Only two races have passed so far this season, but the questions were already starting to pop up: Would anyone ever beat Jason Rupert?
On Saturday, the answer to that question was finally revealed as Mike McIntire Jr., a rookie from Mentor, Ohio, took advantage of a wounded Rupert in the final of Nitro Funny Car to take his first career IHRA Nitro Jam victory and end a dominating start to the season for the Bays and Rupert "Black Plague" Funny Car team at the IHRA Nitro Jam Southern Nationals at Bradenton Motorsports Park.
McIntire was blessed with a golden path to his first career final with first and second-round opponents Mark Sanders and Ronnie Young running into trouble. In the final, Rupert brought his injured ride to the line and completed the burnout, but was unable to take the tree as McIntire made a victory lap of 5.899 seconds at 234.55 mph, his best pass of the weekend.
Two additional first-time IHRA winners joined McIntire in Victory Lane as Don Blackshear drove "Bullet Bob" to the win in Nitro Altered and Mike Cox took his first Ironman in Nitro Harley. Cary Goforth won for the second time this season in Pro Stock and Marisha Falk took the win in Jet Dragster on a busy night that saw the grandstands full for the second year in a row at Bradenton Motorsports Park.
Sportsman winners during day one of the IHRA Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour presented by AMSOIL doubleheader were Tom VanBeek (Top Sportsman), Jeremy West (Top Dragster), Allen Wade (Super Stock), Merrill Schrimscher (Stock), Todd Osting (Quick Rod), Michael Ruff (Super Rod), Brittany Snowball (Junior Masters), T.J. Butler (Junior Advanced) and Katie Craft (Junior Beginner). The final round of Hot Rod between Tim Anderson and Jacob Rutledge was to be run on Sunday.
As the laps wound down on Saturday night's 75-lap Turner Tree and Landscape Super Late Model feature, Jeff Scofield knew he had a car capable of winning but had to be a little patient.
Scofield would eventually prove the saying that "good things happen to those who wait." Riding in third place for most of the race, Scofield capitalized on a late restart and powered to his first win of the season at Desoto.
A 12-car inversion put Daryl Shelnut and Scott Grossenbacher on the front row for the main event. Grossenbacher took the initial lead but was passed by Steve Dorer on a lap 5 restart.
Dorer paced the field for the next 16 laps with Grossenbacher and Shelnut right on his tail. Chris Fontaine, who started ninth in the 25-car field, was quickly working his way through the field by passing cars in the outside lane. He found himself fourth when the caution flew for a spin on lap 21.
Fontaine needed just two laps to get by Shelnut and Grossenbacher to get to second and would take the lead from Dorer at the end of lap 27. Joining Fontaine at the front was fast qualifier Joe Boyd, who started 13th but was right on Fontaine's tail by lap 30.
Fontaine, Boyd and Jeff Scofield maintained their positions in the top three for a run of nearly 35 laps before an accident involving Kevin Dicks and Michael Atwell in Turn 3 just in front of Fontaine brought out the yellow on lap 62. That allowed Dorer, Daniel Webster, Gossenbacher, Daniel Keene and Bradenton's Jesse Dutilly -- who started last after carburetor problems in qualifying -- one final shot over the last 13 laps.
On the restart, Boyd got by Fontaine for the lead. As the pair ran side-by-side through turn three, Fontaine's car broke loose and spun into the infield. Fontaine was forced to the rear of the field as a result.
Boyd and Scofield battled for the lead on the restart, with Scofield finally clearing Boyd with 10 laps to go. Scofield was never challenged the rest of the way.
"The long run really brought the car to me," Scofield said. "We had a heckuva battle with Joe, and you couldn't get much closer than we did out there."
Dorer finished third, with Webster and Stephen Nasse rounding out the top five.
In other action Saturday night, Richard Nelson took the win in the 25-lap Street Stock feature; Jessica Ostrovskis took the win in the Pro-4 feature; Jimmy Best took home the Rookie 4 feature and James Wright won the Cowboy Cadillac feature.
Next week, Desoto Speedway will host a 50-lap, double-points Pro Truck race and a full card of racing. The track will also have an Easter Special for the kids.
