Five entries showed up for battle at Primm, but all eyes were on the championship battle of Team CANIDAE’s Scott Whipple & Gill Bettencourt Racing’s Geoff Gill. These two were separated by just one point heading into the season finale with Whipple holding the upper hand. These two would have to not only battle each other, but the other three entries that were hoping to be a spoiler in the championship chase.
The Friday night qualifying session proved to be the best round of the weekend to lay down big numbers. In the first pair of the round, Whipple would face off with “Spooky II” Shane Switzer. With header flames up over the wings, Whipple laid down a sizzling 2.307/164.54 to narrowly edge out Switzer’s 2.315/152.87. Switzer actually carded a spectacular .952 60’ on this pass. This was a great pass to start out the round. With the championship being so close, world record bonus points could also come in to play. Everyone knew that the Gill Bettencourt car would be set on kill in this session. Geoff made an amazing pass with the front carried all the way across the finish line to a 2.311 to put him in the second position. When all was said and done with qualifying, Whipple would lead the pack and gain an extra qualifying bonus point on #2 qualifier Gill.
Heading into race day, the Top Fuel class was still a wide open affair as 3 and 4 qualifiers Shane Switzer and Jeff Janoe both showed good performances in qualifying while Dennis Rieck made some impressive short passes in qualifying with his new car to assert that he had potential to be a contender. The first pass was a duel between Janoe’s JWJ Team up against the Hammer Down Entry of Rieck. Rieck took a big lead with an amazing looking launch; however he would have to lift to set the front end back down early, allowing Janoe to power by to a 2.489 victory. All eyes would be on the championship contenders as they both had bye runs in round one. This would allow them a shot to go for the World Record and the bonus points that accompany it. Geoff Gill was first up and they were able to solve clutch gremlins from Saturday’s qualifying rounds running a solid 2.348/164.21. However, this would not be good enough to be a leg on a World Record. Team CANIDAE was up next with Amos Saterlee having the Hemi set on kill and laying down an amazing 2.278/162.75 to set a new World ET Record surpassing Gill’s 2.284 set in Yuma earlier in 2009. Everyone knew, though, that both cars had the potential to bat the record around the rest of eliminations.
The semi-final round kicked off with new record holder Whipple facing off with Janoe. The CANIDAE entry took a starting line advantage, and despite a great pass by Janoe, lowered the record even more with a 2.273/160.71. It was an amazing performance for Whipple & team considering that he had to pedal once on the pass. This stunning pass overshadowed a great pass by Janoe & team, who ran their best pass of the season with a 2.354 in the other lane. Whipple winning the round and hanging on to the record ratcheted up the pressure even more on the Gill Bettencourt team. They would rise to the occasion against Switzer, taking the win with a 2.387/151.72 advancing to the final. However, the number eluded them to take over the World Record, and shift the points race back into their favor.
So, the championship battle, headed down to the final round with the two hitters of the 2009 season facing off. For Gill to win the championship, he would have to win the round AND set the World Record in the process. This was going to be tough as his qualifying round 2.311 would be good enough to only better the record somewhere into the 2.26x range. This titanic battle headed to the starting line and when the tree dropped it was Gill with a .078 to .128 starting line edge. However, when the dust settled, the win light was on in Whipple’s lane with a jaw dropping 2.239 & 164.16 on the score board at the end of the track to defeat Gill’s 2.343/148.41. Team CANIDAE & Whipple/Saterlee not only won the race & championship, they also walked away with a World ET Record nearly .05 quicker than the previous record. This was definitely an incredible conclusion to the 2009 NSDA TF season and will be remembered for some time to come.
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The Top Alcohol class came into Primm with the series championship all but locked up. All Gary Mink needed to do with his “Bad to the Bone” entry was make it to the starting line in round one to lock up the title. Qualifying showed why Mink had earned his spot atop the class in 2009 as he would take the top spot with the only pass in the 2.4 zone, a sizzling 2.492/138.37 pass. Scott Carroll put himself in the #2 position with a personal best 2.522 while Team Lucas Oil’s Dan Allen ended up third with a 2.562. Nick Januik’s Plan B Motorsports Front Engine Dragster rounded out the top half of the field with a 2.567. The field continued on down through Pedro Villa’s Express entry with a 2.830.
