Race Recap

The 2019 Avenal Sand Drags Fall Nationals wrapped up another great season of sand drag racing on the west coast with three days of sand drag racing in Central California. The weather gods were on the side of the racers with Warm & Sunny conditions all three days, the only inclement weather was some pretty heavy wind Sunday afternoon but nothing that caused too much trouble. This event was ever important with prestigious Fall Nationals trophies on the line as well as 2019 California Sand Drag Challenge (CSDC) points battles up for grabs. A great turnout blessed the Avenal Sand Drags crew with nearly 270 weekend entries staging up. Continue on for a look at the weekend highlights, and don't forget to scroll to the bottom of the page to view this event's photo gallery.

Top Alcohol

Jim Hammond and the April's Dream Top Alcohol Dragster has been completely dominant in the 2019 season. Hammond swept all four California series events as well as set the track record on his Summer trip to Newtown Dragway in Virginia. Jim continued his incredible season with a jaw dropping pass Saturday afternoon in Q4 with a 2.463 ET. But the most memorable part of this run was the incredible 6'+ high wheelstand with Jim's phenomenal driving setting down the front end right in the lights at the finish line. On this weekend, Hammond faced off with Las Vegas racer Darrell Cypert in the first weekend of TA action for his Hemi-powered Dragster. Cypert clicked off a lap in the 2.7-second zone at the previous event showing big potential, but was only able to run 2.97 in qualifying at Avenal before not being able to make the final round call on Sunday. Hammond would solo to his fifth victory of the west coast season with a 2.63/132MPH lap. Congrats to Jim, Leticia, Brian and the whole crew on a great 2019 race season.

Jim Hammond - Top Alcohol Winner

Top Alcohol Finalists - Jim Hammond (Near Lane) vs. Darrell Cypert

Top Eliminator

Coming into the 2019 CSDC Season Finale, two racers were still in contention for the championship and they both happened to come out of the same camp. The Hall Racing Team has had an incredible season with defending champion Vickie Hall the picture of consistency earning runner-up finishes in 3 of the 4 series races heading into Avenal while her husband Damon has had the Krank-E Fiat dialed in scoring two wins (Avenal Spring Nats) and (SCSDA May) to bring him within striking distance. Damon's incredible run also contained a big win on their trip east over the Summer to Virginia. TE Qualifying in Avenal was a battle from start to finish with racers aiming for the 2.95 Class Index. Friday afternoon's Q1 round saw Las Vegas racer Mark Punos take the top spot with his Fast Track Construction Dragster. Punos recorded a 2.981 in that first session, he would then kick off Q2 with an even better 2.964 ET. But it would be points contender Damon Hall late in that round stealing the top spot away turning a 2.959 ET to earn the provisional top spot after Day One. As we went into Saturday's two rounds of qualifying with nine-thousandths of a second on the table, the question was not if but when the top spot will move around. Ron D'Artenay made the biggest move in Q3 with the “Red Warrior” Hemi-powered Dragster recording a 2.970 ET, which moved him to #4 in the order. With the stage for Q4 set, each racer gave their best shot at that elusive 2.95 number. D'Artenay just missed with a 2.944 breakout lap to lead off the round. Pair after pair shot for the top spot, but the best number would be in the last pair as incoming #1 Qualifier Damon Hall put down a 2.964 ET. Following Damon in the qualifying order would be Punos (2.964), Craig Brewster (2.965), Aaron Bailey (2.967), D'Artenay (2.970), Vickie Hall (2.973) and Jim Rossi (2.979) rounding out the top half of the field.

Round One set the pace for an odd day of Top Eliminator action during Sunday eliminations. There were three competition single runs in Round One with breakage taking its toll during qualifying. Both points contenders capitalized on this to advance uncontested to Round Two. The closest race of the round saw #10 qualifier Terry Crawford in the Yabba Dabba Doo Dragster turn a solid 3.01 ET into a victory over Ron D'Artenay's 3.09. Closest to the Index would be Aaron Bailey's 2.978 for the small block Chevy-powered Dragster.

Things got even more wild in Round Two competition. #1 Qualifier Damon Hall kicked off the round with the competition bye run. This would not be your average bye run as the short-wheelbased Fiat drifted to the center of the track, eventually going out of bounds & wiping out several cones. Damon did a phenomenal job of saving the car, but unfortunately this would be a DQ. With her husband's misfortune, Vickie Hall clinched back-to-back CSDC Top Eliminator class championships. Terry Crawford advanced on with a nice 2.992 when Aaron Bailey went .018 red on the tree, while Marc Whitmore's Blown Altered earned his semi-final berth when Mark Punos ran 2.926 for the breakout. The final pair of the round would be a titanic match-up between newly crowned back-to-back champion Hall in “Farmer's Twisted Daughter” versus Craig Brewster with “Dig'n It”. Both are converter-equipped Dragsters with drivers that can get the job done on the tree. In this battle, Brewster would have the starting line edge .025 to .110 and not relinquish the lead as he recorded a 3.03 for the hole shot win over Hall's 2.97.

