Harvey and Rivenbark Win St. Louis PDRA Event
MADISON, IL (June 1, 2015) -- Jason Scruggs scored his
second-straight Pro Extreme win Sunday night (May 31), while
Travis Harvey picked up his career-first Pro Nitrous title
in the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) Mid
America Open. Also earning pro class wins at Gateway
Motorsports Park, directly across the Mississippi River from
downtown St. Louis, were Kevin Rivenbark in Pro Boost and
Chris Garner-Jones in Pro Extreme Motorcycle.
In the sportsman classes Ronnie Davis also won his second
straight PDRA Top Sportsman trophy, Lynn Ellison prevailed
in Top Dragster, Aaron Philpot won Pro Jr. Dragster and
David Roloff finished first in Top Jr. Dragster.
Additionally, Bob Henry of Owasso, OK, won a consolation
race for non-qualifiers from the Top Sportsman and Top
Rain unfortunately shortened Friday's planned program from
three to two rounds of qualifying and the wet stuff returned
the next day to preempt nearly all on-track activity. PDRA
and track personnel, led by brothers Cale and Cody Crispe,
the organization's nicknamed "Traction Twins, worked
tirelessly all weekend to repeatedly dry and prepare what
Scruggs called, "probably the best track I've ever raced
Though the race was scheduled to end Saturday night, with
heavy rain continuing to fall PDRA officials reached the
decision about 7 p.m. to return on Sunday to conduct a third
and final qualifying session in the morning before running
eliminations for all classes.
It was no easy path to victory lane at Gateway for Scruggs,
a past two-time class champion, who started his Saltillo,
MS-based '69 Camaro an uncharacteristic 15th in NAS Racing
Pro Extreme with a 3.79 at 207.88-mph qualifying lap. He
admitted to feeling more than just a little worried about
getting bumped out of the 16-car field as 25 entries made
their final qualifying attempts.
"That was nerve wracking," he said. "I was the first car out
this morning and we shook so I said to everyone then, 'Don't
worry about adjusting the valves; we're not going to be in
anyway.' And then to watch the rest of qualifying and nobody
bumped me, not even one spot, I was amazed that happened. So
we got lucky right off the bat this morning."
In round one of racing, though, Scruggs erased any concern
he'd lost the handle on his ride by laying down a 3.54 at
217.84 to beat teammate and defending class champ Bubba
Stanton, who got out of shape early and had to lift. After
that Scruggs returned with a slightly quicker 3.54 at 219.08
solo pass when Todd Tutterow broke that also set low ET and
top speed for the meet.
In the semis Scruggs left early by five thousandths, then
lost traction and had to shut down, but still dodged a 3.61
at 183.69-mph bullet when Badir Ahli had a much worse
redlight start (-.280), triggering drag racing's famous
"first-or-worst" infraction and disqualification rule.
That sent Scruggs to the final round, his second-straight
after winning at Shreveport, LA, just three weeks earlier.
His opponent would be Texan Randell Reid, who qualified his
2007 Corvette fourth, then beat John Sullivan, Tommy
D'Aprile and Ahli's NAS Racing teammate Mustafa Buhumaid,
who went for a wild ride in the semis when he crossed from
right to left into Reid's lane and took out the timing cones
while Reid had to hug the wall at 150 miles an hour to avoid
"I was behind him so I saw him coming across and I lifted
and got over as far as I could to give him space," Reid
In the final Reid and Scruggs left with reaction times
separated by only a thousandth, but Reid's screw-blown Hemi
engine almost immediately began smoking badly and he limped
to a 4.42 pass at just 120.57 mph, watching Scruggs win with
his own off-the-pace 3.79 at 181.03 effort.
"When it's your day it's your day is all I can say. We had a
bad qualifying effort when everything that could go wrong
did and then today it felt like we could do no wrong,"
Scruggs said. "In the final I was on a good run until it
blew the burst panel out of the manifold about 200 feet out
and then I just lugged it down through there because I
didn't see him. I kept expecting him to come flying by me
but he never did, so I guess it really was just our day."
In Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous, Elon, NC's Harvey put on a
clinic in domination at Gateway, qualifying his Sonny's
Racing Engines-powered 2014 Camaro in the number-one
position with a 3.72-seconds lap at 199.61 mph before
setting low elapsed time in each of four rounds of racing to
take his first pro class win.
With the entire field aiming for the first 3.60s pass in Pro
Nitrous--along with the $5,000 bonus that comes with it
courtesy of Bryant Industrial Crane--Harvey came close in
round one of eliminations with a 3.707 pass at 200.98 mph to
beat 16th-place qualifier Keith Haney. The run also
delivered to a new official ET record backed up within the
required one percent by his qualifying time.
