Repeats at 'The Rock;' Scruggs Also Wins at PDRA Dragstock
ROCKINGHAM, NC (Sept. 13, 2015) -- North Carolina's own
"Tricky Rickie" Smith won a PDRA Pro Nitrous race for the
second time this year at Rockingham Dragway, repeating his
spring victory with the Professional Drag Racers Association
(PDRA) Dragstock XII title. Also scoring pro class wins
Sept. 12, at the eighth of nine scheduled events for the
all-eighth-mile series, were points leader Jason Scruggs in
Pro Extreme, Melanie Salemi with her breakthrough victory in
Pro Boost, Chuck Wilburn with his first Pro Extreme
Motorcycle victory and Jody Stroud for the second time in
Pro Open Outlaw.
In the PDRA sportsman ranks, Dane Wood prevailed for the
first time in Top Sportsman, Matt Cooke won his first Top
Dragster final, Carson Brown won from the top qualifying
position in Pro Jr. Dragster and Alexis Tanner picked up the
win in Top Jr. Dragster.
Smith, the back-to-back reigning NHRA Pro Mod champion and
current PDRA Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous points leader,
placed 14th with a 3.90 pass in the opening round of
qualifying and was 17th after round two despite improving to
3.83 seconds. That left Friday night's third session when he
vaulted up to ninth with a 3.79 at 198.67 mph before
ultimately qualifying his IDG-backed '69 Camaro eighth with
a 3.78 at 198.67 mph.
"I came here with just one motor because I didn't want to
bring my NHRA stuff, but I didn't mean to be as soft on the
tune-up as I was the first two runs when it was hot," Smith
admitted. "Luckily it cooled down, the track stayed tight,
and we were able to step it up."
After opening eliminations with a 3.78 win over Steve
Jackson, Smith faced one of his biggest rounds of the year
in the quarter finals against number-one qualifier Tommy
Franklin, who trailed him by less than one round's worth of
points heading into Dragstock XII. Whoever won the round was
guaranteed to leave with the points lead and an opportunity
to extend it substantially. Smith took full advantage,
leaving first with a .031 reaction time, then posting
another 3.78 pass at 199.17 mph while Franklin slowed to
3.83 at 175.64 when his own '69 Camaro coughed fire from its
scoop for the second-straight run as it crossed the finish
"That was a huge round," Smith agreed. "We got a little
lucky since he was running so fast but it looked like he
hurt the motor a run or two before we raced. But sometimes
you have to be lucky to win."
In the semi-finals, Smith got it done on the starting line,
leaving with a .040 light against the .068 by Jay Cox, which
allowed his 3.79 at 198.73 to beat a quicker 3.77 at 198.61
by four-thousandths of a second. Waiting for him was Chris
Rini, who started his ATI Performance Products '69 Camaro
third after running a career-best 3.75 at 198.23 mph in
qualifying. Rini beat Tim Savell, John Hall and John Camp to
reach Smith in the final round.
Once there, it looked like Smith was living up to his
"Tricky Rickie" reputation as he turned on both the
pre-staged and staged bulbs before Rini had even pre-staged.
"I really didn't intend for that to happen," Smith insisted.
"I noticed the last two runs the brakes were feeling
different and I was just waiting for him to go in when I saw
my staged light come on. I didn't even realize the car was
creeping forward but when it did I just pressed the
transbrake button and got ready to go."
After Rini staged he took a .011 lead off the start, but
Smith quickly recovered and made his best run of the weekend
with a 3.77 at 198.96 against a 3.82 at 191.46 mph.
"It was that Musi motor and the Bickel chassis, always
Bickel, that got it done," Smith said. "That, and Rickie
Smith don't ever give up. I've been doing this a long time
and that's one thing you can be sure of, I don't ever give
With just 11 entries, the NAS Racing Pro Extreme class did
not meet the threshold (13) for a 16-car field, so Randell
Reid led an eight-car field into eliminations with a 3.54 at
213.00-mph qualifying pass.
Points leader Jason Scruggs ran 3.56 at 216.27 to start his
ScruggsFarm.com '69 Camaro from the number-five position,
then beat Mustafa Buhamaid with a 3.55 at 216.93 in round
one of racing before making a 3.54 solo run at 217.84 mph in
the semis when Reid's car broke on the starting line.
That set up a final-round match against Todd Tutterow, who
won the PDRA Spring Nationals in April. Tutterow, from
Lewisville, NC, steered his GALOT Racing '69 Camaro to a
3.59 at 213-mph win over Dubai's Badir Ahli in round one and
won with a holeshot against Brandon Snider in the
In the final, Scruggs left with a .015 advantage, then
posted another 3.54-seconds pass at 218.19 mph while
Tutterow faced traction issues and slowed to 4.39 at just
120.52 mph. It was Scruggs' fifth win of the year and almost
clinched his position at the top of the points list with
just the PDRA World Finals left to run in October at
"We went out looking to run a high-.53 or low-.54 and that's
exactly what we run so that makes us pretty happy. I felt
like we got lucky to win our last race (last month in
Memphis) when we didn't make a good run in the final, so it
feels good to win one this way," Scruggs said. "I also want
to thank everyone that helps us, everyone at ScruggsFarm.com,
Hoosier Tires, the guys at MVM wheelie bars, Flatout
Gaskets, Snyder Lencodrive, just everybody that helps us."
