Brandon Snider stepped up in the third and final round of the day to take over the provisional Pro Extreme qualifying lead at the inaugural Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) Cajun Nationals. Also qualified number one in the PDRA pro classes with one more session to go on Saturday are Jay Cox in Pro Nitrous, Gerry Capano in Pro Boost, and defending Pro Extreme Motorcycle champion Eric McKinney.
In the PDRA sportsman classes, Tricia Musi (above) placed first in MagnaFuel Top Sportsman with a career-best 3.97-seconds pass at 188.96 mph over the eighth mile at Thunder Road Raceway Park, while Wade Pennington paced the Dart Top Dragster field with the class’ only three-second run of the day at 3.85 and 190.32 mph. Also, Nicholas Cannon leads the way in Huddleston Performance Pro Jr. Dragster and Mia Schultz holds the tentative top spot in Huddleston Top Jr. Dragster.
As part of the first pair out in the final NAS Racing Pro Extreme session of the day, Snider set the time to beat with a 3.54 at 214.96 mph in his Drag 965-backed ’69 Camaro.
“We used to hang back all the time and I’d watch all the other cars go down and I’d be thinking, man, I can’t run that fast and getting myself all worried, so this time I just decided that if I can get up there early and not have to see anybody else’s numbers I’d be better off,” Snider said. “Just let it be what it’s going to be and it worked out–so far. I think it could hold up, but it’ll depend on the track tomorrow because there are a few cars that can definitely run those numbers.”
Terry Leggett also made his quickest run in the third session with a 3.56 pass in his ’71 Mustang-bodied machine to place second behind Snider. Frankie Taylor drove his ’04 Corvette into third place at 3.57, with Jason Scruggs fourth, followed by Mustafa Buhumaid, winner of the 2015 PDRA season opener in March.
Cox made his class-leading 3.73 pass at 200.68 in the third Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous qualifying round of the day, too, though he also led after the second round with a 3.82 at 198.26 mph. He deflected much of the credit for his strong showing to Charlie Buck, who is in the midst of the PDRA “Nitrous Wars” against much bigger and more well-known engine builders.
“You know, Charlie is out here running against a lot of big-name engine builders and yes, he’s one of the ‘little guys,’ but his quality of work and attention to detail is second to none,” Cox stressed.
Reigning back-to-back NHRA Pro Mod champ Rickie Smith jumped up from seventh to second in Friday night’s session with a 3.76 pass, and Tommy Franklin moved all the way from outside the 16-car field in 20th to third with a 3.77 pass to complete a trio of ’69 Camaros in the top-three positions.
In the last round of qualifying for Friday in Precision Turbo Pro Boost, Capano drove his roots-blown ’63 Corvette to a career-best lap of 3.86 seconds at 193.68 mph, bumping the 3.87 by Canadian Jim Bell in a twin-turbocharged ’69 Camaro down to second. Richard Holt’s turbocharged ’69 Camaro was third at 3.88 seconds.
“We’re a small team, just me and my wife, Heather, and our son, Gianni, so this means a lot to us,” Capano said about ending the day for the first time as qualifying leader. “We had a good outing at the last race in Rockingham (NC), too, so it’s encouraging to do well at back-to-back events on different tracks. We’re all pretty excited.”
With eight bikes showing up to contest the Drag 965 Pro Extreme Motorcycle class, all are guaranteed a race-day slot. McKinney, who has won both PDRA races so far this year, again set the pace in qualifying with a 4.05 pass at 176.12 aboard his nitrous-boosted 2012 Suzuki. McKinney’s teammate and tuner Ashley Owens was second at 4.08 with one round of qualifying still to go, while Jeff House and Chuck Wilborn rounded out the top half of the field.
The all-eighth-mile PDRA event at Thunder Road Raceway, about a half-hour drive north of Shreveport, LA, will resume with one more qualifying session starting noon on Saturday, followed by elimination rounds for all classes at 4:30 p.m.