BRADENTON, Fla. — It was one of the biggest crowds in Bradenton Motorsports Park history.
And those fans witnessed one heck of a show.
In Nitro Jam’s long-awaited return to Bradenton the stars of Nitro Jam put on an amazing finale Saturday at the Bradenton Nitro Jam presented by CarSafe, Metro PCS and Southern Ford Dealers led by Peter Gallen who won a thrilling finale in AMSOIL Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car.
After a bit of a wiggle, Gallen found himself just inches from the outside retaining wall as he kept in the throttle and powered to a blistering lap to take the win in the nostalgia Funny Car class, joining fellow pro winners Kyle Wurtzel (Top Fuel), Kyle Hough (Fuel Altered) and Jay Turner (Nitro Harley).
Sportsman winners during Saturday’s Nitro Jam/Summit Pro-Am doubleheader were Mike Thompson (Top Sportsman), Victor Fera (Top Dragster), Mark Nowicki (Super Stock), B.J. Bianchi (Stock), John Biermann (Quick Rod), Dave Marcus Jr. (Super Rod) and Mark Mullen (Hot Rod).
Gallen’s incredible lap was setup after a bit of a lucky break in round one. In the opening tilt opponent Mike McIntire broke on the line, negating a smoking lap by Gallen in the “Poverty Stricken” Monza that could have cost him a shot at the win. But once in the final Gallen more than made up for it, powering to a 5.961 second lap at 245.49 miles per hour — all while hugging the right-side wall after his car sailed out of the groove – to drive around Mike Halstead in the “Candies & Hughes” Barracuda who ran a 6.071, 232.73 in the runner-up effort.
Peter Gallen nearly put it in the wall, but he was able to save it and get the Funny Car win
“I only drive with one hand because I always use my right hand to shift and then go straight to the chute levers. Well, on that lap I had both hands on the wheel cranked as hard as I could to the left and I was not looking at anything but wall for a long time,” Gallen said. “But I wasn’t backing out of this one. I heard for over a year from my 4-year-old that ‘the blue car beat you daddy’ so I had that in my head while the car was getting close to the wall. I just couldn’t take my son torturing me if I got whooped.”
In the consolation pairing Mike Minick drove the “Chi-Town Hustler” to a win over McIntire with the best pass of the weekend, a very quick 5.791, 245.03 mph lap.
In Nitro Jam’s premier nitro-powered class young ace Kyle Wurtzel took both wins over Bruce Litton in Top Fuel as Litton struggled to find grip in both of his passes. Despite those struggles, Wurtzel found little trouble as he powered to laps of 4.958, 267.22 and 5.081, 255.39 to take his first Ironman of the year with the tuning help of veteran tuner Jimmy Walsh.
“We were scrambling a bit at the end to get it all back together after the first run, but it worked out for us,” Wurtzel said. “We brought in a new crew chief to help Mike Wolfarth in Jimmy Walsh and that helped a lot. In the final I jammed that pedal and it drove good so I kept in it and I never saw Bruce so I just hoped for the best. We have been fighting some issues with clutch wear, but we are starting to turn it around and tonight was a good start.”
Nitro Harley saw another incredible pair of passes as Jay Turner and Tracy Kile split the weekend runs, with Turner taking both rounds that mattered. On Saturday Kile once again the winner in round one, but Turner got around his rival in the money round with a 6.385, 228.31 pass to Kile’s 6.510, 213.77.
Turner’s lap of 228.31 mph was seven miles per hour faster than the current IHRA Nitro Harley record.
Finally in Fuel Altered Kyle Hough went two-for-two in the “Super Nanook”, just inching by in round one and then overpowering Ron Hope in “Rat Trap” in the finale with a 6.975, 197.49 to Hope’s 7.481, 217.65.
In sportsman action defending IHRA Top Sportsman World Champion Mike Thompson continued his incredible 2013 season with his third consecutive final on the Summit Pro-Am Tour. Thompson found himself matched up with longtime friend and rival Rick McDonough and got it done on the tree with a .013 reaction time and a 4.706, 148.63 lap on a 4.69 dial in the eighth-mile showdown.
Jay Turner’s 228.31 mph lap in Nitro Harley got the crowd on its feet
In Top Dragster Victor Fera won a close one over Jon Siegel, while Super Stock was headed by IHRA veteran Mark Nowicki who took the win over Pat Clifford and in Stock it was B.J. Bianchi taking down Anthony Puleo.
In the Rod categories John Biermann recorded a win over Ron Raymond in the final, Dave Marcus Jr. claimed the Super Rod crown with a win over Jim Walter and Mark Mullen won in Hot Rod over Vinny Laudicina.