MENDY FRY WINS TOP FUEL AT NIGHTFIRE NATIONALS

47-nightfire-nationals-10Driving through violent tire-shake, Mendy Fry took the 47th Pepsi Nightfire Nationals Top Fuel victory, Low ET and Top Speed with a 5.66 ET at 254 MPH blast in her “High Speed Motorsports” AA/Fuel dragster at Firebird Raceway in Boise, Idaho. “It was pretty bad — I didn’t think I was going to make it. The team gave me a great car, and I didn’t screw up,” said Mendy.

Runner-up Dusty Green pushed Steve Harwood’s “Nitro-Hemi” to a 6.04 ET at 198 MPH in the final after his holeshot-assisted 2nd-round battle with Pete Wittenberg was settled by few thousandths of a second margin of victory. “It was a great weekend for the Nitro-Hemi team. We had a good run against Pete and just didn’t have enough for the High Speed Motorsports team”, said Dusty.

As examples of the class’s camaraderie, Bowling Green runner-up Jim Young texted tuning advice to semi-finalists Wittenberg and vanquished foes from the “KMA Circuit Breaker” and Brendan Murry’s “Running Wild” teams gathered to help Dusty Green and the Nitro-Hemi crew prepare for the final round. “That is what this sport is about. Awesome people. I can’t thank them enough”, said Dusty.

QUALIFYING ACTION

Session One Qualifying kicked off Friday afternoon with nine AA/Fuel dragsters battling for nitro supremacy in 100-plus degree temperatures. Mendy Fry struck the tires on the 150-degree track Friday but motored to the top of the ladder Saturday afternoon with a 5.68 ET. Adam Sorokin landed the number two slot with a 5.85 ET in the Chevy-powered “Champion Speed Shop” entry. Dusty Green pushed the Nitro-Hemi to number three with a 5.97 ET at 243 MPH. Tyler Hilton stepped up with his family’s “Great Expectations III” to the number four position with a 6.07 ET, landing ahead of number five Bret Williamson’s and the “Forever Young” fueler’s 6.09 ET. Brendan Murry drove the Running Wild to number six with a 6.18 ET and Pete Wittenberg came back after breaking a drive belt in Session One to qualified seventh with a 6.22. Jim Murphy landed the “WW2” fueler in the number eight slot with a 6.58 and Canadian Phil Ruskowski was 1st Alternate following a herculean effort to get to the Nightfire Nationals after an engine explosion at a previous race.

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TOP FUEL ELIMINATIONS UNDER THE LIGHTS

The Nightfire Nationals is famous for header flames under the lights and Saturday night’s Round One Eliminations saw Mendy Fry run a 5.67 ET at 253 MPH for the win over Jim Murphy’s 6.48 ET at 158 MPH. Pete Wittenberg turned on the KMA Circuit Breaker for a 5.73 ET at 253 MPH win on Adam Sorokin, who pushed the small block Chevrolet to 5.90 ET at 244 MPH. Dusty Green extracted a 5.98 ET at 248 MPH from the Nitro-Hemi ahead of Brendan Murry, who ran an 8.62 ET in the Running Wild. Tyler Hilton blasted the Great Expectations III to a 6.03 ET at 243 MPH over Brett Williamson’s 6.11 ET at 221 MPH, setting the stage for the Semi-Final battle on Sunday.

SEMI-FINAL MAYHEM

Semi-Final Top Fuel competition was tight and fierce. Pete Wittenberg ran a 5.71 ET at 252 MPH with a .145 reaction time and yet didn’t catch Dusty Green’s 5.80 ET at 241 MPH with an .054 reaction time. The margin of victory? 6/1000ths of a second and a few inches Inches at the stripe. Mendy Fry posted a 5.69 ET at 231 MPH to beat Tyler Hilton’s 5.88 ET at 249 MPH — the quickest and fastest run ever for the Great Expectations III big-block Chevrolet-powered AA/Fuel dragster. Tyler, his dad Robert, grandmother Alison Lee and crew divined the formula for success with a blend of timing and clutch fine-tuning and ran the weekend with minimal engine carnage.

TOP FUEL DECIDER

The combined forces united at the Nitro-Hemi pit thrashed through an engine teardown for a shot at victory in a Hemi vs. Hemi Nightfire Nationals Top Fuel decider. At the green light, Dusty Green got out of the gate with .112 reaction time, but in the end it wasn’t enough against Mendy Fry who kept her foot down and muscled through tire shake for the win.

