Recap: The 2018 PDRA Firecracker Nationals In Virginia

Virginia Motorsports Park had accommodations to beat the heat with mist tents, delicious vendors, and even fireworks to distract from the scorches, all of which came in handy for the racers who were up against track temperatures reaching 148 degrees last weekend. The heat contributed to each pass being more intriguing, making this weekend’s show worth enduring the overwhelming temperatures.

Debuting his new Skinny Kid C7 Corvette, Ken Quartuccio, Jr. dominated the field in Outlaw 10.5. Qualifying number one with a 6.77 at 97.03, Ken eliminated the competition one by one. The final round saw him matched against Mike ‘Hollywood’ Decker, who ran a 5.258 at 119.96 with a reaction time of .065 against Ken’s 3.978 at 197.83 and .064 reaction time.

“It has a lot to do with PDRA and the prep they do. We knew from running our other car that PDRA was going to have some good prep for us. We struggled a little bit throughout the day but we knew if we could just make it to the afternoon we’d be in good shape,” Quartuccio noted.

Pro Boost’s “The Dragon” finally made it’s way to the winner circle; Rick Fleck stayed consistent through the heat taking out Chuck Ulsch with a 3.769 at 196.76 over Ulsch’s 3.791 at 194.24. “We spend our days out on hot tracks. You saw today we were the fastest when it was the hottest. We kept it under control and just got faster and faster.” The team is ready for Ohio and looking to keep the momentum going, said Fleck after scoring his first PDRA title.

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After eliminating number one qualifier John Montecalvo, John Pluchino found himself against another top contender J.R. Carr in the Extreme Pro Stock final. Pluchino’s .022 reaction was close to Carr’s .026 but John’s tune-up took to the track better and he ran a smooth 4.108 at 175.75 over Carr’s 5.209 at 98.48.

“My guys are the best out there. I always say it. We’re going to continue what we’re doing. We got this car figured out. My son goes in there on the computer and does what he does. The car is awesome. Just awesome.”

John Pluchino’s son was actually number one qualifier in Pro 632; unfortunately, Johnny Pluchino didn’t have the same outcome as his father and lost to Tony Gillig’s recreation of the old Pro Stock car he ran in the 1990’s. The Oldsmobile climbed its way to the top finding itself against an extremely consistent Daryl Hameetman. Gillig ended up bombing on the tree with a 1.75 reaction time and a 7.123 pass at 99.49 mph against Hameetman’s .258 reaction and a 4.314 at 166.31, as Hameetman scored his first career PDRA win.

It was ‘party time’ in the winner circle with Pro Nitrous. Having the lead in points and a number of wins Jason Harris has no intention of slowing down.

“These guys aren’t playing and you have to be on your game,” Harris said of the win. Harris qualified fourth and slowly picked up over the course of the event, winning with a 3.716 at 203.28 against Tony Wilson’s 4.475 at 130.29.

Ehren Litten’s turbocharged Pro Extreme’s Motorcycle entry took out the number one qualifier Terry Schweigert who earlier ran a 4.045 at 174.87. Litten ran a 4.003 at 183.54 over Schweigert’s 4.040 at 173.99. “We swapped the motor three times. Made the two three and got in the field. It was a lot of work and a lot of hoops to jump through this weekend. But we made it.” Litten will go down in the PDRA history books as the first ever turbocharged racer to take home a win.

Top Dragster Regular class runner Angela Gantkowski was number one qualifier and then continued her dominance throughout eliminations. The final round was a close race as she had a .002 light and ran a 4.436 on a 4.42 dial-in, while Westly Washington ran a 4.417 on a 4.417 dial in and a .017 reaction time. The Top Dragster Elite’s final round was a close-call when Brian Bednar broke-out against Chaz Silance. Bednar ran a 3.848 on a 3.85 dial on and a .031 reaction time. Silance ran a 3.855 on a 3.85 dial-in and a .054 reaction.

Top Jr Dragster competitor Mallory Logan seemed to be unaffected by the heat, killing it on the tree with a .005 light against Nyck Shirkey to take the win. CoolShirt’s Pro Jr Dragster Casey Wagner also did an amazing job on the tree with a .011 light in the finale to race to victory.

Although the heat was overwhelming, the PDRA and its fans showed the drag racing world their dedication and determination. Teams will now travels North to Ohio’s National Trail Raceway on July 19th to the 21st for the Super Strip Nationals, which also airs the event live on SpeedVideo.

About the author

Amelia Eastman

From dirt track racing to tractor pulls, Amelia is a grease covered journalist with a passion for all things motor. With oil in her veins its fitting she finds herself balancing a portrait photography business and a high performance engine shop.
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