MOHNTON, Pa. — Pennsylvania native “Mountain Man” Mike Achenbach worked through numerous challenges to earn his first Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous victory at the PDRA P2 Contracting Northern Nationals presented by P2 Racing at Maple Grove Raceway. He won on a holeshot in the final round Saturday night, defeating Ed Burnley in a side-by-side 3.70-second race.
The other professional class winners were Kevin Rivenbark in Penske/PRS Pro Boost presented by WS Construction, JR Carr in Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock presented by AED Competition, Wes Distefano in $hameless Racing Pro Outlaw 632, and Tim Essick in Drag 965 Pro Street.
The Northern Nationals also included the PDRA’s full lineup of sportsman classes where the winners were Steve Drongowski (MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by Tejas Borja), DJ Cox (Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster), Nick Meloni (MagnaFuel Top Sportsman 32), and Stacy Hall (Lucas Oil Top Dragster 32). Joe Ithieu won in Edelbrock Bracket Bash presented by COMP Cams, defeating Martin Flegal in the final round.
In the Jr. Dragster classes, Zach Shirkey scored the Coolshirt Systems Pro Jr. Dragster victory by running 7.932 to Keaton Peterson’s 7.92, both on a 7.90 index. It was Shirkey’s holeshot advantage that secured the win. Donald O’Meara III earned his first win in Classic Graphix Top Jr. Dragster in a double red-light final round, with O’Meara going .005 red and running 8.992 on an 8.93 dial-in in his “Lucky Duck” ’21 Mike Bos dragster, while Zack Gale went .061 red and ran 9.132 on a 9.05 dial-in.
Achenbach and his team faced more than their fair share of adversity over the weekend, but their hard work and dedication were rewarded in the form of the Pennsylvania-based team’s first Pro Nitrous victory. Achenbach used a starting line advantage and a 3.788 at 198.90 in his Brandon Switzer-tuned, Buck-powered “Deep Purple” ’69 Camaro to defeat Burnley’s 3.765 at 199.26 in the final round.
“We struggled, we worked our asses off, we had a lot of problems, and it’s just our time,” Achenbach said. “We had to weld a new front clip on it because I hit the wall after getting some water under the tires in testing, then we had engine issues. Had to change an engine out, had to redo some wiring and air lines on it. The second round we blew the transmission and had some more valvetrain issues. We got those fixed and here we are.”
It was also Achenbach’s first final-round appearance in PDRA Pro Nitrous competition.
Two-time Pro Boost world champion Rivenbark rolled into the Northern Nationals with a sizable points lead in his ProCharger-boosted GALOT Motorsports ’69 Camaro after winning the last race on tour. He extended that lead yet again with his final-round win over former teammate Todd Tutterow in a rematch of the Summer Shootout final. Rivenbark was second off the line, but powered on to a 3.691 at 204.14 to defeat Tutterow’s 3.707 at 205.91.
Last year’s Extreme Pro Stock championship runner-up, Carr, was admittedly in a bit of a first-round funk for the first few races of this season. But he won the Sonny Leonard Memorial Race at the PDRA Summer Shootout, then followed that up with a second consecutive victory at the Northern Nationals. In the final round, Carr ran a 4.097 at 177.23 to Chris Powers’ 4.095 at 175.66, but the race was over at the starting line when Powers went .006 red. Carr followed with a .218 light.
Pro Outlaw 632 points leader and defending world champion Distefano continued to show why his Musi-powered $hameless Racing ’68 Camaro has been a frontrunner since he joined the class a couple seasons ago. He defeated two-time world champion Dillon Voss in the final round, running a 4.222 at 169.76 to Voss’ 7.096 at 64.94 to get his third PDRA victory of the season.
Points leader Tim Essick qualified No. 2, but he had the car to beat in Pro Street eliminations. He had to battle first-time No. 1 qualifier Nick Schroeder in the final round, where Schroeder left first with a .003 reaction time to Essick’s .005. Essick quickly took the lead and carried it out to a 4.001 at 185.92 to finish ahead of Schroeder and his 4.074 at 190.32.
A pair of Ohioans met up in the Elite Top Sportsman final round, as Drongowksi and Tim Molnar paired up their nitrous-fed hot rods. Drongowski got the starting line advantage in his Chris Rini-tuned, Buck-powered ’55 Chevy and ran a 3.975 on a 3.96 dial-in to take the win.
Points leader Nick Meloni added a second victory to his points total with his consistent TT Motorsports ’69 Camaro. He ran a 4.319 on a 4.29 dial-in in the final round, but he got the win light when Gino Fagnilli went red by .004 in his ’67 Mustang.
Top Alcohol Funny Car star Cox raced to victory in Elite Top Dragster, adding to his two recent NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car wins. Defending Top Sportsman world champion Hall, who pulls double duty in Top Sportsman and Top Dragster, collected his first Top Dragster 32 win of the season.