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The latest update as of May 6, 2023

5th annual West Texas Chaos Nationals

Due to a bad weather forecast for the second race on the Funny Car Chaos schedule, the Baton Rouge "Cajun Nationals" event was moved to the end of the season. That made the planned third race, the second event of the 2023 season. Taking place six weeks after the season opener at the Texas Motorplex, the 5th annual West Texas Nationals at Penwell-Knights Raceway (Odessa, TX) started on Friday evening. The pre-entry list was smaller than the Funny Car Classic, as to be expected, but all three fields were filled by the end of the evening, as 26 cars in the pits made a qualifying attempt in the first session.

FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Qualifying Round ONE

Tom Furches - 'Made in America' --- Alex Barker - 'Back In Black'

(LEFT) Running in the first pairing of qualifying, Tom Furches in the Corvette-bodied "Made in America" shut off early to a 4.96 - 116 mph pass. Not shown was Randy Mueller who ran a decent 5.051 - 132.70 set of numbers.

(RIGHT) Quickening the pace a bit, Alex Barker in the GTO-bodied "Back In Black" entry stopped the clocks at 4.72 - 150 to take over the top spot for at least a few minutes. Running in the other lane was Don Knoblauch (not shown) who shut off early to a promising 4.68 at 115 mph.

Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' --- Jordan Ballew - 'Ballew Thunder'

(LEFT) It didn't take long for the top of the ladder to change hands, as the long distance traveller from Washington state, Don Knoblacuh, in the Camaro-bodied "Atomic Punk" put up a 4.72 at only 116 mph. Being the first nitro powered car down the track it was a precursor of what was to come later in the session.

(RIGHT) After a hard burnout, Jordan Ballew in the immaculate Camaro-bodied "Ballew Thunder" ran a new low e.t. of the round at 4.547 - 153.64 to stake his claim for a spot in the A or B field. The run almost certainly wouldn't hold up too long, but it was a good start to the event for Ballew.

Michael Neal -'Burnin' Love' --- Keith Zimmerer - 'Penny Pincher 02'

(LEFT) A newcomer to the series this year, Missisippi's Michael Neal in the "Burnin' Love" Nova, took it easy on his first pass with a 5.351 - 124.86 coming up on the scoreboards.

(RIGHT) New to Funny Car Chaos racing, but a long-time Outlaw Fuel Altered racer - and winner - Keith Zimmerer in the Will Hanna-tuned "Penny Pincher 02" went out on a bye run and launched very hard. The 60' time was .991, but the good times ended there as the car went into a wheelstand, and headed for the guardrail as Zimmerer got out of the throttle quickly, and idled down the track to a 6-second clocking.

Lyle Greenberg - 'Cone Hunter' --- Casey Geeslin - 'Bucket List'

(LEFT) Coming off a semi-successful season opener at the Motorplex, New Mexico's Lyle Greenberg came close to breaking into the 3-second zone with a great 4.017 - 188.68 to grab the top spot in the field from Jordan Ballew. With some very tough competitors to follow him, it was almost certain that Greenberg's number wouldn't hold the top spot for the entire session.

(RIGHT) After a promising debut at the season opener, Casey Geeslin brought the Camaro-bodied "Gambler" out and made a decent pass, at 4.738 - 147.49. Not shown in the photo is Bob Alberty Jr. in his beautiful "Thunderin' Okie" who trainlengthed Geeslin with a great 4.204 - 176.06 to grab the #2 spot on the ladder.

Nick Poloson - 'Bucket List' (far lane) vs 
Dustin Bradford - 'American Dream' (near lane) --- Shane Blanton - 'Bad Company'

(LEFT) Falling well behind out of the gate, "Nitro" Nick Poloson put the whip to the "Bucket List" Dodge Avenger, and clocked in at 4.263 - 178.01. Mostly obscured in the near lane, Dustin Bradford in the stretched nose "American Dream" Dodge Challenger, got to the finish line first with a very good 4.197 - 168.86. With 16 cars having run, Bradford was sitting second overall, and solidly in the "A" field.

(RIGHT) Running a Cheverolet Lumina body, Shane "Smokey" Blanton opened his weekend with an early shutoff 4.735 - 130.21 pass to get a number on the board. With just enough cars to fill the three fields, he was certain to be competing in eliminations on Saturday.

Chance Biffle - 'Bad Intentions' --- Ray Stringer - 'Blown Cent-less'

Laying down a solid burnout, Oklahoman Chance Biffle (LEFT), backed up his "Bad Intentions" entry, then ran a decent 4.703 - 151.72 to grab a provisional spot in the "B" field. In the far lane (RIGHT), and partly obscured by Biffle's parachutes, Ray Stringer hoped to win back-to-back events with the blown fuel Big-Block Chevy powered "Blown Cent-less" entry. He was on and off the throttle and clocked a 4.47 - 166 mph effort.

