The Inaugural Nitro Nationals at the Dirt 300 in Albuquerque, NM certainly did not disappoint on the race track as there was fierce racing action from start to finish with many of the Southwest’s best racers making the trek to New Mexico. Despite battling the over 9000’ corrected altitude, racers were still able to lay down some nice ET’s and put on a show for the New Mexico fans. Read on for the story on this event.

Top Fuel

A very nice Top Fuel field showed up at the Dirt 300 for the first ever Nitro Nationals in Albuquerque. Qualifying kicked off in a big way on Friday night as the Hammer Down Racing Hemi of Dennis Rieck fired off the first shot as they threw down a big time 2.479 to lead the pack. This would hold up for the top qualifying spot. During Saturday’s qualifying, Matt Ludlow drove the Coldwater Kid Fueler to the #2 spot with a 2.61/141MPH jumping over Marcus Norris & the Pat Norris Racing team, who ran a 2.65/132MPH on Friday night. It was great to see the Cameron Racing team with driver Rick Cameron back on track for the first time in a while. Rick would qualify fourth with a 3.10.

The first round would start with Rieck & Cameron facing off in front of the SPEED Channel “On The Edge” cameras. Cameron would get a little antsy and throw away a 2.97 with a red light while Rieck ran another solid 2.49/140MPH to advance on. Up next would be the Coldwater Kid & Norris teams doing battle. When the tree dropped, Norris took a slight advantage, but the John Aleman-tuned power of Ludlow would prevail as he ran a 2.500/153MPH for the win.

This would set up a thrilling final round between the two quickest cars on the premises all weekend, which were separated by just .007 in the previous round. The Hammer Down & Coldwater Kid teams threw the kitchen sink at the track in the final round. When the dust settled, it would be Team Orange (Hammer Down) turning on the win light in a sizzling 2.53 to 2.59 side-by-side battle. Congrats to Dennis & the Hammer Down team on taking the Inaugural New Mexico Top Fuel title.

Dennis Rieck

Matthew Ludlow

Rick Cameron

Marcus Norris

Top Alcohol

The Top Alcohol class was led into New Mexico by perennial contender Scott Carroll and the Carroll Racing/801 Racing Oils TA Dragster. He would face off against Las Cruces, NM racer Tim Martin, who stepped up from TE on this weekend to battle against Scott. Qualifying showed that Scott had the performance advantage as he ran a 2.82 to lead Tim’s 3.04. Both racers struggled with horsepower in the thin air of Albuquerque, but put on a nice side-by-side pass in the final round. The win light would come on in Scott’s lane as he carded a 2.87 to top Tim’s 3.10.

Scott Carroll (NSDN Photo)

Winner Scott Carroll (Near Lane) vs Runner-Up Tim Martin.

Top Eliminator

As always, the Top Eliminator class puts on a great show. This weekend would certainly be no exception. Five entries made the call during qualifying with Paul Taylor taking the top spot with a 3.11. 2011 NSRA TE champion Jim Rossi also made the long haul from Central California and laid down a 3.13 to head into race day in the second position. It was great to see Terry Crawford & the Yabba Dabba Doo dragster back on track for the first time in a while. The Vegas resident laid down a 3.23 for the third qualifying spot while AZ’s Mark Greenwell ran a 3.39 and El Paso’s Dean Deucher ran a 3.74 to round out the field.

Round one saw quite a match up as Crawford and Greenwell pulled up to the line as the 3-4 pair. Greenwell used his lighting quick reflexes to take a big starting line advantage and drive back around Crawford down track, who had problems, to take a 3.45 to 3.43 hole shot win. Rossi would step up in Eliminations to run a 3.110 to defeat the Turbo 4-cylinder entry of Deucher. Taylor would close out the round matching Rossi’s great run with an identical 3.110.

Starting off the semi-final round would be top qualifier Taylor in the Outta Control Dragster against the Two Brothers entry of Greenwell. Once again, Greenwell got a big head start with a .046RT, but the small block power could not hang on as Taylor drove around for the win with Low ET of TE for the weekend, a 3.09. On the semi-final round bye run, Rossi would run a 3.16 to set up an all-Central California final between Outta Control & the Bad Toy.

With the top two racers all weekend long lining up in the final round, everyone in attendance knew this would be a great battle. When the tree dropped, Rossi took a slight advantage, but in the end it would be the Outta Control horsepower as Taylor drove away for a 3.11 to 3.21 victory. This would be Paul’s second victory of 2012, as he also won at Avenal in April.