If things couldn't get any more crazy, we move on to the next round of Top Eliminator action. Let's set the stage with three cars left, Brewster was to face Whitmore and Crawford had the competition bye after Damon Hall's DQ from the previous round. Whitmore was first to start for his semi-final match-up against Brewster and immediately knew something was wrong, so he shut off and conceded the round. With wind picking up and uncertain weather conditions ahead, Race Director Chachy Zavala talked with the remaining racers (Brewster & Crawford) where the decision was made to run the Final Round at that point. So the signal was given to start, and things got even more bizarre. Crawford's Yabba Dabba Doo Dragster started without issue, but suddenly it became apparent the Brewster car was struggling to fire. At that point, his semi-final opponent Whitmore jumped in and helped the crew as they frantically tried to get the Hemi started up. Unfortunately for the Brewster team, the engine just would not cooperate. This gave Terry Crawford the free pass to the event victory. Terry took it easy on the pass turning a 3.29 to end up in the Avenal Winner's Circle. This was a hugely popular victory in the sand drag community as Terry is not only a dedicated racer and true sportsman, but a great guy in general. It was definitely a highlight of the year to see him back in the Winner's Circle for the first time in a while. Congrats to Terry & his teammate Mark Punos on the victory at the Avenal Sand Drags Fall Nationals.

Terry Crawford - Top Eliminator Winner

Craig Brewster - Top Eliminator Runner-Up

Pro Mod Unlimited / Fast Fours

Las Vegas racer Nick Shultzman finished off a great season in the Pro Mod Unlimited class with a clean sweep of all three races he entered in 2019 and the CSDC class championship. Nick was to face Marc Whitmore in the Final Round on Sunday, but Marc had problems on startup and was unable to make the pass. Congrats to Nick on the event win and series championship.

Nick Shultzman - Pro Mod Unlimited Winner

California's Sally Rasmussen wrapped up another solid season of Fast Fours action with the event victory in Avenal as well as the CSDC class championship. Rasmussen's “Poison Ivy” Dragster recorded her Best ET of the weekend with a 3.07 to get the victory over Greg Johnson's “In Excess” Buggy. Congrats to Sally & Mike on a great season of racing.

Sally Rasmussen - Fast Fours Winner

Pro Bracket Classes

The Pro 1 class featured a three-way championship battle heading into the Season Finale. Points leader Tommy Zavala came in on fire with back-to-back SCSDA event wins. Things would start off big in the championship battle with leader Zavala facing off with second place Justin Adamson in Round One. With relatively even RT's, this one came down to the finish line where Adamson's Jeep ran closer to the dial with a 3.758 (3.74) to advance on. Justin would take the points lead with that round win and eliminate Zavala from championship contention. But the battle was not over as Adamson then came up short in Round Two to Robert Watanabe, opening the door for incoming third place Kenny Hayes. Hayes laid down solid laps all day to line up with Kyle Furgason in the semifinal round, where he had the opportunity to lock up the title with this round win. The round and championship would be decided on the starting line as Furgason let go .002 early, handing the win to the Larry Minor Motorsports-built Jeep of Hayes. Kenny would then go on to earn the event win when Watanabe had problems on the starting line. This would be Kenny's second championship of the CSDC season as he also topped the Sportsman 1 category.

Kenny Hayes - Pro 1 Winner & Champion

Tommy Zavala and the Looney Dragster also came into the Avenal event as the points leader in the Pro 2 category with Chris Adamson and Justin Adamson both in contention for Adamson Family Racing. The key race in this points chase would come in Round Two, where Zavala got away with a .164 RT and turned on the win light over Guillermo Martindelcampo. That victory put Tommy in position for the Round 3 Bye Run, which would put the title out of reach for Adamson. Zavala would then go on to win a great double breakout battle against Brian Chapman to set up a final round between the first and second place points finishers on the season. Zavala's Dragster would earn the RT advantage .052 to .062, but it would be Chris Adamson putting the “Bounty Hunter” Jeep dead-on with a zero 4.250 (4.25) for the victory. Congrats to Zavala Racing on the season championship and Chris Adamson on the Pro 2 class victory at the Avenal Fall Nationals.

Chris Adamson - Pro 2 Winner & Pro 3 Champion

The CSDC Points battle in the Pro 3 was essentially settled heading into Avenal with Chris Adamson holding a solid lead over his son Justin on the strength of three event wins on the season. Chris and the Bounty Hunter Jeep clinched the championship with his Round Two victory over Clint Piere. Adamson would continue on to his fourth Pro 3 final round of the 2019 season against April Soares. April and her Red Jeep would be unstoppable on this day as she left first .044 to .085 and held on for the win with a nice 4.299 (4.28) with a Margin of Victory totaling .045. Congrats to April and the Soares team on the event win as well as Chris Adamson & Team AFR on the Pro 3 Championship.

