2015 PDRA points Championship contenders all win again at PDRA Memphis….
For the fourth time in 2015, Jason Scruggs visited victory lane at a Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) event, taking the NAS Racing Pro Extreme trophy home to Saltillo, Mississippi, from the 2nd annual PDRA Memphis Drags. Also scoring wins at Memphis International Raceway (MIR) were Tommy Franklin with his second Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous title of the year, Kevin Rivenbark with his second this year in Precision Turbo Pro Boost and Drag 965 Pro Extreme Motorcycle racer Terry Schweigert for the first time with the PDRA.
In the PDRA sportsman ranks, former Pro Extreme champion Mick Snyder prevailed his first time out in MagnaFuel Top Sportsman, Derrik Sholar won the Dart Machinery Top Dragster final, Mitchell Seymore won for the first time in Huddleston Performance Pro Jr. Dragster and Devan Lowe also won his first Huddleston Top Jr. Dragster trophy.
Rain on Saturday morning interrupted the all-eighth-mile event and washed away a scheduled fourth qualifying session for all classes. With fields set from Friday’s three completed qualifying rounds, final eliminations began about 5 p.m. and concluded by 11:30 p.m., just as rain again began to fall.
After earning the number-one start for the PDRA Memphis Drags with a track record 3.54 at 214.25 mph in his ’71 Mustang, Terry Leggett charged through Pro Extreme eliminations, going 3.58 to beat a redlighting Neal Wantye in round one, 3.57 to easily handle Brandon Pesz in round two, and 3.61 against Wesley Jones, who also turned on the early-start light in the semi finals.
Meanwhile, number-two starter Jason Scruggs doused the return of Tim Tindle to drag racing after a nearly two-year absence with a 3.60 pass in the opening round of racing. He then ran 3.56 in his ’69 Camaro to beat Mike Recchia and 3.55 in the semis against Dubai’s Badir Ahli, who led the class points chase as the race began.
Choosing the right lane for the final, Scruggs left first with a stellar .004 reaction time to Leggett’s still respectable .040 light, but the holeshot spelled the difference 660 feet later as Scruggs’ 3.57 at 216.34 managed to beat a quicker 3.54 run at 215.07 mph put together by Leggett and crew chief Terry Coyle.
“Man, we had the car this weekend and I was bad when it really counted. We’ve never won one of these things before and I just feel real bad for my team; I let them down,” a dejected Leggett said immediately after the run.
Scruggs said he knew he “killed it” on the start but lost some ET when he had to wrestle the car away from the centerline down track.
“We should’ve run a .54, too,” he claimed. “I could see Terry the whole way down the track; I thought we had nicked him off the start, but I wasn’t really sure until we crossed the finish line and I saw my win light come on. I’m just glad we did nail the tree so hard because it turned out we needed it. Terry had the car to beat all weekend.”
Scruggs also recognized his semi-final win over Ahli was significant since it put them essentially even in points. Then, the win over Leggett–his fourth this year–moved the past back-to-back champion into sole possession of the points lead. “This is what we have to do,” he stressed. “There’s three races left (this season) and we have to go out there and make the most of them.”
Finally, Scruggs dedicated his latest win to the memory of noted PDRA track and TV announcer Brian Olson, who passed away recently from complications related to a motorcycle accident. “Brian was such a big part of the PDRA and everyone here loved him and we’re always going to miss him,” said Scruggs, who with his father, Mitchell, and Pro Nitrous racer Tommy Franklin is a PDRA series owner.
Five-thousandths of a second; that’s all that separated winner Tommy Franklin from runner-up Steve Jackson in the Pro Nitrous final for the 2nd annual PDRA Memphis Drags.
“Man, I’ve lost by two thou, three thou and five thou myself at the last three races, so it’s about time one of these went my way,” Franklin said in victory lane. “It just shows how close and intense this class is out there. There really is no margin for error.”
Franklin made no mistakes all weekend at Memphis International Raceway, where he qualified first with a 3.75-seconds pass at 201.58 mph, then raced through John Camp and defending race winner and reigning class champion Jason Harris before getting by Jim Sackuvich–by five thousandths–with a holeshot in the semis. On the opposite side of the ladder, Jackson started from the number-two slot after running just three thousandths behind Franklin in qualifying, then beating Tim Savell, David Janes and two-time defending NHRA Pro Mod champion Rickie Smith to reach the final round.
Once there, “Stevie Fast” left with a .028 advantage, but a 3.78 at 199.58 by Franklin was just enough to overcome the 3.81 at 200.92 laid down by Jackson. “It shook pretty hard. I didn’t pedal it, just stayed with it, but it was enough to slow me down enough to let him by,” Jackson explained. “It sucks, but we’ll get ’em next time.”
“You know, it’s like it’s in slow motion,” Franklin said. “You’re running 200 mile an hour in slow motion because both cars are doing it so you can see him inching ahead and then you picking up on him here and there. It’s pretty exciting but also a little nerve wracking.”
Franklin said it felt good to finally get back in the win column after taking the first race of the season back in March at Dallas, TX. “We’ve had some good races and some bad races since then, but I just feel like it’s always an honor to race against these guys out here. I just feel blessed to be out here doing this,” the electrical company owner from Fredericksburg, VA, said.
