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Tutterow, Halsey, Pluchino, Lannigan, Davis, Weddle and Llamas Secure No. 1 Spots at PDRA American Doorslammer Challenge

Tara Bowker photos

Two-time WS Construction Pro Boost presented by P2 Contracting and Ty-Drive world champion Todd “King Tut” Tutterow bounced back from a DNQ by qualifying No. 1 Friday night at the Smokies Garage American Doorslammer Challenge presented by Callies Performance at Summit Motorsports Park. During the third stop on the 2024 Red Line Oil PDRA Drag Racing Series tour, Tutterow laid down a 3.627-second pass at 208.04 MPH in the third and final qualifying session to secure the No. 1 spot by just two thousandths of a second. 

No. 1 qualifier awards in the pro classes also went to Jim Halsey in Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous, Johnny Pluchino in Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock presented by AED Competition, Walter Lannigan Jr. in PDRA Pro 632, Brayden Davis in Drag 965 Pro Extreme Motorcycle, Brian Weddle in Menscer Motorsports Pro Street presented by Afco Racing, and Gage Llamas in Afco Racing Super Street presented by Menscer Motorsports. 

The PDRA’s sportsman categories also completed three qualifying sessions. The No. 1 qualifiers are Tim Paap in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by PAR Racing Engines, Craig Addis in Laris Motorsports Insurance Elite Top Dragster presented by Greenbrier Excavating & Paving, Gary Grahner in MagnaFuel Top Sportsman presented by Corbin’s RV, and Patrick Forster in Laris Motorsports Insurance Top Dragster presented by Younce RV. 

After two of three qualifying sessions in the Jr. Dragster classes, the provisional No. 1 qualifiers are Zach Shirkey in Coolshirt Systems Pro Jr. Dragster presented by Philadelphia Racing Products and Anthony Elrod Jr. in Classic Graphix Top Jr. Dragster presented by Philadelphia Racing Products. Shirkey posted a 7.900 on the 7.90 index in his Maryland-based ’21 Halfscale dragster to lead the Pro Jr. Dragster field. Elrod in his Michigan-based ’22 Halfscale entry cut a .003 reaction time to take the provisional top spot in Top Jr. Dragster. 


Todd “King Tut” Tutterow’s rollercoaster start to the season continued with a high point when he took the No. 1 spot in a throwdown final qualifying session driving Justin Smith’s screw-blown Quik Fuel ’69 Camaro. Tutterow’s 3.627 at 208.04 put him on top of a 16-car field that saw all but two drivers run in the 3.60-second range. The two-time Pro Boost world champion and many-time champion in other doorslammer classes won the season opener, then missed out on qualifying in a record field at the last race on tour in Virginia before taking the top spot at Norwalk.

“That just shows how close the racing is here, right?” said Tutterow, who thanked Smith and the WYO Motorsports and P2 Racing crews. “We didn’t get but two qualifying runs [at Virginia] and we got three here. That makes a difference because I try to pick my car up each round and I didn’t get that opportunity [at Virginia]. It is what it is, but we made a really nice lap tonight.”

Past event winner Johnny Camp was the No. 1 qualifier after the first two sessions with progressively quicker runs, and while he stepped up again in Q3, his 3.629 at 206.42 in his ProCharged “Hells Bells” ’69 Camaro slid to No. 2. Class E.T. record holder and World Series of Pro Mod winner Derek Ward fired off a 3.635 at 208.59 to qualify third in his screw-blown ’68 Firebird.


Four-time Pro Nitrous world champion Jim Halsey came out of the gate on Friday and laid down a strong run in the first session to take the provisional No. 1 qualifier spot. He went down the track again in the second session, but it was his 3.657 at 207.21 in the cool final session that secured the third low qualifier award in as many races for Halsey and his new Brandon Switzer-tuned, Fulton-powered ’68 Camaro. 

