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The latest update as of August 27, 2023

Funny Car Chaos Maryland International Raceway

FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Maryland International Raceway - Budds Creek, MD

We're not sure why it was decided to run just one round of qualifying on Friday, in place of the usual two sessions, but with some inclement weather closing in on the track in the evening, it was certainly the right decision. Saturday dawned with sunny skies, and the second of three qualifiers went off with 23 cars appearing in the staging lanes. There was certainly some shuffling of the qualifying charts as quite a few racers stepped up their performance, while several made their first pass of the weekend. Captions will follow later today. Stay tuned!

FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Qualifying Session #2

Jordan Ballew - 'Ballew Thunder' --- Krista Massarella - 'Temporary Insanity'

(LEFT) Relaxing in the staging lanes before the second qualifying session started, were Jordan Ballew and the "Ballew Crew". Note the list of names on the side of the car; they all contributed to make the long tow from Oklahoma possible for this team that has only missed one FCC event since it's inception.

(RIGHT) Making her first attempt after skipping Friday's qualifying session, Krista Massarella in the well presented "Temporary Insanity" Monza laid down a decent 4.465 - 160.59 to slot into the #19 spot on the ladder.

George Ridnauer - 'China Syndrome' --- Wade King - 'Big Girl'

(LEFT) Running alongside Massarella, the second "China Syndrome" car, driven by George Ridnauer followed up his Friday night 4.260 pass, with a much improved 4.111 - 181.08 to move up to the #5 spot in the middle of the "A" field.

(RIGHT) After making a troubled 8-second run on Friday, the 55 Chevy "Big Girl", driven by Wade King rebounded in a big way with a solid 4.392 - 165.94 to climb from near the bottom of the qualifying list to the middle of the "C" field, where he ended up in the #22 position.

Jami Russell - 'Iron Outlaw' --- Bob Toth - 'Time Bomb'

(LEFT) With a 4.374 on the books from the first qualifier, Jami Russell did a hard burnout in the Mustang-bodied "Iron Outlaw", before laying down a consistent, but slightly slower, 4.408 - 162.43 pass. Starting the session at the bottom of the "B" field in the #16 position, he fell to #21 in the final order, in the middle of the "C" field going into eliminations.

(RIGHT) Here's another hard burnout, which was one of the over-riding elements of this event, as everyone did some serious pre-run rubber burning. Doing the deed this time was Bob Toth in his Vega-bodied "Time Bomb". He improved from Friday's 4.364 to a 4.296 - 172.08 that landed him in the #16 spot, at the bottom of the "B" field. Unfortunately, that earned him a first round matchup with the blown fuel car of Larry Higginbotham.

Doug Fassl - 'Wildly Disturbed' --- Paul Conlon - 'Boston Monkey'

(LEFT) Running in the lane opposite to Toth, the "Wildly Disturbed" Mustang of Doug Fassl slowly slightly from his Friday 4.271 clocking, stopping the timers at 4.312 - 164.05 on this run. By the time the second session ended, he had dropped from #8 (bottom of the "A" field) to #14 (lower half of the "B" field) on the list.

(RIGHT) The "Boston Monkey" came into this round in the #10 spot with a 4.297 in his first qualifier, and stepped up more than a tenth to a very good 4.176 - 178.87 to grab a rung on the "A" field ladder.

Micheal Tabacco - 'Pandemic' --- Larry Higginbotham - 'Sinister Sally'

(LEFT) The "Pandemic: Nitro Variant" of Michael Tabacco picked up a bunch from his earlier 4.405 pass, improving to a solid 4.238 - 178.10 to move up to the #10 spot, near the top of the "B" field.

(RIGHT) With Jake Sanders making the tuning calls, Larry Higginbotham was looking for a much better result on his second qualifying run. He did cut nearly a second and a half from his Friday 5.937 numbers, carding a 4.499 - 154.11. The low speed indicated that he was off the throttle early and nowhere the potential it showed in the first 330 feet of the run.

Troy Liebi - 'The Raider' --- D.J. Cox - 'DXI Construction'

(LEFT) This picture pretty much sums up Troy Liebi's first qualifying pass. The Datsun Z-bodied "Raider" had all sorts of trouble on the launch, with tire shake pushing him out of the groove and bouncing the rear tires off the track. It resulted in a very early shutoff, as he coasted to a 8.105 - 55.88 and a spot near the bottom of the "D" field.

(RIGHT) Another swing, another miss, as D.J. Cox lit up the tires just past the 60' mark, before stopping the clocks at 5.257 - 129.31. For a racer that's won NHRA national events, it had to be a tough pill to swallow as the DXI team was down to one final chance to qualify higher than the "C" field.

Gary Pritchett - 'Bunny & The Boys' --- Mike Smith - 'Nor'Easter'

(LEFT) Laying down a great burnout, with the Stars and Stripes flying high above the roof, Gary "L'il Bear" Pritchett hoped to get back into the top of the "A" field after falling to #6 before this run. He ran into trouble early however, shutting down to a 7.045 - 69.54 as he failed to gain ground.

