GRAND BEND, Ontario — It was a Mopar kind of night at the Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals.
It has been nearly three years since Greg Jacobsmeyer last won in Nitro Jam competition. Jacobsmeyer won the very first AMSOIL Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car race in IHRA Nitro Jam history back in 2010, but hasn’t been able to find victory lane since.
That is, until Saturday night.
In front of a packed house at the MOPAR sponsored race in Grand Bend, Ontario, Jacobsmeyer blasted to his best career numbers in a brand new car to claim his first win since 2010 against defending series champion Peter Gallen behind the wheel of the famous “All Star” Dodge Challenger. And he wasn’t alone.
Joining Jacobsmeyer in victory lane Saturday night was Kyle Wurtzel, who picked up his first career win in Top Fuel, Ron Hope who ran his best career numbers in Fuel Altered and Randal Andras who won in Nitro Harley.
“That was our best run to date. It was our best speed, our best pass and it was simply awesome,” Jacobsmeyer said. “This is an entirely new car. The only stuff that we used from the last car is the clutch, the transmission and the parachute. Everything is new and that makes this win even more special to debut this new car and take it to victory lane.”
While Jacobsmeyer claimed the night’s ultimate prize, Gallen and the “Poverty Stricken” team looked poised to take yet another win in the fan-favorite Funny Car class. In round one Gallen blasted to a 5.743/242.58, but he wasn’t able to keep that momentum in the finals. In the championship tilt Gallen lost traction just past the 60 foot mark, nearly crossing the centerline as Jacobsmeyer drove past the incident and right down Broadway to a 6.052/239.95 to give the Florissant, Mo. native his second career win.
“I hated to see Gallen lose traction because I think we could have taken him straight up, but we will certainly take the win,” Jacobsmeyer said. “And obviously this is even more special being a Mopar race. We couldn’t do any of this without our incredible sponsors who support us in everything we do.”
In the consolation rounds Mike Minick drove to the “Chi-Town Hustler” to a win over Laurie Cannister and Mike McIntire and the “McAttack” team drove around Nitro Jam newcomer Gary Kraus.
Saturday’s most exciting final came in Top Fuel as a trio of nitro-powered rails broke the 300 mile-per-hour barrier on the perfectly groomed Grand Bend track, led by Warsaw, Indiana’s Kyle Wurtzel who picked up his first career win in the class and ran his career best numbers along the way.
Bruce Litton of Indianapolis, Ind. had low ET of round one with a 4.969/256.80 in a win against Smax Smith, but Wurtzel, under the guidance of and behind the wheel of a former Litton-owned ride, got the upper hand in the final.
In one of the best finals of the night Litton got off the line first, but Wurtzel proved the better car by inches at the line, running his lowest career numbers with a 4.900/302.55 to Litton’s 4.942/305.70.
“Winning my first trophy is really exciting, but what is even more exciting is getting my first four second, 300 mile per hour pass,” Wurtzel said. “The run was awesome. From A to B it was nice and smooth. I looked around toward the finish and didn’t see Bruce so I kept on it to the finish line.”
The win was not only Wurtzel’s first, but it came against the man that got him into Top Fuel in the first place.
“We were razzing each other before the run that it was boss man against the kid,” Wurtzel said. “Honestly I owe Bruce and Mike Wolfarth a lot of thanks. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”
In the consolation round Bobby Lagana Jr. started the night session off with a bang with the best pass of the year, a blistering 4.827/320.81 on a solo pass.
Another driver running his best career numbers on Saturday was Franklin, Tennessee’s Ron Hope in Fuel Altered. Behind the wheel of the “Rat Trap” ’33 Bantam, Hope had a small holeshot at the start, but Tom Padilla in “Nasty Benjamin” stormed back by at halftrack until the flames began to flicker and eventually went out, allowing Hope to roll to a 6.585/220.51 in picking up his first Nitro Jam win.
In the consolation round Mike Hilsabeck drove the “Arizona Thunder” to a round win over Ron Maroney.
Wrapping up the action Saturday night was Nitro Harley as Amelia, Louisiana’s Randal Andras collected his second win in a row over Steve Dorn. Andras and Dorn had a good race in the final, but Andras proved too much with a solid 6.665/218.37 to Dorn’s 6.869/177.93.