WEST SALEM, Ohio – The No. 1 qualifiers in all three professional classes parlayed their qualifying success into event victories Saturday at the Professional Drag Racers Ass’n (PDRA) Northern Nationals presented by Callies Performance at Dragway 42.
Kris Thorne (Moroso Pro Boost), Tommy Franklin (Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous) and John Montecalvo (Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock) left the northern Ohio track with trophies.
Thorne survived a bizarre first round and outlasted the largest Pro Boost field of the season to earn his second career victory in his Mikey Rees-tuned ’16 Corvette.
It was an all-Pro Line Racing final round, as Thorne wheeled his twin-turbocharged ‘Vette to a 3.716 at 212.36 to take out Kevin Rivenbark and his 3.718 at 199.73 in the ProCharger-boosted GALOT Motorsports ’69 Camaro.
The margin of victory was .009 seconds.
“I knew it was going to be close with Steve (Petty) on the keyboard over there,” Thorne said. “It was tight down there. It was definitely a good race. I’m happy those folks put up the fight they did. I’m super-blessed to be out here and have a hot rod that can take out folks like that. This Jerry Bickel race car and Pro Line power, it’s a win-win combination.”
The two most evenly paired Pro Nitrous competitors in qualifying met in the final round, as two-time world champion and No. 1 qualifier Franklin squared off against point leader Jim Halsey.
The two drivers were separated by just two ten-thousandths of a second in qualifying, but it was Franklin all the way in the final round. He grabbed a .007 starting-line advantage in the Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro and pulled away with a 3.69 at 204.36 to Halsey’s 3.739 at 194.22 in his Fulton-powered ’68 Camaro.
“Halsey’s had my number for a while now,” Franklin said. “I was able to get him second round at Valdosta then get him here in the final round. When you get somebody that’s got your number all the time, it feels good to start getting back after it. But they’re great racers and a great team over there. We were both even on the tree. It was just a heck of a race. You can’t leave anything on the table with them, that’s for sure.
“I just thank the Lord for the opportunity to get the win.”
Walter Lannigan Jr. earned the largest payday in Pro Outlaw 632 history, as he won the special non-points Pro Outlaw 632 Shootout presented by $hameless Racing.
The win came with a $7,500 prize.
Also earning the Northern Nationals “660 Man” trophies in the sportsman classes were Glenn Butcher in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman, Zack Fisher in Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster, Buddy Perkinson in Top Sportsman 32 and Noah Johnson in Top Dragster 32. Joe Soucek Jr. won the Edelbrock Bracket Bash competition.
In Coolshirt Pro Jr. Dragster presented by Knoxtown Products, Melanie Sheets left the starting line first and went 7.994 to defeat Makala Stevens’ breakout 7.899, both a 7.90 dial-in. Connor Shields scored the Gilbert Motorsports Top Jr. Dragster win when he ran 8.111 on an 8.13 dial-in alongside Gabe Milligan, who red-lighted and went 8.348 on an 8.29 dial-in.