VOLUME XXI, NUMBER 4 - APRIL, 2019
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Looking Forward to the Ignitor and ...
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ET DRAG RACING
Funny Car Chaos at Mo-Kan Dragway
Words by Chris Graves
Photos by Chris Graves, Wes Ramsey and Ken Bennett
Nancy Matter (near lane) and Ken Singleton in the A-field final.
The second stop on the 2019 Best of Texas BBQ Sauce Funny Car Chaos Championship tour presented by Red Line Shirt Club brought the series back through the gates of historic Mo-Kan Dragway in Asbury, MO, on April 26-27. This event was presented by the new Decades of Wheels museum in Baxter Springs, KS.
Opening in 1962, Mo-Kan Dragway's grassroots old school charisma sets the perfect stage for the Chaos series. With two days of sunshine and temps in the high 70's the racers and fans of Funny Car Chaos finally got a break from Mother Nature and with that, the eager fans packed the facility ready for Chaos action provided by the 22 funny cars on the property.
Defending event winner Ken Singleton and the "High Risk" alcohol burning Monte Carlo hoped to repeat his efforts from 2018 and make up ground on points leader Allan Middendorf.
With plenty of stiff competition in the pits, the pressure was on to make each pass count in qualifying as teams were ready to battle for a spot in the Rodak's Custom Coffee 'A' field and AlkyDigger 'B' field. Three qualifying sessions were on tap with two Friday night and final qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
On Saturday spectators were treated to a 20+ car field of Dirty South Gassers plus the heads-up Outlaw Nostalgia Shootout featuring altereds and slingshot dragsters, the Victory Performance Nostalgia Super Stockers, nostalgia bracket racing and junior dragster racing as 100+ cars were ready to race.
During final qualifying for Funny Cars, Allan Middendorf stepped up to a 3.95 to secure his spot in the 'A' field, which remained intact from the standings after Friday's sessions as seven nitro burners and the lone alcohol burning entry of Singleton would pair up for first round.
'B' field action had racers biting their nails as Rick Krafft, Fred Farndon, Tod Barker, Robert Slaughter and Monte Grace hoped to get in the show. Mechanical issues sidelined Dustin Bradford and Dave Gallegos. Despite his best efforts, 2018 runner-up Farndon's 5.46 came up short as did Krafft's 5.71. Monte Grace and Robert Slaughter had issues on the starting line and earned no time. Tod Barker missed both sessions Friday with a family commitment and pulled into the gates Saturday morning with just one attempt to earn a spot in the field and his 4.83 at 154 did just that as he slid into the number fourteen spot. Chris Schneider stepped up to a 4.56 at 150 mph in the John Troxel owned "Brutus" to qualify number eleven. Jordan Ballew had his hands full in the "Ballew Thunder" during the final qualifier as his best of a 5.10 at 132 mph from Friday night narrowly held onto a spot in the main event.
As the session neared completion, Ronald Ooms fired up in a solo pass and things quickly turned serious when the car pitched wildly sideways during the burnout, sending Ooms out of control and into the barricade in the middle of the track that protects the timing system. At first, the relatively low-speed incident appeared to be a quick fix, but it was soon discovered Ooms had suffered serious injuries to his left leg. With safety personnel working quickly, Ooms was removed from the car and transported to the local hospital as reports came in that he had suffered multiple breaks in both his left leg and ankle. Everyone from the Funny Car Chaos and Mo-Kan Dragway would like to send our thoughts and prayers to Ooms and family for a speedy recovery.
With Ooms clearly unable to continue, Jeff Cameron's "Magnolia Missile" who had been bumped out by Tod Barker, was inserted into the field to set the ladder.
RODAK'S CUSTOM COFFEE 'A' FIELD FINAL QUALIFYING ORDER:
1. Ken Singleton (Chickasha, OK) - 3.86 @ 198
2. Nick Poloson (San Antonio, TX) - 3.91 @ 191
3. Allan Middendorf (Columbia, IL) - 3.95 @ 194
4. Ronny Young (Wylie, TX) - 4.05 @ 169
5. Brandon Lewis (Tulsa, OK) - 4.11 @ 165
6. Nancy Matter (Lewisville, TX) - 4.23 @ 163
7. Chuck Loftin (Seguin, TX) - 4.24 @ 173
8. Jim Gifford (Tafton, PA) - 4.254 @ 171
ALKYDIGGER 'B' FIELD FINAL QUALIFYING ORDER:
1. Clay Cunningham (Dumas, TX) - 4.256 @ 170
2. Nick Johnson (Orleans, NE) - 4.54 @ 155
3. Chris Schneider (Jefferson City, MO) - 4.56 @ 150
4. Matt Nissen (Alma, NE) - 4.57 @ 153
5. Ronald Ooms (DeMotte, Indiana) - 4.68 @ 114
6. Tod Barker (Marlow, OK) - 4.83 @ 154
7. Daniel Butherus (Wichita, KS) - 4.98 @ 142
8. Jordan Ballew (Bartlesville, OK) - 5.10 @ 132
Jeff Cameron (Magnolia, Texas) - 5.19 @ 141
Fred Farndon (Edmond, OK) - 5.46 @ 119
Rick Krafft (Chicago, IL) - 5.71 @ 153
Dave Gallegos (St. Mary's, KS) - 11.02 @ 47
Monte Grace (Muscatine, IA) - No Time
Robert Slaughter (Waco, TX) - No Time
As the call went out for the 'A' field first round competitors to 'bring em' to the lanes' from Chaos announcer David Rattan, the fans found their seats and were treated to an exceptional opening round. First up was the iconic "Blue Max" with Ronny Young set to duel with Chaos newcomer Brandon Lewis. What a match up, as these two were off the line together and side by side through the traps but it was Young's 4.04 at 167 mph defeating Lewis' 4.06 at 194 mph by just .003 of a second!