Scott Lockwood contributed to this report.IHRANITRO JAM SOUTHERN NATIONALS FINAL RESULTS
at Bradenton Motorsports Park
Nitro Funny Car -- Mike McIntire Jr., Mentor, Ohio, '69 Camaro, 5.899, 234.55 def. Jason Rupert, Yorba Linda, Calif., '69 Camaro, broke
Pro Stock -- Cary Goforth, Holdenville, Okla., '13 Camaro, 10.293, 98.66 def. John DeFlorian Jr., Arnold, Mo., '12 Camaro, foul
Nitro Harley -- Mark Cox, Wilkesboro, N.C., '13 Weekend, 6.296, 220.42 def. Joey Sternotti, Naples, '12 Harley, 6.330, 211.16
Nitro Altered -- Don Blackshear, Brookfield, Ohio, Altered, 6.168, 227.79 def. Brian Hope, Thompson Station, Tenn., Altered, 7.657, 203.29
Jet Dragster -- Marisha Falk, Port Orange, dragster, 5.720, 278.03 def. Elaine Larsen, Daytona Beach, dragster, broke
Top Sportsman -- Tom VanBeek, Fernandina, '88 Beretta, 5.531, 89.25 def. Rick McDonough, Southwest Ranches, '01 S10, broke
Top Dragster -- Jeremy West, Port Charlotte, dragster, 4.736, 148.14 def. C.J. Keen, Palmetto, dragster, 4.708, 144.95
Super Stock -- Allen Wade, Rochester, Ind., '69 Camaro, 5.792, 116.47 def. Scott Sanders, Zephyrhills, '94 Camaro, 7.059, 94.08
Stock -- Merrill Schrimscher, Lake Mary, '85 Camaro, 7.263, 88.60 def. Lee Tuttle, Albany, Ga., '81 Camaro, 8.890, 74.97
Quick Rod -- Todd Osting, Tampa, dragster, 5.686, 127.24 def. Mark Miles, Flinstone, Ga., dragster, foul
Super Rod -- Michael Ruff, Orlando, '67 Camaro, 6.451, 116.62 def. Terry Cross, Brunswick, Ga., '12 Camaro, 6.415, 122.56
Hot Rod -- (Finals to be run on Sunday) Tim Anderson, Cape Coral, '00 Cutlass vs. Jacob Rutledge, Savannah, Ga., '79 Capri
Junior Dragster Masters -- Brittany Snowball, Loxahatchee, dragster, 8.242, 77.41 def. Zach Pennington, Lexington, S.C., dragster, 7.896, 81.02
Junior Dragster Advanced -- T.J. Butler, Sarasota, dragster, 9.129, 68.97 def. Cody Krohn, Rotonda, dragster, foul
Junior Dragster Beginner -- Katie Craft, Melbourne, 12.906, 48.24 def. Jimmy Cavanaugh, Melbourne, dragster, 12.741, 46.29Round-by-round results
Nitro Funny CarRound 1 -- Jason Rupert, 5.703, 252.38 def. Mike Halstead, 6.206, 233.64; Tim Boychuk, 5.930, 238.79 def. Bruce Litton, 6.009, 241.93; Ronnie Young, 6.291, 188.83 def. John Hale, 8.211, 114.91; Mike McIntire Jr., 5.950, 216.29 def. Mark Sanders, broke
Semis -- Rupert, 5.858, 248.75 def. Boychuk, 5.875, 243.30; McIntire, 6.119, 165.10 def. Young, broke
Final -- McIntire, 5.899, 234.55 def. Rupert, brokePro StockRound 1 -- Cary Goforth, 6.290, 223.26 def. BYE, John Konigshofer, 6.502, 186.76 def. Kevin Bealko, 18.785, 79.46; John DeFlorian Jr., 6.631, 187.26 def. Todd Hoerner, 8.317, 116.23
Semis -- Goforth def. Konigshofer, 6.502, 186.76; DeFlorian, 6.469, 220.75 def. BYE
Final -- Goforth, 10.293, 98.66 def. DeFlorian, foulNitro HarleyRound 1 -- Joey Sternotti, 6.296, 212.41 def. BYE; Steve Dorn, 6.462, 215.36 def. Jay Turner, 7.450, 148.39; Randal Andras, 6.528, 218.60 def. Tracy Kile, 8.006, 145.46; Mark Cox, 6.363, 217.23 def. Mike Pelrine, 11.492, 76.92
Semis -- Sternotti, 6.378, 192.84 def. Dorn, broke; Cox, 6.291, 230.76 def. Andras, 7.857, 119.95
Final -- Cox, 6.296, 220.42 def. Sternotti, 6.330, 211.16Nitro AlteredRound 1 -- Brian Hope, 6.586, 193.34 def. Ron Hope, 6.845, 193.34; Don Blackshear, 6.406, 178.71 def. Mike Hilsabeck, 6.673, 183.11; Steve Harter def. Ron Maroney
Final -- Blackshear, 6.168, 227.79 def. Hope, 7.657, 203.29Jet DragsterRound 1 -- Elaine Larsen, 5.771, 273.05 def. Dawn Perdue, 5.851, 271.82 def. Marisha Falk, 5.770, 275.81 def. Kat Moller, 6.268, 237.15
Consolation -- Perdue, 5.835, 253.73 def. Moller, 6.245, 135.71
Final -- Falk, 5.720, 278.03 def. Larsen, broke.Desoto SpeedwaySATURDAY
Super Late Models1. 6 Jeff Scofield, 2. 5 Joe Boyd, 3. 94 Steve Dorer, 4. 133 Daniel Webster Brooksville, 5. 51x Stephen Nase, 6. 280 T.J. Duke, 7. 59 Jake Perkins, 8. 4 Dennis Coletti, 9. 128 Dylan Bigley, 10. 09 Scott Grossenbocher, 11. 28 Billy Bigley Jr., 12. 30 Jesse Dutilly, 13. 47 Chris Fontaine, 14. 00 Anthony Cataldi, 15. 56 Brian Richardson, 16. 12 David Green, 17. 5x Steve Gill, 18. 5K Daniel Keene Jr., 19. 51 Michael Atwell, 20. 38 Kevin Dicks, 21. 06 Mike Fin, 22. 7 Daryl Shelnut, 23. 33 Chris Loney, 24. 151 Nick Neri, 25. 77 Tuffy Hester, 26. 07 Tyler Scofield D.N.S.Street Stock1. 80 Richard Nelson, 2. 91 Ander Jackson, 3. 42 Dennis Wilson, 4. 50 David Blanchard, 5. 10 Tim Miller, 6. 10J Jason Miller, 7. 16. Johnny Allen, 8. 92 Ted Head, 9. 8 Mike Bialaki.Cowboy Cadillacs1. 63 James Wright, 2. 2 Lance Sober, 3. 80 Richard Nelson, 4. 5 Ed Snyder.Pro 41. 91 Jessica Ostrovskis, 2. 99 Johnny Marra, 3. 8 Josh Widner, 4. 41 Mark Petty, 5. 3 Sherry Best.Rookie 41. 67 Jimmy Best, 2. 41 Marina Petty, 3. 8 Josh Widner.