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UPSETS ABOUND IN SEASON-OPENING ADRL SPRING DRAGS

April 10, 2017

Tharpe, Gray Win on the Quarter Mile; Pesz, Mauney at the Eighth-Mile Distance

 

            ROCKINGHAM, N.C. – Saturday was no day to play favorites at Rockingham Dragway where upsets were the rule rather than the exception at the ADRL Spring Drags, first race in the 2017 series.

 

            Among the top qualifiers, only Top Fuel Harley rider Tii Tharpe of East Bend, N.C., managed to find his way to the winners’ circle although his No. 1 start was itself something of an upset insomuch as the field included multi-time national champion and pre-race favorite Jay “Bulldog” Turner.

 

            Turner, of nearby Julian, did manage to put up the best numbers of the event when he stopped the quarter mile timers in 6.352 seconds at 222.80 miles per hour in a first round win over fellow Carolinian Mike Beland but he couldn’t duplicate that performance in round two and fell to Tharpe.  Tharpe then beat Bill “Billy Jack” Jackson of Honeybrook, Pa., in the final.

 

            In the Pro Mod divisions, the winners’ names were familiar but neither of the three was really expected to get the trophy.

 

            The NHRA Pro Mod title, contested at the quarter mile distance, fell to second generation pro Jonathan Gray of Artesia, N.M., after No. 1 qualifier Matt Smith of King, N.C., son of many-time NHRA and IHRA champion Rickie Smith, was upset in the semifinals by veteran Doug Winters of Pleasant Garden.

 

            Gray’s win capped an amazing four weeks for Gray Motorsports in which the Carolina-based team won the NHRA Gatornationals Pro Stock championship on March 19 with Jonathan’s brother, Shane, at the wheel of a Camarol and then won last week’s NHRA race at Las Vegas with Shane’s 17-year-old son Tanner driving.

 

            The other two Pro Mod titles, decided at the eighth-mile distance, fell to former ADRL champ Brandon Pesz of The Woodlands, Texas, who won the Insane PM title, and veteran Carolina chassis builder and former IHRA Pro Mod Champ Tommy Mauney of Shelby, who prevailed in the Outlaw class.

 

            Pesz, who has raced only infrequently the past few years, drove his 1958 Chevy Corvette past the 2005 ‘Vette of track record holder Frankie Taylor of Dickinson, Texas in one of the closest races in Pro Mod history.  Pesz used a narrow starting line advantage to get to the finish line .001 of a second ahead of his opponent in an all-Texas final.

 

            Other winners were Boyd Beyer of Casstown, Ohio in Top Sportsman; Paul Daigrepont of Mooresville, N.C., in Top Dragster; Ron Hamm of New Carlisle, Ohio, in Top Bracket; and Samuel Peterson of Richlands, Mich., in Pro Jr. Dragster.

 

* * * *

 

            ROCKINGHAM, N.C. – Results from Saturday’s ADRL Spring Drags and Rockingham Dragway, first race in the 2017 series.  All racing at the one-eighth mile distance unless otherwise stipulated:

 

NHRA PRO MODIFIED (quarter mile)

            Qualifying – 1. Matt Smith, King, N.C., 2016 Chevy Camaro, 3.788, 200.86 mph; 2. Jonathan Gray, Artesia, N.M., 2016 Chevy Camaro, 3.801, 199.37 mph; 3. Billy Harper, Paducah, Ky., 2000 Dodge Viper, 3.818, 196.85 mph; 4. Doug Winters, Pleasant Garden, N.C., 1969 Chevy Chevelle, 3.929, 191.29 mph.

            Semifinals – Jonathan Gray, Artesia, N.N., 2016 Chevy Camaro, .074, 3.855, 197.86 mph, def. Billy Harper, Paducah, Ky., 2000 Dodge Viper, .065, 3.876, 195.17 mph; Doug Winters, Pleasant Grove, N.C., 1969 Chevy Chevelle, .079, 3.856, 195.17 mph, def. Matt Smith, King, N.C., 2016 Chevy Camaro, .035, 8.544, 50.69 mph.

            FINAL – Jonathan Gray, Artesia, N.M., 2016 Chevy Camaro, .062, 3.909, 192.55 mph, def. Doug Winters, Pleasant Garden, N.C., 1969 Chevy Chevelle, .080, 5.134, 95.88 mph.

 

INSANE PRO MOD

            Qualifying – 1. Frankie Taylor, Dickinson, Texas, 2005 Chevy Corvette, 3.643, 209.43 mph; 2. Brandon Lewis, Broken Arrow, Okla., 1957 Chevy Bel Air, 3.884, 199.97 mph; 3. Jay Diedrich, Firebaugh, Calif., NA, 3.885, 194.18 mph; 4. Randy Merick, Woppopello, Mo., NA, 4.043, 152.59 mph.

