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The PDRA returned to South Georgia Motorsports Park and put on a whale of a show in eighth-mile racing. Testing for the Southern Extreme Nationals began mid-week, and the eliminations were run on Saturday, March 11. Numerous records were set during some outstanding racing.
The headline class is Pro Extreme. Perennial favorite Jason Scruggs struggled in testing and qualifying, trying out a new combination. Finally in the Friday night qualifying session, everything came together and Jason ran a great 3.499 at 221.52 mph to take the number one spot. Tommy D’Aprile slipped into the second spot with at 3.551, and 2016 series champion Bubba Stanton was third at 3.557.
D’Aprile entered eliminations as the number-two qualifier with a 3.551 ET. A 3.54 at 215.55 mph followed in the first round over Danny Lowry, who was unable to make the run. A timelier bye run in the second round allowed D’Aprile to move on to the semis despite slowing to a 3.811. D’Aprile dipped back into the mid-3.5s with a 3.562 at 209.01 to defeat Californian Jay Dietrich, though the screw-blown Hemi was wounded in the process. The Al Billes-led team rushed into action repairing the power plant during the short turnaround time before the final.
With opponent Jose Gonzales patiently waiting, D’Aprile and team were able to return to the line to run 3.586 at 212.73 mph to defeat the 3.657-second effort by Gonzales.
“We had to tear the motor down and put it back together before the final,” D’Aprile said. “We didn’t even test fire it. The starter wouldn’t come off at first when we fired up for the final, then we had a bent throttle cable so we didn’t have full throttle in the final. The throttle was actually sticking so I had to hold my foot back while I was staging. It just all worked out, that’s all I can say – God is good.”