Nitro Jam continues to build momentum; Sold out crowds pack State Capitol Raceway Saturday PORT ALLEN,La. (March 6, 2010) -- Nitro was in the air and three new champions were crowned during the third straight sold out Nitro Jam event Saturday ...
Nitro Jam continues to build momentum; Sold out crowds pack State Capitol Raceway Saturday
PORT ALLEN,La. (March 6, 2010) -- Nitro was in the air and three new champions were crowned during the third straight sold out Nitro Jam event Saturday night at State Capitol Raceway in Louisiana.
Reigning Top Fuel World Champion Del Cox rebounded from a late arrival to the track to win his first race of the season while Mike McIntire (Prostalgia) and newcomer Buddy Dominigue (Pro Fuel) bested defending race winners to claim their first wins of the year.
Cox, who missed his flight to Louisiana the night before, arrived at the Baton Rouge airport roughly an hour before his run on Saturday. Once at the track Cox had just enough time to throw on his suit and jump in the dragster as the pair in front of him were warming up.
He then proceeded to put down the low elapsed time of the round and eventually go on to win the entire event all just moments from missing his run entirely.
"I was here at the track at 6:50 p.m. and in the pits pulling in after my run a little after 7 p.m. I literally pulled in the pits, ran down the track and now we are here in winners circle," Cox said. "It was actually a little easier for me mentally. I just jumped in and went. I had a job to do and I did it."
After besting Bobby Lagana Jr. in the opening round Cox (Downey, Calif.) met up with teammate Spencer Massey in the final and ran to a sloppy 5.386, 204.77 to take home his first win of the year. Massey ran into trouble much earlier in his run.
"It was a heck of a deal for our team and our sponsors. And getting to race Spencer was a pretty awesome deal," Cox said. "I feel like I need to cut the Ironman in half and share it with him so we both get a piece. Hopefully we can get another one tomorrow and just share."
In the consolation round Lagana put up the best numbers of the night with a 4.817, 304.98 to defeat Bruce Litton.
Cox reached the final with a first round win over Lagana while Massey took down Litton in a tricky opening round. All four cars ran into some sort of trouble in their first hits at the track leaving the victory to the best man at pedaling the track.
Cox eliminated Lagana with a 6.161 second pass, good enough for low E.T. of the round. Massey was just behind with the next best pass.
Cox's victory set up a battle of teammates in the final as Lagana, who won both finals at the season opener at Palm Beach, failed to reach a final for the first time this year.
In the Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car final Mike McIntire (Chesterland, Ohio) made up for a disappointing opening weekend with a victory over Steve Nichols.
McIntire made a final round earlier this year at the season opener Palm Beach Nitro Jam, but a broken part kept him from making the call. It was a completely different story on Saturday as McIntire bested one of the best in the business in Nichols to claim his first career Ironman.
"At the last race it was a whole new combination and we just missed it. We spent a lot of time and money figuring this new combination out and it worked tonight," McIntire said. "We were disappointed down in Florida, but this sure did make up for it."
McIntire, behind the wheel of the McAttack '69 Camaro, was glued to Nichols and his "Mill Road Boys" entry from start to finish and crossed the line with a career best 5.926, 240.77 pass. Nichols ran a 6.515.
"I never saw him. I was geared up to leave because he is such a good racer and we did that. I left on him hard and the car just ran straight as an arrow," McIntire said. "I pushed it into second gear and just kept going. We really hit on it tonight."
In the consolation rounds Greg Jacobsmeyer defeated Rick Krafft, John Dunn won on a bye and Peter Gallen defeated John Lawson.
Nichols, who won the most recent Prostalgia race last month in Palm Beach, once again put himself in a final round with a blistering 5.974, 241.15 to defeat Jacobsmeyer's 6.165, 230.88 in the first round. McIntire reached his first official final of the year with a 6.111, 235.04 to get around Dunn.
In other first round action Gallen defeated Lawson and Jon Capps defeated Rick Krafft.
While McIntire's victory was a big plus for the team, the biggest surprise of the weekend came when Pro Fuel newcomer Buddy Domingue toppled two of the best in the class to claim an Ironman in his first time out.
"I just have to thank everyone here and especially my crew. Winning in my first weekend out is a pretty neat deal. We are all very excited," Domingue said.
Domingue (Port Neches, Texas) reached the final with a victory over favorite Bill Evans who dominated the class at the season opener. After getting around Evans Domingue shifted his focus to the other newcomer to the class Brandon Pierce.
But after Pierce ran into trouble and failed to make the call, Domingue was able to cruise to his first win with little issue. Still, even with the win wrapped up, he still ran a Saturday best 5.452 time at 250 miles-per-hour.
"It was an exciting night. We beat Bill and then backed that up with the best run of the night. What more could we ask for in our first night out," Domingue said.
In consolation rounds Jeff Hamelink won in a bye and Robin Samsel defeated Michael Manners.
In the opening round of Pro Fuel Domingue knocked Evans from his spot at the top of the Pro Fuel podium with a solid 5.731, 240.38 pass, barely edging Evans' 5.985, 254.45. Pierce occupied the other final spot with a 5.576, 254.09 to eliminate Michael Manners.
In the other Pro Fuel round Robin Samsel defeated Jeff Hamelink.
Drivers in the Outlaw Pro Modified class shifted away from two nights of eliminations and elected to instead use Saturday to qualify for Sunday's elimination rounds. After two passes on Saturday Shawn Davis (Lake Charles, La.) led the pack with a 4.214, 137.42 pass in the eighth-mile. Jim Jolley was second, followed by Wayne Collins, Steve Wheeler and Steve Benoit.
Saturday's large crowds began rolling into the facility in the early afternoon and enjoyed an entire day of exciting sportsman action prior to the start of the pro rounds.
By 11 a.m. the parking lot was at capacity and the stands were already full -- and not a single professional car had even fired up yet.
That was the scene early Saturday morning as IHRA's best sportsman racers put on a show in front of an overflow crowd hours before the start of Saturday's "Night of Fire" at the Mardi Gras Nitro Jam at State Capitol Raceway."It is really exciting to see the stands packed full of fans watching every single sportsman pass. It really stands as a testament to the quality of racing in IHRA's sportsman divisions," said Skooter Peaco, VP of Race Operations. "We were almost at capacity by noon today, seven hours before the start of the professional rounds. That speaks volumes about the new format and the racing we have to offer."
Sunday's sportsman eliminations will get underway at 9 a.m. with professional rounds set for 1:30 p.m.