Avenal Spring Nats '18 Race Recap

The 2018 Avenal Sand Drags Spring Nationals was another one for the books with a record turnout in Central California. Racers came from across the west coast, as far away as Washington and New Mexico to compete at Avenal Sand Drags. The weather was very nice and comfortable early the in the weekend, before the heat not only cranked up on the track during Sunday Race Day but also the temperature as it reached into the mid-90’s. The heat certainly didn’t affect racing as there were many races decided to mere thousandths of a second during Eliminations. Here’s a rundown of all the action.

Top Alcohol

Three of the toughest Top Alcohol teams in the country made the trip to Central California for the Avenal Sand Drags Spring Nationals. Jim Hammond came off the trailer with an incredible 2.44/135MPH lap in Q1, which would hold up for the top spot and round one bye run. Jake Morton and the Morton Racing Dragster ended up right behind Hammond with a strong 2.45/136MPH blast. Last month’s winner Gary Mink and the Bad to the Bone team showed up for Saturday’s qualifying sessions and recorded a Best of 2.49/138MPH to end up 3rd on the qualifying sheet.

Anticipation was high for Top Alcohol class eliminations on Sunday with all three cars qualified within .05. Eliminations kicked off with the 2-3 matchup between Morton in the favored Left Lane against Mink. This was a great side-by-side battle with Morton using a .068 to .079 starting line edge to take the early lead and hang on for a 2.46 to 2.47 victory over the many time class champion. The margin of victory ended up being just .026 in Morton’s favor at the stripe. Next up would be the Bye run for top qualifier Hammond in the April’s Dream TA Dragster. Jim put down a strong 2.44 lap to earn lane choice for the final round.
The Top Alcohol teams came to the line for the final round with Hammond in the favored left lane against Morton, who ran Low ET of Saturday’s qualifying in the right lane with a 2.47. When the tree dropped, it was Morton’s Weekend Best RT .059 to Hammond’s Weekend Worst RT .130 that would be the difference. Jake recorded a 2.487 to turn on the win light over Jim’s Low ET of the weekend 2.433 by just seventeen-thousandths of a second (.017) at the 300’ mark. Congrats to Jake, Bob, Garth, David and the whole Morton Racing team on the well-deserved win at the Avenal Sand Drags Spring Nationals.


Jake Morton - Top Alcohol Winner


Jim Hammond - Top Alcohol Runner-Up


Top Eliminator

The Top Eliminator contingent converged on the Avenal Sand Drags Spring Nationals for Race 3 of the 2018 California Sand Drag Challenge Series. New Mexico’s Vickie Hall came in to this event as the series points leader with her Farmer’s Twisted Daughter Dragster. Hall and her Small Block power started the Avenal weekend on top of the sheet with a great 2.953 ET on the 2.95 Index in the first qualifying session. This set a high mark to shoot for throughout qualifying with many coming close, but Vickie would end up as the #1 qualifier. Craig Brewster in the Brewster Motorsports Dragster came closest to knocking Hall off the top spot with a 2.958 to earn the second position followed closely by Paul Taylor’s strong 2.959. Rounding out the top half of the field would be Jim Rossi (2.967), Ron D’Artenay (2.968) and Andy Olivera (3.02).

The Best Run of Top Eliminator Round 1 came from #3 qualifier Taylor, who recorded a 2.976 ET on a single run as his opponent Ron Moran was unable to make the call. The biggest upset of Round One took place when Jim Rossi, who swept both Avenal races in 2017 turned on the red light by .058 against Damon Hall in the Krank-E Fiat. Another primetime matchup was between March Soboba winner Jeff Liston’s Sand Bomber Dragster against the always tough Ron D’Artenay in the Red Warrior Dragster. Jeff had struggled in qualifying but stepped it up to a 3.07 ET for the win by forcing Ron into a 2.943 breakout.

In Round Two, the top three qualifiers showed how dialed in they were with Vickie Hall (2.976), Taylor (2.985) and Brewster (2.986) all making great passes close to the 2.95 class Index. Vickie Hall started off the semi-final round with the round’s bye run. She recorded a 2.998 ET with a .079 RT to advance on. Next up would be Brewster’s Hemi-powered Dragster against the Chevy power of Taylor. Brewster parlayed a .050 to .123 RT edge into a win by just two-thousandths of a second in a 3.029 to 2.958 decision.

The final round was set between the top two qualifiers on the weekend; Vickie Hall with her small block power against the Hemi power of Craig Brewster. This one was over at the starting line as Brewster turned on the red bulb by .027 handing the win over to Hall, who ran another solid 2.979 ET. Much props go out to Vickie and her husband Damon on the incredible weekend at the Avenal Sand Drags Spring Nationals, where she made eight passes between 2.953-2.998 putting on a tremendous performance in perhaps the most competitive class in sand drag racing.


