Motorcycle, Scott Kincaid in Menscer Motorsports Pro Street presented by Afco Racing, and Blake Denton in Afco Racing Super Street presented by Menscer Motorsports. 

Sportsman class victories went to Randy Perkinson in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by PAR Racing Engines, Michael White in Laris Motorsports Insurance Elite Top Dragster presented by Greenbrier Excavating & Paving, Ron Whitlock in MagnaFuel Top Sportsman presented by Corbin’s RV, and Danielle Gonzalez in Laris Motorsports Insurance Top Dragster presented by Younce RV. Amanda Manual picked up the win in Edelbrock Bracket Bash presented by COMP Cams, using a 6.108 on a 6.10 dial-in in her ’99 S10 to defeat Will Holloman in his ’21 American dragster. 

In the PDRA’s Jr. Dragster classes, Alyssa Tilghman and Victoria Beaner scored wins in Coolshirt Systems Pro Jr. Dragster presented by Philadelphia Racing Products and Classic Graphix Top Jr. Dragster presented by Philadelphia Racing Products, respectively. Tilghman and final-round opponent Ashley Franklin left the starting line together, then Tilghman ran a 7.907 to Franklin’s too-quick 7.893, both against a 7.90 index. Beaner, last year’s championship runner-up, used a superior reaction time and an 8.941 on an 8.90 dial-in to get the final-round win over No. 1 qualifier Jason Geryes and his 9.101 on a 9.04 dial-in. 


The East Coast Nationals has played host to first-time winners in Pro Nitrous twice before, and it happened again when longtime class competitors Brian Shrader and Fredy Scriba defeated multi-time world champions Jim Halsey and Tommy Franklin, respectively, in the semifinals. Neither driver had won before, and with cars separated by just one thousandth in the semis, they both knew they were in for a race in the final. In an all-Robert Hayes-built, Musi-powered final round, Shrader left first and fired off a weekend-best 3.654-second pass at 204.29 MPH to beat Scriba and his 3.667 at 205.07. 

“This is the culmination of a lot of work and a lot of years of effort, so it means a lot,” Shrader said. “We’ve worked together as a team, Robert and I, for several years now. This is a big win for me.”

Shrader in his Hayes-tuned ’17 Corvette qualified No. 4, then used a .004 reaction time and a 3.694 at 202.36 to win first round over a red-lighting Derrick Ford. He then overcame Billy Albert’s perfect reaction time in the second round, running a 3.694 at 202.70 to Albert’s 4.906. Shrader put together his best package of the day in the semifinals when he left first with a .016 reaction time and laid down a 3.657 at 203.25 to beat four-time world champion Jim Halsey and his 3.638 at 207.56 on a holeshot. 

“It’s a great confidence builder,” said Shrader, a multi-time champion and winner in Piedmont Dragway’s Big Dog Shootout Series. “The car is working fantastic. We’re running with some of the best racers in the world – probably Hall of Famers, really. That’s huge for us. That’s what we’ve been working for and that’s what we’ve been striving for and it looks like our program is evolving to that level.”

Scriba qualified third in his brand-new ’69 Camaro before running a 3.687 at 204.45 to defeat Dale Brinsfield and his 3.939 in the first round. He held off Chris Rini’s 3.711 in the second round with a 3.692 at 203.86. The Maryland native made a big step up in the semifinals, where he lined up next to three-time and defending world champion Tommy Franklin. Scriba was second off the line, but he made up for it with a 3.658 at 205.85 to beat Franklin, who experienced a mechanical issue and slowed to a 5.021 at 98.07. 

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After taking a yearlong “semi-retirement” from driving, two-time Pro Boost world champion Todd “King Tut” Tutterow rolled into the 2024 season driving a brand-new car for car owner Justin Smith. The team intended to contend for the world championship, and if Tutterow’s performance at the East Coast Nationals was a preview of what’s to come all season, Tutterow could be claiming another crown by October. He qualified No. 2 in one of the most competitive fields in class history, then wheeled the screw-blown Quik Fuel ’69 Camaro to a 3.607 at 210.73 to win on a holeshot over reigning world champion Jason Harris in the final round. Harris recorded one of the quickest passes in class history, a 3.564 at 209.20, in the runner-up effort. 

