CORDOVA, Ill. – It was billed as one of the biggest nostalgia Nitro Funny Car races ever held. And so far, it is living up to all the hype.
With one of the most decorated nostalgia Nitro Funny Car fields ever assembled on the property, it was IHRA newcomer and Grand Blanc, Michigan native Shawn Bowen making the first move, propelling the “Violator” 1977 Pontiac Firebird Nitro Funny Car to the top of the charts at the IHRA Summer Nationals at Cordova Dragway Park.
Cary Goforth (Pro Stock), Mike Scott (Nitro Harley), Mike Hilsabeck (Nitro Altered) and Marisha Falk (Jet Dragster) also topped qualifying in their respective classes Friday in Cordova.
Bowen put down a stout lap in the first round of qualifying Friday night, rocketing to the top of the charts with a 5.819-second pass at 251.02 miles per hour to put the 2013 DRO champion in the No. 1 position entering eliminations on Saturday. Current IHRA points leader and four-time IHRA national event winner Jason Rupert qualified second in the Bays and Rupert “Black Plague” ’69 Camaro with a 5.853 at 243.63 mph.
Mark Sanders, in the “Mr. Explosive” ’69 Mustang, was third with a 5.880 at 244.25, while Paul Romine and John Hale rounded out the top five. Former IHRA Top Fuel world champion Bruce Litton snuck into the field in his final qualifying attempt to place sixth on the ladder, joining 2010 IHRA Funny Car champion Steve Nichols and Mike McIntire Jr. as the final drivers in the eight-car field.
Five drivers failed to make the field, including IHRA regular Tim Boychuk and heavy-hitter Marc White.
Cary Goforth, from Holdenville, Oklahoma, paced IHRA’s Mountain Motor Pro Stock class on Friday, driving the Dean’s Casing Service 2013 Chevrolet Camaro to the top spot on the ladder with a 6.254-second pass at 222.91 mph. Two-time IHRA Pro Stock champion Pete Berner qualified second with a 6.338 at 220.98 and Dean Goforth was third with a 6.357 at 218.72.
In Nitro Harley, Canadian Mike Scott led the way with a 6.617-second pass at 180.24 mph. Alvin Kobernusz, from nearby Manly, Iowa, was second with a 7.103 at 187.50 and Rocky Jackson was third.
Rounding out the nitro categories was Nitro Altered as Arizona native Mike Hilsabeck drove the aptly named “Arizona Thunder” to the top spot with a 6.738 at 157.61. Troy Martin was second with a 6.813 at 185.69 and Kyle Hough was third.
Finally, Marisha Falk was quickest in IHRA’s Jet Dragster category with a 5.791-second pass at 276.41 mph, just edging Elaine Larsen and her 5.816 at 275.45.