Drag Racing Story of the Day!
26th Annual US Pro Stock Open
By Bill Pratt
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:
- Kurt Johnson, Camaro, 6.870, 200.08
- Warren Johnson, Firebird, 6.923, 199.97
- Robert Patrick, Probe, 6.937, 198.44
- Jim Yates, Firebird, 6.952, 198.58
- Tom Martino, Firebird, 6.963, 198.96
- Rickie Smith, Camaro, 6.964, 197.13
- Allen Johnson, Avenger, 6.985, 197.48
- Hurley Blakeney, Probe, 6.998, 197.10
- Jamie Yates, Firebird, 7.076, 196.53
- 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
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:
- Marc Hayes, nitrous Monte Carlo, 6.697, 209.85
- Billy Farmer, nitrous '63 Corvette, 6.720, 206.23
- Marc Hemling, nitrous '63 Corvette, 6.825, 203.55
- Karl Petersen, A/Altered Cutlass, 6.840, 204.94
- Frank Snellings Jr, Mountain Motor Lumina, 6.965, 197.59
- Barney Squires, nitrous '63 Corvette, 6.981, 198.03
- Bert Jackson, mountain motor Ford Probe, 7.242, 186.56
- Mark Pullen, nitrous Monte Carlo, 7.252, 185.84
- Robert Tyree, mountain motor '57 Chevy, 7.769, 173.61
- Michael George, mountain motor Firebird, 7.770, 178.99
- 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
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.
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
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