Avenal Sand Drags in Avenal, CA was the site for the third race of the 2012 NSRA point series over the last weekend of April. Perfect racing weather greeted racers and spectators alike, which brought about some excellent on track action. Read on for a recap of all the action.

Top Fuel

One entry made the trip to Avenal to compete in Top Fuel. Dennis Rieck used the weekend as a test session in only his second outing with the new Hammer Down Hemi-powered Fueler. After struggling with new clutch parts during qualifying on Saturday, Dennis made two solid early shut off passes on Sunday. His best pass of the weekend was a 2.729/128MPH lifting early. The Hammer Down team was encouraged with their results getting the clutch functioning properly, and looking forward to running some big numbers soon.

Dennis Rieck came back from this tough run on Saturday to record two clean passes on Sunday as the Hammer Down team dials in their new Hemi combination. (Mike Biel Photo)

Top Alcohol

Two Central California Top Alcohol teams were ready for action at Avenal for this event. Qualifying started with David Morton in the Morton Racing TAD running a great 2.467/142MPH blast with a 1.02 60’ time. This run would end up as Low ET of the event. Jeff Hitchman in the Wild Bunch entry qualified #2 with a wheels-up 2.606/121MPH pass.

On Sunday afternoon, the two Top Alcohol Dragsters lined up to battle it out for the event win. When the tree dropped, the Wild Bunch ride rolled forward a little too soon turning on the red bulb while Morton raced on for the win with a 2.529/138MPH to Hitchman’s 2.70. The Morton team would come back later in the afternoon and make a solid 2.49 test pass. Congrats to Morton Racing on their win at Avenal.

David Morton was the winner of Top Alcohol at Avenal and also ran Low ET of the weekend with a 2.46 in qualifying. (Mike Biel Photo)

Jeff Hitchman had a good outing with the Wild Bunch TA/Dragster running a best of 2.60. (NSDN Photo)

Top Eliminator

The Top Eliminator class was exceptional at Avenal with eight quality entries showing up to compete for the race win and points. Paul Taylor led the pack after two sessions with a solid 2.982. But in the final session, point leader Billy Morris edged out Taylor by one-thousandth of a second with a 2.981 to steal in the top spot & #1 qualifier bonus point sin the 2 Dolla’ Bill entry. Bob Gill & Ron D’Artenay would round out the top half of the field with a pair of 2.984’s.

Starting off the first round was supposed to be Morris versus Frank Prock’s Altered, however Prock suffered parts breakage on his first qualifying attempt and was done for the weekend. Morris just missed a perfect run on this pass with a .001 too fast, 2.949. The next pair would see the Red Warrior Dragster of D’Artenay face off with the Big Time Altered of Washington’s Carey Mahoney. Mahoney would take a slight starting line advantage and take a slim Margin of Victory in a 3.009 to 3.011 decision. Next up would see #2 qualifier Taylor pair up with the Poor Boy Racing entry of Adam Wimberly. Paul would take a 3.03 to 3.26 victory on this pass. The final pair would see the Funny Jeep of Bob Gill roll up to the line against defending series champ Jim Rossi in the Bad Toy Dragster. Gill would take the starting line edge, but would have to lift around half track allowing Rossi to sail past with a 3.02.

The semi-final was comprised of two primetime match ups. First up would be Morris versus Mahoney. After a bit of a staging war, Mahoney got the hole shot lead and got to the stripe first, but went a little too fast with a losing 2.91 to Morris’ 3.02. The next pair would see teammates Rossi & Taylor battle to advance to the final. They would leave with nearly identical RT’s, but at the stripe Taylor would take a 3.02 to 3.09 victory.

This would set up a final between the Blown Alcohol BBC-powered Dragsters of Morris and Taylor. Billy would leave first .156 to .160, but at the stripe he would pedal a little too soon and Taylor would get there first to take the win 3.020 to 3.028. This would be Taylor’s first win of 2012, and the third different winner in as many races for the TE class. Morris takes a 14-point lead over Taylor heading into Race Four at Soboba.

