Ohio Rider Dominates as Series Champions Struggle in Nitro Summer Nationals

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. – For the second straight year, Milford, Ohio’s Ryan Peery dominated Top Fuel racing in the AHDRA Nitro Summer Nationals at Rockingham Dragway. This time, though, he left with the trophy.

The No. 1 qualifier, Peery was quickest in every round of competition Sunday and beat Jimmy McMillon of Deland, Fla., in the final after McMillon had upset two-time former IHRA and NHRA World Champion Jay Turner of Julian in round one and his teammate, two-time former NHRA Nitro Harley champ Tii Tharpe of East Bend, in the semifinals.

A year ago, Peery followed a similar script, qualifying No. 1 and posting quick time in each of the first two rounds before running afoul of Turner, whose final round 6.614 was just good enough to get the win against Peery’s 6.639.

This year, though, Peery left no doubt and after two upsets, McMillon had no answer for him in the final. Peery won with a time of 6.509 seconds at a finish line speed of 214.49 miles per hour. Although that was only his third quickest run of the weekend, it easily covered McMillon’s 7.771.

Peery qualified No. 1 at 6.394 and ran a best-of-the-event 6.365 at 218 mph in the first round. He was the only Top Fuel rider able to break the 6.60 barrier and he did it on every run to finally put last year’s loss to Turner in the rearview mirror.

Tharpe, who uncharacteristically failed to qualify for last year’s AHDRA race, snuck into this year’s field in the No. 7 spot before upsetting No. 2 qualifier and reigning series champion Rich Vreeland of Bloomsburg, Pa., in the opening round. Nevertheless, he slowed to 8.665 against McMillon and watched the final from the sidelines.

Chris Smith of Murfreesboro, Tenn., went wire-to-wire to win Nitro Funny Bike, many time series champion Preston Bartlett of Palatka, Fla., beat Rockingham regular Sam White of Chapin, S.C., in the semis of Pro Fuel before taking down No. 1 qualifier Jim Martin of Palatine, Ill., to claim the biggest share of the purse.

Veteran Gary Douglass of Staunton, Va., a standout in the old MIRock Superbike Series, used a starting line advantage to upset No. 1 qualifier Shane Pendergrast in the final round of Pro Modified.

Other winners included Kevin Campbell of Southern Pines in Pro Open, Ken Strauss of Terrell in Top Eliminator, John Hendrzak of Delta, Pa., who won Saturday’s Dial-In Eliminator and was one of the last three standing in the same class when weather forced officials to suspend competition Sunday. Those still in contention when racing was halted split the remaining purse money in their respective brackets.

Had racing been completed, Hendrzak and Douglass might have won multiple titles since both still were in contention, Douglass as one of the last two in Modified and Hendrzak as one of the last two in Dial-In Eliminator and last three in Street Eliminator.

Instead, double-up honors fell to Joe Gladden of Kings Mountain, who was able to win the Bagger class on both days, and Jeremiah Cullen of Ayden, who followed his Saturday Trophy Class win with another on Sunday.

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. – Results from the All-Harley Drag Racing Association Nitro Summer Nationals at Rockingham Dragway. Hometowns are North Carolina unless otherwise indicated. Results include reaction time, track time, target time when applicable and finish line speed.

Qualifying – 1. Ryan Peery, Milford, Ohio, 6.394, 217.91 mph; 2. Rich Vreeland, Bloomsburg, Pa., 6.653, 208.55 mph; 3. Jay Turner, Julian, 6.806, 176.05 mph; 4. Tim Kerrigan, Novato, Calif., 6.993, 195.45 mph; 5. Tyler Wilson, Walnut Cove, 7.019, 161.87 mph; 6. Jimmy McMillon, Deland, Fla., 7.165, 197.62 mph; 7. Tii Tharpe, East Bend, 7.663, 200.14 mph; 8. Tracy Kile, Ashville, 8.195, 197.77 mph.
Round 1 – Tim Kerrigan, Novato, Calif., .110, 6.868, 205.54 mph, def. Mark Conner, Robertsville, Mo., no time; Jimmy McMillon, Deland, Fla., .103, 7.801, 183.19 mph, def. Jay Turner, Julian, .086, 9.205, 105.96 mph; Tii Tharpe, East Bend, .112, 6.592, 210.70 mph, def. Rich Vreeland, Bloomsburg, Pa., .135, 12.195, 76.00 mph; Ryan Peery, Milford, Ohio, .174, 6.365, 218.62 mph, def. Tracy Kile, Ashville, no time.
Semifinals –McMillon, .079, 7.622, 187.99 mph, def. Tharpe, .120, 8.665, 113.78 mph; Peery, .271, 6.615, 215.10 mph, def. Kerrigan, .083, 6.887, 204.05 mph.
FINAL – Ryan Peery, Milford, Ohio, .127, 6.509, 214.45 mph, def. Jimmy McMillon, Deland, Fla., .118, 7.771, 167.07 mph.

