It Just Got Real!
Mid Atlantic Junior Dragster Shootout

After months of waiting, talking and planning the 2017 drag racing season is upon us here in the northeast after a relatively mild winter. The car has been wrapped, everything was polished, the tow vehicle and trailer were serviced, and we are ready to go! Braylon’s first full season in Junior Dragster racing’s quickest eighth mile class is now a reality. Braylon’s expectations are high, the pressure is light and his game face is on! Our schedule includes approximately 30-35 different races in 5 different states if all goes as planned. Our season started in late March and we will run into November.

Summit Racing Junior Dragster Challenge

Our first day out was a test session at Cecil County on March 26th in preparation for the Mid Atlantic Junior Dragster Shootout that would take place two weeks later on the same fabled piece of asphalt and concrete. It was an unusually warm day for late March with a blustery spring wind but it felt good to be back on the track. Our goal was to find a way to slow the car down mechanically without adding as much ballast to the chassis. After making 6 passes trying various ideas I think we had a good baseline for the upcoming event and into the season. Thanks to some work by Jim Jacob in his machine shop a couple of days later some custom hardware was made and put into place on the billet Craw’s Racing ZR-4 engine.

As planned the weekend of April 8-9 we again trekked down through Amish country to the County to enter 4 races in those two days. Braylon won the annual Turkey Day race just over 4 months ago on the same track so confidence was high. Unfortunately it’s not always possible to just will yourself to the Winner’s Circle so we had a rough start to the weekend on Saturday. It was one of those days with changing winds and temperatures and it was going to be a driver’s race. At the end of the day we were snake bit in the three races entered. In the All Age Group Race we lost in the third round. In the Pro Dial Race, one of Braylon’s historically better events, we lost in the second round and in the new 330′ Bracket Race we lost in the very first round. Not a great first day of competition, but after some food, friends, fun and some sleep, Sunday dawned and the weather was much different. We stayed to enter the normal Cecil County points race and after 5 rounds of great driving Braylon came out on top and put the Lucas Oil Racing TV junior dragster in victory lane for the first time. It’s always a good feeling to do that, but even better when we can bounce right back from a so-so day before, and it makes for a much better ride home!

Summit Racing Junior Dragster Challenge

The following week on the 15th we headed to Maple Grove for some testing at our home track where the competition is tough week in and week out and points are hard to come by. Braylon missed winning the 2016 championship by losing the third round of the last race and he ended up in the fourth place in points. That’s how quick you can go down or up the ladder when points are tight and we wanted to get a jump on the season. We only made four runs, just enough to get some data, hit the tree, and get home in time to head out for dinner as a family.

Summit Racing Junior Dragster Challenge

April 22nd was the first scheduled race at The Grove and right off the bat it was the Summit Racing Junior Dragster Challenge, which is contested for a trophy known as a Wally. You will hear that mentioned several times this season because they are tough to win and highly sought after. The day started wet and ended wet just before noon when the race was cancelled and a reschedule would be necessary. We packed the trailer, locked it up and headed home in the family car with the rig poised to do battle on Sunday for the Sunoco Race Fuels Money Trail ET Bracket Series Race #1.

Sunday was a beautiful day with plenty of sunshine and 22 racers ready to mix it up on the track. We had a little hiccup on the first time run, then a little driver error on the second and we never really found our groove. Fortunately we escaped the first round, and as Braylon said it “I didn’t deserve to win,” but happiness was short lived. In the second round Braylon was a little too pumped to get a jump off the starting line and the old red light came on. Not a great start to the season but not terrible either. The good thing is the driver gave the crew chief feedback on each run about what went wrong and why. That is a positive sign showing that he is learning and connecting the dots not just pushing pedals and turning a wheel. Congrats to our neighbor and friend Benjamin Spotts and his family on the win!

Don Staib at Rising Sun Photographs

I want to thank our friend Christina Ketterer for always taking great pictures of our Maple Grove racers and sharing them with us, and to Don Staib at Rising Sun Photographs for the use of some of the pictures here.

Thanks to Boccella’s Performance, Lucas Oil, DJ Safety, NGK and Clark Industrial for the parts we need to make this possible. I also want to give a shout out to Craw’s Racing for a great engine combination and technical support. Keep in mind if you are at the NHRA Four-Wide event in Charlotte, North Carolina this weekend don’t forget to stop and see our friends at Right2Breath® for your free pulmonary screening. It might just change your life!

Next up for our team is Sunoco Race Fuels race #2 and #3 on April 29th and 30th at Maple Grove. We are hoping to gain some ground and move up some positions and try to stay in the top 5 for the season, but it’s not going to be easy.

See you at the track!