After striking the tires in Session One qualifying, Mendy Fry drove the High Speed Motorsports AA/Fuel dragster with remarkable consistency through qualifying and eliminations with 5.66, 5.67, 5.69 and 5.66 runs for event Low ET and 254 MPH Top Speed.

Mendy Fry’s victory at the 47th Pepsi Nightfire Nightfire Nationals at Firebird Raceway earned her the number one position in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Top Fuel Championship points battle heading into the fourth race of the five-race 2018 season at the Nitro Nationals at Tulsa Raceway Park September 21st and 22nd.

All photos Arlene Eliason and AAFD. 

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TOP FUEL HERITAGE CONTINUES AT FIREBIRD RACEWAY

boise-rollcall-1Nine All-American Fuel Dragsters teams are loaded up with drums of nitro and motoring towards Firebird Raceway in Boise, Idaho for this weekend’s 47th Pepsi Nightfire Nationals, the third race in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Nostalgia Top Fuel points series. The eight-car Nostalgia Top Fuel Eliminations battle will continue a half-century of drag racing competition heritage at the premiere motorsports event in the Gem State

Current series points leader Mendy Fry is gunning to hold onto the lead after her victory at the National Hot Rod Reunion at Bowling Green, Kentucky in the High-Speed Motorsports AA/Fuel Dragster. Brendan Murry is heading out from San Jose, California in the number two position after an outstanding performance in the Running Wild dragster at Bowling Green.

“We feel like we’ve got something to give them now,” Murry reported. “We’ve put a few runs on the car and we’re starting to learn how to tune it. We’re making enough power knock the tires off at over 210 MPH. We’re working on it!”

Bakersfield March Meet winner Pete Wittenberg is hitting the Nightfire Nationals with high hopes at taking back the number one slot from his number three position in the KMA Circuit Breaker and expects a challenge with the change in altitude from his Southern California stomping grounds. “We’re loaded and ready for battle. I was number one in points but not being able to participate at Bowling Green bumped me to number three. I want that number one back.”

Adam Sorokin and the Champion Speed Shop are holding onto 4th place after what has so far been a tumultuous season as the team pushed to extract more power from their small block Chevrolet powered canopy special. “We are in a bit of a learning mode this year. We changed a few things this year that had promise but didn’t really yield the results we were looking for. A couple things are going back to a known variable. We’ll see what happens.”

Nightfire Nationals defending champion Jim Murphy has made a few changes to his WW2 dragster and is driving towards a repeat Nightfire Nationals win from the number eight points position after stepping out of Bowling Green to help rebuild the fire-ravaged Sonoma County California region he calls home.

“We’ve gone out twice at the local track here in Sonoma and made some half-passes. We’re going up to Boise and try and do the best we can. We’ll probably use the first couple qualifiers almost like a test session just to make sure we’ve got our arms around it, but we think we’ve made some positive changes. We’ll do a little better in that area and then we’ll be going up to win the race.”

Seventh place points holder Bret Williamson will strap into the hemi-powered Mike Fuller Forever Young AA/Fuel Dragster and California-based racer Dusty Green will once again meet up with the Nitro-Hemi from Colorado with eyes on climbing up out of a rain-soaked March Meet and unlucky National Hot Rod Reunion at Bowling Green. “So far we have had a rough season and we are hoping to turn it around in Boise. We usually run respectably there and would love to turn this season around”.

Tyler Hilton and his dad Robert Hilton have sorted out some changes on their Great Expectations III AA/Fueler and are hoping to step up at Boise and keep their fearsome big block Chevrolet from overpowering the tires. “We tried some different stuff since Bowling Green but we are going back to where we were and are pretty confident”.

Last and certainly not least are Phil Ruskowski and the Island Nitro Gang who are making a herculean effort to put their Xibitionist Nostalgia Top Fueler back together and get out to Boise after an explosion at Lucas Oil Canadian National races took out the small block Chevrolet in a supercharged fireball.