The Top Eliminator Final rolling into the beams - Paul Taylor (Far Lane) vs. Billy Morris (Near Lane). (NSDN Photo)

Paul Taylor - Top Eliminator Winner. (Mike Biel Photo)

Billy Morris - Top Eliminator Runner-Up & #1 Qualifier. (Mike Biel Photo)

Carey Mahoney - Top Eliminator Semi-Finalist. (NSDN Photo)

Jim Rossi - Top Eliminator Semi-Finalist (Near Lane) rolling up to the line against eventual winner Paul Taylor. (NSDN Photo)

Pro Bracket Classes

The Pro 1 class saw a tough eight car field make the call for round one at Soboba. When the dust settled for the final round, the two left standing would be point the point series leader Keith Ahart from Phoenix AZ facing off with Oregon’s Alan Harland in his Bronco II. In this battle, Ahart would have the starting line edge by around six-hundredths and that was enough of an edge to force Harland into a 3.673 (3.70) break out. This would be Ahart’s first win of 2012, and give him a 28-point lead heading into Race Four.

Pro 1 Final Round - Winner Keith Ahart (Far Lane) vs. Runner-Up Alan Harland (Near Lane). (NSDN Photo)

Keith Ahart - Pro 1 Winner & Points Leader. (Mike Biel Photo)

A pair of white Jeeps would settle the Pro 2 category in the final round at Avenal. Dome Valley runner-up Steve Foster Jr. would do battle against fellow Central California racer Brian Chapman. This would be the closest race of the day in Pro 2 with Chapman leaving first .036 to .048, and hanging on for the win with a 3.902 (3.87). Foster’s runner-up finish propelled him into the points lead by 5 over Charlie Johnson.

Pro 2 Final Round - Winner Brian Chapman (Far Lane) vs. Runner-Up Steve Foster Jr. (Near Lane). (NSDN Photo)

Brian Chapman - Pro 2 Winner. (Mike Biel Photo)

The semi-final round of Pro 3 kicked off with a pair of Chevy Trucks doing battle as Chris Pintor and Richard Ross faced off. Pintor used a .118 light and 5.060 (4.94) to advance on to match up with Las Vegas racer Arend Schouten with his Moving Violation/PitProducts.com Buggy in the final round. The final would be an extremely close battle with Schouten taking the win by .027 with an on target 4.423 (4.42). Arend’s win puts him in a tie atop the Pro 3 standings holding the current tie breaker over Wes Johnson.

Pro 3 Final Round - Winner Arend Schouten (Near Lane) vs. Chris Pintor (Far Lane). (NSDN Photo)

Arend Schouten - Pro 3 Winner & Points Leader. (NSDN Photo)

The Motorcycle Pro 1 category came down to a pair of tough competitors in the final round. Defending class champion & early season point leader Mark Ratliff paired up against Reno, NV’s Mark Managhan, who had put up impressive runs all weekend long on his four stroke-powered entry. When the tree dropped, both had excellent RT’s with Ratliff throwing down a .003 to Managhan’s .021. Unfortunately for Managhan, he got a little out of shape for the first time all weekend and had to lift to keep it under control giving Ratliff his second win of 2012 running a 4.584 (4.49). Ratliff now has a 30 point lead over second place Christian Payne.

MP1 Final Round - Winner Mark Ratliff (Near Lane) vs. Runner-Up Mark Managhan (Far Lane). (NSDN Photo)

Mark Ratliff - MP1 Winner & Points Leader.

Motorcycle Pro 2 ended up being a battle of two local competitors as David Palacios and Phillip Astumain faced off for the title. This race was decided on the tree as Palacios took nearly a tenth of a second advantage on the tree and ran a 4.608 (4.52) to take the win. Despite his first round loss, Grant Hutchinson continues to lead the points with a lead of just two over Mark Ratliff.

MP2 Final Round - Winner David Palacios (Far Lane) vs. Runner-Up Phillip Astumian (Near Lane). (NSDN Photo)

David Palacios - MP2 Winner.

