DINWIDDIE, Va. – Jim Halsey gained ground in his quest for a second PDRA Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous championship when he qualified No. 1 Friday night at the PDRA Proline Racing Brian Olson Memorial World Finals.
Racing at Virginia Motorsports Park, Halsey shot to the top spot with a 3.638-second pass at 208.46 mph.
Championship contenders John Strickland (Penske/PRS Pro Boost presented by WS Construction) and Dillon Voss ($hameless Racing Pro Outlaw 632) also qualified No. 1 in the pro classes, as well as J.R. Carr in Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock, Ashley Owens in Drag 965 Pro Nitrous Motorcycle and Tim Essick in Drag 965 Pro Street.
There are also some tight championship battles in the PDRA’s sportsman categories, where the No. 1 qualifiers are Buddy Perkinson in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by Tejas Borja, Michael White in Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster, Andrew Johnson in Teets Memorial Top Sportsman 48 and Kellan Farmer in Lucas Oil Top Dragster 48.
In the Jr. Dragster classes, a perfect 7.900-second pass gave Christopher Suppers the No. 1 spot in Coolshirt Pro Jr. Dragster. Hunter Smith was almost perfect with a .001 reaction time, putting him in the No. 1 spot in Gilbert Motorsports Top Jr. Dragster.
Halsey entered the weekend exactly 100 points behind points leader and two-time Pro Nitrous champion Tommy Franklin. He took a nine-point chunk out of that deficit by qualifying No. 1 with his 3.638-second pass at 208.46 mph in his Brandon Switzer-tuned, Fulton-powered ’68 Camaro. Franklin, who typically qualifies in the top three, ended up No. 10 after Friday’s two qualifying sessions.
“It’s definitely all on the line,” Halsey said. “We weren’t trying to run super-fast or anything like that. We missed the first session by a little bit and shook the tires. It ran what it should’ve ran. Now it’s all about winning the race. It’s between me and Tommy. I just want to thank Michael, Eric, Cathy, Brandon, Melissa, the whole team. They deserve it more than I do.”
The top two drivers in Pro Boost points ended qualifying in the top two qualifying spots as well, as Strickland and Jason Harris were the two quickest drivers in the 15-car field. Strickland led both sessions in his ProCharger-boosted, Proline-powered GALOT Motorsports ’69 Camaro, with his 3.648-second run at 205.01 mph in the second and final session leading the way.
“Well, seeing how we’re less than a hundred points ahead of Jason, that will definitely help us out with [the championship chase],” Strickland said. “We just need to maintain and last a round longer than Jason. I’m excited about running for a championship. I’d love to have a championship, just like everybody else out here racing. I think it would say a lot about teaming up with Proline and all the guys we team up with to get us here. It’s all about all these guys working hard. It would be good for them. They did it last year with Kevin [Rivenbark]. If we could do it again this year, it would say a lot about the team.”
Harris was the quickest of three drivers who ran 3.65s, with a 3.656-second run at 204.98 mph in his ProCharged “Party Time” ’18 Camaro.
With Johnny Pluchino locking up the Extreme Pro Stock world championship at the last race, the focus in the class turned to the race for the 3-second zone. Carr was a serious contender after running a 4.02-second pass in the heat of the day during Thursday testing. He didn’t break into the 3s in Friday qualifying, but he was the closest out of the nine drivers. Carr’s 4.014-second pass at 179.71 mph in his Frank Gugliotta-tuned ’20 Camaro gave him the No. 1 spot.
Two-time champion Voss needs every point he can get in his race to pass Wes Distefano for the Pro Outlaw 632 championship. He earned a few by out-qualifying Distefano by seven spots with a 4.195-second run at 170.13 mph.
The Pro Nitrous Motorcycle riders are racing for win lights, records and a trophy without championship pressures, as Travis Davis clinched his third title at the last race. Ashley Owens almost set a new E.T. record on the McKinney Motorsports Hayabusa with his 3.955-second run at 178.57 mph, which was good for the No. 1 spot.
Outlaw 10.5 star Tim Essick, who won the last Pro Street event victory at Virginia in July, picked up the low qualifier award in Pro Street in his home-built, ProCharged “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang with a 3.909-second pass at 189.68 mph.
For the third consecutive race, Buddy Perkinson took his former Pro Nitrous car, a Musi-powered LAT Racing Oils ’69 Camaro, to the No. 1 spot in Elite Top Sportsman. His 3.731-second run at 202.73 mph was the quickest of the quick 16, followed by John Benoit’s 3.768-second pass at 200.83 mph in his nitrous-assisted ’17 Camaro and Derrick Brown’s 3.811-secod run at 192.85 mph in his ProCharger-boosted ’14 Camaro.
Andrew Johnson posted a 3.99-second pass at 193.40 mph in the twin-turbocharged “Excalibur” ’55 Chevy typically driven by his father, Lester, to end up No. 17 in the Teets Memorial Top Sportsman qualifying order. He just missed the Elite Top Sportsman field, but the run put him No. 1 in the Top Sportsman 48 class.
Consistent low qualifier Michael White found himself in the familiar No. 1 spot in Elite Top Dragster with his 3.713-second pass at 194.27 mph effort in his ’57 Chevy-themed, ProCharger-boosted ’11 Maddox dragster. Jody Stroud took the No. 2 spot in his supercharged “Zombie” ’07 Spitzer, while points leader Steve Furr ended up third in his ProCharger-equipped ’13 American dragster.
Elite Top Dragster defending champion Kellan Farmer ran a 3.943-second pass at 180.50 mph in his nitrous-fed ’20 Racetech dragster to sit just outside the Elite Top Dragster field, but at the top of the Top Dragster 48 ladder.
Due to a threatening weather forecast, race officials decided to move eliminations up to Saturday to complete the race before rain moves into the area. Racing will begin with first round of the Top Jr. Dragster at 9 a.m., followed by Pro Jr. Dragster, Bracket Bash, Top Sportsman 48, Top Dragster 48 and the Pro classes. The current schedule calls for completing eliminations Saturday night.