Lagana leads Nitro Jam into Cajun Country looking for first Mardi Gras win
Nitro Jam Media
Feb 15, 2011
Bruce Litton is a two-time winner at State Capitol
It is like déjà vu all over again for Top Fuel ace Bobby Lagana Jr.
Exactly one year ago Lagana began the season with a weekend sweep of the Nitro Jam opener at Palm Beach International Raceway, setting up a brilliant run to his first career Nitro Jam championship after nearly a dozen years behind the wheel of the quickest and fastest class in motorsports.
And while Lagana would certainly not object to a repeat of the 2010 season after opening the year with another sweep in Palm Beach, one thing Lagana would love to change this year is his record at State Capitol Raceway – 0-3.
Lagana, who has won at every returning track on the 2011 schedule except State Capitol Raceway, has enjoyed his share of luck at the Baton Rouge facility, reaching the finals twice in three tries, but he has never visited victory lane at the historic track, instead falling at the hands of rival Bruce Litton both times.
Steve Dorn leads the Nitro Harley class entering Baton Rouge
Now Lagana returns to Cajun Country with revenge on his mind as he goes for his first career victory in Baton Rouge and tries to continue his winning streak of three straight dating back to last year.
“We have been good at State Capitol, just not good enough,” Lagana said. “In three races we have been to the finals twice, but Bruce got us both times. This year, however, I really like our chances to get a win as the car is running the best it ever has. We had our two fastest laps ever in Florida and we are confident we can keep the momentum going this weekend.”
The two Top Fuel machines of Litton and Lagana certainly put on a show at the season opener last month with eight straight passes of 300 mph or more and laps consistently in the four second range.
Lagana’s competition will come at the hands of the Lucas Oil team and driver Litton who has won twice at State Capitol Raceway and has consistently been among the fastest in the tracks history. Litton trails the defending champ by 10 points entering Baton Rouge after Lagana swept the Palm Beach Nitro Jam last month.
Nitro Jam’s other dragster class features another great matchup between defending Pro Fuel champion Bill Evans and last year’s championship runner-up Michael Manners. Evans, piloting the “Black Pearl” dragster, won the inaugural championship in the class by one of the narrowest margins in Nitro Jam history over Manners last year and it appears their rivalry has not faded in the offseason.
Defending champ Bill Evans won in race two at the Mardi Gras Nitro Jam last year
“It seems like no matter what we do we can’t separate from each other. Last year’s championship came down to the final pass of the year to decide the championship and, after another heated battle to start this season, it appears we are heading for another collision course,” Evans said.
Evans and Manners, driver of the “Shredder” machine, traded wins during last month’s opener leaving Evans with a six point advantage over his rival entering Baton Rouge. Robin Samsel and newcomer Cherissa Smallwood, the only female competitor in Nitro Jam competition, will make up the remainder of the Pro Fuel field.
While the dragster classes certainly hold a special place in the hearts of race fans, perhaps Nitro Jam’s most popular class is the brand new Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car division. Featuring wild designs, vintage bodies and even better racing, the drivers making up the Prostalgia class have really taken the series by storm.
And the driver who is at the top of that list is “Mr. Explosive” Mark Sanders. A newcomer to the Nitro Jam tour this season Sanders, from Seattle, powered his way to a victory in his very first outing this season and will also carry the second spot into Louisiana this weekend. Paul Romine, who reached two finals with one win in Palm Beach, holds the top spot in the standings.
"Mr. Explosive" Mark Sanders will be traveling from Seattle to compete this weekend
“We drove over 4,000 miles to be in Florida last month and we are going to be doing the same for Baton Rouge, but it is worth every minute to spend time with the incredible fans and put on a great show,” Sanders said. “We are out here having fun, kicking some butt and making sure we give the fans everything we have. Come root on ‘Mr. Explosive’ this weekend in Baton Rouge.”
Third place in the Prostalgia Funny Car class is held by the fastest man in the division, Peter Gallen driver of the bright purple “Poverty Stricken” ’74 Vega. Gallen, who holds the class record for speed and elapsed time, sits 17 points behind Sanders. Rounding out the top seven in the popular Funny Car class are Greg Jacobsmeyer, Mike McIntire, Richard Hartman and defending champion Steve Nichols.
Nichols got off to a horrid start in Palm Beach with inconsistent runs leading to a slow start in his repeat bid. Last year’s Mardi Gras winners were Gallen and McIntire.
Rounding out the nitro field in Baton Rouge is a pair of new classes to the Nitro Jam family. Headlining that list are the daredevils of the Fuel Altered division and the extreme riders of the Nitro Harley class.
In the 220 mph Nitro Harley class Steve Dorn took the series by storm last month with the consistent runs leading to one win, a runner-up finish and an early lead in the standings. Dorn leads Mike Scott by 14 points entering the Mardi Gras Nitro Jam. Randal Andras is third and Jay Turner, a former champion in the class, sits fourth.
Finally, the Fuel Altered division has made a big splash in Nitro Jam competition as these out-of-control vintage race machines fire off laps unheard of for cars with such a short wheelbase. And leading the new class is Chris Bennett, driver of the “Pure Heaven” Altered. Bennett set the bar high for the new class with a win and the three quickest laps in the short history of the class in Palm Beach.
Bennett holds a 19 point advantage over Ron Maroney and the “Super Nanook” team. Jason Richey in “Pure Hell” sits third and Ron Hope and the “Rat Trap” Fuel Altered is fourth.
All five classes will be back in action at the Mardi Gras Nitro Jam this weekend at State Capitol Raceway in Baton Rouge. The five nitro classes will also be joined by a full field of Outlaw Pro Modifieds in addition to a bevy of extras including 300 mph jet dragsters and a showdown between the world’s fastest monster truck “Maximum Overkill” and the 30,000 horsepower Shockwave jet semi.
Tickets start at just $30 and can be purchased online at
or by calling (225) 627-4574.
Jason Richey's "Pure Hell" is one of four new cars in the Fuel Altered class