BENSON, N.C. – The Professional Drag Racers Ass’n was in the middle of professional class eliminations during the East Coast Nationals presented by FuelTech at GALOT Motorsports Park when a lengthy oildown and popup rain shower halted the action Saturday night.
“We’ve been fighting the weather all week, and it bit us again tonight,” said Tyler Crossnoe, race director, PDRA. “We really appreciate our racers sticking it out and working with us to make this race happen. Sunday’s forecast looks like it will make for a smooth, fast day of racing.”
Before the rain came, the series completed the first round of eliminations in Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous, Penske Racing Shocks/Precision Racing Suspension Pro Boost presented by WS Construction, Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock and Drag 965 Pro Nitrous Motorcycle. An oildown in the first pair of $hameless Racing Pro Outlaw 632 put racing on pause before the rain started.
Jim Halsey (Pro Nitrous), Randy Weatherford (Pro Boost), J.R. Carr (Extreme Pro Stock) and Travis Davis (Pro Nitrous Motorcycle) recorded low elapsed time of the round to move on to Sunday’s continuation of eliminations.
When racing resumes at 10 a.m. Sunday, PDRA will continue first round with Pro Outlaw 632, Drag 965 Pro Street, MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by Tejas Borja and Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster. The run order will resume with second round of pro eliminations.
Top Sportsman 48, Top Dragster 48, Coolshirt Pro Jr. Dragster, Gilbert Motorsports Top Jr. Dragster and Edelbrock Bracket Bash still have to start eliminations.
Defending Pro Nitrous world champion Halsey picked up right where he left off at the end of the 2019 season, qualifying No. 1 and setting low E.T. of first round in his Fulton-powered “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro. His 3.708-second run at 204.57 mph set the pace in qualifying, then he dropped a 3.68 at 205.10 on his first-round competition single.
“We did a lot of work to the car over the winter,” Halsey said. “There were a lot of unknowns that we had coming at us. We tested some over the winter and things looked good. This is kind of what we expected.”
Former Pro Nitrous racer Weatherford, who made the switch to Pro Boost late last season, showed up ready to fight for a championship in his ProCharger-boosted WS Construction ’19 Camaro. He qualified No. 1 with a 3.687-second pass at 202.79 mph in the first session before dipping back into the .60s with a 3.691 at 202.55 on a first-round single. Competitor Eric Donovan couldn’t make the run.
“Let’s see if we can move forward and build on the momentum we had last year,” Weatherford said. “Going forward into 2020, it feels great. The car’s working good. We’re picking up where we left off last year. We ran pretty good [last year], had some issues, but it looks like we’re back at it.”
The decision to bring out a brand-new car for the 2020 season is paying off for Carr, who qualified No. 2 and went low of the first round in his RJ Race Cars-built 2020 Camaro. The Washington-based driver was ultra-consistent in the Frank Gugliotta-tuned entry, qualifying with a 4.097-second run at 175.09 mph and winning first round over Dave Hughes’ 4.129-second pass with a 4.095-second pass at 176.14 mph.
“I feel today was positive,” Carr said. “Low for the round is huge because it wasn’t the prettiest run – it was a good run – but we’ve made nicer runs. The track’s a little different than it was when we tested, and I believe it puts us in a great position. We feel really good.”
Despite not running his Timblin-built Hayabusa since October when he won the Pro Nitrous Motorcycle world championship, Davis didn’t show any signs of rust with his Saturday evening performance. Davis only qualified No. 3 in the four-entry field, but he fired off a 4.053-second run at 175.02 mph to defeat Chris Garner-Jones’ 4.08-second pass. He’ll take on Paul Gast in the final round.
“We started out the day struggling some with this air,” Davis said. “We hadn’t been out since October last year and hadn’t changed anything on the bike since then. Just adjusted for the air and it went .05, and looks like there’s more left in it. Maybe we can pick it back up and get it back in the 3.90s – I hope.”