Surprises abound at President’s Cup Nationals
Boychuk, Goforth among winners at IHRA event
Sunny, warm conditions throughout the day on Saturday proved to be ideal for participants and spectators alike for the International Hot Rod Association President’s Cup Nationals at Maryland International Raceway as the elevated quarter-mile surface produced fast clockings that energized the spectators well into the evening.
Those spectators who might have arrived at Budds Creek in the early evening expecting to see the top two seeds, Jason Rupert and Shawn Bowen clash in the AMSOIL Nitro Funny Car finals were in for a mild surprise. Following the first two rounds of eliminations, it was Mike McIntyre Jr. and Tim Boychuk who returned for the final as both Rupert and Bowen were early exits.
McIntyre (5.69 time, 257.30 mph) had reached the final courtesy of his victory over Mark Sanders in the semifinals, while Boychuk (5.77, 243.94) had defeated Steve Nichols in the other semifinal. One round earlier, McIntyre (5.71, 248.39) knocked off Bowen, while Boychuk (5.71, 238.85) defeated Paul Romine.
From the moment the lights went green on the tree for the Nitro Funny Car final, McIntrye and Boychuk were virtually inseparable and they remained that way throughout the quarter-mile dash to the finish. McIntyre (5.71, 256.410 posted the faster numbers, but Boychuk (5.72, 254.09) was declared the holeshot winner courtesy of a faster reaction time (.082 to .174).
“The crew had the card in great shape tonight,” said Boychuk, a native of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. “We ran three straight 5.71s then we came back with a 5.72 in the final. We knew it was going to be close. I hated to win by holeshot, but Mike ran a great race. The card was perfect all day. All the credit goes to [crew chief] ‘Twig.’ He’s been with us a long time and he’s the best.”
Heading into Saturday’s AMSOIL Nitro Funny Car action, much of the attention focused on Rupert, who arrived as the points leader and top seed after Friday’s qualifiers and reigning champion. But Rupert’s afternoon came to an early conclusion when Steve Nichols (5.92, 222.03), who limped into the eliminations following a pedestrian qualifying run (9.81, 102.02) on Friday, defeated the top seed in the first quarterfinal.
Surprises continued in the first round of eliminations when Bowen, who arrived second in the points standings but was seventh after Friday’s qualifiers, was ousted when his car began leaking fuel at the start and was ordered shut off before the quarterfinal. McIntyre (5.71, 248.3) completed the distance uncontested to reach the semifinals.
In the Pro Stock final, Cary Goforth (6.27, 224.55) was quicker off the block at the start and easily upended Trevor Eman (8.46, 88.8), who slid midway down the track and scraped the outer wall, an immediate disqualification. With the victory, Goforth claimed the overall lead in the points standings for this division.
“We’ve had a tough start to the season,” Goforth said. “Tonight was really the first time that we got the card right. It was good all day. Trevor’s been doing a good job with his team. We didn’t expect to leave here with the lead in the points standings. I don’t know if I would rather be doing the chasing or the one who’s being chased.”
Goforth (6.28, 225.0) and Eman (6.3, 222.28) reached the final courtesy of victories over John Pluchino (6.28, 222.44) and J.R. Carr (6.29, 224.14), respectively, in a pair of semifinals in which the finishers were virtually inseparable. Goforth (6.284, 225.00) defeated Brad Waddle (6.355, 223.21) in the quarterfinals, while Pluchino (6.426, 211.30) easily ousted Larry O’Brien who struggled across the line.
In the Nitro Motorcycle final, Bob Malloy (6.25, 212.73) continued a stellar run through the event to defeat Tii Tharpe (6.39, 216.83) for the title. Malloy had established a new world record with his semifinal victory but needed to come within one percent of that mark in the final in order to keep the standard. Malloy successfully backed it up with his triumph in the final.
Tharpe and Malloy had advanced to the final via narrow semifinal victories, although Malloy’s was an eye-opening 6.20, 209.85 mph world record performance. In the quarterfinals, Jay Turner (6.30, 230.4) edged Randall Andras (6.37, 220.9), but top seed Tracy Kile could not avoid the wave of upsets when he was upended by Jason Pridemore.
In Saturday’s Pro Modified final, Kevin McCurdy (6.03, 236.3) had little trouble defeating Mac McAdams (12.64, 55.45) who was late off the light and appeared to shut down 100 yards from the line. McCurdy avenged a prior setback to McAdams the last time they had met in an IHRA event final at Budds Creek.
“This win means a lot,” McCurdy said. “We needed this one. The car was OK. We fought through some things early. The track was a little quick for us early, so we had to adjust, but getting the win was nice. I lost to Mac the last time we met in the finals, so getting one really helped. We work seven days a week.”
McCurdy and McAdams had won their semifinals in dramatically different fashion. McCurdy (5.96, 239.87) easily disposed of Steve King, while McAdams (7.23, 136.23) won in a walkover as top seed Dwayne Wolfe never made it from the pit area to the starting line.
Racing fans and participants got an early indication about the lightning fast conditions on Friday evening when AMSOIL Nitro Funny Car champion Rupert established a new track record of 5.635 seconds while traveling 255.39 mph McIntyre posted the second-fastest qualifying time (5.686) while establishing a new speed record of 258.71 mph.
Billy Harper, who arrived as the points leader, set the IHRA Pro Mod world record when he covered the quarter-mile distance in 5.832 seconds while hitting 235.93 mph. Harper’s first round elapsed time of 5.873 seconds was within one percent of his top effort. Wolfe (5.870, 243.24) was the second seed after Friday’s qualifiers.
Turner, the defending IHRA Nitro Motorcycle champion and a four-time champ overall, set track records of 6.285 seconds and 228.11 mph. But in the second session, Kile, grabbed the top overall seed by posting a 6.253-second run and traveling 230.33 mph. Kile arrived eighth in the IHRA standings but entered the record books on Friday night with his stellar qualifying effort.
In IHRA Pro Stock qualifying on Friday, Goforth (6.249, 223.80) grabbed the top spot courtesy of his second qualifying run, while Carr (6.287, 223.32), Matt Bertsch (6.291, 221.45) and O’Brien (6.299, 223.88) completed the top four seeds after Friday’s two rounds of qualifiers.
Cary Goforth prepares for a start on Friday night in IHRA President’s Cup Nationals qualifying rounds at Maryland International Raceway. Goforth won the championship on Saturday night to take the overall points lead in the Pro Stock.