Rockingham: Series Saturday report

Litton, Gallen win again; Manners finally pulls through in Pro Fuelwith near record run ROCKINGHAM,N.C. (May 1, 2010) -- It was a picturesque evening at Rockingham Dragway Friday as fans poured into the legendary facility to witness the new...

Litton, Gallen win again; Manners finally pulls through in Pro Fuelwith near record run

ROCKINGHAM,N.C. (May 1, 2010) -- It was a picturesque evening at Rockingham Dragway Friday as fans poured into the legendary facility to witness the new Nitro Jam -- and the new show certainly did not disappoint.

From side-by-side jet trucks to side-by-side nitro racing the new Nitro Jam was a hit with North Carolina fans as Bruce Litton (Top Fuel) and Peter Gallen (Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car) put on a show with their second straight race wins and Mike Manners finally broke through with his first victory of the 2010 season in Pro Fuel.

Litton (Indianapolis, Ind.) defeated Spencer Massey in the Top Fuel final as the pair stayed glued to one another nearly the length of the quarter-mile. Massey held an early advantage off the line and carried that lead through the first 660 feet, but Litton was able to charge at the top end to drive around and take home his second win of the season.

"I didn't know where he was. He definitely treed me and I was chasing him from there," Litton said. "I am grateful we got to the finish line first, especially because we knocked the belt off at the finish line. We are just tickled pink the car is still in one piece."

Litton ran a season best 4.699 elapsed time at 310.91 miles per hour in the final as Massey produced an equally impressive 4.828/274.22. It was Massey's second trip to the finals this season, but he is still left searching for his first win of the year.

Litton on the other hand was in his third final in five tries, picking up his second straight win.

"What can you say about the Lucas Slick Mist car? The crew is the one that makes this thing go and Lucas gives us the ability to perform like we do," Litton said.

In the consolation round Bobby Lagana Jr. was able to drive around Del Cox Jr. with a 4.769/302.75 pass. All of the Top Fuel rounds produced close racing and quarter-mile burns as the North Carolina fans rushed to their feet with every pass.

"It is different. This whole thing is different for the racer and for the fan, but you know what? It is entertaining and that is what we are here for," Litton said. "We are here to be competitive, but we are here to entertain as well. The people in the stands deserve a good show and we love to put that on for them."

Litton reached his third final of the year with a victory over Cox while Massey defeated Lagana in the opening round. Litton and Cox, the two drivers that decided the 2009 World Championship, brought the Nitro Jam crowd to its feet with side-by-side four-second passes to open the weekend.

Litton ran a 4.753/311.70 in the opening round to Cox's 4.784/290.13. In the other pairing Massey drove to the second best pass of the round with a 4.866/302.89 over Lagana.

"I really want to make a mention of the Sean Watts Memorial Scholarship Fund. Sean's father brought me a Suburban this weekend that I am using as my tow vehicle and I want to dedicate this win to them," Litton said.

In Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car the drivers of the hit class showed why they are the new bad boys of Nitro Jam.

Gallen (Broomall, Pa.) won his second consecutive Nitro Jam with a quality pass against Greg Jacobsmeyer as the "Poverty Stricken" Vega came out on top in his second final of the year. Gallen was also the first repeat winner of the year in the brand new class.

"Honestly I can't take any of the credit. The car is a great car, it is maintained well, I have a great crew and IHRA supplies us with a great place to race so it kind of makes us look good," Gallen said.

Gallen ran the best numbers of the night with a 5.820/240.64 while Jacobsmeyer crossed the line with a 6.136/225.03. Jacobsmeyer, the point leader coming into the night, was in his third final of the season.

In the consolation rounds Mike McIntire defeated Army Armstrong, John Lawson beat Rick Krafft and Steve Nichols drove around John Dunn.

The incredible PNFC final was set up when Gallen and Jacobsmeyer easily got around their first round opponents. Gallen ran the best lap of the first round with a 5.932/228.27 against Dunn and Jacobsmeyer ran a 6.282/224.32 in a win against Armstrong.

In other first round action Nichols drove around McIntire and Lawson defeated Krafft.

"The first run it shook the tires a little and I shut it off early and we still ended up on top. We also changed transmission for the second run and it looks like we threw the dart in the bulls-eye on that one," Gallen said. "It left harder and was straight as an arrow in the final. For me it was easy, all I had to do was stab it and it drove itself."

Pro Fuel produced the most unlikely pairing of the evening as Manners, the fun-loving Englishman from Willis, Texas, finally shook off the early season monkey to drive around newcomer Rich McPhillips for his first win of the season.

"It feels great. We got a couple descent runs back-to-back and hopefully we can do this all again tomorrow," Manners said. "The big crowds made it even more fun to get our first win and of course it was doubly pleasurable to get the win after the monkeys we have been dealing with."

Manners ran a 5.370/267.69 in the final to McPhillip's 5.435/253.71. Manners reached the final after producing a near-record run in the opening round and in the final Manners admits that that he is sure he had even more left in the tank.

"We did find at the top end of the track that we had a hose a little loose. I am not sure how much that affected the run, but we were able to work through. I am sure we have even more left for tomorrow," Manners said.

In the consolation rounds Robin Samsel defeated Mitch King who shifted over from his role as owner/driver of his two-car Top Fuel team to fill in for driver Guy Kelly, while point leader Bill Evans got around Cherissa Smallwood and Jeff Hamelink won in a bye.

Manners rocked the house in the opening round with the quickest and nearly the fastest lap of the year in Pro Fuel with a 5.323/267.22 in a solo pass. McPhillips, in his Nitro Jam debut, met up with Manners with an equally impressive 5.470/242.80 in a win over Samsel.

In other first round action Smallwood defeated King despite her tire problems and Hamelink drove around three-time Pro Fuel winner Evans. Smallwood produced the biggest scare of the night when her tire came apart at the quarter-mile mark, but an incredible job behind the wheel kept her car out of the wall and allowed her to return for the consolation rounds later that night.

The evening was capped by one of the largest fireworks display in Nitro Jam history to accompany only the second ever side-by-side jet truck race in Nitro Jam history. The "Cool Bus" wheelstander and many of the best drivers in Top Sportsman and Top Dragster brought the incredible evening to a close.

Sportsman racing will get back underway Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. with FanFest beginning at noon and racing at 1:30 p.m.

-source: ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers Bruce Litton , Bobby Lagana Jr. , Mitch King , Guy Kelly , Spencer Massey