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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

26th Annual US Pro Stock Open Results

By Bill Pratt

A crewmember adjusts Jim Yates' wheelie bars before the final with Warren Johnson. Photo by Charlie Willis

Jim Yates beat arch rival Warren Johnson last night to win the 26th Annual US Pro Stock Open at Maryland International Raceway in Budds Creek, Maryland. Consistent low to mid 6.90s and an ability to get down either lane of the racetrack helped his cause. Warren and Kurt Johnson had the most horsepower, but the fast runs vaporized when they counted.

Qualifying was predictable at first, with the field stretching from WJ's 6.92 to a 7.07 by Jamie Yates. Kurt Johnson had shaken the tires hard in the AC/Delco Camaro in the first qualifying session. Most thought he would take it easy on the final qualifying shot of the day, running just quick enough to eclipse Jamie Yates' 7.07. However, Kurt jumped out to a 1.022 60-foot time and never looked back, recording a flawless 6.87 at 200 mph. KJ later exclaimed, "That was the smoothest run I've made in two years!" The time was enough to slam him into the top qualifying spot and enough to send Jamie Yates back home to study for college finals the following morning. The final Pro Stock qualifying order was as follows:

  1. Kurt Johnson, Camaro, 6.870, 200.08
  2. Warren Johnson, Firebird, 6.923, 199.97
  3. Robert Patrick, Probe, 6.937, 198.44
  4. Jim Yates, Firebird, 6.952, 198.58
  5. Tom Martino, Firebird, 6.963, 198.96
  6. Rickie Smith, Camaro, 6.964, 197.13
  7. Allen Johnson, Avenger, 6.985, 197.48
  8. Hurley Blakeney, Probe, 6.998, 197.10
  9. Jamie Yates, Firebird, 7.076, 196.53
  10. Wayne Bishop, Camaro, Dq,

Round 1 kicked off with a good race between Jim Yates and Tom Martino, Yates' 6.934, 198.35 covering Martino's disappointing 7.020, 197.59. Robert Patrick then took his 2000 Mustang to a win over Rickie Smith in Ken Koretsky's "Bucks County Kawasaki" Camaro, 6.947, 198.29 to 7.017, 195.79. Allen Johnson strapped a massive .449 to .512 second holeshot on WJ and held the lead for 1317 feet, but Warren Johnson horsepower prevailed by ten thousands of a second, 6.904, 200.05 to 6.977, 198.47. Finally, Hurley Blakeney lined up the Melsur Ford Probe against Kurt Johnson's 6.80 killer. KJ has suffered from inconsistency lately and this run was no exception. While the AC-Delco machine shook horribly, Hurley Blakeney took his '97 Ford Probe to a shocking 7.038, 194.60 victory.

Round two saw racing return to some sense of normalcy as Jim Yates dispatched Blakeney, 6.938, 198.23 to 7.013, 196.24. WJ then took out Robert Patrick and grabbed final round lane choice with a great 6.871, 200.05 over the Ford racer's 6.966, 197.45. Patrick initiated the run with a holeshot, but it wasn't enough.

Yates looked to be in trouble in the final, especially after recording only a .449 to .464 holeshot on Johnson. It was felt that WJ had enough horsepower to drive around any holeshot less about seven or eight hundredths of a second. But the cars stayed glued together all the way down the track – Johnson never pulled away on the top end. Jim Yates Splitfire-Dynomax-Prolong Firebird beat Johnson's GM Goodwrench Plus Firebird at every incremental measurement en route to a 6.930, 198.41 to 6.937, 199.97 win. Johnson later said his car slipped out of second gear on the run. Jim Yates expressed the hope that this win would provide a springboard for success in Englishtown this weekend.

Royce Miller presents Jim Yates with the winner's trophy at the 26th annual US Pro Stock Open. Photo by Charlie Willis

KJ came back to make a time run and ran a great 6.881 at 199.97 mph. Wayne Bishop had intended to run his brand new Camaro mountain motor car with extra weight, but was unable to make the car heavy enough to accommodate the extra cubic inches. Instead of competing, he made time runs to the tune of 6.90 at 202 and 6.85 at 203 mph. Kurt and Warren Johnson remained in southern Maryland overnight to test at MIR on Thursday before traveling to Englishtown, New Jersey, for the NHRA Spring Supernationals.

