ROCKINGHAM, N.C. — For a few brief hours, it looked as if Jason Rupert’s stranglehold on the IHRA Nitro Funny Car field would finally come to an end.
Then Rupert reminded everyone exactly why he is one of nostalgia drag racing’s most dominant drivers.
Sitting fourth after one round of qualifying and staring at an amazing lap laid down by three-time IHRA Nitro Funny Car champion Peter Gallen in his 2014 debut, Rupert responded with an absolutely stunning lap in the final pass of the night to take the top spot by one hundredth of a second. Rupert’s 5.698-second elapsed time at 249.16 mph placed the driver of the Bays & Rupert “Black Plague” Nitro Funny Car first and left him on the cusp of history all at the IHRA Nitro Jam Spring Nationals at Rockingham Dragway.
“Man, that was just an excellent run Peter (Gallen) made in the first round. I really didn’t think we would be able to match that,” Rupert said. “I knew we were going to take this thing apart after the run, so right before we went up there I thought I had what I wanted in the tank, but I splashed a little bit of nitro 100 percent in there and just stood on it. What we got was a pretty great number.”
Behind Rupert, John DeFlorian topped the Mountain Motor Pro Stock field for the second time this season, while Jay Turner (Nitro Harley), Don Blackshear (Nitro Altered) and Marisha Falk (Jet Dragster) all qualified first their respective classes.
In sportsman action, Saturday’s winners in the Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour presented by AMSOIL were Calvin Snow (Top Sportsman), Clayton Roberts (Top Dragster), Emory Pierpont (Super Stock), Kevin Riner (Stock), Dale Harrison (Quick Rod), Chris Lewis (Super Rod), Glenn Ferguson (Hot Rod), Jordan Baker (Junior Master), Mia Schultz (Junior Advanced) and Mallory Logan (Junior Beginner).
Over 300 cars were on the property for the return of the IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series to The Rock.