Litton repeats as Mardi Gras champion Evans, Gallen win in front of packed Sunday crowd PORT ALLEN,La. (March 7, 2010) -- For the second straight year Mardi Gras Nitro Jam provided sold out crowds and thrilling on-track action as State Capitol...
Litton repeats as Mardi Gras champion
Evans, Gallen win in front of packed Sunday crowd
PORT ALLEN,La. (March 7, 2010) -- For the second straight year Mardi Gras Nitro Jam provided sold out crowds and thrilling on-track action as State Capitol Raceway hosted two straight nights of packed stands and Mardi Gras fun capped off by the crowning of champions Sunday afternoon.
Three different winners pulled into victory lane Sunday as Bruce Litton (Top Fuel) finally hit his stride with a victory over Bobby Lagana Jr., while Bill Evans (Pro Fuel) and Peter Gallen (Prostalgia NFC) also claimed wins in their respective classes.
In exhibition action Joseph Palmisano bested a field of eight to win the Outlaw Pro Modified shootout.
Joining the quartet of professional winners were the duo of Chris Gulitti (Top Sportsman) and Sheldon Bissessar (Top Dragster) who won in the second ever Harland Sharp Elite 8 Shootout. Gulitti bested a packed field to win for the first time this year while Bissessar continued his domination of the class with his second straight Harland Sharp Elite 8 win.
In sportsman action seven champions were crowned on Sunday included Glenn Wright (Top Sportsman), P.J. Vicari (Top Dragster), Tim Herbert (Super Stock), Jody Simoneaux (Stock), Mark Powers (Quick Rod), Chris Arnold (Super Rod) and Marlon Goates (Hot Rod).
Local racers David Dupont (Box) and Chris Chenevert (No Box) also hoisted an Ironman in front of the largest crowd to ever see a drag race in the state of Louisiana.
And that crowd witnessed a tremendous afternoon of professional racing.
Litton (Indianapolis, Ind.) spent the first three rounds of the 2010 season trying to get a grip on his Top Fuel dragster with new crew chief Mike Wolfarth at the helm and finally hit a stride on Sunday.
After a blistering first round pass Litton returned to the track in Sunday's final against Bobby Lagana Jr. and put down the low elapsed time of the weekend to take home his first Ironman of the year.
"We struggled last night. We had a hard time getting a feel for the track, but Mike and the gang got it figured out this afternoon," Litton said. "We found a combination today and we found a stride and had a big speed, a bigger speed than we ran here last year, so it was good to finally find the car."
Litton ran a 4.741, 314.79 in the final to get around Lagana's 4.822, 308.95 in a tremendous drag race that saw both cars welded together the length of the quarter-mile, a much different scene than the night before.
"Last night I had to pedal it a couple times and broke a few things. We got those bugs worked out and returned with a great run today," Litton said. "I just have to thank Lucas Oil. Lucas is a great group that stands behind me with great products. United Trailers is also on the car, which is now the official trailer of the IHRA, so it was a nice introduction for them. We just feel very blessed today."
In Sunday's consolation round Spencer Massey cruised to a win over Del Cox as Cox ran into trouble early in the run and had to shut it off. Massey ran a season best 4.881, 309.27.
Litton and Lagana replaced Cox and Massey in the final on Sunday after Cox won the opening night of competition against his teammate.
In first round action Litton finally found the track with a solid 4.753, 314.13 to get around Cox while Lagana was just behind with a 4.839, 306.64 to eliminate Massey.
In Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car Peter Gallen produced similar results as Litton, correcting three rounds of sub-par runs to finally take home an Ironman.
Gallen bested John Lawson in the first round before meeting Saturday winner Mike McIntire in the final. In that matchup Gallen and McIntire put on a tremendous show for the fans with lengthy burnouts and side-by-side passes with Gallen coming out on top.
"I had never run Mike before and obviously he runs good, he proved that last night, but I know our car runs good as well," Gallen said. "It was a great race and a big win for our team to finally come out on top."
Gallen (Broomall, Pa.) ran a solid 5.813, 246.84 to get around McIntire who ran a 6.079, 239.36.
In the consolation rounds Greg Jacobsmeyer defeated Jon Capps and Steve Nichols defeated John Dunn.
"We struggled last night, but I think a lot of that is driver. We had a meeting last night with the crew and we all agreed that this is how it is going to be done," Gallen said. "It seemed to work on both runs here today. I told one of my guys the most work I had to do in the run was push the button to shift. It was as smooth as can be."
In the opening round Gallen got around Lawson with a round best 5.837, 246.44 while McIntire placed himself in his third final in four tries this season with a 5.970, 239.48 to get around Capps.
In other first round action Krafft defeated Nichols and Jacobsmeyer defeated Dunn.
Pro Fuel had a breakthrough weekend with consistent laps and solid numbers as Evans returned to his dominating ways and won for the third time in four tries.
"Last night in the first round we burnt both heads off of it and my guys worked on the car until 3 a.m. to get it ready," Evans said. "We then went out and set low E.T. and burnt both heads off again. We thrashed on the car and got back out here for the final and we were able to hold on for the win.
"I really have to give this win to my guys, they earned this one."
Evans (Miramar, Fla.) defeated Saturday winner Buddy Domingue in the final with a solid 5.927, 252.03. Domingue ran a 5.986, 238.15.
All three professional finals produced side-by-side runs and incredible numbers for the fans.
"What more could you ask for than to get a chance to race in front crowds like these," Evans said.
In the consolation round Robin Samsel won on a bye and Jeff Hamelink defeated Mike Manners.
Pro Fuel's first round saw some of the best numbers of the season as Evans and Domingue raced to the top of the charts. Evans regained his spot at the top of the class with a win over Robin Samsel with a fine 5.486, 250.55 pass. Domingue made a bye run and produced the second best run of the day with a 6.181, 229.29.
In the other first round pairing Hamelink raced around Mike Manners.
Outlaw Pro Modified produced plenty of exciting racing capped off by a victory by Palmisano (Abita Springs, La.) over Steve Benoit. Palmisano ran a 4.347, 163.36 in the eighth-mile final, besting Benoit's 4.459, 161.23.
Palmisano defeated Benoit, Bill Doucet and Jim Jolley on his way to the win.
For the second straight race one of the highlights of the weekend was the Harland Sharp Elite 8 race. Placing the top eight qualifiers from the sportsman rounds on a heads-up ladder, the shootout has created new rivalries and great racing for fans.
On Sunday Gulitti (Spring, Texas) and Bissessar (Marabella, Trinidad) proved the best of the night with Gulitti besting Scooter Hampton in Top Sportsman and Bissessar defeating John Angelle in Top Dragster.
"It was exhilarating to come out here and win the Quick 8 at a national event," Gulitti said. "To come out here in this field with our car and win is tremendous," Gulitti said. "I am not the fastest car out here, but we can get down the track."
While Gulitti won for the first time, Bissessar once again dominated the eight-car field.
"We were thrilled to win the first one and to win for the second straight time is thrilling for us," Bissessar said. "Hopefully we can keep this up and continue to win this thing."
After two straight sold out events Nitro Jam packs up and heads north for the Spring Nitro Jam at Rockingham Dragway April 30-May 2.