“We then made a hit on Saturday after some adjustments and with plans of stepping off at 1000 feet. At half track it felt good and going right down the grove and I was just thinking that I was on a strong pass and 1000 feet was coming up fast and BOOM!!!! ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE!!! I was on fire there was parts and pieces flying every which way and the blower was in a state of hang time. The percussion was impressive. I got the Xibitionist stopped still on fire but the safety crew was on it. After the fire was out and all the parts that were in orbit came back to earth the Xibitionist was sitting there smoking in the shutdown area.”

Thanks to tremendous support from the team and spouses along with sponsors and friends signs are better than good that Phil and the Island Nitro Gang are going to make the 47th Pepsi Nitro Nationals an international Top Fuel competition. “Getting to Boise is taking all my thoughts and time. Right now when I go to bed I don’t dream of sandy beaches I dream of BOISE and we can’t wait to see you all there! Small blocks on Nitro Forever”, said Phil on his Island Nitro Facebook Group.

NIGHTFIRE NATIONALS TOP FUEL SCHEDULE
Nightfire Nationals AA/Fuel Dragster, AA/Fuel Altered, and AA/Funny Car nitro qualifying and eliminations run from Friday, August 10th through Sunday, August 12th. The 47th Pepsi Nightfire Nationals kicks off on Thursday, August 9th with Sportsman racing at 12:30 PM. Run schedule is subject to change.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10th
Gates Open: 9:00 AM
AA/FD Qualifying Session 1 (Q1): 2 PM
AA/FD Qualifying Session 2 (Q2): 8 PM

SATURDAY, AUGUST 11th
Gates Open: 9:00 AM
AA/FD Qualifying Session 3 (Q3): 2 PM
AA/FD Round 1 Eliminations (E1): 8 PM

SUNDAY, AUGUST 12th
Gates Open: 9:00 am
AA/FD Round 2 Semi-Final Eliminations (E2): 2 PM
AA/FD Final Eliminations (E3): 4 PM

POINTS STANDINGS:
NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Nostalgia Top Fuel Championship points standings ahead of the 47th Pepsi Nightfire Nationals at Firebird Raceway.

1 Mendy Fry 216
2 Brendan Murry 126
3 Pete Wittenberg 116
4 Adam Sorokin 107
5 Jim Young 97
6 Tim Cullinan 84
7 Bret Williamson 77
8 Jim Murphy 75
9 Dusty Green 65
10 Rick White 54
11 Jason Greenwood 52
11 Dan Horan 52
13 Julius Hughes 51
14 Rick McGee 10
14 Phil Ruskowski 10
14 Dave Miller 10
14 Paul Schultz 10
14 Tyler Hilton 10

FIREBIRD RACEWAY
AA/Fuel Dragsters will join awful fuel-huffing AA/Fuel Altereds, nitro-burning AA/Funny Cars, unruly Pro Mods, fire-powered Jet Dragsters and the wheelstanding Outlaw Stagecoach for daytime and under-the-lights drag racing action. Firebird Raceway is located 5 miles north of Idaho State Highway 44 on Idaho State Highway 16. Tickets are available at participating local Stinker Stores. For more information contact Firebird Raceway at 208-938-8986 and on the web at http://www.firebirdonline.com or the official Firebird Raceway Facebook Page

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NHRA HOT ROD HERITAGE SERIES
The 47th Pepsi Nightfire Nationals at Firebird Raceway is the third battle for the 2018 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Nostalgia Top Fuel Championship. Head on over to www.nhrahotrodheritage.com for an upcoming race schedule, news, points, results, rules and more.

YOUNG WINS CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION – MURPHY COLLECTS HERITAGE SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP

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BAKERSFIELD, CALIFORNIA – Jim Young drove his Young Guns dragster to Top Fuel victory at the California Hot Rod Reunion after Jim Murphy damaged his WW2 AA/Fueler in the Semi-Final and did not return for the Final. Young advanced with methodical determination into a number 3 Qualifying spot, a 5.77 ET at 259 MPH Eliminations win over Rick McGee and Semi-Final win in a tight race against Mendy Fry with a 5.65 ET at 261 MPH blast that set event Top Speed.

Young’s run-it-to-the-stripe tuning strategy paid off for the Wisconsin-based team, who ran their AA/Fuel hemi throughout the weekend without extensive damage. Young plans to refine his winning formula over the Wisconsin winter with an eye on the mid-fives at the upcoming 2018 March Meet. “We’re right there. I know I could hit the 5.50s. We ran the same heads all weekend. Up until the Semi-Finals, we didn’t even have to take the motor apart. It can be done on a budget. Trust us!”

