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Top Alcohol Dragster Rookie Joe C. Maynard Doubles Up at NHRA Gatornationals

Top Alcohol Dragster rookie Joe C. Maynard, son of JCM Racing team owner Joe Maynard, doubled up on Wally trophies during his first NHRA national event appearance this weekend at the 55th annual Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.
 
During the most recent off-season, Maynard, who became involved in NHRA Drag Racing with his family in 2021, announced that he would be making his NHRA driving debut in the competitive Top Alcohol Dragster category in 2024. Driving the Samsel Racing A/Fuel Dragster, Maynard staged his JCM Racing/Leatherwood Distillery entry in competition for the first time during the divisional event known as the “Baby Gators,” which began the weekend before the Gatornationals.

In his debut race, Maynard earned the No. 4 qualifying position and went on to defeat Karen Stalba in the opening round of eliminations, activating the scoreboard win lights for the first time in his career. Soon after, the remainder of the divisional Baby Gators was postponed until the Gatornationals due to weather with eliminations scheduled to be contested during the weekend’s qualifying rounds. On Friday, Maynard clocked two solid runs to pick off Mike Coughlin and Matthew Cummings and capture his first NHRA trophy, and the first win for JCM Racing in 2024.
 
With one win already under his belt, Maynard had his sights set on making it two-for-two when eliminations for the national event got underway on Saturday. Maynard clocked a 5.237 E.T. followed by a 5.310 in rounds one and two to defeat Dan Dietrich and former Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ Angelle Sampey, respectively. In the semifinals, Maynard laid down the gauntlet, posting a 5.209, which held up to be low E.T. of the event. The run allowed him to easily defeat Jackie Fricke and sent him into the final round for the second time during the weekend. Against Jeffrey Veale, Maynard took the JCM Racing/Leatherwood Distillery machine on another winning ride, recording a 5.275 E.T. at 272.67 MPH while Veale posted a slower 5.311 E.T. in the opposite lane.
 
“I didn’t even realize I had won until I made it to the top end. This run in the finals was ‘lucky 13.’ That was only the 13th pass I had ever made in one of these cars, and now I’m holding two of these trophies,” said the retired U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopter pilot following his second win of the weekend.
 
“To leave here with two wins in only my first two races is just incredible, and not possible without something else. I’m sure a lot of this is thanks to my mom, who I know was along for the ride with me this weekend,” added Maynard, referring to his mother Cathi Maynard who passed away in June 2023 following a lengthy battle with multiple sclerosis. “I got to have my dad here on the starting line with me all weekend, my kids watching along at home, it’s just been really special, and I couldn’t ask for a better start to my NHRA career.”
 

This story was originally published on March 11, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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