lead.jpgPro Truck Nationals (PTN) kicked off its 2011 race season with the annual trip to the IOK 4-Wheelers Grounds in Cleves, OH. Beautiful weather & sunny skies graced a great turnout of around 200 entries on hand to compete in the various categories. Let’s recap the weekend’s racing.

Pro Truck

Sixteen Pro Truck entries showed up to vie for the $1000 first place check & trophy in Cleves. 2010 series Runner-Up & Season Finale race winner Kip Martin picked up where he left off cutting a great .409 RT on his first qualifying lap to earn the #1 qualifying spot. 2009 Pro Truck champion Ben Dozeman qualified 2nd with a .441RT while Brent Lokker earned the final RT qualifying bonus point with a .455 light. ET qualifying points would go to Dozeman (3.745), Jim Rhodus (3.792), and Martin (3.807).

Round one saw a huge battle as last year’s third and fourth place finishers faced off with Ben Dozeman in the Bad Company Jeep versus Kyle Harney’s Hayshaker Jeep. Harney would take a slight starting line advantage & hold off Dozeman by just .028 with a 4.142 (4.10). Another great match up in round one would see a pair of Michigan racers line up side by side as Mike Page’s Blown Chevy Blazer went up against first time PTN racer Neal Swain in his Jeep. They would have nearly identical RT’s & at the stripe Page would get there first by just .016 with a 3.710 (3.70).

Round two would start off with #1 qualifier Martin, of Michigan, in his Primal Scream Blown BBC-powered Jeep against Eric Gallay’s Illinois-based N/A SBC-powered Funny Jeep. Martin would lay down an exceptional run with a .424 RT & 3.806 (3.80) against Gallay’s game effort 4.046 (4.00) with a .472 RT. Next up would see Page line up against Pennsylvania’s Fred Nolte in his Dreher Race Cars Funny Jeep. This would be an excellent race where Page would race Nolte into a 3.980 (4.00) break out. The last hope for a non-MI racer would be Kentucky’s Harney as he faced off with Lee Reynders in his Funny Jeep. Reynders would take just over a tenth of a second on the tree & hang on for a 4.305 (4.20) victory. The final pair would be fellow Michiganders Brent Lokker in his Pro Mod-style Jeep versus Tom Hartman in his Fist Full of Dollars Chevy Blazer. Lokker would take a slight starting line advantage and take the stripe first for a 4.060 (4.00) victory.

This would set up an all-Michigan semi-final round with three Jeeps and one Blazer. The first pair would see Kip Martin and Mike Page square off. Martin kept up his winning ways with another great RT .419 and 3.839 (3.80) to advance to the final round. This would ensure an all Jeep final round. In the battle of the Jeeps, Reynders would drill the best RT of eliminations with an amazing .410 and hang on for a close win with a 4.296 (4.20).

The final round would see Martin and Reynders match up against each other. Both drivers were on their game all day long & it shaped up to be a great race. Reynders would leave slightly first .440 to .441, but at the other end Martin was able to run closer to his Index with a 3.836 (3.80) for the win over Lee’s 4.310 (4.20). Congrats to Kip & Shelly on the big win at the Season Opener.

Kip Martin

Lee Reynders

Brent Lokker

Mike Page

Pro Outlaw FE

The Pro Outlaw FE continues to be the most unpredictable category in PTN action. Heading into the event, the supercharged entries of Brian McWethy & Josh Stephens were the pre-race favorites. Unfortunately, both suffered parts breakage and could not make it to eliminations. Guy Wagner’s supercharged Ford Bronco also suffered the same fate having issues during Test and Tune on Friday. This would leave the field wide open as the class headed into eliminations. Kathy Ellington led the class with a 3.39 in qualifying in her Ohio-based Black Widow Altered. Following closely behind her was Dan Wies’ Wies Racing Altered from Missouri with a great 3.42. Rich Simon’s new Richards Auto Parts Funny Jeep was working the bugs out running a 3.59 for the number 3 spot while Curtis Combs ended up fourth with a 3.64 and McWethy’s ill fated qualifying pass left him #5.

Round one saw Wies find a little more ET running a great 3.39 to defeat Combs’ 3.72. Ellington would have a bye run & Simon a single pass; Simon carding the better time with a 3.56. Those two would face off in the semi-final round. Simon would leave first, but gremlins would rear their ugly head causing him to slow and Ellington to speed away to a 3.32/94mph victory. Wies would have the bye run and run a nice 3.40/96mph pass heading into the final round.

