Salt Lake City: Series Friday report

'Mr. Explosive' Mark Sanders wins loaded Prostalgia field on opening night at Salt Lake Nitro Jam @Litton wins fourth in a row; Johnson takes Ironman in debut WEST VALLEY CITY,Utah (June 18, 2010) -- What a debut. With an entire state watching...

'Mr. Explosive' Mark Sanders wins loaded Prostalgia field on opening night at Salt Lake Nitro Jam @Litton wins fourth in a row; Johnson takes Ironman in debut

WEST VALLEY CITY,Utah (June 18, 2010) -- What a debut.

With an entire state watching the new Nitro Jam made its debut at Rocky Mountain Raceways and the show certainly left fans walking away satisfied. From an incredible finish in the brutal Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car class to the debut of side-by-side jet trucks, a dominating showing in Top Fuel and an improbable first time winner in Pro Fuel, the first day of Nitro Jam in Salt Lake City was everything fans were looking for and then some.

And when the dust finally settled three winners were left standing in the professional classes as Mark Sanders and the "Mr. Explosive" Prostalgia NFC team walked away with their first Ironman, joining first-time Pro Fuel winner Brandon Johnson in victory lane. Bruce Litton rounded out the list of winners, continuing his dominance of the Top Fuel class with his fourth consecutive victory.

Coming into the first-time event the talk surrounding the big show centered on a collection of the some of the best nostalgia floppers in the entire country and the class certainly did not disappoint. When all was said and done Sanders came away victorious over friend and rival Tim Boychuk, avenging a loss to the Canadian from earlier in the year with a new track record pass.

"Boychuk took us out in Las Vegas so we had a little grudge going into this one -- and boy was it fun," said an ecstatic Sanders. "That was an awesome pass and just a great race. We had a lot of fun out here tonight and we are going to really celebrate this one tonight."

The incredible Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car final was one of the most impressive races of the season and was made even more intense by a lengthy delay just prior to the final round run.

An oil down moments before the final left Boychuk and Sanders sitting in their cars for nearly 30 minutes thinking about their matchup, but the wait mattered very little as the pair produced easily the best side-by-side run of the event and possibly the season.

"That was a good prepped track right there. After an oil down like that I was impressed at how good the track was, but it certainly made for a long wait," Sanders said. "Jake, my 20-year-old son and crew chief, kept telling me to hang in there and we did. We went right down the middle of the track.

"But we sure sat there a long time and sometimes in that situation you can over think yourself. They kept asking what I was doing in there and I kept telling them I was making sure to go over what I needed to do. And once we fired up it all just came natural."

Sanders ran a new track record 6.00 elapsed time at 240.21 miles-per-hour to drive around Boychuk and his equally impressive 6.06/233.36.

Both cars were welded together the length of the quarter-mile with Sanders edging out the Edmonton native at the line by mere inches.

In the consolation rounds Steve Nichols once again proved he belongs among the elites in the class with a 5.956/218.16 in a win over local racer Jack Harris. Dale Pulde also recorded a consolation win over Roger Garten and Terry Capp won on a bye.

While Boychuk and Sanders were the class of the field on Friday, Nichols, Harris and the rest of the extremely strong field showed that anything goes on a brand new evening of racing on Saturday.

Sanders showed just how strong the west coast Prostalgia field is right from the start with a quick 6.079/236.01 in the opening round of the new nostalgia class, edging IHRA legend Pulde. Boychuk filled the other final round spot with a 6.308/222.77 on a bye run. Both drivers were able to overcome the tricky Utah air to claim their spots at the head of the field.

Capp barely missed the cut for the Prostalgia final, taking out Garten in the opening round, while Nichols claimed the other opening round win over Harris.

In Top Fuel Litton kept his streak alive with a win over Spencer Massey as the class struggled to find the right combination to get down the track.

Litton ran a 5.23 E.T. at 261.78 mph in the final to claim his fourth consecutive victory while Massey ran a 5.88 in the runner-up spot -- his third time coming up just short this season.

"This was our first time here and we are certainly happy to come away with the win," Litton said. "The track presented a few challenges, but the Lucas Oil dragster was up for the fight."

In the consolation round Lagana claimed a win over Cox.

Litton reached his fourth Top Fuel final in a row with a victory over Lagana, furthering his point lead over the veteran. Massey reached his third final of 2010 with a win over teammate Cox.

Friday's Pro Fuel final produced the most unique situation of the evening as the class of the field was reduced to the runner-up position and the winner failed to even reach the finish line.

The strange final in the all new nitro dragster class was set up when Nitro Jam newcomers Johnson and Johnny Athen matched up in Friday's final round of Pro Fuel. In the final Athen left the line a tad too early, disqualifying an absolutely tremendous run, while in the other lane Johnson's motor grenaded off the line and sent pieces high into the air.

Johnson's explosion also forced him to stop well short of halftrack, but the win had already been decided in his favor giving Johnson an Ironman in his first career Nitro Jam start.

"That was driver malfunction pure and simple. Usually in these cars when you smoke the tires like that you are supposed to stay out if, well I didn't and it was total carnage," Johnson said. "There are valves sticking out and there are holes where there shouldn't be any. Tonight we will tear into it and hopefully get it back together for tomorrow."

Because of the motor failure Johnson didn't record an official time in the win, but Athen certainly made up for it with a very quick 6.027 elapsed time at 233.16 miles-per-hour in the runner-up spot.

In the consolation rounds Jeff Hamelink made up for a broken first round with a win over Larry Miersch and Michael Manners extended his new points lead with bye run victory.

Nitro Jam newcomer Athen reached the final in his first try with a first round win over Miersch. Athen ran a 5.587/248.98 in the win to lead all drivers in the class Friday night. Fellow newcomer Johnson filled the other final round position in a solo pass.

Manners, who claimed the other round one win, but wasn't quick enough for the final, overtook Bill Evans for the Pro Fuel point lead with his appearance at the Salt Lake Nitro Jam. Manners is the first person other than Evans this season to sit atop the class.

The second day of Nitro Jam will get underway on Saturday with sportsman eliminations at 11 a.m. followed by Fan Fest at 5:30 p.m. and Nitro Jam at 7p.m.

-source: ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers Bruce Litton , Larry Miersch , Dale Pulde , Spencer Massey , Michael Mann