PDRA’s Summer Nationals at SGMP wraps up late after weather delays…..

Despite not qualifying for the eight-car field, Moroso Pro Boost driver John Strickland picked up the event win at the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) Summer Nationals Ignited by Lithium Pros Batteries. Strickland was racing as an alternate at the South Georgia Motorsports Park event, which was completed Sunday afternoon.

Defending world champions Jason Harris (Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous), Steven Boone (Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock) and Johnny Pluchino (Schwing America Pro Outlaw 632 presented by East Side Auto Transport) also won, as well as three-time world champion Eric McKinney in Drag 965 Pro Nitrous Motorcycle. Edmund Hall won the Classic Graphix Pro Mod Challenge.

Drivers earning event wins in the PDRA’s sportsman classes were Jackie Robison in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman, Chris Nyerges in Top Sportsman 32, Phillip Sexton in Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster and Kimberly Messer in Top Dragster 32. Billy Townsend defeated Bill Roberts in the Edelbrock Bracket Bash final round.

PRO BOOST — At various points in the weekend, John Strickland wasn’t sure he would even get to race in the eight-car Pro Boost field. First, he was bumped out of the field from the No. 2 spot in the second and final qualifying session. Then he was inserted into the field as an alternate for Terry Leggett, who walked away from a fiery incident in qualifying, but Strickland originally couldn’t stay for Sunday’s rain-delayed eliminations.

But he was able to shuffle around plans and his GALOT Motorsports team worked through their struggles to end up in the winner’s circle Sunday afternoon. In the final round, Strickland drove his ProCharger-boosted ‘69 Camaro to a 3.781 at 199.79 to eliminate Melanie Salemi and her 4.107 at 139.91.

John Strickland (far lane) defeated Canadian native Melanie Salemi in the Pro Boost final round.

“We’ve had some lucky breaks this weekend,” Strickland said. “We went from being the No. 2 qualifier to not being in the show. Due to Mr. Terry Leggett’s misfortune, we were able to get in. The car threw us all kinds of curveballs this morning and the crew’s done a great job overcoming the electrical problems and getting us here. As a driver, I did a good job up until the final round. I almost gave it away there, but it worked. A lot of luck played a big part in this all weekend.”

Strickland opened eliminations with a 3.759 at 200.44 over Tommy Gray, who was in the field as an alternate for No. 1 qualifier Daniel Pharris. Strickland stepped up to his weekend-best 3.742 at 200.14 over Maryland race winner Kris Thorne and his 3.851 at 211.76 in the semifinals.

Salemi in her roots-blown “Purple Reign” ’68 Firebird qualified No. 3 before using a 3.731 at 200.29 to dispatch defending world champion Tommy D’Aprile and his 4.147 at 139.30 in the first round. She then defeated Kevin Rivenbark’s 3.807 at 180.40 with a 3.755 at 199.55, preventing an all-GALOT Motorsports final round.

PRO NITROUS — Two-time and defending Pro Nitrous world champion Jason Harris used his consistent, A-to-B strategy to take the Boone-Harris Racing “Party Time” ‘69 Camaro to his first win of the season. Harris, who also went to the final round at the season opener, defeated fellow two-time world champion Tommy Franklin in the final round. Harris left the starting line first by five thousandths and rode out a safe 3.936 at 188.70 alongside Franklin, who broke traction and slowed to a 4.639 at 118.04.

Two-time and defending Pro Nitrous world champion Jason Harris (far lane) won the Pro Nitrous title.

“We came into race day and we had been struggling with the hot weather conditions,” Harris said. “We lost our back-half performance and we’ve been chasing these guys running 207 mph out the back. I’m a good player at 201, 202 (mph). Then we found our 60-foot performance again, so it all came together. Then it became a tuner’s game. We really wanted to get down the track. Tommy had the car to beat all weekend. You just had to be smart and play the game, and that’s what we did. I can’t thank the Boone family enough for sticking with me, as well as Hoosier Racing Tires, VP Racing Fuels and Walker Auto Parts. It just feels good to put this Party Time car back in the winner’s circle.”

Harris qualified No. 4 in his Musi-powered Camaro and started eliminations with a 3.722-to-3.75 win over Johnny Camp. He ran a 3.736 at 202.12 to defeat Jay Cox, who was in the race as an alternate for No. 1 qualified Randy Weatherford.

Franklin raced to the final in his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ‘69 Camaro after recording the two quickest passes of the event. His opening-round 3.653 at 207.94 defeated Lizzy Musi’s 3.70 at 207.18 and his 3.685 at 207.27 eliminated points leader Jim Halsey and his 3.732 at 204.23.

Posted by Nate Van Wagnen

Photos by Roger Richards