DINWIDDIE, Va. — Dominant performances, holeshot victories and first-time winners highlighted the final-round action at the Professional Drag Racers Ass’n Summer Shootout presented by Callies Performance Saturday night at Virginia Motorsports Park.
Kurt Steding (Penske/PRS Pro Boost presented by WS Construction) and Jimmy Pelcarsky ($hameless Racing Pro Outlaw 632) collected their first-ever PDRA event victories, while points leaders Tommy Franklin (Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous) and Johnny Pluchino (Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock) padded their leads with wins. Paul Gast earned the Drag 965 Pro Nitrous Motorcycle victory.
Steding and tuner Todd Tutterow didn’t waste any time getting Steding’s brand-new, Bickel-built P2 Contracting ’20 Camaro up to speed. In its first race in Pro Boost competition, the roots-blown entry carried Steding to his first-ever PDRA victory in his second final round. He left the starting line first and stayed in front through the finish line, posting a 3.719 at 201.49 next to Jason Harris’ 3.733 at 190.81.
“The car’s awesome, but it’s the team,” Steding said. “Todd Tutterow, his team and my team mixed together, we do the same thing every time. We get along great and we’re on the money. We mess up a couple things sometimes, but we pick it right back up. That’s what I love about this team. It wasn’t just me, it was this team.”
Two-time Pro Nitrous world champion Tommy Franklin won the first two races of the season, but a first-round exit at the last race, the Mid-Atlantic Showdown at Virginia, had him looking for a comeback. He found it on Saturday, as he finished the day with a 3.661-second, 204.08 mph victory over Jim Halsey and his 3.73 at 204.82 in the final round.
“We’ve just been picking at it all day and tried to race smart and get through there,” Franklin said. “That’s hard to do sometimes since we like to go fast. We didn’t really go for lane choice last round, but again, just trying to race smart. I wasn’t worried about lane choice because both lanes are stellar. My crew, they rock. Chris keeps it maintenanced. Todd, Chase, Blake, Amber, Ashley, my wife, Judy, we just keep at it. It’s good stuff. I’m as happy as can be. Thank the Lord for everything that we get to do out here. I’m pumped. It’s a shortened season, so we have to get every round that we can. That team right there [Halsey] is tough, so we’re just going to keep at it.”
Back-to-back dominant championships in Pro Outlaw 632 helped prepare Johnny Pluchino for his first full season in Extreme Pro Stock, where he’s won two of the three first races of the season in the Kaase-powered Strutmasters ’13 Mustang. He added a third win to that total when he grabbed a holeshot advantage and held off Chris Powers’ 4.103 at 174.59 with a 4.119 at 175.48 in the Summer Shootout final round.
“I’m shaking right now,” said Pluchino, who qualified No. 1. “I thought we’d have some success. I was hoping to be in contention for a championship going through the end. I know we’re far from over. This is still a tight, tight race. But this amount of success right now…I don’t know how to describe it. There’s not really a word to describe it. This has been a dream of mine for a really long time. My dad gave me this opportunity. Chip Lofton [of Strutmasters] gave me this opportunity and believed in us. It takes people like that. John and Brud were here wrenching on this thing. These guys put their heart and soul into this thing. There’s one thing about this team that separates us from the rest right now, and that’s heart.”
Pro Outlaw 632 newcomer Jimmy Pelcarsky declared he would win Saturday’s race after earning his first-ever low qualifier award on Friday night. He backed up that talk, winning the event and setting a new national record in the process. The Ohio driver ran a 4.153 at 171.45 in the final round, backing up the 4.127 at 172.67 he laid down in the semifinals to set the class E.T. record. Pelcarsky in his 480ci small-block-powered Five-Star Valet ’15 Camaro defeated points leader Wes Distefano, who ran a 4.22 at 171.18 in the runner-up effort.
“We worked so hard for this,” Pelcarsky said. “It’s unbelievable. I’m speechless right now. I can’t believe it. We came, we conquered. This means the world. We’ve been drag racing a long time, since the early ‘90s, late ‘80s – NHRA Pro Stock, IHRA Mountain Motor Pro Stock. This is a great feeling after all those years, we finally got some recognition. It’s awesome. I couldn’t be happier. I just want to celebrate.”
Two-time and defending world champion Travis Davis has owned Pro Nitrous Motorcycle this season with wins at both races the class attended before the Summer Shootout. Drag bike veteran Paul Gast broke the streak, though, earning a wire-to-wire victory over Davis at Virginia. Gast’s Fast By Gast Hayabusa left the line first and was quicker at the finish line, going 4.05 at 172.56 to Davis’ 4.078 at 173.70.
After starting the season with two runner-up finishes in his Musi-powered LAT Racing Oils ’69 Camaro, Virginia’s own Buddy Perkinson was hungry for his first Elite Top Sportsman victory. He earned it, cutting a .007 light and running a 3.879 on a 3.83 dial-in to defeat Erica Coleman’s break-out 3.945 on a 3.95 dial-in in her Fulton-powered ’68 Camaro in the final round.
Consistent top performer Chaz Silance accomplished two things by winning the Summer Shootout in Elite Top Dragster. In the second round, he defeated Steve Furr, who leads Silance in points after winning the first three races. Silance capitalized on that by going on to win the event, going 3.832 on his 3.83 dial-in next to Carson Brown, who broke out with a 3.905 on a 3.92 dial.
The PDRA’s sportsman classes had some upsets and races with major championship implications, as Buddy Perkinson (MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by Tejas Borja), Chaz Silance (Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster), Mike Butler (MagnaFuel Top Sportsman 32) and Stacy Hall (Lucas Oil Top Dragster 32) claimed victories.
In the Jr. Dragster categories, Will Creasman used a superior reaction time and a 7.939 to overcome the 7.909 pass by Nyckolas Shirkey in the 7.90-dial-in Coolshirt Pro Jr. Dragster final round. Similarly, Chloe Geryes’ better light allowed her 9.082 on a 9.07 dial-in to defeat Danika Miles, who went 9.083 on a 9.08 dial-in.