Singleton rolled out next ready to defend his win from 2018 paired with Jim Gifford. Gifford was the 'B' field runner up at the 2019 season opener driving the "Nor'Easter" but this weekend was piloting Michael Harrigan's "Fools Gold" nitro-burning Duster who made the tow from Boynton Beach, FL. Gifford knew he needed all he could get off the line, but cut it too close with a -.052 red, yet laid down his best pass of the weekend with a 4.18 at 170 mph as Singleton's stout 3.84 at 198 mph advanced.
Nick Poloson was out next as the "Bucket List" lined up with Chuck Loftin in a battle of Texas-based fuelers. Poloson took the starting line advantage and never trailed as his 3.91 at 191 mph took the win over Loftin's 4.26 at 173 mph.
In the final pair of round one 'A' field, Nancy Matter's "Guardian For Heroes" Firebird tuned by legend Dale Pulde lined up with 'A' field season opener winner Allan Middendorf. Middendorf, who had won the previous Chaos at Denton, TX, was off the line first but quickly dropped a cylinder due to a failed spark plug, while Matter was showing no struggles as she thundered to a career best 3.96 at 195 mph to take out Middendorf's close 4.06 at 203 mph, which stood as top speed of the meet.
Following the highly entertaining 'A' field first round was an equally thrilling performance from the first-round racers of the AlkyDigger 'B' field. First out was Matt Nissen's Nebraska-based "Runnin' Down A Dream" Corvette alongside first alternate Jeff Cameron. Cameron was off the line first and posted his career best 4.82 at 139 mph but came up short at the stripe to Nissen's 4.55 at 153 mph. Nick Johnson burned out next driving Wayne Reinart's "Prairie Fire" alongside Kansas runner Daniel Butherus in the new look "Rat-A-Tude" flopper. Johnson had this one from start to finish as his 4.40 at 156 mph took the win while Butherus had problems early and shutoff.
Top qualifier Clay Cunningham was out next in "Still Crazy" lined up with the "Dry Hop King" Jordan Ballew in the Oklahoma-based Nova. Cunningham's .007 reaction time didn't leave much margin for Ballew and a 4.22 career best for Cunningham sealed the deal over Ballew's 7.56 at 71 mph.
In the final pair of 'B' field action, Tod Barker left before the tree activated in "Back in Black" while Chris Schneider posted a career best 4.44 at 156 mph in the "Brutus" to advance.
Unfortunately, Young and team "Blue Max" kicked the rods out in their first-round victory and were unable to make the call for their semi-final match with Singleton, so on a solo shot Singleton opened the 'A' field semis with a 4.39 at 193 mph pass to move into the finals. Matter and Poloson were up next as the bodies came down on both Texas fuelers and we were guaranteed a first-time 'A' field finalist here. Poloson's -.098 turned the red bulb on followed immediately by a premature parachute deployment on the "Bucket List" while Matter repeated her stellar first-round performance with another Dale Pulde-tuned 3.96 at 196 mph pass to move herself into the final round to take on Singleton.
'B' field semi-finals got underway with top qualifier Cunningham paired with Nissen. As the cars left the line Cunningham left the red light glowing then got a bit out of shape, while Nissen posted a 4.52 at 155 mph to move into his first Chaos final round. Johnson and Schneider pulled to the line next and Johnson posted his best pass of the event with a 4.37 at 158 mph to defeat Schneider's 4.78 at 152 mph. Ironically, Johnson works for Nissen back in Nebraska, so we were set with an employee-vs-employer battle and guaranteed a first-time Chaos winner in the AlkyDigger 'B' field.
Matt Nissen ‘B’ field winner.
With the sun setting and temps quickly dropping the final rounds were run as promptly as possible while final adjustments were made to Nancy Matter's nitro flopper as the AlkyDigger 'B' field finalists suited up. For these friendly rivals, it was a win-win for Nissen and Johnson, but when the engines came to life the gloves came off and it was time to run for the title. By the slimmest of margins, Nissen's -.014 got the green over Johnsons -.015 reaction times as both drivers were gunning for the tree. Nissen's 4.51 at 155 mph went down as the winning time to Johnson's quicker but losing 4.39 at 156 mph.
The final pair of the night came to life as Nancy Matter's fuel burning Firebird belched nitro fumes into the night's sky alongside Ken Singleton's screw blown alcohol burning Monte Carlo. Dale Pulde made final adjustments and guided Matter into the beams while Singleton and company did the same and the pre-stage bulbs were lit. Both drivers crept into stage and at the flash of amber, Matter blasted off the line with a -.015 reaction time handing the win to Singleton, but that changed quickly as Singleton made a wicked move to the centerline and wildly crossed into Matter's lane (thankfully well behind her) thus giving the win back to Matter on the 'first or worst' rule.
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