Sanders, Lagana, Evans, Dorn and Bennett all winners on opening night at Palm Beach Nitro Jam
Nitro Jam Media
Jan 29, 2011
Just about the farthest point you can get from the sunny beaches of West Palm Beach, Fla. in the continental United States is the great state of Washington on the Pacific coast.
Approaching nearly 4,000 miles from the southern tip of Florida to the city of Seattle, the differences between the two locations are great and the distance even greater. Still, despite the vast amount of land separating the two locations, it was a Seattle man that found himself in victory lane Friday night in Florida as Mark Sanders drove his race rig all the way across the country to lay claim to the first victory of the 2011 season at Palm Beach International Raceway Friday night.
Sanders, spending the past seven days on the road just to reach PBIR, defeated another newcomer, east coast native Paul Romine, in the Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car championship at the Palm Beach Nitro Jam on opening night. Other winners from Friday included Bobby Lagana (Top Fuel), Bill Evans (Pro Fuel), Steve Dorn (Nitro Harley) and Chris Bennett (Fuel Altered).
“The ‘Mr. Explosive’ team is back baby,” exclaimed Mark Sanders following his win. “We drove all the way across this great country to be here tonight and to get the win in front of these great fans is what it is all about. We went toe-to-toe with one of the best in the business and we were able to put down a really hot lap and come out of here with the first win of the year. Now let’s see if we can go out here and do this again tomorrow night.”
Sanders, driving the “Mr. Explosive” 1970 Nova, drove around Romine and the “Man-O-War” machine with a blistering 5.873-second lap at 242.28 miles per hour in the final. Romine, who just got edged at the line in a great side-by-side showdown, posted a 5.941, 240.12.
“What a great race between myself and that bunch,” Sanders said. “All these guys out here can really push you to your limit, but Paul really takes that to another level. It means even more to beat out a guy like him, but with two nights of racing, it is anybodies ballgame tomorrow.”
In the Prostalgia Funny Car consolation rounds all five drivers from last year’s championship top five were left watching the newbies do their thing. In those rounds defending champion Steve Nichols posted a win over John Dunn, Peter Gallen drove around Richard Hartman and Mike McIntire edged Greg Jacobsmeyer.
Sanders and Romine, both newcomers to the Nitro Jam game, dominated in the opening round to set up and incredible matchup in the finals. Sanders had low elapsed time of the first round, blasting past last year’s Palm Beach winner Jacobsmeyer with a 5.826 second pass at 244.12 mph. Romine wasn’t far off his pace with a 5.886, 235.23 lap in a win over McIntire.
Top Fuel’s championship showdown between drivers Bobby Lagana Jr. and Bruce Litton produced without a doubt the best racing of the night as the pair ran side-by-side 300 mile per hour laps both times out. And in the final the pair saved the best for last as Lagana ran a near career best 4.886, 320.81 lap to Litton’s 4.925, 315.34. Lagana also edged Litton in the first pairing with a 4.928, 322.34 pass. The win is the 13th of Lagana’s career.
“What a way to start the 2011 season. We began last year with a win at Palm Beach on our way to the championship and hopefully that will bode well for us this season,” Lagana said. “We had two very fast laps tonight and we needed them to get around Bruce. I know we have even more in the tank for tomorrow so it should be fun.”
In Pro Fuel south Florida native Evans kept his nearly four-year win streak at PBIR alive with a victory over Mike Manners, kicking off his reign as class champion with his seventh career Ironman trophy.
And it wasn’t even a fight.
Evans cruised to the win when Manners failed to make the final call, a fortunate win against the man who posted the quickest lap of the night in round one. In the consolation matchup Robin Samsel posted a round win over Cherissa Smallwood when her engine went sour just off the line.
“I have won here at Palm Beach for four or five consecutive races. I don’t know what it is about this track, but we always seem to find ways to pull out the win,” Evans said. “We may not have been the fastest car tonight, but we still got the win. Hopefully we can make a few changes tonight and improve on our times.”
Even though he failed to make the final, Manners still produced low E.T. of the day in Pro Fuel during the opening round to reach the finals. Manners ran a 5.400, 270.70 in win over Smallwood, while Evans sailed past Samsel.
Two new classes were also a part of the festivities Friday night at Palm Beach International Raceway as Steve Dorn won the first Nitro Harley title in nearly a decade and Chris Bennett won in his first time out in the new Nostalgia Fuel Altered class.
Dorn won his first career Ironman trophy with a pair of consistent laps capped off with a 6.306, 220.01 lap in the final to drive around Mike Scott. In the consolation matchup Randal Andras came away victorious.
