BRADENTON, Fla. — It has been a long time coming for Bruce Litton at Bradenton Motorsports Park.
Nearly 14 years have passed between final round appearances for Litton and his Top Fuel team at the western Florida facility, not because of any lack of performance or team blunders, but because this year marks the International Hot Rod Ass’n’s first trip back to Bradenton since 1999.
And what a return it was.
Bruce Litton took the win in Top Fuel Friday at Bradenton Motorsports Park
In front of an energetic crowd eager for the return of nitro racing to Bradenton Motorsports Park, Litton powered his way to the Ironman trophy in Top Fuel dragster nearly a decade and a half after he visited the final round and lost in IHRA’s last visit to the track. And what a sweet victory it was.
“It is cool being back in Bradenton. You always like the tracks that you do well at and we have certainly had some success here so I very much like the track,” Litton said. “Really the facility is very nice, I had a chance to meet the new owners and they seem to be doing really well here and I think that is going to pay off in the end. We look forward to seeing some really big crowds for the show tomorrow.”
Litton ran a pair of four second passes on his way to the Top Fuel victory Friday night, joining Jay Turner (Nitro Harley), Peter Gallen (AMSOIL Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car) and Ron Hope (Fuel Altered) in victory lane at the Bradenton Nitro Jam presented by CarSafe, Metro PCS and Southern Ford Dealers.
When Litton last visited Bradenton Motorsports Park in 1999 he lost in the final to longtime IHRA veteran Jim Bailey. This time around Litton’s opponent was his young protégé Kyle Wurtzel and Litton definitely showed him a thing as Litton put down laps of 4.931 and 4.897 on his way to the win.
Peter Gallen drove the “Poverty Stricken” Monza to the Funny Car Ironman on Friday
“That final pass was a really, really good run. We were just trying to get down the track and that is the same lane that we used to test in years and years ago so I know that lane a little bit,” Litton said. “Like I said we were just trying to get it to go from A to B and actually surprised ourselves with a good number. We were definitely pleased with the performance.”
In the final Litton saved the best for last, beating Wurtzel off of the line and outrunning him to the finish with a 4.897 second lap at 275.49 miles per hour. Wurtzel ran a 5.662, 176.78 in the runner-up effort.
In perhaps the best matchup of the night, IHRA veteran Jay Turner and newcomer Tracy Kile put on an amazing show in Nitro Harley as the pair produced side-by-side laps at over 210 mph to the thrill of the Bradenton fans.
Kile actually lit the win light in round one with a 6.506, 211.21 pass to Turner’s 6.546, 211.46, but Turner got him in the round that mattered as Turner blasted to a 6.495, 211.41 lap to Kile’s very fast 6.567, 219.78.
“Both of the bikes went down the track really well tonight. We were really pleased with the performance and of course we really wanted to do well for the crowd,” Turner said. “When we started this season we started with a clean sheet of paper. We set these two bikes up similar to each other to help gather more data to help us out and it seems to be paying big dividends right now. It is always nice to go down the track twice and come back both times with a good lap behind you.”
Nitro Harley put on an incredible show with two amazing passes on Friday
Peter Gallen added to his Ironman collection in AMSOIL Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car as the Pennsylvania native produced two blistering laps to easily drive around the competition. Gallen set the benchmark for the weekend in the nostalgia Funny Car class in round one with a 5.811, 237.71 shot that sent him to the top of the charts with Mike Minick in the “Chi-Town Hustler” not far behind.
In the final Gallen put the “Poverty Stricken” Monza in victory lane with another five second lap, this time a 5.982, 243.70 to defeat Minick who blossomed the parachutes moments after hitting the throttle.
Finally in Fuel Altered Ron Hope won the battle of the nostalgia nitro machines as he defeated Kyle Hough in the final. Hough won round one with the best pass of the night for the class – a quick 6.620, 218.20 – but in the final Hope drove around the young driver with a 7.260 to a 7.588.