Pro Fuel, Fuel Altered championships still up for grabs
Nitro Jam Media
Aug 1, 2011
Bill Evans (near) vs. Mike Manners
While three of the five fulltime Nitro Jam classes have already decided a champion, two others will go down to the wire at the upcoming Northern Nitro Jam at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park the weekend of August 12-13.
The final chapter in Pro Fuel Dragster and the new Nostalgia Fuel Altered class will finally be written later this month when Nitro Jam visits Michigan’s fastest track in Martin for the professional season finale. A total of four drivers are in contention for two Nitro Jam championships highlighted by one of the closest battles in Nitro Jam history taking place in Pro Fuel.
Only three points separate defending Pro Fuel champion Bill Evans from current points leader Michael Manners in yet another great battle in Nitro Jam’s 100-percent nitro-powered dragster class. Last year’s championship battle came down to the final pass of the year and it appears history will repeat itself once again.
“For the second year in a row it is going to be us and Manners going down to the wire,” Evans said. “Last year the championship wasn’t decided until the final pass of the year and hopefully we can have a good, clean weekend and do it again this year.”
Evans, behind the wheel of the “Black Pearl” machine, is trying to play catch-up as Manners and “The Shredder” team look to secure their first title.
Manners leads the field by three points thanks to four wins in six final rounds, including three wins in the last four Pro Fuel finals, and a remarkable 12-4 round record. Manners also owns the quickest and fastest passes of the year and is the defending race winner at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park, the home of this year’s season finale.
But don’t count Evans out just yet.
Evans found himself trailing much of last season as well before coming through with a clutch victory in the final race of the 2010 season in Virginia to clinch the inaugural championship.
“Last year we ended the season with one of our best passes of the year, while Mike had some trouble on the line. This year Mike has been nearly flawless out there with good, clean runs lap after lap,” Evans said. “It is certainly not going to be easy, but we look forward to the challenge and a great race between the two of us.”
Adding to the drama in Martin will be an expanded Pro Fuel field that will include Robin Samsel, Dave Hill, Cherissa Smallwood and more. Samsel and Hill played a major role in last year’s championship chase by besting the two best cars to meet in the final and this year hope to do much of the same.
In Nitro Jam’s other championships chase, Ron Maroney in the legendary “Nanook” Fuel Altered will try to hold off Jason Richey and the “Pure Hell” team in attempt to take the inaugural championship Ironman in Nitro Jam’s newest class.
Maroney began the season slowly, with mechanical problems and a few on-track incident plaguing the team, but the “Nanook” crew has been on a role as of late winning three of the last four final rounds to produce a sizable gap in the championship lead.
Maroney currently holds a 54-point advantage over Richey in the “Pure Hell” entry and can clinch the title with a consistent weekend in Michigan.
“What a year it has been for this team. Anything and everything bit us in the beginning, but lately this car has been on a roll and hopefully we can keep that momentum in Michigan and come out of that race with the championship,” Maroney said. “It will be nice to put ‘Nanook’ back in victory lane with a championship on its resume. We are really looking forward to this event.”
On the year Maroney has four wins in six finals, while Richey has one victory and four-runner-up finishes. Similar to Pro Fuel, the Nostalgia Fuel Altered class will also have an expanded field in Martin that will include Tom Padilla in “Nasty Benjamin,” Ron Hope in “Rat Trap,” Jim Maroney in “Blind Faith,” and more adding to the excitement.
Nitro Jam’s other three nitro classes have already crowned champions entering the professional season finale. Bobby Lagana Jr. won his second Top Fuel championship in a row last month in Ontario, while Peter Gallen (Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car) and Steve Dorn (Nitro Harley) will wrap up their season with a victory celebration in Martin with the championship trophy already in hand.
The Northern Nitro Jam at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park is set to get underway the weekend of August 12-13. For more information visit
or call (269) 672-7800.