Chuck Loftin - 'Nitro Psycho' --- Smiley Cordero - 'Maximum Overdrive'

Another fuel vs alcohol match ensued, with Chuck Loftin in the Firebird-bodied "Nitro Psycho" (LEFT), facing the Camaro-bodied "Maximum Overdrive" of Smiley Cordero (RIGHT). While the scoreboards favoured Loftin's 4.082 - 176.75, good for #2 on the ladder, Cordero clocked in at 4.669 - 161.35 to grab a spot near the top of the "B" field.

Shayne Lawson - 'Man O' War II' --- Tod Barker - 'Back In Black'

Running very well since former three-time FCC champion Ken Singleton began tuning for him, Shayne Lawson (LEFT), took over the top spot on the ladder, breaking the 3-second barrier with a 3.994 - 170.00 pass in his all-new "Man O' War II". Not having much success was Tod Barker in the injected nitro "Back In Black" Corvette (RIGHT), who struggled to an 8-second timeslip with dropped cylinders hindering his progress.

Keith Jackson - 'High Heaven' --- Jeff Cameron - 'Jake's Speed Shop'

The final pair of the session, matched a nitro burner, Keith Jackson in the Camaro-bodied "High Heaven" (LEFT), taking on the blown alky "Jake's Speed Shop" entry of Jeff Cameron (RIGHT). Saving the best for last, Cameron unloaded the low e.t. of the round, at 3.985 - 174.28 to take over the top spot. Jackson, unfortunately, lit the tires up immediately and coasted through at 8.33 - 61.68 to sit near the bottom of the list.

FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Qualifying Round TWO

The second session started in full darkness, with the track lights (barely) illuminating the action, and the nitro flames blazing from the fuel burners. All 26 cars in the pits made an attempt in the first round of qualifying, but only 25 drivers received a timeslip as Mike "Hombre" Buchanan broke on the starting line. With the cooler evening air, and one run under their belts, the drivers were looking for better results in this second go-round.

David Stringer - 'Prairie Fire' --- Keith Zimmerer - 'Penny Pincher 02' (near lane) vs 
Jordan Ballew - 'Ballew Thunder' (far lane)

(LEFT) Leading the way with another solo pass was second-generation racer David Stringer in the Wayne Reinart-owned and tuned "Prairie Fire" entry. With this event being his competition debut, the FCC race director deemed it prudent for Stringer to make single runs in qualifying. He picked up more than half a second from his first pass with a very respectable 4.84 - 142.95 showing up on the scoreboards. It placed him near the top of the "C" field, albeit with quite a few strong runners behind him in the lanes.

(RIGHT) Looking to rebound in a big way after his first session debacle, Keith Zimmerer (near lane) shot right to the top of the field with a brilliant 3.800 - 195.31 to show everyone that he was ready to race. In the far lane, Jordan Ballew struggled to a 5.20 at 95 mph in his "Ballew Thunder" Camaro.

Kirk Williams - '200 Proof' (near lane) vs 
Mike Buchanan - 'Hombre' (far lane) --- Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' (near lane) vs 
Randy Mueller - 'Crazy Randy' (far lane)

(LEFT) Following a very sub-par run for the "200 Proof" entry, Kirk Williams (near lane) launched hard and nearly matched Zimmerer's effort, lighting up the scoreboards with a great 3.832 at a new top speed of the meet 197.11 mph. Left sitting at the starting line, again, was Mike Buchanan, as the Vega-bodied "Hombre" failed to move when the ambers flashed.

(RIGHT) Launching with the first nitro flames of the evening, Washington state's Don Knoblauch (near lane), being tuned by NHRA "Big Show" racer Jeff Diehl, cut nearly 5-tenths off his opening pass, with a somewhat early shutoff 4.194 at only 151.98 that moved him into the "A' field. In the far lane, "Crazy" Randy Mueller failed to leave the starting line as the right lane claimed it's second consecutive victim.

Ray Stringer - 'Blown Cent-less' (near lane) vs 
Smiley Cordero - 'Maximum Overdrive' (far lane) --- Tom Furches - 'Made in America'

(LEFT) Leaving well in front of his opponent, Smiley Cordero, in the far lane, Ray Stringer (near lane) picked up two tenths from his first pass, stopping the clocks at 4.280 - 173.54 to move from the bottom of the "B" field to the middle of that group. In the far lane, the "Maximum Overdrive" gamely tried to keep up the pace before giving up to a 7.63 - 85.16 pass to leave Cordero near the bottom of the "B" field.