Round one kicked off with Mink sealing the championship running Low ET of round 1 with a 2.540/138.00 victory over Villa. Next up was a match up between the #2 & 3 finishers in the 2009 series championship. Januik faced off with 2009 championship runner-up Team CANIDAE’s Mike DeNunzio. The starting line edge would go to Januik .088 to .125 and he would hang on for a 2.603 to 2.611 victory. Carroll would dispatch of #7 qualifier Jim Hammond in “April’s Dream” while Dan Allen nearly matched Mink’s time, running a 2.547 in an extremely close race with 2007 NSDA TA Champ Shane Sanford.
The semi-final round started with a much anticipated match up between Mink & Januik. Both cars had been deep into the 2.4 zone earlier in the year, and were expected to test the limits of the track surface. Trouble surfaced on the line as Januik rolled the beams turning on the red bulb handing the win to Mink. Mink, on the other hand, would have his hands full on the top end as he neared the wall. He would cross the finish line with a 2.547/140.35 time record, and then contact the wall just past the finish line. At this point, the car would shoot back across the track and start rolling in front of Januik. Januik would have no place to go and both cars would collide. Fortunately, when the dust settled, both drivers would emerge from their race cars none the worse for wear from one of the scariest incidents seen in recent memory. This was a huge testament to the safety built into these machines. With Mink’s car unable to return for the final, the other semi-final match up would decide the day’s Top Alcohol class champion. At the hit, Carroll would take a nice .088 to .142 advantage, however it would be the Team Lucas Oil horse power on the top end as Allen would run Low ET of eliminations with a 2.532 to take a .009 Margin of Victory. Allen would return and ease down the track in the final round to take his first win of the 2009 season & back-to-back NSDA Fall Nationals titles.
The Top Eliminator class, much like Top Fuel, came into Primm with a tight championship battle dominating the story lines. A three-way battle for the title would ensure a dramatic race day in Primm. Tiffany Januik held an 18 point advantage over Billy Morris, who was 12 points ahead of Tiffany’s Father-in-Law Leon Januik. Qualifying would play a big role in the chase as Tiffany would run a great 2.970 with her Plan B Motorsports Altered to take the #1 qualifying position into race day. This would be an even bigger deal as combined with Morris qualifying #6, Tiffany gained a round bumping her lead up to 23 heading into eliminations.
Round one would see Tiffany face off with Mario Tavares in his Turbo four-cylinder dragster. Tavares would run Closest to the Index 2.960 on this pass, however Tiffany took a huge starting line advantage and a 3.033 would give her the victory. The next championship contender would be #7 qualifier Leon Januik.
Tiffany would have the opportunity to close out her Father-in-Law’s chances at the championship and make Morris’ chance nothing more than a hail mary when she pulled up to the line in round two. When the tree came down, Carey Mahoney would turn on the red bulb handing Tiffany an ugly win, as she had to pedal a couple times to a 3.22. The battle for second place would end as
Setting up the semi-final round, Morris’ only championship chance would be for Tiffany to lose this round and for him to go on to win the race AND get the bonus points for running a dead-on 2.950. In tough circumstances, shortly after her husband’s crash in Top Alcohol action, Tiffany got back in the Plan B Motorsports Altered for her semi-final battle. She cut a great RT with a .040 to Paul Taylor’s .076; however
The final round would be an all-California battle between the Blown Big Block Chevy Dragsters of Paul Taylor & Jim Rossi.