April Soares - Pro 3 Winner

The Motorcycle Pro 1 category featured a three-way battle to decided the 2019 CSDC champion. Tessa Nunes entered the race leading the way on the strength of back-to-back SCSDA Soboba victories. The third contender Marcus Riedel would come up short in Round One to Bert Boatman, making this a two racer battle as Nunes and Tyler Hanrahan both advanced on. These two young racers put em in the beams in a pressure packed semi-final round match-up with the title on the line. Nunes had the RT advantage .070 to .122, but it would be Hanrahan laying down a nice 4.517 (4.49) for the victory. Tyler may have won the round, but the championship was still up for grabs as he still had to win his final round over Jayden Pena to pass Tessa. Hanrahan had nerves of steel with everything on the line as he dropped a .077 RT on Pena and ran 4.591 (4.49) taking .058 for the event win and series championship. Congrats to Tyler and Grandpa Bo on the huge event win & CSDC championship at the Avenal Sand Drags Fall Nationals.

Tyler Hanrahan - Motorcycle Pro 1 Winner & Champion

Championship implications were also big in the Motorcycle Pro 2 category with a three-way tie for first place heading into Avenal and a fourth competitor with a mathematical chance. The drama wouldn't last long, though as the title was decided after Round One competition. Caleb Mings and Marcus Riedel both came up short in their match-ups, while Randy Mings turned on the win light in a good race with Dennis Williams. This would put Randy out of reach in the championship chase and crown him the 2019 CSDC Motorcycle Pro 2 champion. Randy would advance on to the final round up against Oregon racer Tyler Berg. Berg, a regular at Albany Sand Drags, would make the trip pay off with the victory as the champ turned it .007 red in the final round. Congrats to Tyler Berg on the event win and Randy Mings on the 2019 class points title.

Tyler Berg - Motorcycle Pro 2 Winner

Sportsman / Junior Classes

The Sportsman 1 class championship was decided in Round One when the top two competitors faced off. Bill Meaney and his great looking Jeep let go .005 red handing the win and series title to Kenny Hayes. The event final round came down to the Orange Jeep of Brian Chapman turning on the win light with a solid 3.867 (3.85) over Washington's Scoty Burris. Ron Hess and the Mad Mouse locked up the 2019 CSDC Sportsman 2 title on the strength of two early season victories. Ron would fall to eventual winner Tony Soares in Round Two competition. Soares would turn on the final win light over Jim Suty in an all-Jeep match-up. Ryan May laid down some strong laps during eliminations to earn the Sportsman 3 victory in his 48 Flatbed Truck over Christy Amos. Wesley Fuller entered the Avenal event with a comfortable lead in the Motorcycle Sportsman 1 points battle, but his Saturday race day would be anything but comfortable. Fuller left just .004 early turning on red bulb in Round One against Nikki Bailey. This would open the door for Tyler Hanrahan to make a run at the title. Tyler was strong in the early rounds with RT's between .044-.060 heading into a final round battle with David Markle. Tyler had to win the final to pass Fuller, and he would come up just short with a .006 red light. That handed the MS1 event win to Markle, and class championship to Wesley Fuller. Caleb Mings clinched the Motorcycle Sportsman 2 championship heading into the season finale. Mings would make the final round in Avenal facing off with Tessa Nunes. Tessa had the RT edge .105 to .166 and held on for the win 4.705 (4.60) by just .026 at the stripe. Sunday Junior class action saw Adamson Family Racing in the Winners Circle with Troy Adamson getting the Junior Dragster class win over Ross Racing's Tyler Ross. Juniors category featured an all-Pena Racing final with Maddox taking the win over Dominic. Easton Moran emerged victorious in the Youth final defeating Jocelyn Schlicht.

Brian Chapman - Sportsman 1 Winner

Tony Soares - Sportsman 2 Winner

Ryan May - Sportsman 3 Winner

David Markle - Motorcycle Sportsman 1 Winner

Tessa Nunes - Motorcycle Sportsman 2 Winner

Troy Adamson - Junior Dragster Winner

Maddox Pena - Juniors Winner

Easton Moran (Far Lane) - Youth Winner

Gambler / Specialty Classes

The 3.95 Index class championship in the CSDC series was still up for grabs heading into Avenal. When Kenny Hayes turned on the red bulb by .016 in Round One, Tommy Zavala clinched the class championship. Zavala would go on to put his Dragster in the beams against Chris Pintor's Jeep in the final round. Tommy had a solid .035 to .085 RT advantage, but it would be Pintor running dead-on five 3.955 (3.95) to take the win by .009 at the stripe. The Friday Pro Gambler saw a huge field eliminated down to the final three entries of Brian Drace, Jim Suty and Sam Montgomery. Those racers would split the money at that point as darkness came in & cut eliminations short. The Saturday Pro Gambler was finished on Sunday morning with Kenny Hayes taking his second class win of the weekend defeating Bill Meaney in the final round. Friday's Motorcycle Gambler saw Marcus Riedel get the final round job done defeating Bert Boatman.

Chris Pintor - 3.95 Index Winner

Kenny Hayes - Saturday Pro Gambler Winner

Marcus Riedel - Motorcycle Gambler Winner

Sam Montgomery - Friday Pro Gambler Co-Winner

Brian Drace - Friday Pro Gambler Co-Winner

Jim Suty - Friday Pro Gambler Co-Winner

Photos Courtesy NSDN

Event Photo Gallery - Courtesy NSDN


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