“We’re really starting to figure it out, so hopefully we can continue the trend,” said Halsey, who set a new E.T. national record at the season opener and won the last race in Virginia. “The car made a beautiful run – a perfect run. We hit it all. It’s all thanks to the crew. They work hard for it, so they deserve way more credit than I do.”

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Mike “The Mountain Man” Achenbach, who’s making his first appearance of the season in his Fulton-powered ’69 Camaro, used a 3.693 at 204.63 to qualify No. 2. Three-time and reigning world champion Tommy Franklin ran a 3.698 at 204.05 in his Jeff Pierce-tuned, Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro to end up third. 


For the second race in a row, two-time Extreme Pro Stock world champion Johnny Pluchino put his Kaase-powered Feather-Lite Batteries ’13 Mustang in the top spot. He saved his best run of the day for the final session, where he recorded a 4.104 at 176.70. The second-generation world champion will attempt to remain undefeated in 2024 Extreme Pro Stock competition when he rolls into race day on Saturday afternoon. 

“It starts with the people,” Pluchino said. “We have all the right people behind us and we have some really good equipment here. It’s coming together. We didn’t do too well the first couple of qualifying runs [in the heat], which we have to get that figured out for tomorrow because tonight is definitely a different deal than what tomorrow is going to be. We definitely have to work on that for tomorrow, but we have a bad fast race car right now. As always, I feel good in the car, and we feel like we’re the ones to beat.”

Dillon Voss, Pluchino’s former Pro 632 rival, threw down a 4.112 at 174.62 in his Voss-powered Voss Wheelie Bars ’05 Cavalier to qualify second. The No. 3 spot went to Mountain Motor Pro Stock Invitational winner Matt Giangrande, who drove the Kaase-powered Enoch Love Motorsports ’19 Camaro to a 4.12 at 174.80. 

PRO 632

Consistent improvements in qualifying at each race this season led Walter Lannigan Jr. to the No. 1 qualifier position in Pro 632 at Norwalk. Driving Chris Holdorf’s Nelson-powered Dewitt Custom Concrete ’10 GTO, Lannigan lit up the scoreboard with a 4.187 at 177.37 in the third session to hold off low 4.20-second passes from several other contenders. It’s Lannigan’s first low qualifier award since 2022 when he was the No. 1 qualifier at five of seven completed races. 

“I’ve been feeling like the underdog for a while and realizing that you’re not the underdog,” Lannigan said. “We just had to get it all together. I thank Kris Nelson, Chris Holdorf, Frank [Mewshaw] and all of them for putting in the work. I just get the easy part of just driving. I love it. I’m looking to finish the whole deal. I started it No. 1 and I want to finish it No. 1. I haven’t had a 660 Man [trophy] in about three years now, so I think it’s well overdue. I’m just glad to be back.”

Past world champion Amber Franklin, who qualified No. 1 at the first two races of the season, qualified second in her Musi-powered “OG Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro with a 4.202 at 168.98. Season opener winner Andy House in Meade Baldwin’s Southern Diamond Company ’69 Camaro qualified third with a 4.223 at 167.61. 


Third-generation Pro Extreme Motorcycle rider Brayden Davis may have missed the season opener, but the 2023 Pro Jr. Dragster world champion didn’t miss a beat in his first PDRA race of the season back on his Timblin Chassis ’18 Hayabusa. He raced to the top of the 11-entry qualifying order in the final session when he laid down a 3.98 at 177.98, building on a 4.05 in the hot second session. 

“We had changed some things with the motor and we struggled early on, then we went back to what we know and just slowly worked up on it,” Davis said. “When we went the 4.05, it showed a lot of promise. We really took power out and just added fuel to it and it picked up that much, so I really feel confident in our team and our performance level right now. I really feel like we can go even faster, but at this point, we’re just going to take it round by round and see what we can do and hopefully park it in the winner’s circle.”