Dorn had low elapsed time of the opening round as well with a 6.378, 199.14 to reach the final, while Mike Lehman was just behind with a 6.962, 208.07 lap.
Rounding out the night was the Fuel Altered class headed by Bennett in the “Pure Heaven” machine. Bennett ran a 6.289, 218.80 in the final to down his nemesis Jason Richey in the “Pure Hell” Altered. Ron Hope in “Rat Trap” won the consolation pairing over “Nanook” star Ron Maroney.
Bennet and Richey both had an easy road to the final when their opponents both had issues on their runs. Bennet had low elapsed time of the opening round by a tenth of a second.
Nitro Jam will continue on Saturday with sportsman qualifying and eliminations beginning at 10 a.m. and day two of Nitro Jam at 6 p.m.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Friday's final results from the IHRA Palm Beach Nitro Jam at Palm Beach International Raceway. The race is the first of 10 in the 2011 Nitro Jam Series:
Top Fuel Dragster Day 1 -- Bobby Lagana Jr., 4.886 seconds, 320.81 mph def. Bruce Litton, 4.925 seconds, 315.34 mph.
Fuel Altered Day One -- Chris Bennett, Austin Bantam, 6.289, 218.80 def. Jason Richey, 8.957, 111.51.
Nitro Harley Day One -- Steve Dorn, 6.306, 220.01 def. Mike Scott, broke.
Prostalgia Funny Car Day 1 -- Mark Sanders, Chevy Nova, 5.873, 242.28 def. Paul Romine, Ford Mustang, 5.941, 240.12.
Pro Fuel Dragster Day 1 -- Bill Evans, Spitzer, 16.850, 71.83 def. Michael Manners, Spitzer, broke.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Final round-by-round results from the IHRA Palm Beach Nitro Jam at Palm Beach International Raceway, the first of 10 events in the 2011 Nitro Jam Series:
TOP FUEL DRAGSTER DAY 1: ROUND ONE -- Bobby Lagana Jr., 4.928, 322.34 def. Bruce Litton, 5.109, 300.66;
FINAL -- B. Lagana Jr., 4.886, 320.81 def. B. Litton, 4.925, 315.34.
PRO FUEL DRAGSTER DAY 1: ROUND ONE -- Bill Evans, Spitzer, 6.353, 259.91 def. Robin Samsel, Dragster, 15.160, 70.79; Michael Manners, Spitzer, 5.400, 270.70 def. Cherissa Smallwood, Innovative, 5.694, 245.76;
CONSOLATION -- R. Samsel, 8.359, 222.62 def. C. Smallwood, 33.041, 81.71;
FINAL -- B. Evans, 16.850, 71.83 def. M. Manners, broke.
PROSTALGIA FUNNY CAR DAY 1: ROUND ONE -- John Dunn, Plymouth Duster, 8.629, 104.88 def. Peter Gallen, Chevy Vega, broke; Mark Sanders, Chevy Nova, 5.826, 244.12 def. Greg Jacobsmeyer, Dodge Challenger, 6.432, 206.26; Richard Hartman, Pontiac Trans Am, 8.626, 117.49 def. Steve Nichols, Chevy Camaro, 11.127, 69.58; Paul Romine, Ford Mustang, 5.886, 235.23 def. Mike McIntire, Camaro, 6.261, 226.20;
CONSOLATION -- M. McIntire, 6.142, 235.89 def. G. Jacobsmeyer, 6.255, 223.65; S. Nichols, 10.548, 96.92 def. J. Dunn, broke; P. Gallen, 5.999, 245.40 def. R. Hartman, foul;
FINAL -- M. Sanders, 5.873, 242.28 def. P. Romine, 5.941, 240.12.
NITRO HARLEY DAY ONE: ROUND ONE -- Steve Dorn, 6.378, 199.14 def. Randal Andras, 24.327, 51.47; Mike Scott, 24.039, 52.13 def. Mike Lehman, 6.962, 208.07;
CONSOLATION -- R. Andras, 10.789, 79.95 was unopposed;
FINAL -- S. Dorn, 6.306, 220.01 def. M. Scott, broke.
FUEL ALTERED DAY ONE: ROUND ONE -- Jason Richey, 6.195, 210.05 def. Ron Hope, broke. Chris Bennett, Austin Bantam, 6.030, 230.21
CONSOLATION -- R. Hope, 7.317, 193.32 def. R. Maroney, 10.015, 153.84;
FINAL -- C. Bennett, 6.289, 218.80 def. J. Richey, 8.957, 111.51.