The Professional Drag Racing Association made it’s journey to Martin, Michigan this weekend, where fans saw many new faces in the winner’s circle on Saturday along with shocking red lights from well-established drivers. Each pass had everyone on the edge of their seats.
Chuck Ulsch in his ’68 Camaro is a perpetual frontrunner in the PDRA’s Pro Boost category. Fortunately, he ran into some luck this weekend in Michigan when Andy Jensen rolled through the beams in the final round, allowing Ulsch to run a slowing 4.977 at 101.03 taking home the win.
“For us to be in three finals at the first three races of the year, this is really a dream come true,” said Ulsch. “We ran one PDRA race last year before we decided to run over here this year. We certainly didn’t expect to go to the first three finals. I was starting to think this win wasn’t going to happen, but it just started coming together this race. I guess the third time’s the charm.”
In Pro 632, low qualifier and first time PDRA winner Mike Oldham started off the semifinals with a 4.223 while number one qualifier Dillon Voss red-lit, running a 4.28. In the finals Johnny Pluchino, who had been fighting the harsh weather conditions all weekend with his naturally-aspirated Kaase engine, finished with a 4.293 at 165.75, which just wasn’t enough against Mike’s 4.23.
Eric McKinney is no stranger to PDRA’s Pro Extreme Motorcycle winner’s circle. This weekend the three-time world champion found himself against Chris Garner-Jones in the semifinals. Garner-Jones unfortunately red-lit, running a 4.056 at 173.48 against McKinney’s 4.029 at 176.33, putting him in the final round against teammate Ashley Owens, who was unable to run due to engine issues.
“We’re really happy with the way things are going,” said McKinney. “I really wanted to run Ashley [Owens] in the final. I think we could’ve run a pair of 3-second passes. Whoever wins doesn’t matter to me. But his bike was smoking and we just had to park it. The crankshafts are expensive, hard to get and they wipe out everything when they go. It was a tough call, but we had to do it. The whole team worked hard this weekend, so it feels good to leave with a win.”
A new face to the winner’s circle, John DeFlorian and his ’16 Camaro made the climb after semi-finalist John Montecalvo red-lighted away his chances, running a 4.111 against DeFlorian’s 4.110. The final round was against world champion John Pluchino, who also red-lit and ran a 4.093, allowing DeFlorian to finally take home the trophy with a 4.070 at 177.10.
“It feels unbelievable to finally win one of these races,” said DeFlorian. “This is one that just wasn’t happening. We struggled for over a year and I got to a point where I was thinking maybe I’m done or my day was gone. I’m so excited to get here and finally hold that trophy. This is where we got our first mountain motor Pro Stock win in 2012, so it’s extra-special to get our first PDRA win here. I could never thank everyone enough. I have the most awesome crew ever. Everyone has to pitch in and go above and beyond what we’ve ever done, but it’s paying off. We went down the track every run and just kept picking at it.”
Unfortunately, Pro Extreme’s car count struggles continued in Martin. With only three competitors showing up to race, number one qualifier Terry Leggett and his ’71 Mustang had a bye run into the finals. Leggett then took the win with a 3.568 over Adam Flamholc’s 3.650 that came on the heels of a foul start.
Top Dragster competitor Al Peavler’s consistency paid off this weekend — Peavler ran a 3.886 on a 3.88 dial in while final round competitor Camrie Caruso broke out by .0008 running a 3.882. In Top Sportsman Glen Teets ran a 4.217 on a 4.21 dial-in for the win, while Henry Underwood left early, giving Teets the trophy.
Pro Nitrous is a class full of experienced racers who happened to run red a lot this weekend. Big names like Lizzy Musi and Randy Weatherford were out of the competition early due to foul starts. Jason Harris and his ’69 Camaro “Party Time” won the Summer Drags on a holeshot with an .019 reaction while running a 3.724 at 201.52 over Jim Halsey’s .123 reaction time, running 3.674 at 205.39.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Harris. “We’ve struggled for the last couple years. We’ve got a good package and a good team put together right now with Danny Perry and the Boone family. Everybody’s really been standing by me, even through my bad years. It seems like we’ve always been a bridesmaid, never the bride. We came here and consistency was the key. We weren’t the fastest car all weekend, other than the No. 1 qualifier, but we stayed consistent between .72-.74 all weekend.”
Most importantly we’d like to confirm that Pro Nitrous driver Scott Blake is home and continuing to recover from his terrifying wreck on Friday during qualifying. Of course that wasn’t after making a short stop back out to the track. We’re delighted to know safety and the health of the racers is always the number one priority of PDRA.
Congratulations to all the teams and fans this weekend, and don’t forget to head to Virginia Motorsports Park June 28th to the 30th to see more nail-biting action, or watch on SpeedVideo’s live-feed from the comfort of your home.