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Two-time and reigning world champion Chris Garner-Jones rode his TT Jones Racing ’18 Hayabusa to a 3.991 at 178.24 to end up second. Brunson Grothus stepped up to a 3.996 at 186.87 on his turbocharged ’19 Suzuki to take the No. 3 position on race day. 


After a runner-up finish in his Pro Street debut at the last race on tour, all eyes were on Brian Weddle to see what he’d do at Norwalk in his screw-blown ’68 Camaro. The Frederick, Maryland-based driver stepped up to the plate by qualifying No. 1 with a 4.061 at 176.47 in the final qualifying session. He was one of just three drivers in the class to run in the 4.00-second range after two sessions in the heat of the day and one in the evening. 

“We were just happy to be able to show up to Virginia to race, so the fact that we did good and went a couple rounds and all that was just great,” Weddle said. “Coming here, the expectations are a little higher because we know we have a good car. The first couple rounds of qualifying didn’t show us that, so we made some changes and that run there put us to the top, so we’re happy. We’ve had nothing but problems all day. We worked our asses off. It was good to finally put a run together and not have to be stressed about that.”

Ron Green, who qualified No. 1 at the season opener, qualified No. 2 in his ProCharged “Gamechanger” ’00 Firebird with a 4.096 at 195.34. Rookie Ethan Steding, the low qualifier at the last race, rounded out the top three in his roots-blown P2 Contracting ’24 Camaro with a 4.098 at 192.69.


Super Street rookie Gage Llamas showed signs of promise at the first two races of the season, but his Friday night performance at Norwalk proved that the 20-year-old will be a contender in the fledgling small-tire class. Llamas laid down a 4.715 at 163.87 in his turbocharged ’02 Trans Am in the final session to outqualify past winners, a world champion, and fellow newcomers to the class. 

“We’ve been working very hard for this,” said Llamas, who thanked his crew and sponsors for their support. “We had a rough outing at the last race. Everything is really paying off now. I gotta give credit to Nick Chapman. He’s able to give me a good tune-up to do it. It’s very awesome to get this No. 1 qualifier award. I never thought I would be here, honestly.”

Brad Cox ran a 4.725 at 155.11 in his nitrous-fed ’90 Mustang to qualify second, followed by reigning world champion Blake Denton in third with a 4.728 at 155.44 in his nitrous-assisted ’76 Camaro. 


Tim Paap in his Charleston, Illinois-based, nitrous-fed ’16 Corvette charged to the final No. 1 qualifying position in Elite Top Sportsman with a 3.819 at 192.00. Past world champion Tim Molnar, from nearby Seville, Ohio, raced to a 3.82 at 197.28 in his nitrous-assisted ’68 Camaro to qualify second. Arizona’s Bryan LaFlam recorded a 3.832 at 191.51 in his supercharged BIGSTUFF ’67 Mustang to round out the top three. 

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Gary Grahner just missed the cut for the 16-car Elite field with his 4.093 at 183.82, but that put him No. 1 in the Top Sportsman 48 field with his nitrous-fed ’63 Corvette. 


Ohio’s own Craig Addis jumped to the top of the huge Top Dragster qualifying order to secure the No. 1 position in the 16-car Elite field. He ran a 3.66 at 200.02 in his ProCharged R.A.B. Trucking ’21 Spitzer dragster to lead KC Ingram, who posted a 3.677 at 202.97 in his supercharged ’20 Miller dragster, and fellow Ohioan Bryan Keller and his 3.709 at 199.26 in his blown KB Trailer Sales ’12 Spitzer entry. 

By just one thousandth of a second, Patrick Forster was left outside the Elite field. Instead, he qualified No. 1 in the Top Dragster 48 field with a 3.864 at 188.20 in his ’14 American dragster. 

The Smokies Garage American Doorslammer Challenge presented by Callies will continue Saturday starting with Jr. Dragster final qualifying at 9 a.m. Pre-race ceremonies and professional eliminations will kick off at 2 p.m. 

Fans at home can watch the full event live on the official livestream through

This story was originally published on May 25, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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