Paul Taylor

Jim Rossi

Mark Greenwell (NSDN Photo)

Winner Paul Taylor (Near Lane) vs Jim Rossi.

Pro Open Cars & Quads

The highlight of the bracket classes on this weekend would be the Pro Open Cars & Quads bracket classes. These classes had a great purse of $2000 to win with $1000 going to the runner-up, so that attracted many of the best bracket racers in the Southwest.

In the Cars class, 16 entries made the call for qualifying. After qualifying was complete, the ladder was split in half with there being an ‘A’ half & ‘B’ half with the winners of these facing off to be the class champion. In the ‘A’ half of the ladder, being the quicker of the two, the final round came down to O’Donnell TX’s Jackie Stidham with his beautiful Injected BBC-powered Fiat against “The Beast II” Steve Maas, now an Albuquerque-local & having a new Altered chassis housing his Mopar powerplant. Both drivers were off on the tree on this pass, but at the other end Stidham took a .004 Margin of Victory on the strength of his great 3.782 (3.76). On the ‘B’ side of the ladder, the final came down to two of the best bracket racers in the Southwest as California’s Chris Adamson in the Bounty Hunter Jeep lined up with the Moving Violation/ VW-powered Buggy of Las Vegas racer Arend Schouten. Adamson cut a nice .108 RT and was able to lift early for the win as Schouten unfortunately broke down track. This would set up an all-Chevy powered final round between Stidham & Adamson. Both racers brought their A games with the big money on the line and it was Stidham showing his strength as he left first .121 to .155 and running just one-thousandth off his dial 3.771 (3.77) to take the victory by just .047.

Jackie Stidham

Chris Adamson

The Pro Open Quads class also put on a great show at the Dirt 300. This class had a staggering 29 entries as racers rolled into the lanes for round one. There was a familiar face in the ‘A’ class final as Rio Rancho NM local & multi time National event winner Mike Dzek rolled to the line with his trademark Motorcycle against Albuquerque local Kris Tapia. Dzek would rely on his experience to take a starting line advantage and not look back taking the win with a 4.404 (4.32). He would face off in the final against the winner of the ‘B’ Final Round, which would be another ABQ-Rio Rancho match up as Albuquerque’s Paul Jaramillo and Rio Rancho’s Orlando Pino squared off. Paul would take a big starting line advantage and advance on to the Money round. In the final, ABQ’s Paul Jaramillo would pull off the major upset as Dzek turned on the red bulb by just .030 handing Paul his first major event victory.

Paul Jaramillo

Mike Dzek

Pro Open Cars & Quads QUICK 8

Sunday afternoon would see the Quickest 8 entries in the Pro Open Cars & Quads classes face off for TV time on upcoming episodes of “Lucas Oil On The Edge”. We won’t spoil the whole deal for you, but here is what happened in the final rounds.

In the Cars class, the final round came down to Pro Open bracket winner Jackie Stidham, looking to sweep Sunday’s action, against Amarillo TX’s Roy McGlohon in an all-Texas pairing. In the final, Jackie ran another high 3.7 second pass to take his second victory of the day.

Jackie Stidham

The Quads heads-up class saw some great battles throughout eliminations, but the final round came down to the two fastest bikes of the day. Phoenix area racers Lance Root and Luis Gonzalez would end up in the final round after both ran Mid-3.6’s in the semi-final round. The final would be decided on the tree Gonzalez turned on the red bulb by .039, handing the big win to Root. Lance’s Turbo Motorcycle-powered laydown bike also ran Low ET of the Quads over the weekend with his #1 qualifying 3.52.

Gambler/Bracket Classes

This event featured several trophy bracket classes as well as a Gambler bracket on Saturday and Sunday for both Cars & Quads. Saturday’s Gambler action saw Chris Adamson (Cars) & Shane Moncayo (Quads) emerge victorious. On Sunday, the Gambler winners were Clayton Record (Cars) & Chris Young (Quads). Other big winners on the weekend included John Eberhard (Quads), Roger Sayles (4x4), Steven Pruitt (Motorcycle), Abbigale Carroll (Junior Dragster), Joshua Otero, Jr. (Juniors), and Elias Sierra (Youth).

Clayton Record - Sunday Pro Gambler Winner

John Eberhard - Quads Winner

Steven Pruitt - Motorcycle Winner

Abbigale Carroll - Junior Dragster WInner

Joshua Otero Jr. - Juniors Winner

Photos Courtesy

Smiths Photos - - Noel Smith

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