Veteran driver Jim Murphy was hoping for a Top Fuel Trifecta at the Hot Rod Reunion but the runner-up was all smiles after winning the rescheduled Boise Nightfire Nationals Final and taking the 2017 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Top Fuel Championship. Murphy took the Nightfire Nationals win over Adam Sorokin and #1 Qualifier spot with a 5.65 ET at 249 MPH blast in the rescheduled race that ran during Session 3 Qualifying on Saturday. Murphy’s subsequent 5.74 ET at 226 MPH Eliminations win over Phil Ruskowski set up a second matchup with Sorokin for the Semi-Final.

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Murphy drove out the back door in the Semi-Final with a blazing 5.60 ET at 246 MPH to Sorokin’s 5.72 ET at 241 MPH and clinched the Top Fuel Championship. Unfortunately, the WW2 hemi sacrificed a connecting rod in the process. Chutes out and oiled in, Murphy said he made contact with the wall in the shutdown area. The glancing hit damaged one front wheel, bent the steering, and crumpled a canard. Uncertain of hidden damage Murphy chose not to return for the Final for safety reasons.

Even with a Top Fuel victory at hand, Jim Young and crew worked feverishly in the pits to deliver the Young Guns dragster to its 5.50 ET at 260 MPH tune-up target. What would have been a single for Young turned into a combination Victory Lap and Exhibition Run as Adam Sorokin suited up and climbed into the Champion Speed Shop Special for a side-by-side Top Fuel closer at the 26th NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion. Young ran a 6.31 ET at 137 MPH for an uncontested event win. Sorokin unleashed small block Chevrolet but the tires could not contain full power.

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TOP FUEL FINAL RAINED OUT IN GEM STATE

adam-sorokin-nightfireMurphy vs. Sorokin Battle Rescheduled for California Hot Rod Reunion.

An action-packed weekend of nitro-burning mayhem was unexpectedly cut short when rain at Firebird Raceway upended the Pepsi Nightfire Nationals ahead of the AA/FD Final Round, leaving semi-final victors Jim Murphy and Adam Sorokin in nitro limbo. Murphy and Sorokin will strap into their front-engine dragsters and settle their contest of wills at the California Hot Rod Reunion and last race of the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Top Fuel Championship at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, California on October 20-22.

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EXPLOSIVE QUALIFYING ACTION

The long race weekend celebrating Firebird Raceway’s 50th year began with some unanticipated AA/FD news as a surprisingly missing-in-action Tony Bartone left an odd number of Top Fuel drivers battling for front-engine nitro supremacy in Boise. Pre-race rumors left some wondering if Bartone was setting up a fake out, but only seven AA/Fuelers made the call for Friday’s Qualifying, confirming the absence of the 3-time Nightfire Nationals winner and reigning Top Fuel Champion. Still, four Chrysler Hemis and three Chevrolets entered Boise, with drivers ready to prove which combination would prevail.

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Near 100-degree daytime heat saw teams take different tuning approaches. Mendy Fry launched the Hemi-powered High Speed Motorsports dragster to a 5.78 ET in Session One. Later in the evening session, she clicked off early for event Low ET and number one qualifying spot with a 5.69 at 219 MPH. Concurrently, Jim Murphy drove the Roland Leong-tuned WW2 dragster out the back door oiled in and on fire into the number two slot. Fry witnessed the fiery drama unfold in front of her as Murphy passed lit up and smoking. Fortunately, both drivers emerged unscathed. Dusty Green gave the Nitro Hemi all it had in every round of qualifying for a number three position.

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Bret Williamson not only drove the Mike Fuller Forever Young dragster to a number four AA/Fuel qualifying slot but also made number one qualifier and low ET behind the wheel of a fearsome Corvette Pro Mod. Adam Sorokin stepped up from a Session One mechanical mix up with a 6.01 ET at 214 MPH and number five qualifying spot in the Champion Speed Shop Chevy-powered canopy entry. Tyler Hilton ran the Great Expectations III through qualifying with some gear changes for a number six position, and Phil Ruskowski ran the small block Chevrolet powered Mighty Mouse into the number seven spot ahead of Saturday night Round One Eliminations under the lights.

