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Mon, 24 Mar 2014, 17:28 PM

Rupert, Scott, Hough Lead Friday Qualifying At IHRA Southwestern Nationals
Courtesy of IHRA Communications

TUCSON, Ariz. (March 22, 2014) - The return of traditional qualifying and a healthy championship battle was just as sweet as expected as the IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series opened the 2014 season on Friday to the fanfare of an excited crowd at the 2014 IHRA Southwestern Nationals at Southwestern International Raceway.

Jason Rupert led the way in IHRA's most anticipated championship, taking the top spot in Nitro Funny Car with a well-earned 5.898-second elapsed time at 245 miles per hour. Mike Scott topped the Nitro Harley field on Friday with a 6.353, 221.49 and Kyle Hough took the pole in Nitro Altered with a 6.796, 187.11 run. Mountain Motor Pro Stock will make the first of its qualifying runs on Saturday.

Jason Rupert led the way in Nitro Funny Car
qualifying Friday in Tucson, Ariz.
Nearly all of the chart-topping runs took place during the second round of competition as drivers struggled to find the right setup right out of the box. Rupert topped the charts after both rounds on opening night, but his final run on Friday set the pace for Saturday eliminations.

Canadian Tim Boychuk, who sat in the DNQ position after round one, put himself into the field with a respectable 5.932, 241.76, temporarily giving him the top mark. Texan John Hale qualified third in the "Mike Burkhart" tribute nostalgia flopper with a 5.946, 242.41, followed by Bruce Litton (6.039, 237.34) and Kris Krabill (6.131, 240.17).

Rounding out the field was Mark Sanders, Mike McIntire Jr. and Roger Garten. Mike Halstead, in the "Powers Steel" Camaro, and Ronny Young in "Blue Max" failed to make the field.

Mike Scott qualified first in the ultra-competitive Nitro Harley class
Litton provided one of Friday's truly feel-good stories as the longtime Top Fuel veteran made his first pass in a Nitro Funny Car in over 20 years, temporarily putting himself in the top spot during round one before slipping to fourth. Also making news on Friday was the debut of Mike McIntire Jr. who took over for his father in the "McAttack" Camaro and put himself solidly in the field.

Mike Scott led the Nitro Harley category with a memorable 6.353, 221.49, barely enough to hold off a hard-charging Jay Turner. Turner posted a 6.399, 230.88 during his second round of qualifying and was one of two drivers to break the 230 mph mark in the two-wheel class. Randal Andras was third with a 6.416, 224.10, followed by Steve Dorn (6.648, 212.23) and Ron Gledhill (7.171, 198.79). Alvin Kobernusz, Mike Pelrine and Steve Heidner rounded out the bike field.

In Nitro Altered third-generation driver Kyle Hough topped the wild class with a 6.796, 187.11 run after being forced to shut the car off in round one. He was followed by Jim Maroney who had a distant 7.445, 143.61. Rounding out the field is Ron Maroney, Ron Hope, Steve Nelson and Mike Hilsabeck.

Kyle Hough turned a rough start into the "pole" position in Nitro Altered
The much-anticipated return of Mountain Motor Pro Stock to IHRA competition will have to wait another day as the drivers elected to move their qualifying rounds to Saturday.

The 2014 IHRA Southwestern Nationals will continue on Saturday with final eliminations in all categories, including the Larsen Motorsports Jet Dragster finale.

Friday Results
Tucson, Ariz. - Qualifying from the 2014 IHRA Southwestern Nitro Jam Nationals presented by Good Vibrations Motorsports at Southwestern International Raceway.

Nitro Funny Car - 1. Jason Rupert, 5.898, 245.00; 2. Tim Boychuk, 5.932, 241.76; 3. John Hale, 5.946, 242.41; 4. Bruce Litton, 6.039, 237.34; 5. Kris Krabill, 6.131, 240.17; 6. Mark Sanders, 6.146, 210.01; 7. Mike McIntire Jr., 6.433, 179.95; 8. Roger Garten, 6.851, 181.47; 9. Mike Halstead, 7.118, 192.41; 10. Ronny Young, 7.674, 136.86.

Nitro Harley - 1. Mike Scott, 6.353, 221.49; 2. Jay Turner, 6.399, 230.88; 3. Randal Andras, 6.416, 224.10; 4. Steve Dorn, 6.648, 212.23; 5. Ron Gledhill, 7.171, 198.79; 6. Alvin Kobernusz, 8.604, 104.09; 7. Mike Pelrine, 8.692, 107.79; 8. Steve Heidner, 17.891, 60.43.

Nitro Altered - 1. Kyle Hough, 6.796, 187.11; 2. Jim Maroney, 7.445, 143.61; 3. Ron Maroney, 7.891, 136.18, 4. Ron Hope, 8.226, 170.69; 5. D S Nelson, 9.868, 77.78; 6. Mike Hilsabeck, 12.292, 67.57.

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