Despite the loss, Haney also left St. Louis a happy man
after running a career-best 3.76 at 201.10 mph in his own
'14 Camaro powered by a brand-new Reher-Morrison powerplant.
"I'm not happy we lost, but I cut a double-oh-nine light,
got my first 3.70 and my first pass over 200 miles per hour
here, so this was a great race for us," he said. "We made a
statement here that we're ready to play; nobody is going to
take us for granted when they line up against us now."
Harvey--"The Carolina Kid"-- stepped up in round two with a
3.704 pass at 200.74 mph to further lower his new ET record
while eliminating Jim Sakuvich, then ran 3.71 at 200.80 in
the semis to beat a traction-challenged Steve Jackson, whose
team barely completed an engine swap in time to make the
round. "That new Reher engine was a little more aggressive
than the old one and we just missed the tune-up," Jackson
explained later. "We'll get 'em next time."
Despite being a little slower, Harvey's 3.71 still gave him
lane choice for the final over back-to-back reigning NHRA
Pro Mod champion Rickie Smith in the final. Smith got there
after qualifying 11th with a 3.80 pass, then getting by John
Camp in round one, Jay Cox with a big nitrous explosion near
the finish line in round two, and Tommy Franklin who also
suffered a nitrous blast about halfway down the Gateway
Smith left first in the final with a .033 light, with Harvey
posting .053 at the tree. Harvey said he knew Smith had left
on him, but by just a couple of hundred feet out he saw
Smith's '69 Camaro slip back. Once more flirting with the
3.60 prize, Harvey finished with another new record 3.703 at
200.65 mph against a 3.83 at 196.70 by Smith that put him a
little over a car length behind at the stripe.
"It's an honor for me to run against Rickie Smith, never
mind beat him. I would never have thought I'd ever get to
race him," Harvey declared while waiting for his winner's
circle celebration. "I grew up watching Rickie and Tommy
Mauney, Charles Carpenter, guys like that, so for me to even
be out here with him is an honor."
Harvey then credited his Boone Racing teammates for the win
and putting him oh so close to the 3.60s.
"Well, I think we probably could've run a .60 here, but we
didn't want to give the race away so we just ran what we
knew we could get down the track," he said. "We didn't tear
the engine down even one time today, so it gets tired and I
think if it would've been fresh for the final that .70 with
a three could've easily been a .69. But that's okay, I'm
just glad we won the race; that's the important thing."
Harvey dedicated the win to team owners Jimmy and Brad
Boone, as well as Vaughn Miles, a longtime friend who came
on board this season as a team sponsor. "This is pretty
exciting for me," he said. "I've won in Top Sportsman and
Top Dragster, but never in a pro class before and I couldn't
have done it at all without my team. I want them to know
Rivenbark said he was "kind of concerned" as he headed into
qualifying for the PDRA Mid-America Open with his
supercharged GALOT Racing '67 Mustang. He explained the team
had made several changes to the car since finishing as
runner-up at the PDRA's most recent race three weeks earlier
in Louisiana and Thursday's test session at Gateway had
yielded no solid passes down the track.
The challenge continued in Friday's two qualifying sessions,
with the Wallace, NC-based driver posting a best of 3.94 at
188.99 that was good enough for only a 15th place start in
the 16-car Precision Turbo Pro Boost field. And although his
Sunday morning qualifying hit was much better, a timing
malfunction meant it didn't move him up the ladder.
"That was okay, though, because at least we knew we had our
car back. It showed 3.98, but our graphs showed it probably
was a 3.83 run at about 194 miles an hour, which would've
put us in the number-one position," Rivenbark explained.
His first elimination round result appeared to back up the
assumption as Rivenbark went 3.81 at 194.18 mph to handily
defeat second-place starter Brian Hicks. A nearly identical
3.81 at 194.12 then sent Ric Fleck home from round two and a
3.83 win at 194.35 mph over Kevin Fiscus sent Rivenbark to
There, he met Michael Biehle, who was competing in his first
PDRA event with his twin-turbocharged 2013 Mustang. Biehle
started fifth with a 3.87 run at 202.94 and remained very
consistent in elimination round wins over Scott Christoffel,
Jim Bell and Steve Summers in the semi finals.