(RIGHT) Starting with a hard burnout, Tom Furches rebounded strongly from an early shutoff pass to post a strong 4.161 - 173.75 to grab a spot in the "A" field. Lined up alongside him, in the far lane, was Alex Barker, who left before the tree was activated and received no time or speed recorded.

Michael Neal - 'Burnin' Love' (near lane) vs 
Dustin Bradford - 'American Dream' (far lane) --- Shayne Lawson 'Man O' War II'

(LEFT) With a 5.351 to his credit in the first session, Michael Neal (near lane) wanted to push the Chevy Nova to numbers well into the 4's but due to a bad video feed from the event, we only know that he didn't run better than on his first attempt. Running in the far lane, Dustin Bradford likewise failed to better his first session time, but his 4.197 from that run had him in the #8 spot, at the bottom of the "A" field. However, there were still more than few cars remaining to run that could push him down into the "B" field.

(RIGHT) Showing that his first session effort of 3.994 - 170.00 wasn't a "one-off", Shayne Lawson backed it up very well with an almost identical e.t of 3.996, at an even better 175.78 mph. Sitting solidly in the middle of the "A" field in the #4 spot, the "Man O' War II" was looking good. Not shown in the photo was Casey Geeslin (far lane) who struggled down track to a 6-second pass with a lot of smoke out of the left bank. Thankfully the cleanup was minimal, and the action was able to continue quickly.

Chuck Loftin - 'Nitro Psycho' (near lane) vs 
Chance Biffle - 'Bad Intentions' (far lane) --- Clay Cunningham - 'Still Crazy' (near lane) vs 
Keith Jackson - 'High Heaven' (far lane)

(LEFT) Launching nearly together were Chuck Loftin (near lane) and Chance Biffle (far lane). Neither driver improved over their first passes, with nothing recorded on the video for Biffle, leaving him sitting in the #16 spot, at the bottom of the "B" field. The "Nitro Psycho" car ran a troubled 5-flat at less than 100 mph, and stayed in the #6 spot, but still in the "A" field.

(RIGHT) After breaking the blower belt on the launch in the first round, Clay Cunningham (near lane) was looking for a much better result here and was running well before having to shut down early to a 4.761 - 109.52 pass. That left him in the #20 spot. Despite picking up two seconds over his first run, Keith Jackson, in the mostly hidden "High Heaven" (far lane) still sat at the very bottom of the ladder with a 6.223 - 109.30 clocking, just outside the show in the #25 spot.

Steve Griboski - 'Mile-High Express' (near lane) vs 
Tod Barker - 'Back In Black' (far lane) --- Jeff Cameron - 'Jake's Speed Shop' (near lane) vs 
Randy Mueller - 'Crazy Randy' (far lane)

(LEFT) With lots of nitro in the tank, and only a 4.82 e.t. to show for his first pass, Colorado's Steve Griboski wanted to show what his early Mustang-bodied "Mike-High Express" (near lane) could really do. He cranked out a strong 4.114 - 184.80 to fight his way into the #7 spot in the "A" field. Going in the opposite direction was the injected nitro entry of Tod Barker (far lane) as he failed to better his earlier 6.17 with an even slower 6.65 to sit at the bottom of the "C" field in the #24 position.

(RIGHT) Leaving well in front of his opponent, Jeff Cameron (near lane) wasn't able to back up his opening 3.985 e.t. as he clicked it early to a 4.34 - 149.45, but still sat on the #3 rung on the ladder. In the far lane, Randy Mueller was stuck in the 5's, with a 5.52 - 138.78 on this run being nearly half a second slower than his earlier 5.051, leaving the "Crazy Randy" car stuck in the #22 position.

Nick Poloson - 'Bucket List' --- Ray Kelly (near lane) vs Andy Mears (far lane)- 
'Game Xchange Jet Dragsters'

(LEFT) Making the last run of the evening, and trying to improve on his earlier 4.26 pass, "Nitro" Nick Poloson, in the "Bucket List" Dodge, tried hard but lost traction early and pedaled to a 5.64 clocking to end the second session in the #12 spot on the ladder.

(RIGHT) The "Game Xchange" jet dragsters of Ray Kelly (near lane) and Andy Mears (far lane) put on a great show of pyrotechnics to close out the first day of the West Texas Nationals. While Mears had trouble on his pass, Kelly was able to stop the timers with an excellent 4.39 - 182 pass.

The latest update as of April 20, 2023

It's taken quite a while, but we've finally posted more than the first two qualifying sessions at the season opening FUNNY CAR CHAOS Classic that took place at the Texas Motorplex in late March. There's still lots of work to do, filling in captions and details on the event, but at least the first batch of photos (there's more in the pipeline) is posted from all rounds of qualifying and eliminations. That includes the Outlaw Fuel Altereds that ran in conjunction with the Funny Car Chaos show.

Check out what we've got on the race in the Feature section of the website.