TUCSON, Ariz. — You couldn’t have scripted it any better.
It took Cherissa Smallwood seven months to pick up her first career Nitro Jam victory at the 2011 season finale and now, another seven months later, Smallwood is back in victory lane with two straight – albeit rather far apart – victories coming in front of a packed house at the 2012 Arizona Nitro Jam presented by Good Vibrations Motorsports at Southwestern Int’l Raceway.
Smallwood defeated Bill Evans in the Pro Fuel final
Smallwood bested former champion Bill Evans in the “Black Pearl” to pick up her second career Nitro Jam victory in the Pro Fuel Dragster class, while Tim Boychuk drove his “Troy Lee Designs” Firebird to a victory in AMSOIL Prostalgia™ Nitro Funny Car over Mike Savage in “Candies and Hughes.” Also picking up wins at the 2012 Nitro Jam season opener was Ron Maroney in Fuel Altered and Devin Pelrine in Nitro Harley.
Smallwood had two consistent passes and saved the best for last with a career best elapsed time to defeat Evans in the final. Smallwood pushed her “Nitro and Lace” dragster to a 5.553, 245.76 in the final to Evans’ 5.645, 258.22.
“We had it loaded and ready to fire,” Smallwood said. “We were very optimistic going into this weekend, but we remained cautious because you never know what is going to happen. After round one we felt really good about the car and our chances and then we fired off a great run in the final to pick up our second Ironman.
Smallwood won her second Ironman in a row on Friday
“To win is incredible, but to do it against a guy like Bill makes it that much sweeter. These guys are such great competitors and that only adds to the joy of picking up a win.”
Smallwood advanced to the final with a solid pass against Robin Samsel in round one. Johnny Ahten, making his second career Nitro Jam start, finished with a consolation round win over Samsel.
Tim Boychuk was the other noisemaker on Friday in what proved to be a wild night in the AMSOIL Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car class. Defending world champion Pete Gallen opened the 2012 season with a major breakage on his brand new “Poverty Stricken” car, opening the door for one of the remaining competitors to step into the final and gain some valuable early season points.
Mike Savage filled the first spot with a solid run right down broadway while Boychuk advanced to fill the second spot with a holeshot victory over James Day. Boychuk then went to work, blasting past Mike Savage in the “Candies and Hughes” machine to collect his fifth career Ironman. Boychuk ran a 5.826, 247.61 in the final to Savage’s 7.249, 220.15.
Boychuk defeated Mike Savage in the Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car final
Nostalgia Fuel Altered also provided a wild night of racing as the two winners from round one were unable to get make the call leaving the two remaining cars to battle it out for the win. Jason Richey and rookie Kyle Hough were slated to meet in the Fuel Altered final, but issues propelled Ron Maroney and Randy Bradford into the deciding tilt with Maroney getting the slight edge.
Maroney had all kinds of issues in his first pass of the night, but righted a few wrongs in the final with a solid 6.237, 225.60 to drive around Bradford who wiggled all the way down the track for the second consecutive run.
Wrapping up the pro rounds was the Nitro Harley class as Devin Pelrine, all the way from Alberta, bested fellow Canadian Mike Scott in the final. Neither car had their best runs as Pelrine crossed the line first with a 7.072, 202.03 as Scott went red by the smallest of margins.BREAKING NEWS: SPEED SPORT is back in print with a new monthly format! Subscribe for just $24.95. Special offer for former subscribers.