            Round 1 – Frankie Taylor, Dickinson, Texas, 2005 Chevy Corvette, bye; Jay Diedrich, Firebaugh, Calif., 1969 Chevy Camaro, .072, 3.876, 192.36 mph, def. Randy Merick, Woppopello, Mo., NA, .239, 8.139, 68.36 mph; Brandon Pesz, The Woodlands, Texas, 1958 Chevy Corvette, .118, 3.719, 205.13 mph, def. Brandon Lewis, Broken Arrow, Okla., 1957 Chevy Bel Air, .076, 3.773, 206.23 mph.

            Semifinals – Taylor, .092, 3.675, 208.71 mph, def. Diedrich, .057, 3.837, 202.94 mph; Pesz, bye.

            FINAL – Brandon Pesz, The Woodlands, Texas, 1958 Chevy Corvette, .052, 3.651, 202.12 mph, def. Frankie Taylor, Dickinson, Texas, 2005 Chevy Corvette, .084, 3.620, 210.21 mph.  

 

OUTLAW PRO MOD

            Qualifying – 1. Jon Stouffer, Neosho, Mo., 1971 Plymouth Barracuda, 4.035, 154.09 mph; 2. Mike Iania, Port St. Lucie, Fla., 1969 Chevy Camaro, 4.557, 142.81 mph; 3. Wayne Smozanek, Jupiter Landings, Fla., 1996 Chevy Corvette, 4.605, 121.02 mph; 4. Tommy Mauney, Shelby, N.C., 1968 Chevy Camaro, 6.918, 84.95 mph.

Semifinals – Wayne Smozanek, Jupiter Landings, Fla., 1996 Chevy Corvette, .248, 4.572, 142.31 mph, def. Mike Iania, Port St. Lucie, Fla., 1969 Chevy Camaro  1.029, 6.592, 102.32 mph; Tommy Mauney, Shelby, N.C., 1968 Chevy Camaro, 1.052, 3.947, 176.07 mph, def. Jon Stouffer, Neosho, Mo., 1971 Plymouth Barracuda, no time.

FINAL -- Tommy Mauney, Shelby, N.C., 1968 Chevy Camaro, .134, 4.146, 178.42 mph, def. Wayne Smozanek, Jupiter Landings, Fla., 1996 Chevy Corvette, .390, 4.033, 179.68 mph.

 

TOP FUEL HARLEY (quarter mile)

            Qualifying – 1. Tii Tharpe, East Bend, N.C., 6.460, 202.88 mph; 2. Tracy Kile, Asheville, N.C., 6.561, 219.86 mph; 3. Bill “Billy Jack” Jackson, Honeyrooke, Pa., 6.666, 211.86 mph; 4. Jay Turner, Julian, N.C., 6.792, 193.46 mph.

            Round 1 – Jay Turner, Julian, N.C., .094, 6.352, 222.80 mph, def. Mike Beland, Maiden, N.C., .082, 6.831, 194.97 mph; Bill “Billy Jack” Jackson, Honeybrook, Pa., .090, 6.640, 215.75 mph, def. Tyler Wilson, Walnut Grove, N.C., .135, 8.469, 131.15 mph; Tracy Kile, Asheville, N.C., .157, 12.059, 64.44 mph, def. Chris Smith, Murfreesboro, Tenn., foul; Tii Tharpe, East Bend, N.C., .176, 6.381, 208.39 mph, def. Jake Stordeur, Goshen, Ohio, .040, no time.

            Semifinals – Tharpe, .038, 6.488, 185.18 mph, def. Turner, .091, 15.796, 70.43 mph; Jackson, .051, 6.654, 206.95 mph, def. Kile, .085, 6.707, 208.55 mph.

            FINAL – Tii Tharpe, East Bend, N.C., .113, 6.429, 217.25 mph, def. Bill “Billy Jack” Jackson, Honeybrook, Pa., .115, no time.

 

Other final rounds:

            TOP SPORTSMAN – Boyd Beyer, Casstown, Ohio, 2004 Ford Mustang, .064, 5.688 on a 4.050, 82.10 mph, was unopposed.

            TOP DRAGSTER – Paul Daigrepont, Mooresville, N.C., .033, 3.836 on a 3.820, 186.23 mph, def. Justin Kirk, Lenore, West Va., .034, 3.899 on a 3.880, 184.50 mph.

            PRO JR. DRAGSTER – Samuel Peterson, Richlands, Mich., .028, 7.975, 79.18 mph, def. Jordon Baker, Sumter, S.C., .068, 7.945, 82.09 mph.

            TOP BRACKET – Ron Hamm, New Carlisle, Ohio, 1969 Chevy Camaro, .022, 5.991 on a 5.980, 114.66 mph, def. Robby Stewart, Coats, N.C., 1923 T-roadster, .024, 5.349 on a 5.340, 126.07 mph.

 

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