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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

The 28th Annual U.S. Pro Stock Open:
The Legend Continues

Story and Photos by Stephen Jones

Another packed house at MIR for the Pro Stocks. Photo by Stephen Jones
Another packed house at MIR for the U.S. Pro Stock Open.

Maryland International Raceway
May 14, 2003

It's the middle of May and one day before Englishtown and that can only mean one thing at Southern Maryland's premier drag racing facility...the U.S. Pro Stock Open at Maryland International Raceway in Budds Creek! The 28th running of this event is now in the books with Kurt Johnson taking out Greg Anderson on a .25-second holeshot.

Three amigos.
Three amigos.

The spectator turnout for this long running event astounded not only track management, but also this writer. An event held on a WEDNESDAY night... smack dab in the middle of a work AND school week... one would think the turnout would be moderate at best. However, with bad weather canceling several events over the past couple of weekends, the excellent weather today, and maybe getting a chance to see, talk, and perhaps bench-race with some of the biggest superstars of Pro Stock drag racing, going back to work or school exhausted and tired was worth it! 

Greg Anderson vs. Jim Cunningham in qualifying.
Greg Anderson vs. Jim Cunningham in qualifying.

MIR has always had some of the top Pro Stock drivers in the country at this event and the 2003 edition was no different. Among the 11 at this event, 4 are currently in the prestigious NHRA PowerAde top 10. Current points leader Kurt Johnson (#1), Greg Anderson (#2), Warren Johnson (#3), and Allen Johnson (#8). The struggling Jim Yates team was here as was Gene Wilson and the Mopar contingent. 

Randy Daniels joined the annual Pro Stock party at MIR.
Randy Daniels joined the annual Pro Stock party at MIR.

Other top teams on the grounds were ex Pro Stock Truck driver Randy Daniels with his gorgeous Bailey Trucking sponsored '03 Pontiac Grand Am, Capital Raceway owner James Cunningham and his Mercury Cougar, and Kenny Koretsky's nice '99 Neon.

Tommy Howes had his Frantic 7 Camaro in competition.
Tommy Howes had his Frantic 7 Camaro in competition.

MIR's wildly popular Frantic 7 drivers/cars were also on the bill tonight with an incredible 20 entries. This class, consisting of blower and nitrous pro mods, is a big draw at this track with popular drivers like Ed Burnley, Kent Farrell, Larry Plummer, and Billy Farmer putting on a terrific show. These may not be national known racing personalities, but they're household names in the Maryland drag racing community.

Rickie Smith drove Bob Benza's car AND Larry Morgan's machine.
Rickie Smith drove Bob Benza's car AND Larry Morgan's machine.

In Pro Stock, when the qualifying battles were finished, Kurt Johnson was on the pole with an amazing 6.789/204.39. Rickie Smith, who was driving for the Larry Morgan team AND was asked to fill in the driving shoes of the unavailable Bob Benza, filled out the 8-car field with a 6.887/202.70. Rickie was affectionately referred to by announcer Lewis Bloom as 1-800-TrickieRickie as Smith will drive for anybody at the drop of a hat and probably has the biggest driver/crew chief resume in the business.

The Mopars didn't do too well at this year's event.
The Mopars didn't do too well at this year's event.

Three teams did not qualify. A genuinely displeased, but always friendly Gene Wilson (last year's event champion), James Cunningham, and Kenny Koretsky, who suffered a rare mechanical problem when the transmission split right down the middle during qualifying.

Greg Anderson chills out in the staging lanes.
Greg Anderson chills out in the staging lanes.

In Round 1 of Pro Stock eliminations, Kurt Johnson (6.801/204.29) defeated Smith (6.882/203.71) with a huge holeshot (.420/.488)... very unusual for Smith who has an earned reputation for quick reaction times. Next, Jim Yates (6.819/202.85) took out Allen Johnson (11.991/72.21) who got out of shape and clicked off early. 

WJ was hugely popular with the MIR fans as always.
WJ was hugely popular with the MIR fans as always.

Randy Daniels (6.852/199.79) took out Greg Anderson (10.490/82.54). However, although Anderson had an oil down from 1/2 track on that delayed the race for a while, Daniels was found to be light on the scales and was disqualified. Anderson was then reinstated. In a close match up, Warren Johnson (6.796/203.40) took out Jamie Yates (6.808/201.85) to advance with a wildly hyped up and screaming crowd cheering their approval.

Anderson beat Daniels and WJ, but KJ got him in the final.
Anderson beat Daniels and WJ, but KJ got him in the final.

In the semi-finals, Kurt Johnson (6.772/204.35) took out Jim Yates (6.773/203.44) and Greg Anderson (6.805/203.52) defeated ex boss Warren Johnson (6.796/203.68), leading to an Anderson/Johnson final round showdown. In the end, it was a RED HOT Kurt Johnson taking out Greg Anderson with a blistering 6.777/204.66 to defeat Anderson's close 6.792/203.98.

Larry Plummer's nitrous Corvette was a big part of Frantic 7 action.
Larry Plummer's nitrous Corvette in Frantic 7 action.

In Frantic 7 eliminations, Kent Ferrell and his '63 ‘Vette got a single in the first round and took out Mark McHugh and his '68 Camaro in round two. He then faced off against Larry Plummer and his '63 ‘Vette for an all out 1963 Corvette final round. Ferrell came out on top with a 6.493/215.58 against Plummer's 6.688/210.67.

The Professor chills out.
The Professor chills out.

At 12:30am, many local sportsman racers remained in the staging lanes, but as the 1:00am curfew loomed, the MIR staff got most of these cars down the track except for a very few.

The Thodos Racing Frantic 7 Chevy Cavalier.
The Thodos Racing Frantic 7 Chevy Cavalier.

This event was a major success that as it always has been and one that left the drivers, fans and MIR staff extremely satisfied.

Stephen Jones
nitrofuel@prodigy.net

http://www.nitrofuel.net/nitroexpress.htm

 

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