PDRA Carolina Showdown Action Gets Underway

Jim Halsey is the top qualifier in the PDRA Pro Nitrous field so far during the Carolina Showdown at Darlington Dragway. (Roger Richards Photo)
Jim Halsey is the top qualifier in the PDRA Pro Nitrous field so far during the Carolina Showdown at Darlington Dragway. (Roger Richards Photo)

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – A pair of Pro Nitrous world champions highlighted Friday qualifying at the Professional Drag Racers Ass’n Carolina Showdown presented by ProCharger at Darlington Dragway on Friday.

Two-time world champion Jason Harris qualified No. 1 in his second race in Penske/PRS Pro Boost presented by WS Construction, while defending world champion Jim Halsey topped the Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous field.

J.R. Carr (Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock), Chris Garner-Jones (Drag 965 Pro Nitrous Motorcycle) and Wes Distefano ($hameless Racing Pro Outlaw 632) also qualified No. 1 in the other professional classes.

In the sportsman classes, John Benoit (MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by Tejas Borja), Jody Stroud (Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster), Jeff Pittman (MagnaFuel Top Sportsman 32) and Kellan Farmer (Lucas Oil Top Dragster 32) lead the way going into Saturday’s final qualifying session.

After missing the field at the season-opener, Saylar Bustle leads Coolshirt Pro Jr. Dragster with a perfect 7.900 elapsed time. Ava Jackson is the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Gilbert Motorsports Top Jr. Dragster with a .005 reaction time.

Pro Nitrous front-runners Halsey and Tommy Franklin were paired up for all three qualifying sessions. First, Halsey narrowly edged out Franklin in a low-3.70-second battle. Franklin evened the score with a 3.675-second run to take the top spot in the second session. Finally, Halsey took the top honors with his 3.664-second pass at 206.61 mph in his Fulton-powered “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro to conclude the final qualifying session.

“I’m not sure if we would’ve been faster than Tommy’s 3.67 in the second round or not,” Halsey said. “We broke a transmission. It is what it is. We probably could’ve went a little faster tonight, but we just wanted to get down and get data. It’s always good to end the day on top.”

Franklin qualified second after his 3.675-second run at 204.55 mph run in his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro, while Chris Rini slotted into third.

After winning two world championships in Pro Nitrous, Harris made the move to Pro Boost this year. He earned his first low qualifier award in the class when his Boone-Harris Racing ’18 Camaro lit up the scoreboard with a 3.674-second pass at 203.90 mph. He dedicated the performance to the team’s late longtime backer, Jimmy Boone.

“This has been a trying year for us, losing Jimmy Boone,” Harris said. “He was our main man behind us. He’d been with us for a long time, whether we were racing against him or racing with him. This No. 1 qualifier is for him. You can’t ask for anything better than going No. 1. Considering everything that’s going on in the world right now, it seems kind of miniscule, but right now I’m as happy as I can be. I can’t thank my guys enough. I just feel like I’m the guy holding the wheel.”

Harris was followed in the top three by two other drivers racing with ProCharger-boosted, Pro Line-powered entries, who both also recently switched over from Pro Nitrous. Randy Weatherford sits in the No. 2 position in his WS Construction ’17 Camaro and Johnny Camp is third in his “Hell’s Bells” ’69 Camaro.

In Carr’s second race in his new Frank Gugliotta-tuned 2020 Camaro, the Washington-based driver sealed up his first-ever PDRA Extreme Pro Stock low qualifier award. He did it on the strength of a 4.062-second run at 176.61 mph during the final qualifying session.

Garner-Jones rebounded from a lackluster performance at the season opener by recording progressively quicker passes throughout qualifying, holding the No. 1 spot after each of the three sessions. He ended the day with a 4.027-second run at 172.68 mph aboard his TT Jones Racing Hayabusa.

Distefano, who dominated Pro Outlaw 632 at the PDRA’s last visit to Darlington Dragway last fall, made the first step toward another event sweep when he took his Musi-powered $hameless Racing ’68 Camaro to the No. 1 spot with a pass of 4.227 seconds at 171.23 mph.

Benoit steered his nitrous-assisted ’17 Camaro to a 3.821-second pass at 198.33 mph to lead Friday qualifying in Elite Top Sportsman. Benoit also qualified No. 1 at the East Coast Nationals.

Stroud is chasing another No. 1 qualifier award after making a 3.741-second pass at 196.34 mph in his supercharged “Zombie” Spitzer dragster in the Top Dragster division.