Thousands fill Castrol Raceway during SMS/Komatsu 'Night of Fire' Boychuk, Lagana, Bart claim first wins of weekend EDMONTON, Alberta (June 26, 2010) - It was a night for all of Canada as local favorite Tim Boychuk won his first Nitro Jam...
Thousands fill Castrol Raceway during SMS/Komatsu 'Night of Fire'
Boychuk, Lagana, Bart claim first wins of weekend
EDMONTON, Alberta (June 26, 2010) - It was a night for all of Canada as local favorite Tim Boychuk won his first Nitro Jam event at Castrol Raceway in front of thousands of fans who packed every inch of the Edmonton facility to witness the SMS/Komatsu "Night of Fire" at the River Cree Resort and Casino Rocky Mountain Nitro Jam Nationals presented by MOPAR and E3 Spark Plugs.
Boychuk claimed his first Nitro Jam win at his home track in the new Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car category, overshadowing the incredible victories by fan favorites Bobby Lagana (Top Fuel) and 21-year-old Ashley Bart (Pro Fuel) Saturday night at Castrol Raceway.
"What an incredible weekend. To win in front of these incredible fans and right here in my backyard is unbelievable. Hopefully we can go out and add another Ironman or two tomorrow," Boychuk said.
Boychuk was also a part of the Top Fuel field, but failed to make the final on opening night.
In exhibition action the remaining professional classes wrapped up their final rounds of qualifying Saturday as Joe Delehay (Pro Modified), Roger Bateman (Alcohol Funny Car), Ron Sekura (Pro Nostalgia A) and Darrell Webb (Pro Nostalgia B) were among the drivers to top their classes.
And the entire night was witnessed by a packed house as fans filled Castrol Raceway to watch one of the biggest nights of racing ever witnessed in Canada. A total of 18 different classes were in competition on Saturday and all 18 classes will return on championship Sunday for another full day of racing.
Saturday night, however, it was all about Boychuk.
After finishing runner-up last weekend in Salt Lake City, Boychuk (Edmonton, Alberta) took it one step further on Saturday going up against fellow Canadian Todd Lesenko. In the final there was little doubt of the outcome as Boychuk, taking his first Nitro Jam win since early 2009, got the jump early and cruised to an easy victory, running a weekend best 5.850 elapsed time at 243.72 miles-per-hour.
In the other lane Lesenko, competing in his first Nitro Jam of the year, shook on the launch and lost power, cruising to a 6.887 lap.
"It was great to get the win in front of so many great fans here at Castrol Raceway," Boychuk said. "We had two great laps and made up for last weekend. I think we have even more left in the tank for tomorrow."
Boychuk continued his reign of terror in the class, winning in Las Vegas a few weeks ago before finishing runner-up last weekend.
In the consolation rounds Tim Nemeth defeated Jay Mageau, Andy Beauchemin got around last weekends winner Mark Sanders and Steve Nichols lit the win light on a bye.
Boychuk reached his first Canadian Nitro Jam final with a round low 6.023 elapsed time at over 236.26 miles-per-hour in a win over local Mageau, while Lesenko was right on his heels with a 6.042/241.45 in a win over Nemeth.
Sanders, who won the last two Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car competitions in Utah, failed to reach the final when Nichols, towing all the way from Delaware, took him out in the opening round.
In Top Fuel Lagana (Scarsdale, N.Y.) won his second straight and his fourth of the year against defending world champion Del Cox Jr. After once again finding his groove in Salt Lake City last weekend, Lagana continued to roll in the class with a big win over Cox, his eighth career Ironman.
"We may have ran a little late tonight, but there are still a ton of fans out here cheering us on. I am glad they got to see a side-by-side 4.80 pass - what a race," Lagana said. "You could not make one mistake in that race or else you lose. Del didn't make a mistake, they made an unbelievable run and they have such a great team, but we came out on top tonight."
Lagana ran a 4.814 elapsed time in the final, barely edging Cox's 4.883. It was the second consecutive victory for Lagana decided by mere inches at the line.
"What a start to the weekend. I believe the fans got 100 percent of their entertainment value tonight," Lagana said. "We have been doing these long burnouts and maybe that has been the source of our luck. Either way the fans love it and we love putting on a show for our fans."
In the consolation rounds Spencer Massey defeated Prostalgia winner Boychuk and Bruce Litton made a victory lap on a bye run.
Lagana reached the final with a win over an unlikely first round opponent. With Nitro Jam's new format putting a new emphasis on all things entertainment Lagana was matched up with a car of a different body style - a Nitro Funny Car.
Lagana's first round matchup saw him go toe-to-toe with Nitro Funny Car pilot Duchene and Lagana, at least on Saturday, proved once again Top Fuel is the "King of the Sport." Lagana ran a round low 4.933/252.19 in his win over Duchene, while final round opponent Cox (5.124/244.43) defeated teammate Spencer Massey.
A wild afternoon in the Pro Fuel class saw newcomer and 21-year-old prodigy Bart (Calgary, Alberta) join Boychuk as Alberta natives to take home an Ironman Saturday.
And what a road it was for the young driver.
Bart, who made it into the final after the other finalist crashed during the first round, survived a first round loss and a strange pass by her final round opponent to take home her first ever Ironman in her first career Nitro Jam start.
"It is so nice to come to my first IHRA event and run the Pro Fuel class. To be able to back that up with an Ironman is incredible," Bart said.
And the wild afternoon got even stranger when Bart's opponent Greg Sereda took off before even completing the staging process, giving the young up-and-comer a win in her first night out. Knowing she had the win in hand, Bart coasted to an easy 16.358-second victory.
"It wasn't pretty, I will admit, but I am just happy to get this trophy," Bart said. "I am from Calgary so we thought we would take advantage of a race in our backyard and it seems that worked out for us tonight. It is great to win in front of so many of our fans."
In the consolation rounds Ed Verekna defeated Keith Falconer and Jeff Hamelink made a solo pass.
Sereda continued the trend of new drivers finding their way to the final round, getting around regular Hamelink in the opening pass. Sereda ran a round best 5.922 E.T. at 222.84 mph.
In the other final spot Bart got the call, replacing her first round opponent who had an accident and could not make the run. Bart ran a 6.064/252.66 in a losing effort, but Massey, jumping into a Pro Fuel machine just minutes after making a pass in a Top Fuel Dragster, drifted into the opposing lane, just missing the outstretched chutes of Bart. Massey then darted back across the track and tapped the wall before coming to a stop at the top end. Unable to make the call Bart was moved into the final.
The three nitro classes will return to action on Sunday in addition to 15 other classes that will crown winners on championship Sunday. Racing action will get underway on Sunday beginning at 10 a.m.