WJ Wins Silver Anniversary U.S. Pro Stock Open at MIR Budds Creek, MD (May 19, 1999) - Warren Johnson won the 25th annual Yates Auto Parts U.S. Pro Stock Open at Maryland International Raceway Wednesday night. Johnson used a string of 6.80s at...
WJ Wins Silver Anniversary U.S. Pro Stock Open at MIR
Budds Creek, MD (May 19, 1999) - Warren Johnson won the 25th annual Yates Auto Parts U.S. Pro Stock Open at Maryland International Raceway Wednesday night. Johnson used a string of 6.80s at over 200 mph to defeat a quality eight car field in the longest running independent Pro Stock drag race in the world. Johnson, the current National Hot Rod Association world champion, beat two-time NHRA champ and event sponsor Jim Yates in the final.
Royce Miller's outstanding track preparation and "The Creek's" legendary sea-level air quality again placed MIR among the world's quickest and fastest raceplants. WJ led qualifying with an amazing 6.867 second, 200.08 mph blast that reset both ends of the MIR track record and placed MIR among the five quickest Pro Stock tracks in the world. Yates qualified number two with a 6.900, 197.88 run in his Splitfire Spark Plugs/DynoMax Firebird. Tom Martino was third with his Century 21 Firebird at 6.909, 198.20. Mike Edwards placed the Dewco/Kite Racing Camaro into the fourth position with a 6.927, 198.32 pass.
The bottom half of the ladder started with Mark Ingersoll in fifth position with Ron Krisher's Eagle One Firebird at 6.936, 197.10. Greg Anderson came in sixth with the Troy Humphrey Motorsports Cutlass at 6.959, 197.62. Tricky Rickie Smith put the Howard-Williams Racing 1998 Firebird into the seventh spot at 6.961, 197.13. Richmond winner Allen Johnson anchored the field in the only non-GM product, a 6.962, 196.44, doing the trick for the Amoco Ultimate Dodge Avenger.
Five non-qualifiers laid down outstanding runs in their own right. NHRA Pro Stock rookie Tony Gillig went 6.969, 196.64 in the Gillig Family Cutlass. Jamie Yates had the second Splitfire Spark Plugs/DynoMax Firebird on hand and went 6.979, 195.99. Pro Stock legend Frank Iaconio went 7.026, 196.47, in his Oldsmobile. Two Ford Probes brought up the rear. Robert Patrick had best times of 7.068, 195. 93, and Hurley Blakeney had best times of 7.078, 193.68.
Round one kicked off with Mark Ingersoll facing Mike Edwards. Edwards duplicated his qualifying time to the thousandth with a 6.927-second, 199.05-mph over Ingersoll, who was forced to click it off early. Greg Anderson then staged an upset as his .447 reaction time and 7.031, 197.31 held off Tom Martin's .460 light and 7.039, 196.82-mph effort for a six-foot margin of victory. Rickie Smith then pushed the tree a hair too quickly, carding a .399 redlight foul on a 6.967, 197.25 pass. Jim Yates took full advantage in the other lane, his decent .453-initiated 6.930, 197.83, dodged the bullet. The round ended with a match-up of the two most recent winners on the NHRA tour, Allen Johnson and Warren Johnson. Another redlight start marred the race however, as Allen it a .367 light to nullify his 6.953, 196.64 effort. WJ cruised to low ET of the round on a shutoff, 6.919 at only 193.57 mph! Jamie Yates then laid down a test pass -- an improving 6.963 at 196.22 mph.
Round two began with a Mike Edwards/Warren Johnson match-up. Again, a WJ opponent tried to take too much at the starting line, as Edwards through away a nice 6.917, 198.61 pass with a .376 redlight. Johnson took the win at a nice 6.895 at 200.02 mph. Unfortunately, Greg Anderson reported he was broken, so Jamie Yates lined up against his dad for an all-Splitfire, all-DynoMax match race, with Jim going to the final round either way. Jamie laid a tenth of a second holeshot on the old man, but Dad won the race handily when the number two Yates machine would not shift into fourth. Jim went 6.928, 196.93 as Jamie clicked it to a nine-second parts saver.
The final was a repeat of last year's final, one that Yates won in a mild upset. Jim Yates fans sensed another Pro stock Open title in the making when it appeared that WJ got out of the groove on his burnout and didn't seem to have ample hot rubber in which to launch. The world champ allayed all those fears, however, as he blasted down the strip to tie his track et record and reset the track speed record once again, 6.867 seconds at 200.56 mph. Yates left the line with Warren and gave it a valiant effort, but his 6.915, 197.86 pass came up about a car length short.
Frantic Four Doorslammer competition saw Billy Farmer take his third straight win, solidifying his early season stranglehold on the points. Farmer qualified his nitrous 1963 Corvette on the pole at 6.718, 204.82. 1998 series champion Bob Bailey slammed his huge 1986 Monte Carlo into the second spot at 6.890, 195.08. Scott Braglio placed the absolutely gorgeous "Strip Tease" 1938 Chevy into the third spot at 6.954, 199.46. Former series champ Frank Snellings, Jr., rounded out the field with a troubled 7.139, 172.21 out of his 802 cubic inch Pro Stock Lumina. Non-qualifiers included Steve Thodos' pristine fire engine red 1963 Corvette at 7.298, 187.39, Donald Griffith's '94 Trans Am at 7.474, 172.19, and Brett Lomax's unique 1965 Mustang low rider at 7.639, 181.57. Tommy Howes returned with a rebuilt Camaro (after a severe final round fire suffered during the final of the last Frantic Four race on May 8), but could do no better than a ten-second shutoff. Mark Pullen had a similar fate with his 7.20 Chevy Lumina, going elevens during qualifying. Pullen came back to run 7.642, 181.72 in testing.
First round led off with an easy win for Bailey, his 6.920, 198.41 plenty to handle Braglio's crossed up, shut off run. Billy Farmer then disposed of Snellings, Jr., with a 6.783, 205.57 mph blast to cover the Lumina's 7.319, 161.08. Snellings, the picture of consistency during his championship year, has had nothing but troubles since switching to a massive 802 cubic inch motor for this season.
The Frantic Four finals pitted current series champ Bob Bailey against current hot shoe Billy Farmer. It was over before it began, however, as Bailey's Monte backfired through the hood scoop. Farmer took an easy 6.926, 200.00-mph trip to the winner's circle.
The Silver Anniversary U.S. Pro Stock Open continued the proud tradition of independent Pro stock racing started so long ago, and proved once again that the best way to see these cars is up close and personal, under the lights at MIR on a Wednesday night!