Particularly in the Nitro Funny Car category, any one of the drivers making up the field has a legitimate opportunity to collect an Ironman trophy this season. IHRA boasts a collection of some of the world’s best teams in the nostalgia Funny Car ranks, but as the race in Tucson proved, anyone has the ability to take a round win.
Rookie Mike McIntire Jr., from Mentor, Ohio, proved the biggest surprise in IHRA’s first race of the season when he took his father’s “McAttack” nitro flopper and placed it solidly in the field. Bruce Litton, who returned to Funny Car competition for the first time after two decades in Top Fuel, also flexed some muscle by placing the “US Male” Vega in fourth on the ladder and going a round in his first action behind the wheel this season.
Jason Rupert led the way in NFC in Tucson
The first race of the season also featured some early upsets as No. 6 qualifier Mark Sanders toppled two heavy hitters in top three qualifiers Tim Boychuk and John Hale to reach the finals. But no one could catch California native Jason Rupert who qualified first and paced the field with a weekend-best 5.853 second elapsed time at 247.55 miles per hour.
Rupert’s first Ironman of the season also gives him the early points lead in the class as the “Black Plague” Camaro sits just ahead of Sanders, Boychuk and Litton in the standings. This weekend IHRA regular Greg Jacobsmeyer joins the group in his “All-Star Dodge” entry, alongside the famous “Jungle Jim” and “Brand X” Funny Cars.
Cary Goforth leads the Mountain Motor Pro Stock boys into San Antonio this weekend for the San Antonio Nationals after a dominating run by the Goforth Racing camp. The Goforth Racing team, typically made up of Cary and his father Dean, saw Todd Hoerner fill in for Dean in Tucson and the pairing was nearly flawless. Nearly.
Goforth and Hoerner put their bright orange Dean’s Casing 2013 Chevrolet Camaros in the first and second positions on the ladder and made easy work of the field, meeting in the finals of the first IHRA Pro Stock race in more than four years. But that is where the fairytale ending came to an end for the team as Hoerner got out of the groove, crossed the centerline and smashed the wall.
With plenty of work left to be done on the Hoerner entry, Goforth Racing brings a solid points lead into San Antonio, with the Black Diamond Motorsports team just behind in third and fifth with John DeFlorian and Kevin Bealko. Two-time IHRA Pro Stock champion Pete Berner splits the grouping in fourth.
Goforth Racing got off to a great start at the season opener
Nitro Harley had far less drama over the course of the two-day weekend in Arizona as Mike Scott led the way from start to finish. While he wasn’t always the fastest, Scott was the most consistent bike on the property in putting his brand new 2014 ride in first place on the ladder and going three rounds ending with a win over Jay Turner in the final.
Turner produced low ET of the weekend with a 6.340-second pass, while Randal Andras was the fastest with a near-record 231.44 mph run. Scott leads the standings over Turner, with Andras, Ron Gledhill and Steve Dorn rounding out the standings.
Finally, in Nitro Altered Mike Hilsabeck started the season strong in the “Arizona Thunder” with a win over Jim Maroney. Hilsabeck proved the quickest car on the property and stayed that way throughout in picking up the win.
However there was plenty of carnage in the class known for wild, unpredictable runs as broken parts and a few wall-bangers left the teams burning the midnight oil to get ready for this weekend’s race.
The 2014 IHRA San Antonio Nationals presented by Good Vibrations Motorsports take place March 28-29 at San Antonio Raceway in Marion, Texas. For more information visit www.ihra.com.
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Mike Scott led the way from start to finish in Nitro Harley