Vickie Hall - Top Eliminator Winner


Craig Brewster - Top Eliminator Runner-Up


Pro Bracket Classes
The big story of the Pro Bracket class action on Sunday was the rare Pro 1-2 sweep by Arizona’s Tommy Zavala. Zavala, making his first trip to Avenal went 8-0 in Sunday eliminations to take home the big money in two classes. Tommy used a .042 RT and 3.734 (3.71) to take the Pro 1 final round victory over fellow AZ racer Kenny Hayes. Zavala then came around for an all-Dragster Pro 2 final as he faced off with Chris Helmuth. Helmuth had the RT edge .026 to .056, but it would be Zavala running closer to his dial with a 3.821 (3.75) to seal the deal on the Sunday sweep. Another great story on Sunday was the Pro 3 class winner, Chris Adamson. Chris broke his Bounty Hunter Jeep on Friday and appeared to be done for the weekend. By the time Sunday came around, the plan had changed as his son Justin told pops to jump into the Raped Ape Jeep to go for the win & chase California Sand Drag Challenge points. Chris would do just that as he used a .037 RT and 4.339 (4.35) to get around a foul start from Jimmy Depasse. The win would move Adamson into the Pro 3 points lead in the CSDC going into the final two races of the season. The Motorcycle Pro 1 class saw a huge shakeup in the standings as points leader Brad Olson skipped the Avenal event after sweeping the first two Soboba events. This time around it was last month’s runner-up Taylor Marchant getting the job done as he used a .089 RT & 4.025 (3.95) to defeat Blake Maness. The win moved Marchant into a tie for second place with Mark Ratliff just one round behind Olson. Caleb Mings took a crucial final round win over Marcus Riedel to move one round ahead in the CSDC standings. Mings took a final round Margin of Victory totaling .027 for the final round win and to earn sole possession of the points lead heading into the season’s final two races.


Tommy Zavala - Pro 1 Winner


Tommy Zavala - Pro 2 Winner


Chris Adamson - Pro 3 Winner


Taylor Marchant - Motorcycle Pro 1 Winner


Caleb Mings - Motorcycle Pro 2 Winner


Pro Gambler / Specialty Classes

The Friday Pro Gambler class was a huge field with 37 entries making the Round 1 call. When the sixth-round final rolled around, it was two of the winningest west coast bracket racers of recent years lining up to settle the top prize. Charlie Johnson’s Mopar-powered Jeep rolled into the beams against the Larry Minor Motorsports-built Jeep of Kenny Hayes. Both racers were deadly on the tree with Hayes taking a .010 to .011 advantage, but it would be Johnson running dead-on 4.486 (4.48) to turn on the win light and take home the big money. Friday evening’s 3.95 Index class put on a tremendous show with 11 entries qualifying for the field. The #1 qualifier was Joe Simeone’s I Love It Jeep with a solid 3.959 ET. But the final round would see last October’s Avenal 3.95 Index winner Kevin Williams paired up with Wes Johnson in his third 3.95 Index final round of the season. Kevin would not be denied on this evening as he cut a great .023 to Wes’ .051 and took the win in a great 4.008 to 4.006 decision. Williams kept his momentum rolling the next day as he earned the Saturday Pro Gambler victory. Kevin got around the always tough Grant Fraysier in the Procharger-equipped Hummer when Grant broke out with a 3.417 (3.44). Friday afternoon saw a nice Motorcycle Gambler field do battle with Morton Racing’s DJ Noerr turning on the win light to take the win over Tessa Nunes.


Charlie Johnson - Friday Pro Gambler Winner


Kevin Williams - 3.95 Index Winner


Kevin Williams - Saturday Pro Gambler Winner



DJ Noerr - Motorcycle Gambler Winner

Sportsman Bracket / Junior Classes

The Sportsman 1 class was a really cool story as Gazzeny Racing’s Anthony Avila put his Grandpa Mike’s Dragster in the Winners Circle in his second ever race running a 3.625 (3.57). Anthony’s Margin of Victory was just one-thousandth of a second (.001) over Jimmy Depasse in an incredibly close final round. Not to be outdone, the Sportsman 2 final was nearly as close as Sportsman 1 with Paul May earning the win by just three-thousandths of a second (.003) over Tony Soares. Mathew Wilson got the win in Sportsman 3 defeating Chaylene Pintor in her first race since graduating from the Junior categories. Ole “JW” Joey Weaver not only took the Motorcycle Sportsman 1 class win with a dead-on 8 lap over DJ Noerr, but also the CSDC class points lead heading into the Fall events. Dylan Holmes was the Motorcycle Sportsman 2 class winner with a .052 RT and 4.926 (4.85) in the final round to get around points leader Mark Ratliff. The Junior classes showcased the sand drag racers of tomorrow on Sunday morning with the final round results being: Hayden Brayntor defeating Tyler Tschacher (Juniors), Cruz Liston over Nixon Acevedo (Junior Dragster) and Sky Chaffin getting past Scottlyn Acevedo (Youth).


Anthony Avila - Sportsman 1 Winner


Paul May - Sportsman 2 Winner


Joey Weaver - Motorcycle Sportsman 1 Winner


Dylan Holmes - Motorcycle Sportsman 2 Winner


Cruz Liston - Junior Dragster Winner


Hayden Brayntor - Juniors Winner


Sky Chaffin - Youth Winner


Photos Courtesy NSDN

Event Photo Gallery - Photos Courtesy NSDN
 

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