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TOP FUEL UNDER THE LIGHTS

With Low ET Mendy Fry ran a bye in Round One Eliminations. The High Speed Motorsports car got up on the tire and danced at half-track, but Mendy kept the rubber in the groove in the face of headwinds. Adam Sorokin deep staged the Champion Speed Shop dragster and took the win with a 5.89 ET at 217 MPH over Bret Williamson’s 6.17 ET at 199 MPH. Jim Murphy launched the Hemi-powered WW2 to a 5.75 ET at 252 MPH win after Phil Ruskowski red lit his small block Chevrolet powered Mighty Mouse dragster to a 7.42 ET at 171 MPH. Dusty Green ran his Nitro Hemi flames on to a 5.92 ET at 240 MPH over Tyler Hilton who gave chase in his big block Chevrolet powered Great Expectations III dragster with a 6.32 ET at 219 MPH.

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The Chrysler vs. Chevrolet matchup continued as Sunday Semi-Final Top Fuel action saw Adam Sorokin and the small block Chevrolet prevail with a 5.92 ET at 192 MPH over Mendy Fry who red lit the High Speed Motorsports dragster and fouled out. Jim Murphy ran the WW2 to a 5.80 ET at 235 MPH over a hole shot and hard charging Dusty Green who gave the Nitro Hemi everything it had with a close 5.95 ET at 243 MPH, finishing just one tenth of a second behind Murphy. The Final Round stage was set for an epic Hemi vs. Chevy battle as crews thrashed through engine teardowns for a chance at victory.

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The battle and win would have to wait. Drops of late afternoon rain for the first time in months gave way to downpour into the night. Hope was held out for a few hours, but after measured deliberation, the decision was made to postpone the race. Falling temperatures in concert with a soaked track and more rain forecast through morning put an anticlimactic end to four days of superior drag racing action. Murphy and Sorokin will settle their Nightfire Nationals Chizler vs. Chevy score at the California Hot Rod Reunion following the 4th session in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Top Fuel Championship at the Nitro Nationals September 22-23 at Tulsa Raceway Park.

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GIANT NIGHTFIRE NATIONALS PHOTO EXTRA

ALL AMERICAN FUEL DRAGSTERS HEADED FOR NIGHTFIRE NATIONALS

 

An eight-car field of front-engine Top Fuel dragsters are motoring towards Firebird Raceway in Boise, Idaho to battle at the Pepsi Nightfire Nationals, the 3rd meet in the 5-race 2017 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Top Fuel points series. Assembled drivers and teams will join the largest gathering of nitro-burning cars in Nightfire Nationals’ event history for three days of qualifying and heads-up eliminations under-the-lights in celebration of the 50th year of drag racing action at Firebird Raceway.

Bowling Green NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion event winner and current points leader Jim Murphy is wheeling the Roland Leong-tuned WW2 hemi-powered dragster with renewed consistency into the Boise battle after a March Meet defeat at the hands of 2nd place points holder Mendy Fry and the High-Speed Motorsports team. Reigning AA/FD Top Fuel champion and 3-time Nightfire Nationals event winner Tony Bartone and the Bartone Brothers are hauling in from the east coast for a hit at four event victories and climb from current number three points slot.

129Southern California based driver Adam Sorokin and the Champion Speed Shop out of South San Francisco have plans to extract a little more time and keep the fire inside the small-block Chevrolet powered dragster out on the top end of the 1320. “We have been doing a little work with our supercharger set up as well as other things. We’re just trying to get the car to last one more second”, said Sorokin who is currently locked into a 4th place points tie with Top Fuel hotshoe Dusty Green who will connect with the Nitro Hemi in Boise as it makes its way in from Colorado.

T111Eighth place points holder Bret Williamson will strap into the Mike Fuller Forever Young AA/Fuel dragster and drive double time out in front of the rear axle in one of 15 Xtreme Pro Mods slated to run at the event. Ohio based Tyler Hilton hopes to turn it up from an 11th place points slot after a run in at the Goodguys Pacific Northwest Nationals where he footed the Great Expectations III big-block Chevrolet powered AA/Fuel dragster to a 6.01 ET at 242 MPH with minimal engine carnage. “We had it thumpin’ up there in Seattle. The air was so good. Too good!”

