Rupert Stays Hot In IHRA Qualifying

Jason Rupert led the way during Nitro Funny Car IHRA Nitro Jam qualifying Friday in Bradenton, Fla. (IHRA Photo)
Jason Rupert led the way during Nitro Funny Car IHRA Nitro Jam qualifying Friday in Bradenton, Fla. (IHRA Photo)
Jason Rupert led the way during Nitro Funny Car IHRA Nitro Jam qualifying Friday in Bradenton, Fla. (IHRA Photo)

BRADENTON, Fla. – Can anyone slow down Jason Rupert?

That is the question on the minds of many as the California native and driver of the Bays and Rupert “Black Plague” Camaro once again topped the charts of IHRA’s Nitro Funny Car class, taking the pole position for the third event in a row Friday at the IHRA Nitro Jam Southern Nationals at Bradenton Motorsports Park.

Rupert once again led the way in the popular nostalgia Nitro Funny Car class, clearing second place qualifier John Hale by six hundredths of a second. Cary Goforth topped the Mountain Motor Pro Stock class in the Dean’s Casing Service 2013 Chevrolet Camaro, while Joey Sternotti (Nitro Harley), Ron Maroney (Nitro Altered) and Marisha Falk (Jet Dragster) all topped their respective classes entering eliminations on Saturday.

Rupert’s dominating run has seen him take the top spot three races in a row with two victories. On Friday, his lap of 5.764 seconds at 248.89 miles per hour in the first round of qualifying paced the field, comfortably clearing Texas native John Hale in the “Mike Burkhart” Tribute ’69 Camaro. Hale had a 5.825, 243.63 in the second round.

Rookie Mike McIntire Jr. of Mentor, Ohio, was third with a 5.904, 235.41 in the “McAttack” ’69 Camaro, while Bruce Litton (5.964) and Tim Boychuk (6.037) rounded out the top five. Mark Sanders, Ronnie Young and Mike Halstead rounded out the field.

Wayne Mellinger, making his IHRA Nitro Jam debut in the “Candies Family Racing” ’70 Challenger, failed to make the field.

In Pro Stock, it was Cary Goforth taking the top spot for the second race in a row, joining his Dean’s Casing Service teammate Todd Hoerner in the first two spots. Goforth had a 6.252, 223.76, followed closely by Hoerner with a 6.253, 224.27.

Kevin Bealko qualified third with a 6.294, 224.83, followed by John Konigshofer (6.370) and John DeFlorian (6.743).

Local boy Joey Sternotti led the way in Nitro Harley, taking his 2012 nitro-fed Harley-Davidson to the top spot in near-record setting fashion with a 6.250, 219.08. If he can back up the number, it will be a brand new elapsed time record in the Nitro Harley class for the Naples, Fla., native.

Tracy Kile qualified second with a 6.289, 227.73, followed by Mark Cox (6.311), Steve Dorn (6.330) and Jay Turner (6.336). Mike Pelrine and Randal Andras rounded out the field.

Ron Maroney drove the “Blind Faith” nostalgia machine to the pole position in Nitro Altered with a 6.427, 191.77, followed by Ron Hope in “Rat Trap” with a 6.580, 212.11. Don Blackshear, Mike Hilsabeck, Brian Hope and Shane Harter round out the field.

Finally, in Jet Dragster Marisha Falk jumped to the top of the charts with a 5.720, 279.85 pass, officially the fastest lap of the weekend. She was followed closely by teammate Elaine Larsen who had a 5.726, 271.57. Dawn Perdue was third, followed by Kat Moller.

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