(RIGHT) Heating the hides before his first shot at qualifying one of Bill Dee's "Nor'Easter" entries, Mike Smith prepared to make a statement to the competition.

Justin Mallot - 'Must Be Nice' --- Mike Smith - 'Nor'Easter' (far lane) vs 
Justin Mallot - 'Must Be Nice' (near lane)

(LEFT) Joining the FCC circuit at the mid-point of the season, Justin Mallot has quickly established a name for himself with his beautifully presented 57-Chevy. He picked up three thousandths over his Friday 4.368, improving to a 4.365 - 162.43, but slipped back a few spots to #18 on the overall list, near the top of the "C" field.

(RIGHT) Leaving the line hard, but behind Justin Mallot (near lane, mostly obscured) Mike Smith made his first shot at the timers count, posting a 4.125 e.t., with a slightly early shutoff yielding a 164.07 speed. The run put him in the #6 position, solidly in the middle of the "A" field.

Andrew Armstrong - 'Smoky Bonz Gang

The saying "saving the best for last" certainly didn't apply to this qualifying pass by Andrew Armstrong in the '67 Nova-bodied "Smoky Bonz Gang". They did cut five seconds off his 15-second effort of Friday night, but a 10.017 - 73.79 was absolutely nothing to brag about. The car exhibited the same stumbling launch, and never got the revs up or smoothed out. Clearly, this team needs to do some serious testing before running in competition again.

FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Qualifying Session #3 (FINAL)

Cody Helger - 'Dazed & Confused' --- Cody Helger - 'Dazed & Confused'

There weren't very many cars in the staging lanes for the final qualifying session, with the first round of eliminations looming in just two hours, but nine drivers decided to make an attempt to improve their positions. Leading off was Cody Helger who didn't really need to move up from his position near the top of the "C" field, but he made a consistent, and slightly slower 4.344 - 163.41 to close his qualifying ledger.

Marc Lyon - 'The Whooppee Car' --- Larry Higginbotham - 'Sinister Sally'

(LEFT) Sitting near the bottom of the "D" field, the unique "Whooppee Car" of Marc Lyon hoped to improve on their second session 4.858 - 142.55 pass. The car never really got the revs up, lumbering down the track to a slightly improved e.t. at 4.851 that left him in the #28 spot, in the middle of the "D" field.

(RIGHT) With the tires wrinkling on the hard launch, Larry Higginbotham finally got the run he'd been looking for on his third attempt. The numbers were very good as a 4.164 - 179.28 came up on the scoreboard, launching him all the way from the bottom of the "C" field (#24) to the top (#9) of the "B" field. Quite a turnaround in a span of less than 24 hours.

D.J. Cox - 'DXI Construction' --- Gary Pritchett - 'Bunny & The Boys

(LEFT) Hoping that his third time would be the "charm", D.J. Cox switched to the left lane after two abortive attempts in the right lane. He found the correct combination of power and clutch this time, rocketing up the charts to a #2 qualifying 3.768 - 206.13 timeslip. The run guaranteed him lane choice, and a serious e.t. advantage over his first round opponent.

(RIGHT) Another team that was looking for some improvement, the "Bunny and The Boys" gang, instead showed some consistency as a 4.166 at only 152.16 showed up on the timers. With an early shutoff, it proved there was more to be found for eliminations. With a good spot near the top of the "B" field, in the #10 position, Gary Pritchett was looking to go some rounds in eliminations.

Delbert White - 'Carolina Outlaw' --- Justin Mallot - 'Must Be Nice'

(LEFT) Looking to finish qualifying on an up note, after a "no time recorded" on Friday night, followed by a pedalling 5.507 in the second session, Delbert White needed to lay down a competitive time before going into eliminations. He nearly managed to vault into the "C" field, but his 4.507 - 161.69 was enough to move to the top of the "D" field and give him a bye run in the first round.

(RIGHT) The last car down the track in qualifying was the "Must Be Nice" '57 Chevy, and it rang up another slight improvement in performance. Justin Mallot made three runs in qualifying, starting with a 4.368 on Friday, then a 4.365 earlier on Saturday, and finishing with a 4.356 - 162.63 on this run. Very consistent runs that bode well for his chances in eliminations, as he started from the middle of the "C" field in the #20 position.

Jet Cars - George Whiteman III - 'Black Pearl' (near lane) vs 
David Douthit - 'Quartermaster' (far lane)

Of course there's Jet Cars; this time it's of the Funny variety. In the near lane, it's George Whiteman III in the "Black Pearl" '69 Camaro, and on the far side, it's George Douthit in the '65 Mustang-bodied "Quartermaster".

Levi & Chris Graves --- Levi Graves --- Levi & Tera Graves

Three views of the Graves family "relaxing" in the control tower. On the left is the ever-photogenic Levi Graves, who's not quite 18 months old. With him in the left photo is proud papa Chris, and in the photo on the right, his very proud mama Tera. In the center photo, it's Levi himself, relishing the spotlight from Bob Snyder's camera.