Saturday’s Pro Gambler class had an impressive 25 entries on the first round ladder. The semi-final round saw some amazing racing action. Up first would be eventual Pro 1 winner Keith Ahart in the Phoenix-based Second Urge Dragster against Oregon’s Alan Harland in the Schiel/Smith Bronco II. Ahart would leave first .041 to .044 and drive the finish line better taking a double breakout decision 3.438 (3.44) to 3.700 (3.72). The other half would see another Oregon racer in Jim Smith with his Jeep battle against eventual Pro 3 winner Arend Schouten in his Las Vegas-based Moving Violation/PitProducts.com Buggy. Smith would throw down a brilliant .009 RT, but at the finish line his 4.212 (4.05) wasn’t enough to take the stripe over Schouten’s 4.433 (4.40). This set up a final round between two of the west coast’s best bracket racers as Ahart and Schouten matched up. These two rarely meet up as they are in different classes most of the time, so the crowd was in for a treat. When the tree fell, Ahart got just a little too antsy going .040 red and handing Schouten the win with a 4.427 (4.40). Arend would go on to double up with his Pro 3 class win.

Pro Gambler Final Round - Winner Arend Schouten (Far Lane) vs. Runner-Up Keith Ahart (Near Lane). (NSDN Photo)

Sportsman Bracket Classes

Oregon’s Jennifer Smith in her potent mini-buggy faced off with Robert Garnas in the Sportsman 1 final round. Garnas, driving Sid Payne’s dragster, was very impressive in his first event racing a car as he typically races in the ATV classes. When the tree fell, Smith took a slight starting line advantage and ran a 4.404 (4.38), which forced Garnas into a 3.471 (3.48) break out. Kermit Larby continues to lead the Sportsman 1 class point standings.

Sportsman 1 Final Round - Winner Jennifer Smith (Far Lane) vs. Runner-Up Robert Garnas (Near Lane). (NSDN Photo)

The Sportsman 2 class was an all-Jeep final round affair as Mike Williams paired up with Nick Young. Young took the RT advantage by over a tenth, but would run just a hair too fast with a 4.490 (4.51) while Williams ran a stellar 4.801 (4.80) for the win. Williams’ win moved him to third in the Sportsman 2 standings while Richard Ross’ semi-final finish moved him to the class lead.

Sportsman 2 Final Round - Winner Mike Williams (Near Lane) vs. Runner-Up Nick Young (Far Lane). (NSDN Photo)

Mark Managhan made it to two finals on the weekend. Eventually carding a runner-up finish in the MP1 class, Mark would take the Motorcycle Sportsman 1 title defeating Heather Taylor in the final round. Taylor would go red while Mark ran a nice 4.245 (4.20) for the win. Heather’s runner-up finish moved her into the points lead, 12 points ahead of Mark Ratliff.

MS1 Final Round - Winner Mark Managhan (Far Lane) vs. Runner-Up Heather Taylor (Near Lane). (NSDN Photo)

Motorcycle Sportsman 2 had a stellar turnout at Avenal with the final round being two quality racers in Cole Foy and Matthew Ortiz. Ortiz would turn on the red light by .035 handing Foy the win with a 4.580 (4.51). Ortiz moved into the class points lead with Foy taking second.

Cole Foy - Motorcycle Sportsman 2 Winner. (Mike Biel Photo)

The Junior Dragster final round saw Ray Pantoja in the Dust Devil pair up with local racer Austin Pugh. Pugh got the RT advantage, but a 7.278 (7.70) break out handed the win over the Pantoja. Ray’s win moved him into third in point’s right behind Aimee Mamer and Ryan Rodriguez.

Ray Pantoja - Junior Dragster Sunday Winner. (NSDN Photo)

Other bracket class winners on the weekend included Troy McFarlin (Pro 4), Lee Martin (Sportsman 3), Austin Pugh (Junior Dragster - Saturday), Cole Canfield (Juniors 1 - Sat & Sun), Jordan Wallis (Juniors 2 - Sat), and Joshua Young (Juniors 2 - Sun).

Photos Courtesy of Mike Biel (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and NSDN.

Event Photo Gallery - Courtesy of Mike Biel (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Event Photo Gallery - Courtesy of NSDN

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