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Tracy Malan led a four car battle into Primm for the NSDA Pro 1 class championship. Mike Gazzeny was less than a round behind Malan, only six points back. The first of the championship contenders to come to the line in round one was Malan, who would face off against Tom Sauter. Malan would leave first, however Sauter would run 3.561 (3.55) to force
Eliminations continued on down to an all dragster semi-final round. The pairing would be George Amos against Bill “Wild Willie” Swim. Swim would take a .020 to .088 advantage off the line, however he would run under his dial with a 3.442 (3.49) to hand Amos the win. The semi-final round bye run would go to Chris Adamson in “The Villain” dragster and he would run a 3.53 on this pass. In the all dragster final round, Adamson would stage a tad too deep turning on the red bulb and handing Amos the Primm race victory.
Charlie Johnson came into Primm with the Pro 2 class championship all but locked up. He would have to win round one to block any chance of Phil Soper by passing him for the title. When Johnson’s round one opponent, Craig D’Artenay, had troubles on the starting line Johnson locked up the 2009 NSDA Pro 2 class championship.
An all-Jeep semi final round kicked off with newly crowned champ Charlie Johnson facing off with the “Rattitude” Jeep of Wes Gilmore. Gilmore would go .070 red handing the win to Johnson running a 4.32 (4.22). On his semi-final round bye run, Justin Adamson would run a 4.028 (3.98) with the “Raped Ape” Jeep. The final round would be decided on the tree as Johnson took a big advantage .023 to .144 and never looked back for a 4.239 (4.22) victory.
There would be no championship drama in the Pro 3 category as Charlie Johnson had already locked up the title and didn’t even need to enter the Primm event to win the title. Johnson would continue his winning ways at this event and earn the semi-final round bye run. He would face off in the final round with the winner of the match up between Shawn Thompson and Bill Gonzalez. Gonzalez would leave first .105 to .135, however Thompson would run closer to his dial with a 4.632 (4.57) for a .023 Margin of Victory. In the final, Johnson would be looking for his second win of the evening, and he would do just that. Charlie went .039 on the tree to Thompson’s .126 and ran 4.651 (4.60) for the victory. This would be Charlie Johnson’s fourth Pro 3 victory out of six events in 2009 NSDA competition.
Motorcycle Pro 1
The Motorcycle Pro 1 category would have some championship excitement with three riders heading into Sunday at Primm with chances at the title. Leading the trio was Rob Winkle, with an eight point advantage over his brother Ryan Winkle. All three riders would advance past round one with third place competitor Mark Ratliff taking the #1 qualifier spot & the bonus points associated with that. However, round two would do him in as he would break out with a 4.466 (4.49) to eliminate his championship hopes. At this point, whichever of the Winkle’s went the furthest would win the title. Rob would keep the pressure on with a clutch 4.322 (4.23) victory over AJ Eid to advance to the final round. Next up Ryan Winkle would face off with Garrett Ratliff. Garrett would rise to the occasion laying down a great 4.490 (4.49) with a .087 RT for a .041 Margin of Victory. This would lock up Rob Winkle’s first NSDA Motorcycle Pro 1 championship. The final round would see one of the closest battles the class had seen all year long. Ratliff would take a .067 to .092 advantage off the line, however Rob would run dead-on 4.230 (4.23) and still come up just .005 short at the stripe. This was Garrett’s first NSDA Motorcycle Pro 1 victory.
Motorcycle Pro 2
Joey Weaver headed into Primm with a strangle hold on the Motorcycle Pro 2 championship chase. He held a 39 point advantage over Rob Winkle at the start of competition on Sunday. Both racers would advance past round one and with the qualifying points taken into effect; Weaver clinched the title at that point. As fate would have it, the ladder would pair them up in the next round of eliminations. Winkle would take a slim .007 starting line edge, however would run way under the dial with a 5.118 (5.25) handing the win to Weaver’s 6.028 (6.00).
The first semi-final round match up would see the new champion Weaver face off with Motorcycle Pro 1 winner Garrett Ratliff. Ratliff would nail the tree with a .003 to .179, however at the other end Weaver would run 6.077 (6.00) for the win after Ratliff had a troubled 4.840 (4.55). Next up would be 2007 & 2008 NSDA MP2 Champion Randy Mings versus Shea Marlow. Marlow left first, but at the other end the win would go to Mings in a double break out decision with a 5.481 (5.56). The final round would be between the only two class champions in NSDA competition. At the hit, Weaver took a .133 to .208 lead, but at the other end Mings ran a brilliant 5.568 (5.56) dial for a Margin of Victory of .064.