The final round match up would see the Missouri-Ohio battle between Ellington & Wies. Ellington had two runner-ups in Pro Outlaw FE action in 2010; however on this weekend she would record her first FE class victory. Ellington would leave first and not look back for a 3.32 to 3.39 victory over Wies’ Altered. Congrats to Kathy, Mike, and the whole Ellington family on their big win in Cleves.

Kathy Ellington

Dan Wies

Rich Simon

3.5 Index

The 3.5 Index class saw some excellent racing action at the Season Opener in Cleves. You didn’t have to look any further than round one to see this. Former PTN 3.5 Index class winners Ben Dozeman and Kathy Ellington faced off. Dozeman’s Jeep left with an amazing .405 RT with Ellington in chase with a .474. At the stripe, Dozeman’s supercharged entry was able to hold off the nitrous-assisted entry of Ellington for a 3.672 to 3.616 victory. A big upset would occur as 2010 class champion Dan Wies would be stopped after breaking out with a .004-under 3.496 against Rich Simon.

Heading into round two of eliminations, it was obvious there would be some great match ups. First up would be 2010 class runner-up John Dreher, of Missouri, in the Dreher Race Cars Altered against Michigan’s Ron “Mr. Whiskers” Cutis in the Richards Auto Parts BBC-powered Dragster. Curtis would get his new Nitrous set up working just a little too well as he ran a 3.43 to go down in defeat to Dreher’s great 3.528. The final pair would be an all-Michigan affair between Ben Dozeman and Rich Simon. Simon would take a slight lead at the hit, but at the stripe Dozeman would run another 3.67 to advance on.

This would set up a rematch of last year’s final between Dreher & Dozeman. The result would be the same as Dreher would run a 3.57 to defeat Dozeman’s improving 3.64. Congrats to John, Kay, JR, & the whole Dreher Race Cars team on their win at the Season Opener.

John Dreher

Ben Dozeman

Quick 8 Pro ATV

An added feature to this year’s PTN series is the Quick 8 Pro ATV category. Tony McWethy heads up the Q8 Pro ATV deal and this class sure put on a great show for their first time in PTN action. The semi-final round started off with Michigan’s Steve Ewing on his snowmo-powered entry against the traditional Banshee entry of Illinois’ Brian Snikeris. Ewing would get the starting line edge and not look back for a 4.429 (4.27) victory to advance on. On the other side of the ladder, Missouri’s JR Dreher on his snowmo-powered entry would face off with Indiana’s Kevin Persinger on another traditional Banshee-style entry. Dreher would lay down an excellent .405 light and 4.555 (4.40) to set up an all snowmo final round. In the final, Dreher would get a little too antsy and turn on the red bulb, handing the win to “Shocker Father” Steve Ewing with a 4.346 (4.27). Steve will take the early season points lead to the next event in Kentucky.

Steve Ewing

JR Dreher

Bracket Classes

Friday night’s Ironman class saw the final round boil down to a battle between Casey Kaiser’s center seat Funny Jeep & Jeff Boggs’ Chevy Pickup. Kaiser would run closer to his dial with a 4.381 (4.34) to take home the $500 first place money. Another $500 guaranteed purse would run on Friday night in the Pro ATV class. This would be a preview of the next day’s Quick 8 Pro ATV final as Steve Ewing & JR Dreher faced off. The outcome would be exactly the same as Dreher red lighted away his shot at the tree and Ewing took the victory. The regular ATV class final on Saturday would see a pair of MI riders face off as Steve Ewing’s son Matt faced off with Brad Adams on Rich Simon’s new snowmo-powered ATV. Adams could not run close enough to the dial leaving Matt to take home the big money & trophy on this day. The Fast Bracket (Bracket 1) came down to a pair of Altereds as Justin Dees and Curtis Combs squared off for the big money. Bracket killer Dees would once again take home the top prize as Combs would go red at the starting line. In the Slow Bracket (Bracket 2), Jamie Schiff would force John Miller into a break out to take the win. One Dozeman would take home first place on this weekend, and it wouldn’t be Ben as it normally is. Bennet Dozeman would be the big winner in the Peewees class with Jared Jobe taking home second place. Cody Gum would be the Juniors winner over Cheyenne Hirschelman.

Casey Kaiser

Matt Ewing

Bennett Dozeman

Photos Courtesy - Lone Star Graphics .

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