Our nitromethane-powered neighbor to the north Phil Ruskowski is heading out to the Gem State with his small-block Chevrolet Mighty Mouse for some international front-engine Top Fuel competition after going up and out against Tyler Hilton at the Goodguys Pacific Northwest Nationals. Phil is currently tied for the 12th place with fellow front-engine Top Fuel dragster devotees Brendan Murry, Julius Hughes, Jason Greenwood, Paul Schultz and Tim Cullinan.

LARGEST NITRO-BURNING LINEUP IN NIGHTFIRE NATIONALS HISTORY

Eight AA/Fuel Dragsters, 10 AA/Fuel Altereds, and 18 nitro-burning AA/Funny Cars add up to 38 nitromethane-huffing entries and 150,000 plus stand-shaking horsepower of under-the-lights header flames action. Fifteen Pro Modified doorslammers, two jet-powered dragsters, two jet-powered funny cars and the crowd favorite Candyland Stagecoach wheelstander are on deck to add that much more fire to the Nightfire Nationals with wildcard late entries a distinct possibility.

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NIGHTFIRE NATIONALS TOP FUEL SCHEDULE

The Nightfire Nationals opens on Thursday, August 10th with Sportsman racing at 12:30 PM. Top Fuel dragsters, Awful Altereds, and Funny Cars run into qualifying and eliminations under-the-lights Friday, August 11th through Sunday, August 13th. The schedule is subject to change.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 11th

Session 1 Qualifying – 2 PM

Session 2 Qualifying – 7 PM

SATURDAY, AUGUST 12th

Last Session Qualifying – 2 PM

Round 1 Eliminations –  7 PM

SUNDAY, AUGUST 13th

Round 2 Eliminations – 2 PM

Final Eliminations – 4 PM

ABOUT FIREBIRD RACEWAY

Firebird Raceway is located 5 miles north of Idaho State Highway 44 on Idaho State Highway 16. Discount tickets for the Nightfire Nationals are available at participating local Stinker Stores. For more information contact Firebird Raceway at 208-938-8986 or on the web at firebirdonline.com.

POINTS STANDINGS

Top Fuel points standings heading into Race 3 of the 5-race NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series at the 46th Nightfire Nationals at Firebird Raceway.

  1. Jim Murphy 214
  2. Mendy Fry 187
  3. Tony Bartone 126
  4. Adam Sorokin 109
  5. Dusty Green 109
  6. Jim Young 98
  7. Pete Wittenberg 74
  8. Bret Williamson 73
  9. Rick McGee 52
  10. Dave Miller 52
  11. Tyler Hilton 51
  12. Phil Ruskowski 10
  13. Brendan Murry 10
  14. Julius Hughes 10
  15. Paul Schultz 10
  16. Jason Greenwood 10
  17. Tim Cullinan 10

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WITH BLOOD IN THE WATER, WILL MURPHY SEIZE TOP FUEL AT BOISE?

Jim Murphy and Roland Leong discuss strategy.

Jim Murphy and Roland Leong discuss strategy.

44th Nightfire Nationals, Firebird Raceway, Boise, ID, August 12, 2015—With High Speed Motorsports having recently ended the Bartone Brothers unprecedented 22-round win streak in NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel competition, the rest of the class has smelled blood in the water and have begun sharking. To that end, at this weekend’s Pepsi Nightfire Nationals in Boise veteran nitro racer Jim Murphy and his “WW2” dragster are set to pounce on a full field of front-engined fuelers.

“I think that (High Speed driver) Bill Dunlap winning Bowling Green gave everyone in the Nostalgia Top Fuel class a glimmer of hope,” Murphy explained. “It has been apparent that Tony Bartone has completely dominated our class for the last year and a half. High Speed and the Champion Speed Shop have been getting closer and closer and I believe we can now be part of that group.”

Earlier this summer at Bakersfield’s “Saturday Night Nitro,” an after-hours test with a new crew chief validated Murphy’s claim about rejoining the Top Fuel elite. That event saw the debut of the collaboration between Murphy and an infamous tuner he raced with during the ‘70s Funny Car wars, Roland Leong a/k/a “the Hawaiian.” After midnight, the WW2 fueler laid down the quickest run of the event, a spectacular 5.67-second 1/4-mile elapsed time at a mere 237 mph, with Murphy shutting off at 1000-feet.