“It’s like [car chief] Brad Schmidt told me before – if you don’t win the first one, you can’t win them all, right?” said Tutterow, who thanked his team and Smith. “That’s very, very true. We got a good start to this season. No. 2 qualifier, win the race. Had a lot of luck, but give me luck any day. Very fortunate. Thank the Lord above. He very blessed me.”

Tutterow was surrounded in the winner’s circle by his own family and team, as well as Smith and his family. 

“They’re really, really good folks,” Tutterow said. “[Smith] let me run the race car. I’m driving the wheels off of it too. It’s been very, very special to me. I guess I semi-retired. Justin said he got a brand-new race car, I helped him with it all along, and he brought it to me to finish it up and wanted me to drive it. Very, very proud of the whole group.” 

Tutterow recorded a 3.624 at 211.86 to beat Bubba Greene’s 3.658 in the first round. In the second round, he lifted to a 6.465 at 69.49 but got the win when Melanie Salemi went red by .013 seconds. Tutterow was off pace again with his 3.996 at 157.14 in the semis, but opponent Preston Tanner had an engine explosion that prevented him from reaching the finish line. 

Harris, who was racing in memory of the late Harold Denton, was locked in the 3.50s throughout the day after qualifying No. 5 in his ProCharged “Party Time” ’69 Camaro. He started eliminations with a 3.59 at 209.30 over a red-lighting William Brown III, then paired a .004 reaction time and a 3.594 at 208.88 to knock out Kurt Steding and his 3.62 at 209.39. Harris was on it again in the semis with his .009 light followed up by a 3.567 at 208.81 to defeat No. 1 qualifier Derek Ward and his .016 light and 3.584 at 211.16. 


Two-time Extreme Pro Stock world champion Johnny Pluchino felt like he had something left to prove after he started his 2024 season with a runner-up finish in the Mountain Motor Pro Stock Invitational. He got his shot at redemption at the East Coast Nationals, where he combined quick reaction times and consistent passes to claim yet another GALOT Motorsports Park win in his Kaase-powered Feather-Lite Batteries ’13 Mustang. Pluchino left the line ahead of past world champion Steven Boone in the final round and held the lead through the finish line, winning with a 4.052 at 179.06 over Boone’s 4.125 at 177.74. 

“I said it all weekend in my interviews – race day is our day,” said Pluchino, who gave shoutouts to his team, including his father and crew chief, John Pluchino, his team partners, and his wife and baby boy. “We’re usually not on the pole. We maybe aren’t setting the record, but when race day comes around, we’re here to play. We did just that. We went up and down the racetrack and then I got to do my job, so we were all able to put it together and I’m just happy as hell.”

Pluchino now has four wins at the East Coast Nationals, split evenly between Extreme Pro Stock and Pro 632. He’s also won the fall GALOT race, DragWars, multiple times.  

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“I don’t know what it is, but this place has been pretty special to me,” Pluchino said. “It always will be. Got my first win here, got my first Pro Stock win here, and won here with my dad. I won here a few times in 632 and a bunch of times in Pro Stock. If this place didn’t exist, I’d have half the wins I have, so thank you to everybody at GALOT Motorsports Park. We appreciate you and this facility.”

Pluchino, the No. 5 qualifier, had a perfect start to his race day when he cut a .000 reaction time and ran a 4.081 at 178.35 to beat Doug Kittrell’s 4.102 in the first round. He defeated rookie Randi Lyn Butner’s 4.122 with a 4.05 at 178.83 in the second round. A .005 reaction time and a 4.067 at 179.16 was enough to defeat No. 1 qualifier JR Carr and his 4.098 to move on to the final round. 

Boone in his No. 2 qualified, Allen-powered Boone Motorsports ’07 Cobalt and posted a 4.077 at 178.90 in the opening round to finish ahead of fellow North Carolinian Elijah Morton and his 7.172. He made the second-quickest pass of the second round, a 4.047 at 179.25, to eliminate Mountain Motor Pro Stock Invitational winner Matt Giangrande and his 4.091. Boone then caught a break in the semifinals when past world champion Chris Powers went red on a 4.065, allowing Boone to move on with his 4.081 at 178.78.

PRO 632

A pair of Pro 632 rookies – Andy House and Carson Perry – met up in the final round to determine a new first-time winner. The 20-year-old Perry was one of the best leavers of the day, but he was .018 seconds too quick off the line in the final, tossing out a 4.159 at 169.08. House ended up running quicker anyway, winning with a weekend-best 4.146 at 169.91 in car owner Meade Baldwin’s nitrous-fed Southern Diamond Company ’69 Camaro. 