Qualifying – 1. Chris Smith, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 6.595, 207.43 mph; 2. Armon Furr, Orangeburg, S.C., 6.822, 202.03 mph; 3. Jim Doyle, Chicopee, Mass., 7.029, 189.36 mph; 4. Michael Balch, 7.065, 180.45 mph.
Round 1 – Rocky Jackson, Arnaudville, La., .167, 9.183, 142.73 mph, def. Armon Furr, Orangeburg, S.C., .092, 9.548, 170.04 mph; Jim Doyle, Chicopee, Mass., .210, 6.954, 199.61 mph, def. Michael Balch, .317, 7.205, 179.02 mph; Chris Smith, Murfreesboro, Tenn., .214, 6.619, 204.26 mph, def. Sam White, Chapin, S.C., no time.
Semifinals – Smith, bye; Doyle, .128, 7.224, 179.61 mph, def. Jackson, .198, 8.248, 165.54 mph.
FINAL – Chris Smith, Murfreesboro, Tenn., .099, 6.650, 205.26 mph, def. Jim Doyle, Chicopee, Mass, .134, 11.661, 74.52 mph.

Qualifying – 1. Jim Martin, Palatine, Ill., 7.485, 166.01 mph; 2. Preston Bartlett, Palatka, Fla., 7.585, 168.39 mph; 3. Sam White, Chapin, S.C., 7.679, 164.63 mph; 4. Rocky Jackson, Arnaudville, La., 7.67, 168.72 mph.
Round 1 – Sam White, Chapin, S.C., .192, 7.568, 164.01 mph, def. Jay Beasley, Winston-Salem, .170, 8.036, 153.2 mph; Preston Bartlett, Palatka, Fla., NA, 7.381, 172.08 mph, def. Keith Kelley, Mocksville, no time; Jim Martin, Palatine, Ill., bye; Rocky Jackson, Arnaudville, La., .237, 7.630, 168.37 mph, def. Pete Stimeling, Roanoke, Va., .169, 8.845, 135.85 mph.
Semifinals – Bartlett, .146, 7.417, 173.05 mph, def. White, .133, 7.552, 169.02 mph; Martin, .323, 7.576, 164.85 mph, def. Jackson, no time.
FINAL – Preston Bartlett, Palatka, Fla., .130, 7.467, 168.62 mph, def. Jim Martin, Palatine, Ill., .137, 7.689, 161.13 mph.

Qualifying – 1. Shane Pendergrast, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 8.581, 151.46 mph; 2. Gary Douglass, Staunton, Va., 8.700, 153.25 mph; 3. Richmond Boone, 9.359, 143.72 mph; 4. John Price, Emmitsburg, Md., 10.283, 128.27 mph.
Round 1 – John Price, Emmitsburg, Md., .125, 10.395, 124.73 mph, def. Richmond Boone, foul (-.004); Gary Douglass, Staunton, Va., .091, 8.902, 148.71 mph, def. George Futch, Simpsonville, S.C., .096, 10.287, 122.03 mph; Shane Pendergrast, Murfreesboro, Tenn., bye.
Semifinals – Douglass, bye; Pendergrast, .229, 8.628, 151.97 mph, def. Price, .095, 10.302, 127.67 mph.
FINAL – Gary Douglass, Staunton, Va., .083, 8.665, 152.85 mph, def. Shane Pendergrast, Murfreesboro, Tenn., .167, 8.640, 151.32 mph.

Semifinals – Mark Conner, Robertsville, Mo., .166, 10.085, 93.89 mph, def. Unknown #216; Mike Beland, Mooresville, bye.
FINAL – Suspended by weather, Mark Conner, Robertsville, Mo., and Mike Beland, Mooresville, split winner and runner-up money.

