SRO Crowd Greets IHRA Nitro Jam

Brad Thompson prepares to leave the starting line Saturday night at San Antonio Raceway. (IHRA photo)
Brad Thompson prepares to leave the starting line Saturday night at San Antonio Raceway. (IHRA photo)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Saturday’s San Antonio Nitro Jam finale saw one of the biggest crowds in San Antonio Raceway history as fans packed in four deep on the fence and filled every bit of real estate in the stands to witness a thrilling night of racing that featured just about everything you could cram into a night of drag racing.

Jet Funny Cars battled Nitro Funny Cars, Grave Digger overpowered Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle in a huge monster truck showdown and in the end four drivers walked away winners in the nitro classes as Kristen Dennis (Pro Fuel), Mitch King (AMSOIL Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car), Ron Maroney (Fuel Altered) and Jay Turner (Nitro Harley) all picked up Ironman trophies.

Also grabbing wins Saturday night were a number of sportsman racers of which seven earned their way into the year-end Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions presented by AMSOIL at Memphis International Raceway. Those winners were Joseph Tinsley (Top Dragster), Pete Peery (Super Stock), Jimmy Hidalgo Jr. (Stock), Michael Pennington (Quick Rod), Joe Collier (Super Rod) and David Bills (Hot Rod). Junior Dragster winners were Chris Pearson (Master), J.D. Legg (Advanced) and Aaron Jordan (Beginner).

Kristen Dennis had Saturday’s biggest win behind the wheel of her “Ladies First” Pro Fuel Dragster as the Magnolia, Texas native powered past Friday winner Bill Evans in the “Black Pearl” machine using her career best pass to pick up her second career Ironman trophy. With the capacity crowd on their feet cheering her on, Dennis ran a 5.385/276.92 in the win to best Evans’ 5.512/264.39 in an absolutely tremendous drag race.

“Go big or go home, that is how we do it in Texas,” Dennis said. “The car wasn’t acting itself so we spent the day working on it and putting in a lot of work to get it ready.

“Once we stabbed the throttle that thing was hungry. It really took off, but of course I was afraid Bill would sneak up on us. Thankfully we never once saw him from the moment we left the line and posted our best ever speed in the win. We are just so excited.”

With the Texas flag flying proudly behind her on every burnout, Dennis began the evening with an opening round win over Robin Samsel to propel herself into the final. In Saturday’s consolation pairing Samsel rebounded with a win over Cherissa Smallwood.

Ron Maroney has started the 2012 season with four straight wins

Another Texas native visiting victory lane on Saturday was Muldoon’s own Mitch King. Driving the “Brand X” 1971 Mustang, King unexpectedly advanced to the final after a wild first round and matched up with Mike Savage in the “Candies & Hughes” Barracuda in the final. In another incredible final King picked up a holeshot win over Savage with a 5.943/235.85 run to Savage’s 5.852/239.11.

Adding to the excitement, Saturday’s victory marked King’s first trip to victory lane since guiding 2009 and 2010 Top Fuel World Champions Spencer Massey and Del Cox Jr. to big seasons.

“It was a much needed win for us and for Henry,” King said. “We were thrilled to get into the finals and to win it all was icing on the cake.”

In the consolation round Tim Boychuk defeated John Hale. Adding to the excitement of Saturday’s huge race was Dale Pulde in the “War Eagle” taking on the “First Strike” jet funny car in exhibition action with the two cars splitting the evening.

Jay Turner won again atop the most unique Nitro Harley in the game today

Maroney, the defending champion in Fuel Altered, made it four in a row on Saturday with yet another Ironman trophy in a win over Randy Bradford. Driving his own “Blind Faith” entry this season after piloting “Nanook” last year, Maroney advanced to the final via a bye run in round one and was then gifted another round when Randy Bradford went red to continue the winning for the defending champ.

Wrapping up the pro categories was Jay Turner who piloted his “big pig” Nitro Harley to a second consecutive win. The North Carolina native defeated Steve Dorn in round one and then bested Jake Stordeur in the final with a 6.834/161.00 to Stordeur’s 7.823/128.76.

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