“Just to even be here is amazing, but to come through the way we have today, it’s indescribable, really,” House said. “It’s been a fight. Carson, man, he’s good. He’s a good driver. I have so many people to thank. Meade Baldwin – I call him my dad. Love the man. Bob, Jason, Jayme, Ron, Paul, and everybody at Party Time Racing. We’re a tight family and it definitely wouldn’t be possible without them.”

House qualified No. 11 but stepped up in the first round to a 4.173 at 168.41 to upset No. 4 qualifier Walter Lannigan Jr. and his 4.193 at 171.05. He left first against Bobby Bladen in the second round and ran a 4.194 at 168.60 to beat Bladen’s 4.215. It was House’s quick reaction times that helped him win the semifinal match over 2022 world champion Amber Franklin, who was quicker with a 4.160 but lost by thousandths to House’s 4.169 at 168.87. 

Perry in his nitrous-assisted ’69 Camaro started race day from the No. 2 spot and posted a 4.185 at 169.42 to get the first-round win over Gary Hood and his 4.935. He and second-round opponent Jason Ventura left together with .010 and .011 reaction times before Perry finished first with a 4.176 at 169.40 to Ventura’s 4.202. The second-generation driver stepped up on both ends of the track in the semis, where he cut a .009 light and ran a 4.152 at 169.57 next to a red-lighting 4.169 at 168.83. 


Multi-time Pro Extreme Motorcycle world champion Eric McKinney returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since 2021 after he took down two-time and reigning world champion Chris Garner-Jones on a holeshot in the final round. McKinney’s .010 reaction time and his 4.045 at 177.09 on his McKinney Motorsports ’14 Hayabusa put him ahead of Garner-Jones and his 4.016 at 177.04 at the finish line. 

“We’re still outgunned right now, but we worked hard and I pulled it off in the final on a holeshot,” said McKinney, who thanked partners like Vance & Hines, Fast By Gast, Worldwide Bearings, Schnitz Racing, Lanco Machine, and Razor Fab. “I took an extra stab at it and I thought, ‘I know he’s gonna outrun me,’ but we’re getting close. Hat’s off to the guys that are helping me, including my dad and my mom. [Tuner] Ashley Owens is the guy, man. My uncle Steve helps on the clutch. My cousin, Mark, came this weekend. I’m missing my wife and my two boys, but it’s just awesome to be back up in the winner’s circle again. 

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“The PDRA is awesome,” added McKinney, who celebrated his birthday on Saturday. “There was an all-motorcycle race this weekend that a lot of guys went to, and we chose to come here just because we love racing here. This is where it’s at for our class and we just enjoy it.”

McKinney left first against teammate Ashley Owens in the first round and was quicker at the finish line with a 4.086 at 176.67 to Owens’ 4.144. McKinney and semifinal opponent Brad McCoy had identical .035 reaction times, but McKinney quickly pulled ahead and won with a 4.063 at 177.16 to McCoy’s 4.741. 

Garner-Jones on his T.T. Jones Racing/Red Line Motorsports Media ’18 Hayabusa was unopposed in the first two rounds after qualifying No. 1. First-round opponent Marc Ingwersen didn’t make the call, while Garner-Jones cruised to a 4.009 at 178.07 to set low E.T. of the round. He was quickest again on his semifinal bye run, a 3.986 at 178.02. 


Against the odds, Pro Street young gun Scott Kincaid continued his incredible winning streak that started almost one year ago. He won all four races he attended in 2023, coming up less than one round short of a world championship. The second-generation driver maintained his undefeated status yet again by beating two-time world champion Tim Essick in a side-by-side final round. Both drivers left with .020 reaction times, then Kincaid in his screw-blown ’69 Camaro crossed the finish line first with a 3.947 at 195.59 to Essick’s 3.987 at 191.84. 

“It’s unbelievable. It’s just a dream,” Kincaid said. “It’s just unreal, really. Eventually our luck is gonna run out and I just don’t know how low we’re gonna get when it does run out. It’s good to keep it going while you can.”

