Manners sets national record, wins fourth of season in Pro Fuel
Litton, Gallen master scorching Sunday heat
BUDDS CREEK, Md. (August 29, 2010) - It is a rivalry still in its infancy, but the battle between Bill Evans and Mike Manners has already developed into one of the most intense in the series.
For the second week in a row the talented drivers making up the new Pro Fuel class put on an incredible show and at the head of that list was Manners and Evans who traded the national record for the class back-and-fourth nearly half a dozen times before Manners finally walked away the victor Sunday afternoon.
"This weekend was a lot of fun. Obviously we were in the exact same position as Bill coming into the weekend with cars capable of setting records and it was fun battling him for the new mark," Manners said. "Last night he went to bed with the record, but we redid things today and now we are walking away with the record.
"He is certainly living up to his reputation as "Wild Bill" with those runs he has been making, but it is a lot of fun competing against him."
After Evans took home the Ironman and temporarily claimed the national record Saturday night, Manners came storming back on Sunday with another record-setting pass and a victory over Nitro Jam newcomer Karen Stalba to equal his opponent and reclaim the record previously held by he and his team.
Also joining Manners in victory lane on Sunday was Bruce Litton (Top Fuel) and Peter Gallen (Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car) who mastered the scorching Sunday heat to come away with wins at the Maryland Nitro Jam at Maryland International Raceway in Budds Creek.
Other winners from Sunday's professional rounds included Harland Sharp Elite 8 winners Glen Teets (Top Sportsman) and Jody Stroud (Top Dragster), while sportsman winners included Ronnie Dodson (Browntown, Va.) in Top Sportsman, Mike Gardner (Haymarket, Va.) in Top Dragster, Anthony Bertozzi (Ashland, Va.) in Super Stock, Myron Piatek (Holly Hill, Fla.) in Stock, John Dustin (Rockville, Md.) in Quick Rod, Calvin Butler (Marlington, W. Va.) in Super Rod and Jeff Martin (Hollywood, Md.) in Hot Rod.
In addition to taking the win on Sunday, all seven winners also qualified for the Tournament of Champions sportsman runoff at the Nitro Jam World Finals at Virginia Motorsports Park in October.
The incredible weekend of racing in Pro Fuel got underway on Saturday with multiple passes under the national record, but only Evans was able to back up the run and temporarily claim the new mark.
On Sunday, however, Manners (Willis, Texas) threw everything he had at the track and produced his second pass of the weekend in the 20s and walked away with the new record set at 5.276 seconds at 275.11 miles-per-hour.
Manners had another great run in his win over Stalba, producing a 5.403, 271.13 under the blistering summer sun to best Stalba's 5.704 pass.
"We had the car worked on a few weeks ago and we have now made six really good laps since then so obviously that was really causing us some problems earlier in the year and last year," Manners said. "We are finally getting it down the track and it has been fun making these tremendous laps. It is hard to tell what the car has in store the rest of the year."
In the consolation rounds of Sunday's Pro Fuel finals Evans claimed his fourth round win of the weekend over Robin Samsel, while Jeff Hamelink defeated John Finke and Rich McPhillips beat around Dave Hill.
Thanks to the big win by Manners, the race for the Pro Fuel title has reached a fevered pitch as Evans, Manners and Hamelink find themselves in a tight battle with only two races remaining.
Manners stole his record back in the opening round of Sunday's Pro Fuel eliminations with a blistering 5.276, 275.11 to claim both ends of the national record and in the process placing himself in the final against Stalba. Manners defeated Hamelink in the first round while Stalba drove around Samsel.
In Top Fuel Bruce Litton (Indianapolis, Ind.) rebounded after a disappointing Saturday to claim his first win in over a month, besting Saturday winner Del Cox Jr. in the final.
Litton ran a 5.059, 294.94 in the final while Cox ran into trouble early in his run.