Like his PDRA ownership partner and Pro Extreme titlist Jason Scruggs at the Memphis Drags, Franklin dedicated his win to announcer Brian Olson’s memory. ” Each time I won a round I said, ‘this one’s for you, Brian.’ You know, this is the first PDRA race without him on the mic and the first time Jason and I won together as PDRA owners so it’s a pretty special race for us.”
Kevin Rivenbark claimed he was starting to have second thoughts about the 2015 Corvette his GALOT Racing team had debuted two races earlier at Martin, Michigan in June. Not really, but he admitted to at least feeling anxious about going out in the first round at Martin and then again at the next event in Budds Creek, Maryland. So when he qualified the beautiful, new, roots-blown Bickel car fourth with a 3.88 at 191.67-mph pass for the PDRA Memphis Drags, the Wallace, NC-based driver said he felt ready to race.
He opened with a solid 3.90 win over James Linton Jr., then improved to 3.86 in round two while his opponent, Brian Hicks, did a masterful job of keeping his twin turbo’d ’70 Duster off the walls at Memphis International Raceway after fluids from his engine got underneath the big rear slicks. In the semis, Rivenbark ran 3.87 to beat Tylor Miller, but lost lane choice for the final by six thousandths to third-place qualifier Kevin Fiscus, who previously defeated Todd Moyer, Alan Pittman and Scott Cristoffel.
Fiscus left first by .019 in his twin-turbocharged 2012 Mustang, but a 3.83 blast at 193.54 by Rivenbark led to an 11-thousandths margin of victory over the 3.86 at 204.01 put together by Fiscus.
“That’s a big win for us, not only because it’s the first one for the new car but because it puts us right back into the points with only three races left,” Rivenbark pointed out. “We’re ready for them now.”
Post and photos by: Ian Tocher
BFR – Memphis Post Race Update
BELL / FISCUS RACING (BFR)’s Kevin Fiscus was the runner-up in Pro Boost at the PDRA Memphis Drags race at Memphis International Raceway in Millington, TN on August 20-22, 2015.
With a six week layoff between the last PDRA race in Maryland and the Memphis event, Jim Bell and Fiscus’ cars were gone through to ensure they would be capable of putting in strong performances for the grueling next seven weekends of competition. Bell’s motor and transmissions were freshened up, and his car was repainted due to damage sustained from when the top of the intake blew off at the last event. Jim Geese and the Vanishing Point Race Cars team did an excellent job with chassis mods as well.
Bell and Fiscus lined up to run the first round of PDRA Pro Boost qualifying at Memphis side by side. Each put in a clean run and recorded a solid time. Bell went 3.968 at 199.35 mph in his twin turbocharged, Pro Line Racing 481X-powered 1969 Chevrolet Camaro which ranked him ninth, while Fiscus’ 3.930 at 203.46 mph blast from his twin turbo, PLR-powered 2012 Ford Mustang qualified him sixth. For round two, Bell improved with a 3.957 at 195.48 mph run and stayed in ninth, and Fiscus moved into fourth with a 3.923 at 202.18 mph pass. During the third session, Bell encountered tire shake about two-hundred feet after the start. He lifted, and dropped into eleventh. Fiscus, however, had his best pass of the weekend and qualified third with a 3.876 at 204.39 mph run.
Bell suffered two broken rear ends during qualifying and had to swap his transmission twice. The second swap took place just one hour prior to the start eliminations, and was done in record time thanks to Fiscus, Chad McGregor, Dean Marinis, and Jason Riggs. Bell was paired against Alan Pittman, the number six qualified driver, for E1. Bell’s Camaro overpowered the track and he was the victim of massive tire shake on the one-two shift. He backed off the throttle to regain traction, but gave up the win in the process. Meanwhile, Fiscus defeated the number fourteen qualifier, Todd Moyer, by a tenth of a second. In round two, it was Fiscus’ turn to face Pittman, and he got redemption for teammate Bell with another win. For the semi-finals, Fiscus took out Scott Christoffel, who had qualified number two, with a lead at the finish line of almost one hundred feet. For his final round of the weekend, Fiscus went against Kevin Rivenbark, the number four qualified driver, and got the jump with a hole shot advantage. Rivenbark put up a tough fight and squeezed by Fiscus to cross the finish four feet in front.
“Kevin’s Mustang was performing extremely well, and ran a string of 3.8X passes. He did an outstanding job of driving with consistent lights, and it would have been great for Kevin to get the win, but the BFR race team had lots to be proud of with his runner-up finish after dealing with all the Camaro’s adversity,” said team owner Bell.
At the conclusion of the race, Fiscus maintained his lead in the PDRA Pro Boost points chase, and Bell moved up into third. Both Bell and Fiscus will be competing in the Pro Mod class at the PSCA Street Car Super Nationals “Anarchy at the Arch” race at Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis, Missouri on August 27-29, 2015. Last year, Bell won this event and Kevin was the runner-up; both drivers are looking to put in a solid performance at this race as the Bell/Fiscus Racing team continues their 23-race commitment for the 2015 season.
Posted by: Ainsley Jacobs