Kincaid qualified in the No. 9 spot but he and father Tim found some extra performance for the first round, where he left first and ran a 3.987 at 195.62 to win over teammate Richard Reagan’s 4.023. Kincaid drove around second-round opponent Bill Devine and his perfect reaction time with a 4.004 at 196.76 over Devine’s 4.836. He cut a .004 reaction time and charged to a 3.957 at 196.64 to hold off newcome Dan Norris and his .014 and 3.959 at 190.32 for a .012 margin of victory in the semis. 

Essick qualified fourth in his ProCharged “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang, setting up a first-round matchup with multi-time winner Ty Kasper. Essick sailed to a 4.017 at 187.36 over Kasper’s 4.833, then posted a 4.031 at 187.39 for the second-round win over Joel Wensley Jr. and his 4.206. The two-time world champ stepped up to a 3.988 at 190.57 to knock out No. 1 qualifier Ron Green and his 4.473 in the semifinals.


Reigning Super Street world champion Blake Denton went into the season knowing he’d need to step up in order to stay on top of the fledgling small-tire class. Working with future father-in-law Tommy Franklin and tuner Jeff Pierce, Denton achieved that goal by winning the season opener in his nitrous-fed ’76 Camaro. In the final round, Denton left the starting line first ahead of Matt Schalow and recorded a career-best 4.639 at 155.94 to turn on the win light over Schalow and his 4.945 at 137.67.  

“We went to work over the offseason and got together and figured out what we could do to make the car faster just because everyone else is getting faster,” said Denton, who thanked engine builder Pat Musi, Franklin, Pierce, Mark Micke of M&M Transmission, Hoosier Racing Tire, and fiancée Amber Franklin for their support. “Every combination out here went within a thou or so of what I’ve been, so we knew we had to step it up and we stepped it up in a good way. The car’s worked flawless all weekend.”

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Denton opened eliminations with low E.T. of the first round, a 4.664 at 156.12, to beat Brad McBride’s 4.81 in his unique ’63 Volkswagen. A .029 light and a 4.694 at 155.58 helped Denton edge out David Knight and his 4.703 in the second round. In a monster semifinal matchup against his 2023 championship challenger, Derek Mota, Denton grabbed a holeshot advantage and charged to a 4.663 at 155.85 to hold off Mota’s 4.648 at 163.69. 

Schalow in his nitrous-assisted ’00 Camaro was the second-quickest of the first round with a 4.713 at 153.91 over Tommy Thrasher’s 4.80. He set low E.T. of the next round with his 4.654 at 155.79 to knock out Dan Whetstine and his 4.747 at 153.81. Schalow was unopposed in the semis, where he lifted to a 5.227 at 102.58. 


Randy Perkinson’s brand-new, ProCharged ’67 Mustang made its competition debut on Friday morning, and by Saturday night, Perkinson was wheeling it into the winner’s circle. He recorded a 3.812 on a 3.80 dial-in to get the win over Jacksonville, North Carolina’s Dewayne Silance, who went red by .009 in his nitrous-fed ’68 Camaro and ran a 3.872 on a 3.85 dial-in. 

A long day of intense competition in Top Sportsman 48 came down to Ron Whitlock and Tim Lawrence. It was Lawrence who got the starting line advantage in his nitrous-fed ’13 Camaro, but Whitlock’s 4.014 on a 4.01 dial-in in his ProCharged ’13 GXP turned on the win light. Lawrence ran a 3.967 on a 3.94 dial-in for runner-up honors. 


Two of North Carolina’s toughest Elite Top Dragster racers met up in the final round. Furr left first but he also reached the finish line too soon in his ProCharged Right Trailers ’13 American dragster with a 3.783 on a 3.79 dial-in. Meanwhile, White posted a 3.733 on a 3.73 dial-in in his ProCharged ’15 Maddox dragster to pick up the win. 

The Top Dragster 48 final round was decided on the starting line, as Tom Reese went red by .023 seconds, throwing away a 4.399 on a 4.37 dial-in in his ’99 Undercover dragster. Danielle Gonzalez, who was the No. 1 qualifier in her ’23 American dragster, was .002 red and lifted to a 10.318 on a 3.85 dial-in for the win. 

The 2024 Red Line Oil PDRA Drag Racing Series season will continue in two weeks at the Kaeser Compressors Mid-Atlantic Showdown presented by Classic Graphix, April 18-20, at Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie, Va.

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This story was originally published on April 7, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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