That stunning run set the stage for Boise: When asked about if there was anything to prove this week, the “Hawaiian” was as cagey and contrite. “The goal is just to get more runs and data and learn what I think this car wants,” Leong said. “I tell everyone I work for, I only know how to do it one run at a time and it takes a lot of laps to figure things out.”

If Murphy and Leong want to go rounds—whether in pursuit of “data” or the actual Nightfire Top Fuel title, they will have to fight through a full quota of competitors. Besides Bartone and Dunlap, among those entered in the Boise’s 8-car eliminator are sophomore hot-shoe Dusty Green, March Meet runner-up Adam Sorokin in the Champion Speed Shop small-block Chevrolet fueler, fan-favorite Brendan Murry, Rick Williamson in the “Team Craig” rail, and Ron August, Jr. in the “Forever Young” slingshot. All of these teams are hoping to upend the defending series and event champion Bartone, despite any pleas to the contrary.

“Right now we’re not trying to upend anyone,” Roland said, downplaying his notorious take-no-prisoners competitive ethos. “Hopefully the day will come when they will be trying to upend us.”

“We are still in the experimental stage with the tune-up,” Murphy said, echoing Roland’s sentiments. “But we now know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel—and it’s not a train coming back at us.”

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44th Annual Pepsi Nightfire Nationals “Idaho’s Premiere Racing Event”

August 13-16

Fri., August 14: Nitro Qualifying: 7:45 pm. Concludes: 10 pm

Sat., August 15: Nitro Qualifying: 2 pm, 7:45 pm. Concludes: 10:30 pm

Sun., August 16: Nitro Eliminations: 2 pm. Concludes: 9 pm

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THE FLOGGING CONTINUES IN BOISE: BARTONE STILL UNDEFEATED IN 2014

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 11, 2014, AA/FD HQ—Despite a series of determined efforts by his competitors to staunch this year’s proverbial bleeding, at the Pepsi Nightfire Nationals in Boise, Idaho front-engine Top Fuel Dragster driver Tony Bartone won his third straight NHRA Heritage Series event and continued his merciless assault on anybody standing between himself and the 2014 Points Title.

Before the clutch dust settled in Boise on Sunday night, there was no shortage of optimism and bravado amongst Bartone’s adversaries.

“We want him first round,” driver Jim Young said, before adding: “Go big or go home.” Young, who was a distant second in the 2014 Heritage Series Top Fuel points, qualified in the #1 position at Boise with a ¼-mile elapsed time of 5.80 seconds and saw this race as an opportunity to upend Bartone and salvage his season. Others echoed Young’s sentiments. “Tell anybody that will listen, we are going to win this thing,” declared Frank Ousley, engine consultant on Jim Murphy’s “WW2” entry, who was slotted 3rd in the points race. “We want this next one!!!” the head of the “Champion Speed Shop” team texted, moments before lining up against Bartone in the semi-final round.

All strong words. None of which mattered. Deaf to the dissent and the bluster, Bartone continued his undefeated streak, and has now won ten straight rounds of drag racing in 2014. At Boise, after qualifying second with a 5.83 at 261 mph, Bartone drove around Ron August (5.85 to 6.13), Adam Sorokin (5.90 to 6.12) and finally Young, (5.76 to 6.39). In each of these heats, Bartone lazily spotted his competition the lead at the hit, and then furiously gave chase while relying upon his Steve Boggs-provided horsepower to blast by the other racer and get to the finish line first. The last round against Young was the most demoralizing to the other racers. Bartone’s 5.76-second clocking stood for Low ET of the Nightfire Nationals, and his trap-speed of 267 mph earned him Top Speed of the Meet laurels.

Which is merely following form for the Long Island City, New York-based racer. Bartone has not only not lost in 2014, in each event he also set Low ET and Top Speed. In short, Tony is crushing it.

And now, with two events left this year, and with Young and Murphy’s Points Title hopes not only unlikely but a very distant mathematical possibility, the remaining drama in the Heritage Series comes to this: Will Tony Bartone go perfect for the season? -30—

(The next event in the NHRA Heritage Top Fuel Series is the New England Hot Rod Reunion, September 12-14 at Epping, New Hampshire.)