MIR also ran its popular "Frantic Four" competition – a category of blown, nitrous injected, and mountain motor doorslammers running heads up. Normally qualifying four positions, Royce Miller decided to expand the field to eight cars based on the number and quality of entries. The final qualifying order was as follows:

  1. Marc Hayes, nitrous Monte Carlo, 6.697, 209.85
  2. Billy Farmer, nitrous '63 Corvette, 6.720, 206.23
  3. Marc Hemling, nitrous '63 Corvette, 6.825, 203.55
  4. Karl Petersen, A/Altered Cutlass, 6.840, 204.94
  5. Frank Snellings Jr, Mountain Motor Lumina, 6.965, 197.59
  6. Barney Squires, nitrous '63 Corvette, 6.981, 198.03
  7. Bert Jackson, mountain motor Ford Probe, 7.242, 186.56
  8. Mark Pullen, nitrous Monte Carlo, 7.252, 185.84
  9. Robert Tyree, mountain motor '57 Chevy, 7.769, 173.61
  10. Michael George, mountain motor Firebird, 7.770, 178.99
  11. Bob Bailey, nitrous Monte Carlo, 16.728, 45.05

The first race of round one was terrific, with initial series champ Frank Snellings Jr, posting a 6.976, 197.51 win over Karl Petersen's A/Altered Cutlass at 7.041 at 193.63 mph. Up next, reigning circuit champ Billy Farmer took out Bert Jackson with a consistent 6.720, 205.98 to 7.250, 185.84 mph effort. Jackson was driving a Ford Probe with 714 cubic inches of pure pedal.

Barney Squires suffers a huge nitrous backfire in Johnny Foltz's Outer Limits Corvette. Photo by Greg Gage

Up next, observers were watching to see if Marc Hayes could run another number or if the 6.69 was a fluke. Hayes allayed all fears as he slammed the Candy Tangerine ‘99 Monte Carlo through the traps for a 6.720, 209.69 victory after Mark Pullen suffered a fire on the starting line. Marc Hemling has traded in his ‘96 Cadillac Eldorado Pro Street car for a swoopy '63 Corvette and it is starting to pay off, a 6.818, 202.91 pass did the trick nicely as Barney Squires suffered a large nitrous backfire in Johnny Foltz's Outer Limits '63 ‘Vette.

In round two, Frank Snellings Jr, found the chink in Mark Hayes' armor with a 6.977, 198.15 to 13.21, 63.39 mph win as Hayes bogged off the line then shook the tires. Billy Farmer then got lucky when Marc Hemling came up broken. With the win light glowing, Farmer got crossed up on the run, crossing the outer line and shutting off to a 10.07.

Billy Farmer and Frank Snellings, Jr., at war in the Frantic Four final! Photo by Charlie Willis

The Frantic Four final featured two former series champs, Frank Snellings sporting huge cubic inches in a Mountain Motor Pro Stock combo and Billy Farmer sporting a Pro Modified setup of 706 cubic inches sprayed with nitrous. After a one-minute burndown during which starter Jeff Taylor sat down and let ‘em heat up, Snellings pulled into the lights followed by Farmer. At the green, Snellings' Lumina jumped ahead for a .487 to .505 second reaction time advantage. It wasn't enough, however, as Billy Farmer's G&B Racing '63 Vette pulled out a bracket-like 6.750, 204.35 win over the FAS Racing Team's 6.988 at 198.17 mph effort.

The 26th Annual US Pro Stock Open continued the tradition of independent Pro Stock excellence. A huge crowd enjoyed the mid-week race, despite the fact that a huge traffic accident completely shut down the primary highway leading to the track for the first two hours of the show. Doorslammer crazy Maryland, DC, and Virginia racing fans found alternate routes to the track in order to see their favorite NHRA stars go at it under the lights.

Bill Pratt

 

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