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Clayton Record became the 2009 NSDA Pro Mod champion when Bob Gill did not enter his Jeep at Primm. Clayton would be joined by
With his entry at Primm, Justin Adamson locked up his third straight NSDA Pro Index class championship. Adamson in the “Raped Ape” Jeep once again had a dominant season to take the title. Adamson would qualify #1 at Primm with a 3.956 (3.95 Index). He headed to the semi-final round where he would face off with Todd Kinney. At the stripe, Adamson took a 3.964 to 4.013 victory to advance to the final. Meeting him in the final round would be Steve Foster Jr., who won a 4.025 to 4.020 hole shot victory over Wes Gilmore. In the final, Adamson made an uncharacteristic mistake and went .251 handing the win to Foster, who ran a nice 4.010 with a .043 RT.
Steve Foster Jr.
Heading into Primm, the Sportsman 1 class championship was locked up for the second straight year by Phil Soper. Phil had another great season in the Sportsman 1 class with a win and a runner-up finish. However, Soper would not have a good finish to the season as he lost a close race to Bill Gonzalez in round one.
The semi-final round came down to Kasey Johnson in her dragster versus Nicole Johnson, racing in her first sand drag event in a Jeep. Nicole would go .002 red handing Kasey the win with a 4.067 (4.00). Kasey would face off with Todd Kolstad, who had the semi-final round bye run. In the final, Kolstad took a huge edge .028 to .358 advantage off the line and held on for a 3.878 (3.80) victory. This would be Kolstad’s first Sportsman 1 victory in NSDA competition.
Justin Taylor became another of the back-to-back NSDA champions, taking the Sportsman 2 title for a second consecutive season.
Motorcycle Sportsman 1
One of the closest point battles heading into Primm was in the MS1 category with Heather Taylor holding a two-point advantage over Rob Winkle. Heather came in with back-to-back wins at the Avenal events to put her in the point lead. In Primm, both riders advanced to round two as Rob won a close battle over Lee Bethel and
Eliminations wore on to set up a final round match up between Ryan Winkle and Garrett Ratliff. Both riders left together, and at the top end it would be Ratliff running closer to his dial with a 4.645 (4.49) for the victory. Garrett swept Primm in 2009, also winning the April event at the track.
Motorcycle Sportsman 2
Twenty-seven entries made the trip to Primm to compete in the MS2 categories, however the focus would be on the two competitors looking to battle it out for the NSDA championship in this class. In an eerily similar scenario to MS1, Joey Weaver held a two point advantage over Rob Winkle. This battle would be settled right off the bat in eliminations as the two faced off in round one competition. Both racers had great RT's with Weaver leaving first .008 to .039, but at the other end Weaver would take a 6.404 (6.00) victory for the championship after Winkle had problems down track.
Newly crowned champion Weaver advanced through eliminations to set up a semi-final round race with Kurtis Kelly. In a race very similar to Weaver’s first round race, Kelly would have troubles and allow Weaver to advance with a 6.415 (6.00). He would face off with the winner of the battle between Sidney Payne and Dan Rhoades. Both riders would leave together and at the stripe Payne would run closer to his dial with a 5.635 (5.55) to advance on to meet the champ. Payne would be on his game in the final with a great .015 to Weaver’s .038, but it would be Weaver running closer to his dial with a 6.186 (6.00) for his second MS2 victory of the season.
Top Dog Junior Dragster
The battle at Primm for the Top Dog Junior Dragster class would boil down to Austin Ratliff against Michael Wright. Ratliff held a lead of less than one round heading into eliminations. Round one would prove to be tough for both racers as they would lose close battles, handing the NSDA Top Dog Junior Dragster title to Austin Ratliff. Kailley Gutierrez would go on to win the event in the Junior Dragster class.
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