Unfortunately, the final was decided before it even started,
as Biehle left far too early with a -.282 light, while
Rivenbark put together another solid 3.83 at 191.21-mph
"We had hurt it a little in the last pass, so that's why it
slowed down a little, but after the start we had this
weekend I couldn't be happier about how everything turned
out," Rivenbark concluded. "My team never gave up and we all
came together when it counted."
It took four races, but for the first time this season a new
name sat atop the qualifying list and in the winner's column
for Drag 965 Pro Extreme Motorcycle at Gateway Motorsports
Chris Garner-Jones, the 25-year-old son of veteran rider and
team owner TT Jones, rode his 2014 Suzuki to the number-one
starting position in 4.04 seconds at 175.66 mph, then
defeated Jack Young and Ashley Owens to reach the final
against defending class champion Eric McKinney, who had won
each of the previous three PDRA races held so far this
season, each time from the top qualifying slot.
McKinney, who qualified his 2012 Suzuki second in the
eight-bike field, beat Brad McCoy and Terry Schweigert to
reach the money round against Garner-Jones. Once there,
McKinney left with a .011 holeshot, but Garner-Jones was
ahead by halftrack and won with a career-best 4.00 pass at
174.08 to McKinney's 4.051 at 177.23 mph.
"It feels great," Garner-Jones said. "The run went just as
planned, shifted right when it was supposed to and we got
the win. I'm really happy."
A race he won early this year in Florida helped Ronnie "The
King" Davis seize his second consecutive PDRA MagnaFuel Top
Sportsman race crown at Gateway Motorsports Park, near St.
Davis started his Kaase-powered '63 Corvette from the
number-one slot after going 4.01 seconds at 180.84 mph in
high-80-degree temperatures on Friday, but faced low- to
mid-60s when race day finally arrived on Sunday.
"The track was really cold so I went back and took a run
from when I won down at Gainesville in February and applied
that same tune-up to the car here. I put that little, small
tune-up in it, set the car identical to what it was there
and it ran the numbers every single time," he explained.
Davis dialed in at 4.27 for the final and after posting a
perfect light he ran 4.28 at 164.63 for the win. Glaser
dialed his '69 Camaro in at 4.13, but after leaving with a
.028 reaction time he broke out at 4.02 and 165.09 mph.
Davis powered his way through Dane Wood, Rick Corn, Cheyenne
Stanley and Aaron Glaser with a series of 4.31 and three
4.28s to take the win home to Suwanee, GA. He posted
reaction times of .001, .005, .022 and a perfect .000 in the
"I had eye surgery in the off season and I don't even have
to wear glasses of any kind now for the first time in at
least 25 years," Davis said. "I never had any problem with
wearing glasses, but I'm glad I had the surgery. I really
think that has a lot to do with how well I'm seeing the tree
After 31 cars made qualifying attempts, Jon Bradford resided
first on the Dart Machinery Top Dragster list with a 3.87
pass at 188.52 mph. Starting eighth with a 4.05 at 174.93,
however, was eventual race winner Lynn Ellison.
A red lighting Derrik Sholar handed the first-round win to
Ellison, who went 4.06 on a 4.05 dial in. Round two saw a
double breakout win for Ellison, followed by a 4.08 win on a
4.05 dial in for the semis against Laramie Reid.
That left only the final against number-seven starter John
Scali Sr. Scali left with a .044 light, then broke out with
a 4.03 at 170.90, while Ellison drove his Central City,
KY-based M&M dragster to a 4.05 lap at 176.01 against a 4.05
The PDRA Huddleston Performance Pro Jr. Dragster win at St.
Louis went to number-three qualifier Aaron Philpot, who laid
down an impressive .010 reaction time in the final, followed
by steering his 2012 Halfscale machine to a 7.90 at 81.74
mph that exceeded his 7.90 class index by only
two-thousandths of a second. In the opposite lane, opponent
Andrew Green had a .032 light, then broke out by going 7.89
at 80.23 against the index.
In Huddleston Top Jr. Dragster, number-11 qualifier David
Roloff won a double-breakout final over second-place
qualifier Alexis Tanner.
Bob Henry took home the Top Dragster Shootout (Consolation
ABOUT THE PDRA
With offices in Pittsboro, North Carolina, and Saltillo,
Mississippi, the Professional Drag Racers Association is the
top sanctioning body in the United States for the sport of
eighth-mile drag racing. The PDRA’s professional categories
include Pro Open Outlaw, Pro Extreme Motorcycle, Pro Boost,
Pro Nitrous and Pro Extreme, the quickest doorslammer class
in drag racing. The 2015 PDRA schedule consists of 10
national events. For more information on the PDRA, visit
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