TULSA, Okla. — Brandon Pesz had the biggest highlight during the debut of the new X-treme Drag Racing League (X-DRL) on Saturday.
The X-DRL opened its inaugural 2013 season in fine fashion with the Spring Nationals at Osage Casino Tulsa Raceway Park, as Saturday’s action featured three rounds of qualifying in front of a large Tulsa crowd.
Pesz delivered the quickest run, going 3.739 at 203.28 to take the top spot in Pro X-treme.
“We’ll see some fast numbers (on Sunday), but as long as we can get from A to B, we should be good,” Pesz said. “It was headed for a run in the 3.60s on that lap, but I had to pedal it once. It hooked back up and went on through.”
Other top qualifiers included Bob Rahaim (Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous), Eric Dillard (Precision Turbo & Engine Pro Turbo), John DeFlorian (X-treme Pro Stock), Dan Stevenson (X-treme Pro Mod), Michael Kile (Top Dragster) and Jim Sackuvich (Mickey Thompson Top Sportsman).
The fourth and final qualifying round for professional classes (Pro X-treme, Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous, Precision Turbo & Engine Pro Turbo, X-treme Pro Stock and X-treme Pro Mod) takes place on Sunday at 10 a.m. with eliminations to follow. Top Dragster will go directly into eliminations on Sunday morning.
Pesz nearly topped himself under the lights on the third qualifying session, but shook late in the run. Duane Rister is qualified No. 2 with a 3.741 and Eric Clark is right behind with a 3.744 in Pro X-treme.
“It was on a 3.65 lap, at least, and I probably stayed in it a little longer than I should have. We’ll go for it again (Sunday),” Pesz said. “There’s a lot of guys capable of running in the 3.60s.”
Driving the car of customer and turbo standout Jose Gonzalez, Eric Dillard of Pro Line Racing turned in a thrilling debut in the new Precision Turbo & Engine Pro Turbo class.
Dillard set a career-best right off the trailer with a 3.83, but topped it under the lights with an incredible pass, running a 3.807 at 208.42 mph, much to the delight of the Tulsa fans.
“This is a really good car and a really good team, and we’ve got complete control of the car right now,” Dillard said. “On a run like that, you can feel the difference, especially the mph. Just picking up 2-4 mph, you can really tell the difference. This just worked out perfectly.”
The new, all-turbo class drew rave reviews and delivered some of the best action on Saturday. Dillard topped everyone with his spectacular run, nearly becoming the first turbo driver to get into the elusive 3.70s in the eighth-mile.
“This is real exciting. We’re here to support the class and we’re glad the turbos have a class to race,” Dillard said. “We really want that 3.70 and we’ve really worked hard to get there. We’re headed in the right direction, that’s for sure.
“Jose is extremely excited and this is huge for us. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be here.”
Bob Rahaim won a Pro Nitrous championship a year ago, and his 2013 got off to a great start in the X-DRL with a strong 3.841 at 195.82 mph to jump into the top spot in Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous.
“The car had a really good tune-up and just needed some power. The track was stout and the guys just threw the kitchen sink at it,” Rahaim said. “We’re working on a lot of new stuff and we just needed some more power.”
Rahaim, debuting a new Jerry Bickel Race Cars Camaro, took the top spot in the second session with a 3.911, but Jim Laurita momentarily bumped him with a 3.859 at 195 mph under the lights. Moments later, Rahaim delivered his best pass of the day, giving him back-to-back strong runs.
“I just want to go out and have a car run fast. It’s exciting to have a run like that,” Rahaim said.
After making his Pro Stock debut in 2012, John DeFlorian’s hot streak continued to his X-DRL debut on Saturday, as he ran an impressive 4.049 at 178.40 mph. The run came right off the trailer, putting the Jerry Haas Race Cars-built Black Diamond Motorsports Camaro in prime position for the rest of the weekend.
“It’s really nice to come out and put together a run like that. That was absolutely fantastic,” DeFlorian said. “Everything was good, the track was good and the conditions were there, too. It allowed us to try some things in qualifying as well. We found some things to work with and see how the car would react, and I think we found some things.”
Cary Goforth is currently second with a 4.065, while Pete Berner’s 4.077 at 176 mph has him in third.
The solid start to his X-DRL career also provided some extra assurance for DeFlorian, whose car is powered by Sonny’s Racing Engines, heading into his sophomore season in Pro Stock.
“You’re off 4-5 months over the winter and you’re just hoping you can pick up where you left off. We started to show a lot of consistency in the program last year and to roll out and run like this, it’s a huge thing,” DeFlorian said.
“The consistency is showing up and all the work is paying off. The cars in this class are so competitive and it’s impressive how tough this class really is.”
Dan Stevenson was the first driver to the 3.90s in the X-treme Pro Mod class and he ended up as the No. 1 qualifier as well, running a strong 3.938 at 190.14 mph. Keith Haney jumped into the No. 2 spot on his final hit with a solid 3.976 at 186.18 mph. Rookie T.J. Tindle also jumped into the mix on his final Saturday pass, going 3.981 at 186.28 mph.
The Top Dragster class had a massive turnout at the debut X-DRL event, as 24 cars made up the first-ever field on Saturday, setting up a 32-car qualifying field for eliminations.
Michael Kile was the dominant driver all day, and became the first 3-second driver in the X-DRL class, posting an impressive 3.977 at 183.12 mph to earn the No. 1 qualifier spot. Tyler Brown nearly got there, running a 4.00 while Don Aydelott had a 4.06 at 174.82 mph.
In all, 14 drivers ran in the 4.20s or quicker, setting a solid pace in the class.
In the Mickey Thompson Top Sportsman class, Jim Sackuvich easily earned the top spot, running a strong 4.118 at 176.10 mph. That’s a big edge over No. 2 qualifier Mitch Withers and his 4.269 at 165 mph, while Bob Gulitti’s 4.346 at 168.39 is in third heading into eliminations.
Bethany Crick is the current No. 1 qualifier in Pro Junior Dragster, running 7.904 at 83.71 mph.