GRAND BEND, Ontario – One bad race was more than enough for Nitro Funny Car racer Jason Rupert.
After failing to qualify at the previous IHRA race in Budds Creek, Maryland, Jason Rupert, the current IHRA points leader in the nitro-powered Funny Car class, was determined not to let that bad luck continue. On Friday in Grand Bend, Ontario, Rupert got back on track with a chart-topping lap to get the festivities underway at one of Canada’s biggest motorsports events, the IHRA Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals at the Grand Bend Motorplex.
After qualifying first at five of the first six races this season, Rupert found himself once again back on top with a class-leading 5.729-second pass at 243.50 miles per hour. The driver of the Bays and Rupert “Black Plague” ’69 Camaro had a nice, smooth pass down the famed Canadian quarter-mile, placing him first for the sixth time this season.
Maple Valley, Washington native Mark Sanders qualified second in the “Mr. Explosive” Mustang with a 5.839, 234.43, followed by Tim Boychuk (5.915), Bruce Litton (6.127) and Mike McIntire Jr. (6.148).
After one round of qualifying, the popular Nitro Harley division was paced by Canadian Mike Scott who blasted down the quarter-mile with a 6.317, 218.18 lap. He was followed by North Carolina native Mark Cox in the Bojangles’ sponsored ride with a 6.495, 224.49. Nate Gagnon (6.576), Mike Pelrine (6.600) and Craig Pelrine (7.134) rounded out the top five in the eight-bike field.
The remaining professional classes consisted of a number of special eliminators, led by the return of Top Fuel Dragster. Canadian Ike Maier topped the nitro-fed dragster class with a shaky 5.011, 204.73, followed by Kyle Wurtzel who had to shut it off early in the run.
In Pro Stock, most recent race winner John Konigshofer paced the Mountain Motor class with a solid 6.349, 220.91, while Don Blackshear in the “Bullet Bob” entry led Nitro Altered with a 6.571, 179.67.
The final pro class on the property, the PMRA Pro Mod series, was paced by Toronto native Mike Yedgarian who drove his 1968 Pontiac Firebird to the top of the charts with a 6.152, 206.61 pass.