ST. LOUIS — After four days of massive car counts, incredible victories, intense competition and unmatched excitement, Saturday’s sunrise would provide the last opportunity for racers to profit during the 28th Annual Mickey Thompson Million Dollar Drag Race at World Wide Technology Raceway.
Following the new entry time trial session, No Box competitors were called to the staging lanes for the final Summit $50,000 race of the weekend. A healthy field of 626 door cars and dragsters made their way towards the finish line during first round and without a buyback, no second chances would be available.
The fifth round featured a case of déjà vu as Nick Hastings and John Ratulowski faced off as the final bottom bulb racers. Ratulowski put together a .019 total package but got .013 change when Hastings was .004 up front and ran dead on with a two for the win. Hastings added another $1,000 No Box bonus to his bank balance and moved into the door car side where he is eliminated the next round on a breakout.
By the time round number eight arrived, only six drivers made the cut: Turtle Dickerson, Cody Wiggins, Jesse Fritts, Brian Canady, Steve Collier and Hunter Patton. Dickerson turned on the dreaded red bulb by five thousandths of a second beside Fritts who let go .016 green for the win. Collier missed the tree while Wiggins did the opposite, laying down a .005 pack with his perfect reaction time to advance into the semifinal. Only eight though separate the pair on the tree, but Patton ran one above his dial to seal the deal over Canady.
Fritts was holding on to the wait-and-see bye which came at an ideal time as he launched with a .003 light but had to pull over and seemingly check for a mechanical issue. Patton has the starting line advantage with a .006 light and takes .002 at the stripe for the win over Wiggins, who is .027 and dead-on-zero for the loss.
The 10th round matchup and closing pass of the event is between the deadly dragster driving Patton from Indiana and the Illinois native, Fritts, who faced an unexpected shake up to his game plan. Fritts rolled into the water box behind the wheel of Joey Moore’s Camaro after his own Camaro roadster was unable to return to the $50,000 final round.
Patton takes early control of the race with an .018 light and throttled to run .02 above his dial for the win while Fritts misses the tree and dial in his last minute rental race car. The flashing win light in the left lane results in Patton breaking the door car domination at this year’s Million Dollar Drag Race to snag a win for the dragsters.
Patton’s return to big money bracket racing success filled the winner’s circle as he expresseed what it meant to take home the Saturday Summit $50,000 victory.
“It feels great to be back,” Patto said. “It’s been a long while, but hard work and dedication gets you back.”
Fritts took his first spin at a post-race interview and chose an optimistic view of his Million Dollar Drag Race experience.
“I’m not upset about today, I’m fortunate to get as far as I was and to be able to even stage up in the final thanks to Joey Moore,” Fritts said. “As a twelve-year-old I looked up MotorManiaTV and thought ‘Oh, that’s the OG Million. I’m going to stay up ‘til 4 A.M. and watch and I’ll go to school at 7 in the morning.’ So, to be here right now is pretty surreal.”