"What can I say? It was a really, really hot track and we were fortunate to have the runs that we did. We don't have a lot of data on this hot of a track and we were fortunate enough that we got down the track both times," Litton said. "It is all about Mike Wolfarth, Mike Sipple, Phil Stuart and everyone that has a job with this car. Mike used a couple match races we have done in the past to get an idea on what to run on the hot track and fortunately we made two great runs and got the win."
The other big winner this weekend was Cox as he and his team finally hit on a winning combination and reached the finals both nights. After winning Saturday's final, Cox returned with another great pass in the first round on Sunday to reach his second final leading to his most successful weekend in almost a year.
In the consolation round of Sunday's pro finals Bobby Lagana drove around a smoking Mitch King to keep a narrow lead over Litton in the Top Fuel championship points.
With the win Litton claimed his sixth win of the season and the 22nd of his career.
"It is a great win for Lucas, Lucas Slick Mist, United Trailers and all the people that make it happen for me. It is all about representing these quality people and putting on a good show for these fans," Litton said. "I have a lot of great people that help make this happen and at the end of the day I am just lucky enough to get to drive the car."
After breaking the throttle cable on Saturday, Litton came back in a big way on Sunday with a first round victory over King while Cox reached his second final in a row with a first round win over Lagana. Litton ran the low elapsed time of the round at 5.054 at 290.32 mph.
In Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car Gallen got his revenge over Saturday night opponent Richard Hartman with a career best speed and a blistering E.T. to claim his sixth win of the season. Gallen ran a 5.915, 249.12 in the final, besting Hartman's 6.201 in the final round.
"We have been struggling. We have had no computer on the car the last two events and it is very hard to tune without that crutch," Gallen said. "It is all seat of the pants and feeling things out. I used to do it with the alcohol car, but now that I am getting older it is getting harder to do that.
"The car came around for the last two runs and we were fortunate to get things just right to make a strong pass when we needed it most."
Gallen and Hartman also met up in the final on Saturday night with Hartman coming out on top in a very emotional victory for the "Bullet Bob" team. But on Sunday it was all Gallen and the "Poverty Stricken" team as Gallen lead the entire way and helped close the gap on point leader Steve Nichols in the race for the Prostalgia NFC championship.
Gallen also battled back from a few issues on Saturday, making Sunday's win even sweeter for the "Poverty Stricken" crew.
"We broke a valve yesterday after the first run which caused some carnage, but thankfully it didn't turn out as bad as it could have," Gallen said. "We were fortunate enough to have the crew that we have to put it back together and it worked out perfect tonight. I simply couldn't afford to hurt it last night so we backed it down and today we cranked it back up.
"The Floch family is a wonderful group and we were glad to get it done against them."
With only two races to go Gallen (Broomall, Pa.) has closed the gap to just a few rounds entering the North American Nitro Jam in two weeks in New Hampshire.
In the consolation rounds Nichols picked up a win over Mike McIntire and Aaron "Army" Armstrong continued to improve on his career best numbers in a victory over Greg Jacobsmeyer.
Sunday's Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car rematch was set up in the first round when Gallen broke through with his best pass of the weekend at 5.968, 244.34 in a first round bye, meeting up with Hartman who was just behind with a 5.921 pass to defeat Jacobsmeyer.
Closing out professional ranks was a pair of great races in the Harland Sharp Elite 8.
In Top Sportsman Teets (Manassa, Va.) got a great start off the line and used that advantage to hold off a hard charging Robert Jones as Teets ran a 6.715 at over 211 miles-per-hour, just edging Jones' 6.796. In the Top Dragster matchup Stroud (Chesterfield, S.C.) dominated the weekend and finished it up with a tremendous 6.023, 218.05 lap to drive around Glen Puluse.
Next up for the Nitro Jam tour is a trip into the northeast at the North American Nitro Jam at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire. Don't miss another great weekend of Nitro Jam racing September 11-12 in New Hampshire.