TUCSON, Ariz. — It’s not every day you get to win one for your hometown crowd.
But that is exactly what veteran racer Mike Savage pulled off during the Arizona Nitro Jam presented by Good Vibrations Motorsports finale at Southwestern Int’l Raceway as the Tucson-based pilot put the famous “Candies & Hughes” AMSOIL Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car in victory lane in front of an overflow crowd Saturday night.
Joining Savage in victory lane was Johnny Ahten who drove “Stump Puller” to a victory over Bill Evans in the Pro Fuel final, Ron Maroney who doubled up in Fuel Altered with a victory over Kyle Hough and Devin Pelrine who claimed his second consecutive Ironman in Nitro Harley.
Mike Savage picked up his first career Ironman in front of a capacity crowd in Tucson
Sportsman winners from Saturday’s finale were Cindy Hawk, mother of defending Summit SuperSeries World Champion Matt Hawk, who drove to victory lane in Top Dragster to claim a spot in the Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions presented by AMSOIL, Juan Woo in Box, Tim O’Moore in No Box, Jim Burris in Motorcycle, Charles Mapes in Street and Gabriel Brown in Junior Dragster.
With the capacity crowd cramming into any open space they could find Savage went to work. With thousands of “Candies & Hughes” fans watching, Savage drove to a thrilling victory over defending Nitro Jam World Champion Peter Gallen in the “Poverty Stricken” ’76 Monza with a 5.823, 240.38 pass to Gallen’s 5.897, 242.45. Savage was beaten off the line, but charged back on the top end to pick up his first career Ironman trophy.
“This is a big win for us and a big win for these fans. You just can’t finish any better than first,” Savage said. “We had a great day and started out right on target. My guys took this car and did a great job making it fast.
“I treat each and every one of these guys I race against the same. They all have quality cars and great drivers and I am proud to pick up a win against a group of guys like we saw this weekend.”
Mike Savage defeated defending champion Peter Gallen in the Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car finale
Savage advanced to the final with an opening round victory over James Day in “War Eagle,” putting down another consistent lap of 5.927, 233.84. In the consolation round Friday’s winner Tim Boychuk picked up a round win against Day.
Gallen, the defending class champion, opened the 2012 season without a victory, failing to win a race during a Nitro Jam weekend for the first time since last year’s season opener in West Palm Beach.
Johnny Ahten also had a big weekend behind the wheel of the “Stump Puller” Pro Fuel Dragster, putting his machine in victory lane for the second time in four career Nitro Jam start. Ahten had a tremendous first round run against Friday night winner Cherissa Smallwood to reach the final and then bested Bill Evans – who came up short both nights — in the final.
Ahten, from Santa Clarita, Calif., didn’t have his best pass in the final but it mattered little as his 5.740, 244.21 lap was good enough to drive around a struggling Evans machine. In the consolation round Smallwood had another hot lap to defeat Robin Samsel.
Johnny Ahten made some noise with his second career Ironman with a victory over Bill Evans
Fuel Altered provided plenty of excitement on the track, but little in the way of victory as defending class champion Ron Maroney began the 2012 season exactly the way he ended the last – hoisting an Ironman trophy.
Maroney backed into a victory on Friday when the original competitor couldn’t make the call, but earned every bit of his win on Saturday with an exciting race against Fuel Altered rookie and third generation racer Kyle Hough. Maroney ran a 6.719, 174.39 to Hough’s 7.400, 198.76.
Nitro Harley wrapped up competition in the professional categories as Devin Pelrine drove to his second consecutive victory. Pelrine had a blistering first pass to drive around Mike Scott and then benefitted from a solo pass in the final. In the consolation pairing Scott defeated Mike Pelrine.BREAKING NEWS: SPEED SPORT is back in print with a new monthly format! Subscribe for just $24.95. Special offer for former subscribers.