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The latest update as of August 6, 2023

52nd annual Nightfire Nationals

52nd annual NIGHTFIRE NATIONALS presented by BI-MART

It's been quite a weekend at Firebird Raceways, with two days of qualifying before a full house on Friday night and an overflow crowd last night. Every seat in the grandstands was full, every fence saw spectators lined up two deep, the pits were full, and it was an absolutely rocking time for everyone in attendance. When you can gather 32 supercharged, nitromethane burning monsters in one place under good weather conditions, with a perfectly prepared track surface, then magic is in the offing.

And it was indeed magical as all three PRO classes saw the qualified fields tighten up, with nearly every pair of cars down the track shuffling the deck. In AA/Fuel dragster, six of the eight cars ran in the 5.8-second zone, led by Friday's top qualifier, Tyler Hester in the "Overtime Special", as his 5.813 - 234.21 was never topped in yesterday's two qualifying sessions. However, below him the field tightened considerably, and two racers ran well over 250 mph, with Shawn Van Horn in the "Titan Engineering" entry setting Top Speed of the meet at 257.73 mph..

At the other end of the scale, the underdog team from Victoria, BC recovered from their Friday night problems and made a decent half track pass in the afternoon session to get safely into the field. In the evening session however, the car got loose early, forcing "Flyin" Phil Ruskowski to get off the loud pedal in the small-block Chevy powered "Xibitionist". They've got a tough task ahead of them today as they face the #1 qualifier in the first round of eliminations.

The AA/Funny Cars put on a spectacular show in both qualifying sessions on Saturday, with one car, Drew Austin's "PRO-Max", literally sawing their Boss 429 Ford block in half and forcing them into a major thrash to make the evening's final qualifying session. With a 5.94 - 222.99 best, they were just outside the 8-car field and needed to find some extra performance in a hurry.

The final qualifying session for the floppers featured an added attraction as the finalists from the season opening Ignitor event, which was rained out, met to start the session. Adding some serious drama to the pairing, neither Drew Austin or Jim Maroney were qualified in the Nightfire field. It was a close race, with Austin turning on the winlight with a great 5.879 - 243.06 over Maroney's close, but losing, 5.964 - 243.08 effort. That left Maroney outside the field, put Austin into the #7 spot, and bumped Kamaka Pocock's 5.889 out of the show.

Two pairs later, Ryan Horan advanced from the #13 spot to #5 with his best pass of the weekend, a 5.832 - 248.66, that pushed Derrick Moreira down to the #9 spot, despite his very good 5.874 - 238.22 run on Friday. Running in the next pairing, Moreira tried his best in his "Nitro Junkies", but his 5.96 - 233.09 fell well short of qualifying. In the next pairing, Geoff Monise, who was on the bump spot with his earlier 5.832, managed to move up in the field with an excellent 5.761 - 248.52 to climb the ladder to the #3 spot. Running alongside him was Kamaka Pocock, who clawed his way back into the qualified field with a last ditch 5.782 at a booming 253.18 to vault from #9 to #4 on the list.

The bump spot which had been a solid 5.936 (Jim Maroney) at the start of the session was now down to 5.832 (Ryan Horan), with the first three alternates in the 5-second zone, and two more right behind in the very low 6's. The last two pairs were already qualified but Bobby Cottrell, in the "Bardahl" Camaro, nearly matched his #2 qualifying 5.724 e.t. with an almost identical 5.72 but at a slightly better speed of 255.10 mph.

Then it was on to the AA/Fuel Altereds to close the competition portion of the evening. With ten cars in the pits, and just eight spots for Sunday's eliminations it was expected there would be some bumping and shifting of positions, Coming into their second (final) qualifying session, the bump spot was a soft 6.787, but it was almost certain to fall before the evening ended. The first pair down the track showed the fans just what fuel altered racing is famous for, as Cory Lee in the "Sheepherder" got very loose before the 330' timers, and crossed into opponent Johnny West's lane, fortunately behind West, as the "Plan A" 23 'T' thundered to a 6.119 239.06, while Lee idled down behind him.

Unfortunately, that's all the time we have to write this report this morning, as it's time to hit the road to the track for day three of the Nightfire Nationals. We'll finish the story and bring you everything we can from today's action late(r) this evening, Stay tuned!