Semifinals – Andy Simon, Salisbury, bye; Kevin Campbell, Southern Pines, .560. 11.496, 120.38 mph, def. Mike Moto, Richlands, .113, 12.033, 86.05 mph.
FINAL – Kevin Campbell, Southern Pines, .656, 11.164, 120.38 mph, def. Andy Simon, Salisbury, no time.

PRO ELIMINATOR (10.90 target)
Semifinals – Brad Reiss Jr., Bethlehem, Pa., .106, 10.940, 114.65 mph, def. Bill Grove, Dallas, Ga., .132, 10.858 breakout, 111.94 mph; Loren Potter, McDonald, Tenn., bye.
FINAL – Suspended by weather, Brad Reiss Jr., Bethlehem, Pa., and Loren Potter, McDonald, Tenn., split winner and runner-up money.

Semifinals – Gary Douglass, Staunton, Va., .195, 9.158, 142.97 mph, def. Justin Collier, Orlando, Fla., .125, 9.399, 140.78 mph; Kimberly Deshields, Murfreesbobo, Tenn., bye.
FINAL – Suspended by weather, Gary Douglass, Staunton, Va., and Kimberly Deshields, Murfreesboro, Tenn., split winner and runner-up money.

TOP ELIMINAATOR (9.30 target)
Semifinals – Freddy Frazier, Sanford, .013, 9.524, 107.15 mph, def. Scott Schenkel, Palmerton, Pa., .075, 9.721, 137.98 mph; Ken Strauss, Terrell, bye.
FINAL – Ken Strauss, Terrell, .016, 9.368, 140.12 mph, def. Freddy Frazier, Sanford, .099, 9.278 breakout foul, 117.60 mph.

SUPER GAS (9.90 target)
Semifinals – Robert Willis, Bellmawr, N.J., .081, 9.876, 128.52 mph, def. Elijah Agnor, Lynchburg, Va., foul; Keith, Carper, Laurel, Md., bye.
FINAL – Suspended by weather, Keith Carper, Laurel, Md., and Robert Willis, Bellmawr, N.J., split winner and runner-up money.

SUPER PRO (10.30 target)
Semifinals – Brad Reiss Jr., Bethlehem, Pa., .109, 10.408, 112.35 mph, def. Loren Potter, McDonald, Tenn., .143, 10.380, 121.75 mph; Nate Carahan, .087, 10.353, 115.20 mph, def. Greg Quinn, .021, 10.738, 127.19 mph.
FINAL – Nate Carahan, .099, 10.342, 119.90 mph, def. Brad Reiss Jr., Bethlehem, Pa., .074, 10.402, 119.08 mph.

STREET ELIMINATOR (11.50 target)
Semifinals – Kevin Winters, Richmond, Ill., .045, 11.607, 93.13 mph, def. Richard Stamey, Wilmington, .240, 11.585, 115.23 mph; John Hendrzak, Delta, Pa., bye.
FINAL – Suspended by weather, Kevin Winters, Richmond, Ill., and John Hendrzak, Delta, Pa., split winner and runner-up money.

Semifinals – Seth Locklear, Wilmington, .266, 9.555, 135.18 mph, def. Crosby Blair, Georgetown, Tenn., .193, 10.361, 131.27 mph; Justin Demery, bye.
FINAL – Suspended by weather, Seth Locklear, Wilmington, and Justin Demery split winner and runner-up money

Round 3 – Robert Willis, Bellmawr, N.J., .055, 9.705 on a 9.580, 123.41 mph, def. Kevin Laughman, Spring Grove, Pa., .048, 11.931 on an 11.700, 113.46 mph; Junebug Ledford, Cherokee, bye; John Hendrzak, Delta, Pa., .085, 11.339 on an 11.350, 115.94 mph, def. Julius Demanss II, Havre de Grace, Md., no time.
Semifinals – Suspended by weather, Robert Willis, Bellmawr, N.J., Junebug Ledford, Cherokee, John Hendrzak, Delta, Pa., split the money posted for the final two rounds.

Semifinals – John Hendrzak, Delta, Pa., .051, 11.362 on an 11.300, 116.12 mph, def. Loren Potter, McDonald, Tenn., foul; Junebug Ledford, Cherokee, bye.
FINAL – John Hendrzak, Delta, Pa., .001, 11.529 on an 11.320, 98.11 mph, def. Junebug Ledford, Cherokee, .000, 13.717 on a 13.400, 97.97 mph.

