Nitro Jam Countdown #9: Bennett Bullet
Nitro Jam Media
Dec 5, 2011
There was clearly something magical in the air at the 2011 Nitro Jam season opener at Palm Beach International Raceway.
Last week Bobby Lagana Jr. made his case for the Nitro Jam top 10 moments of the year with his record-setting weekend at the south Florida track and at No. 9 on the countdown is another man who set the world on fire on that cool winter weekend in January.
Las Vegas native Chris Bennett made it known loud and clear at the season-opener in Palm Beach that he was here and here to win when he debuted the “Pure Heaven” Fuel Altered in front of the sold out crowds and drove it to a win and the quickest lap of the year on his way to setting the standard in the class that would stand the rest of the year.
Bennett wasn’t the only one making his debut that weekend, mind you, as the entire Fuel Altered class made its Nitro Jam debut in Florida, but it was Bennett who made the most of the opportunity. Bennett came out firing right off the trailer with one career lap after another and quickly found himself in the Friday final on opening night. In the other lane was rival Jason Richey in the opposing “Pure Hell” machine, but Bennett proved too strong on his way to picking up the inaugural Fuel Altered Ironman trophy.
“We came to Palm Beach International with an educated guess of what it would take to really make this car run well. That guess really paid off right out of the trailer,” Bennett said following the win. “The entire crew was elated as that was our personal best ever for both the funny car and the Fuel Altered. That number erased years of frustration.”
Bennett carried that momentum over to Saturday’s competition where he fired off an astonishing 5.93 second, 235 mile per hour lap to the thunderous roar from the fans. Unfortunately, that is where Bennett’s fairytale weekend would come to an end. Upon returning to the pits Bennett’s team discovered some damage done to the car and Bennett was unable to make the call for the Saturday final.
“The entire team went from being on top of the world to being devastated,” Bennett said following the heartbreaking discovery. “Without enough time to repair and swap out motors, we were forced to sit out the finals which was a bit of a downer after what we had already accomplished.”
Despite the disappointing end to the weekend, Bennett didn’t let the mood-killer bring the team down. Bennett responded the following month with another win at the Mardi Gras Nitro Jam in Baton Rouge and went on to win six of the first eight races of the year.
Unfortunately, due to his primary job as a member of the United States Air Force, Bennett’s dream season came to a close following the San Antonio Nitro Jam in May as he was forced to the sidelines for the remainder of the season. Still, despite missing the final five races, Bennett built such a lead that he still finished third in the standings behind eventual champion Ron Maroney and Jason Richey. Bennett finished the year with six wins in seven finals, a 14-2 round record and his numbers from Palm Beach still stand as the benchmark for the class. It was quite a year for Bennett and the entire Fuel Altered division.
And with Fuel Altered on the slate for another go-round in 2012, you can be certain Bennett will be ready to defend his title as the fastest man in the class while his competition try to knock him from his perch.
*Throughout the month of December we will be counting down the top 10 moments from the 2011 Nitro Jam season. Check back often as we celebrate a memorable season of racing and be sure to visit NitroJam.com and become a fan of Nitro Jam on Facebook today to follow all of the action of the fastest show on earth!*
2011 NITRO JAM COUNTDOWN
#10 Fast Fuel