In just her second outing with a new, supercharged MSR '68
Firebird, Melanie Salemi started from the third position in
Precision Turbo Pro Boost with a 3.86 pass at 192.11 mph,
then ran like a bracket racer with runs of 3.86, 3.92, 3.86
and 3.86 respectively through Joe Baker, Larry Higgenbotham,
Ric Fleck and finally Anthony Disomma to earn her first
"I'm completely overwhelmed. We've had this great vision of
everything coming together and this is even better than what
I imagined," the transplanted Canadian from Buffalo, NY,
declared. "First and foremost I have to thank my husband
Jon, my brother-in-law Jim Salemi and Mike Stawicki, as well
as my father, Roger Simmons. He couldn't be here this week
but we won it for him."
In the final round, Salemi left first with a .047 light
while Disomma was dead late at .158 in his twin-turbocharged
'67 Shelby Mustang. Regardless, Salemi also outran her
opponent with a 3.86 at 192.63 as he put together a 3.87 at
a slowing 123.84 mph.
"I knew I got out on him and I took a quick look over a
couple of hundred feet out or so and still didn't see him,
but I was so worried he was going to come flying by me at
the finish line," Salemi described of her final run. "When I
got there it just got quiet, but when I looked up and saw
the 'W' on in my lane I just started celebrating in the car.
I couldn't understand why I didn't hear from Jon for what
seemed like an eternity, but he finally came on the radio
and said he got mobbed on the starting line. It was pretty
After racing in Drag 965 Pro Extreme Motorcycle since 2009,
number-two qualifier Chuck Wilburn made it to his first
final round at PDRA Dragstock XII, where he also scored his
first event win.
"We didn't change anything from the semis, but I told my dad
(Charlie) that I thought if I could shift it on time maybe
it would run a .05--and it did, so I must've shifted on
time," Wilburn said after running 4.05 at 174.17 to handily
defeat the 4.15 at 153.95 by Burke Forster in the final
Wilburn, from Tupelo, MS, beat Curtis Grigg before making a
solo pass in round two and narrowly defeating Ron Procopio
with a 4.06 at exactly 175 mph in the semi-finals. On the
opposite side of the ladder, seventh-place starter Forster
beat Ronnie Smith, points leader and top qualifier Eric
McKinney, and Chris Garner-Jones in the semis.
The Powershield Pro Open Outlaw class belonged to Jody
Stroud at Dragstock XII, where the Chesterfield, SC-based
driver picked up his second PDRA win of the year.
Stroud qualified his 2014 Ironman dragster at Rockingham in
the top slot over the eight-car field with a 3.65 at 198.06
mph. He then opened eliminations with a lone 3.97 pass at
188.70 after opponent Latchman Hansraj broke and went 3.67
at 197.57 to defeat Matt Cooke before beating fellow
finalist Robert Frigon with a 3.66 pass at 198.73 against
Frigon's game 3.79 at 194.91 effort.
"I was a little worried about the track when I went up there
(for the final), but my crew chief, Mike Kopchick, he told
me he put a special set of tires on it and assured me if I
stayed in it we would win the race," Stroud said. "And he
For the second straight PDRA event, former Pro Extreme
champion Mick Snyder went to the MagnaFuel Top Sportsman
final, but unlike the previous month in Memphis, at
Dragstock XII it was his opponent who came out on top.
After qualifying his '06 Ford Escort 15th in the 16-car
field, Chesapeake, VA's Dane Wood defeated points leader
Ronnie Davis in round one, then took out Tony Wilson and Cam
Clark before reaching his first PDRA final against Snyder.
Wood dialed in at 4.18 while Snyder put a 3.98 dial on his
roots-blown, fuel injected '63 Corvette. Both drivers posted
solid reaction times of .012 for Snyder and .016 for Wood,
with his win light coming on 4.20 seconds at 171.71 later as
Snyder ran 4.06 at 181.32 mph.
"I wasn't sure if I was going too fast or if I was okay and
right about 500 feet is when I made the decision to lift and
make sure I didn't break out. I don't really believe I
would've anyway, but I wanted to play it safe and it paid
off," Wood said.
With a new Procharger-equipped 540 cubic incher by Stacy
Hall at Fulton Competition Engines between the rails of car
owner Andy Burnet's '09 Horton dragster, Matt Cooke raced to
his first Dart Machinery Top Dragster win at PDRA Dragstock
Cooke qualified fifth with a 4.00 at 180.79 mph for the
16-car field at Rockingham. He then ran a near-perfect 4.00
against a 4.00 dial in against Ryan Snell, who broke out by
one thousandth in round one of racing. Round two saw Derrik
Sholar, winner of the previous event in Memphis, also break
out against Cooke, while a red-light start ended Junior
Houston's hopes in the semis as Cooke ran 3.98 at 181.67
against a 3.98 dial.
That set up a final-round match against veteran Steve Furr,
who dialed in at 4.47 and ran 4.48 at 153.74, but thanks to
an outstanding .003 light to Furr's .029 start, Cooke took
the win with a 4.01 pass at 163.06 against another 3.98 dial
"The car is really good and consistent and it made me look
better than I am, at least today," Cooke said.
Winners also were crowned in the Huddleston Performance Jr.
Dragster classes, with the Pro Jr. win going to number-one
qualifier Carson Brown from Blountville, TN, and the Top Jr.
Dragster title going to third-place qualifier Alexis Tanner.
The PDRA will return to action Oct. 22-24, with the PDRA
World Finals at Virginia Motorsports Park, near Richmond.
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