Semifinals – Brent Carlisle, .118, 11.543 on an 11.400, 101.29 mph, def. John Sanage, Raleigh, .109, 13.148 on a 12.000, 107.56 mph; Joe Gladden, Kings Mountain, .033, 13.625 on a 13.500, 95.22 mph, def. Russell Smith, Rose Hill, foul.
FINAL – Joe Gladden, Kings Mountain, .147, 13.558 on a 13.500, 96.21 mph, def. Brent Carlisle, .37, 11.557 on an 11.400, 114.57 mph.

Semifinals – Joe Gladden, Kings Mountain, .158, 13.714 on a 13.500, 90.80 mph, def. John Sanage, Raleigh, .613, 12.238 on an 11.950, 111.47 mph; Russell Smith, Rose Hill, .191, 12.017 on an 11.700, 108.23 mph def. Unknown #72X, .335, 11.581 on an 11.400, 101.53 mph.
FINAL – Joe Gladden, Kings Mountain, .229, 13.551 on a 13.500, 96.91 mph, def. Russell Smith, Rose Hill, .076, 12.087 on an 11.700, 113.70 mph.

FINAL – Jeremiah Cullen, Ayden, .860, 16.466 on an 11.600, 72.89 mph, def. Unknown #198, foul.

FINAL – Jeremiah Cullen, Ayden, .537, 12.359 on an 11.550, 96.46 mph, def. John Savage, Raleigh, no time.
Smith, Ward, Caulder Claim Trophies in NHRA.TV ‘Run for the Wally’ Challenge

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. – Raeford’s Michael Spencer used a .024 package to force four-time former Rockingham Dragway track champion and IHRA national event winner Chip Johnson into a final round breakout foul and earn the biggest share of the purse in the 23rd annual ATI Performance Products Memorial Bracket Championships honoring the late “Big John” Leviner.

Spencer and Johnson waded through a field of 166 Top ET drivers that included Churchville, N.Y.’s Dan Fletcher, one of NHRA drag racing’s biggest all-time winners, to battle for Sunday’s $7,500 top prize which went to Spencer on the strength of a 4.244 second run against a 4.240 target coupled to a reaction time of .020.

Johnson, whose reaction times were .008, .020 and .023 leading up to the final, had an uncharacteristic .076 against Spencer and, in trying to make up the deficit, pushed his 1982 Chevy Camaro under its 6.100 target by .011 of a second. It was Spencer’s second win in three years in the Memorial Weekend classic.

Even though he got the weekend’s biggest paycheck, Spencer again was denied one of the iconic NHRA trophies awarded to the winner of each day’s NHRA.TV “Run for the Wally” Challenge, losing out to Sunday Footbrake winner Matt Ward of Anderson, S.C., whose .016 reaction time was just too much to overcome.

Other champions included 2019 Jr. Dragster track champion Connor Caulder of St. Pauls, who used a .002 reaction time and a .008 package to best an equally impressive Eric Thomas (.011 and .019) in Monday’s Top ET final, and Ashley Smith of Winterville, who upset Fletcher in the semifinals en route to a Top ET title on Saturday.

Although he didn’t hoist a trophy, Fletcher made an impressive debut in the “Big John,” following up his Saturday trip to the semifinals by reaching the round of seven on Monday before bowing to the 19-year-old Caulder by .006 of a second in a double breakout classic. His son Tim also got to the seventh round before falling to multiple-time Carolina Coalition champion Tommy Plott of Winston-Salem.

Fletcher is one of only a handful of drivers along with John Force, Frank Manzo and David Rampy to have won more than 100 events in the NHRA national series in a variety of classes including Competition Eliminator, Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp and Super Street, Aaron “Hot Rod” Brock of Pageland, S.C., won Monday’s Footbrake title, joining Ward and Clinton’s Eric Aman on the podium. It was Aman’s fifth win in the “Big John,” his fourth in Footbrake. He won Top Eliminator a year ago.

Jacksonville’s Jayden Lawler, Fayetteville’s Nolan Callahan and Kamryn Majors of Evans, Ga., were the daily winners in Jr. Dragster. Majors won the one available “Wally” in a Monday tournament in which Lawler was guilty of a final round foul start by a razor thin .004 of a second.