BENSON, N.C. – Defending Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous world champion Jim Halsey picked up his third No. 1 qualifier award in five races Friday night at the PDRA DragWars presented by Modern Racing at GALOT Motorsports Park.
Halsey came within thousandths of a second of his own E.T. world record with his 3.618-second blast at 208.88 mph.
Halsey was joined by first-time No. 1 qualifier James Beadling in Penske/PRS Pro Boost presented by WS Construction, Chris Powers in Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock, Wes Distefano in $hameless Racing Pro Outlaw 632 and Ashley Owens in Drag 965 Pro Nitrous Motorcycle.
In a proactive move to get ahead of hurricane-related weather on Saturday, the all-eighth-mile series also completed all three rounds of qualifying for the sportsman and Jr. Dragster classes. Buddy Perkinson (MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by Tejas Borja), Michael White (Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster), Zachary Houser (MagnaFuel Top Sportsman 32) and Nick Meloni (Lucas Oil Top Dragster 16) are the sportsman low qualifiers.
In the Jr. Dragster classes, Arellyn Garner-Jones used a 7.902-second pass to qualify No. 1 in Coolshirt Pro Jr. Dragster, where the top eight qualifiers all ran 7.90s. Spencer McGee’s perfect .000 reaction time gave the South Carolina native the No. 1 spot in Gilbert Motorsports Top Jr. Dragster.
The first of two final races in Halsey’s first Pro Nitrous world championship defense season is off to a strong start, as the longtime nitrous Pro Modified wheelman finished qualifying in the top spot, but perhaps more importantly, one spot ahead of points leader Tommy Franklin. Halsey and Franklin were paired up in all three sessions, and Halsey led all three, closing with a 3.618-second run at 208.88 mph in his Fulton-powered ’68 Camaro.
“We put a lot of hard work into this thing over the last few weeks,” Halsey said. “Between testing, racing at Shakedown and earlier today making some pretty good runs, we feel pretty good. That No. 1 spot is nice because I need all the points I can get. Tommy is still a couple rounds ahead of me, so I need to do whatever I can do to catch him.”
Franklin set his high mark right out of the gate, running a 3.646-second pass at 206.64 mph in his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro in the first session. Conversely, Jay Cox in the Buck-powered “Pumpkin” ’69 Camaro missed it in the first session and rebounded in the final session to end up No. 3.
For the third time this season, Pro Boost saw a first-time No. 1 qualifier lead the pack, as Beadling, in his roots-blown ’68 Camaro, held off a slew of ProCharger-boosted Camaros. Beadling ran a 3.656-second pass at 204.26 mph in the first session to shoot to the top spot, then followed it up with a 3.657-second run in Q2. He sat out the final session when no one else went around him.
Powers’ third and final qualifying attempt was over before it started in Extreme Pro Stock, as his parachutes shook loose during the burnout, preventing him from making the run. But the 4.035-second pass at 178.42 mph he recorded in his Sonny’s-powered ATI Performance Products ’14 Camaro in the second session held as the quickest pass of the day.
Tommy Lee, driving the Camaro he usually tunes for defending world champion John Montecalvo, used a 4.045-second pass at 178.83 mph to earn the No. 2 slot. Points leader Johnny Pluchino qualified third.
It might’ve taken a few runs for Distefano and his $hameless Racing team to find exactly what their Musi-powered ’68 Camaro was looking for, but the end result was a 4.194 at 172.32 to qualify No. 1 in Pro Outlaw 602.
Distefano was followed by Black Flag Motor Sports teammates Walter Lannigan Jr. and Chris Holdforf.
In just his second appearance of the season, veteran rider Owens rode his self-tuned, McKinney Motorsports Hayabusa to a Pro Nitrous Motorcycle class-leading 4.037-second pass at 176.21 mph. He started the day with a strong 4.18 and improved in both sessions that followed.
The Jones family team performed well in qualifying as well, with rider Richard Gadson qualifying second and Chris Garner-Jones following in third.
Elite Top Sportsman No. 1 qualifier Perkinson said he was only trying to run in the low 3.70s during the first qualifying session, but a 3.673-second pass at 204.82 mph popped up on the scoreboard. He’ll need to run within 1 percent of that E.T. to officially set the new PDRA Top Sportsman record in his Musi-powered LAT Racing Oils ’69 Camaro.
John Benoit follows Perkinson in his Buck-powered ’17 Camaro, while Derrick Brown rounds out the top three.
Zachary Houser posted a 3.975-second pass at 173.72 mph in his ’00 Firebird to end up on top of the Top Sportsman 32 field.
A full tenth of a second stands between Michael White and No. 2 qualifier Junior Houston in Top Dragster, as White recorded a 3.719-second pass at 194.46 mph in his ProCharger-boosted, ’57 Chevy-themed Maddox dragster to end the day in the No. 1 spot. Houston got the No. 2 spot on speed, slightly outpacing Angie Travis.
New Hampshire’s Nick Meloni drove his Dan Page-built dragster to a 4.244-second pass at 162.49 mph to lead the second Top Dragster field, which will run a 16-car ladder on race day.