MADISON, IL (Aug. 8, 2009) Only Pro Extreme Motorcycle rider Travis Davis had never previously visited a National Guard American Drag Racing League (ADRL) winner’s circle, but that didn’t make their victories in the ADRL Gateway Drags any less thrilling for Mike Janis (Pro Extreme), Mike Castellana (Pro Nitrous), Billy Glidden (Extreme 10.5) or Brian Gahm (Extreme Pro Stock). All winners were once again powered by VP Racing Fuels.
Janis, from Lancaster, NY, steered his supercharged 1968 Firebird past Brian Daniels in the opening round, then made a remarkable string of unopposed passes to secure his second win in the last three ADRL national events. Both Wes Johnston and finalist Jason Scruggs damaged their car’s engines beyond repair in previous passes, while Cody Barklage suffered the heartbreak of a $20 fuel fitting breaking on the starting line following his burnout for the semis.
“We did run into some unfortunate opponents and I feel bad for those guys, I really do, but I think we also ran well enough to show we would’ve had something for them anyhow,” Janis said after covering the eighth mile at Gateway International Raceway in 3.86 seconds at 195.59 miles per hour in the final round.
Teammates Castellana and Khalid Al-Balooshi faced off in the first-ever, all Al-Anabi Racing final, with the veteran taking out the rookie with team owner Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar looking on. Pro Nitrous legend Shannon Jenkins and Burton Auxier also drive Al-Anabi cars and “Tricky Rickie” Smith serves as crew chief for Balooshi, who qualified in the number-one position.
“It was great to have the Sheikh here this weekend and especially to see all of his cars do so well,” Castellana said after defeating Terry Murphy, Lee Adkins, Johnny Pilcher and Balooshi for his third ADRL event title. “This team is on a roll now and it feels great to get a win and be part of it.”
Reigning Flowmaster Extreme 10.5 World Champ Glidden started from the third qualifying spot, then ran his Ford-powered ’06 GTO past Todd Kitchen, Jeff Paulk and Gary White to reach polesitter Chuck Ulsch in the final round. Ulsch was coming off a semi-final appearance that set the drag racing world on fire with its first-ever three-second pass (3.98/197.88) on the relatively narrow 10.5W rear tires, a feat widely considered unattainable just a couple of years ago.
Ulsch’s supercharged ’68 Camaro lost traction in the final, however, allowing Glidden’s nitrous-assisted ride to blast through for the win in 4.07 seconds at 176.74 mph. Afterward, the man from Whiteland, Indiana, expressed surprise at earning his fifth National Guard Minuteman trophy after seven ADRL races this year.
“It’s nothing I did,” Glidden insisted. “If they hadn’t had trouble over there, there’s no way I can run with the kind of horsepower they’re making. So yeah, I’m kind of surprised to win here.”
Despite qualifying number two, then taking out current class champ Billy Vose, Keith Dennis and Monte Campbell, Davis also admitted to a little surprise at prevailing with a holeshot over Ron Procopio in the final round. Both riders carded 4.26 elapsed times, but a .052 advantage off the starting line made the difference for Davis.
“I knew Ronnie was a good leaver and I had to be on top of it, but I think he had his worst light of the day and that helped me, too,” Davis said. “But my bike has been running real good lately and I’m feeling good on it, so hopefully this is just the first of many (wins) for us.”
First-round Extreme Pro Stock action was marred by a scary, top-end rollover accident involving Matt Hartford. Fortunately, the third-place qualifier emerged uninjured, but his 2007 Cobalt sustained serious damage.
“It just started to haze the tires, then took a sudden, hard right into the wall. I probably stayed in it longer than I should have,” Hartford admitted after the first wreck of his career. “But when you’re trying to win these races you have to go for it.”
Meanwhile, points leader Gahm continued his dominance of the naturally aspirated class, racing through Brad Waddle, Steven Boone and John Montecalvo before ending the hopes of Dean Goforth with his fourth event title this year. Gahm set low E.T. of the meet with a 4.13-seconds blast in the final, while Goforth suffered a flat, left front tire halfway into his run that threw his ’09 Pontiac GXP across the center line, where it hit the finish line markers. “I hate to see that. We already lost one (car) today and don’t need our guys tearing their stuff up out here,” Gahm said. “That was a good run for us and it’s great to keep the momentum going toward the championship.”