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Lagana blasts to victory at Palm Beach Nitro Jam

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Lagana blasts to victory at Palm Beach Nitro Jam


Romine posts first Nitro Jam victory in a decade; Manners, Turner and Maroney record wins




JUPITER, Fla. (January 30, 2011) – In more than 12 years of Top Fuel drag racing, Bobby Lagana Jr. had posted only two runs of over 320 miles per hour in his entire career.




After Saturday night, he has a few more to add to his totals.




Lagana, in front of a huge southern Florida crowd, blasted to the best weekend of his entire career with four consecutive runs of over 320 mph, including a career best lap Saturday night, and a weekend sweep of the quickest category in drag racing to give the defending Top Fuel champion an incredible start to the 2011 season at the Palm Beach Nitro Jam Saturday night at Palm Beach International Raceway.




“This was absolutely the best Top Fuel show the IHRA has ever seen,” Lagana said. “I had two 320 mile per hour passes in my life before this weekend and now I have six. Actually all eight runs between the two of us were over 300 miles per hour so that was great for the fans and great for us. Bruce did a great job and so did our group.”


Lagana, behind the wheel of the Service Central dragster, posted four impressive laps on his way to winning both nights at the Palm Beach Nitro Jam for the second consecutive year. Other big winners from Saturday night included three-time Top Fuel champion Paul Romine who returned to Nitro Jam competition with a victory in the Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car class, Mike Manners (Pro Fuel), Jay Turner (Nitro Harley) and Ron Maroney (Fuel Altered).




Sportsman winners from this weekend’s Palm Beach Nitro Jam included Matthew Buck (Lantana, Fla.) in Top Sportsman, Robert Snowball (Loxahatchie, Fla.) in Top Dragster, Mark Nowicki (Gaylord, Mich.) in Super Stock, Nick Folk (Durand, Ill.) in Stock, Jim Morrison (Kinderhook, N.J.) in Quick Rod, Jason McCandless (Naples, Fla.) in Super Rod and Bill Clarke (Merritt Island, Fla.) in Hot Rod.




Despite not coming away a winner, the other big storyline of the day was produced by Trinidad racer Sheldon Bissessar who set a new Top Dragster world record Friday night with a 5.684-second lap in qualifying.




All seven sportsman winners earn instant entry into the season ending Summit Racing Tournament of Champions at the World Finals in Virginia. They will join other winners from around the country to determine the champions in each sportsman class in October.




And one champion who didn’t wait long to get the season started was Lagana.


After winning Friday night, Lagana didn’t hold anything back on day two with a pair of impressive laps including the one that mattered most in the finals as he roared around Litton with a 4.737-second lap at 321.35 miles per hour. Litton ran a 4.920, 316.90 in the runner-up effort.




“This thing is a brand new car that was actually built for Dom (Lagana) so I had to trim up just to get in the thing,” Lagana said. “We have Service Central and Tire Kingdom on the car this weekend and we had several people out to see us so it was just a great weekend for everyone.”




Despite coming up just shy, Litton pushed the defending champ both nights with four impressive laps of his own including a weekend-best 4.735, 315.42 lap in round one Saturday night.




The other driver to make history Saturday was Paul Romine who placed the “Man-O-War” Mustang in a Nitro Jam winner’s circle for the first time in a over a decade. Romine, a three-time Top Fuel champion, bested Pete Gallen in the final with a pass of 6.016, 237.80. Gallen and the “Poverty Stricken” team put together a 6.149, 244.96 in the runner-up effort.




“It has been 10 years since I last raced IHRA and 10 years since I won one of these things,” Romine said. “The format has changed a lot over the years, but we had a lot of fun. The track was perfect, the fans were great and we beat Gallen so what more could you ask for.




“Gallen and Sanders are both very tough competitors and of course ‘Mr. Explosive’ got us last night, but we got Gallen tonight. Actually, going back over the last few times we have raced Gallen, he was one up on me in wins so now I think we are one up on him so that is definitely a good ending.”




Romine also found himself in Friday’s final, falling to Mark Sanders in the matchup. And the Nitro Jam newcomers certainly put on a show as both drivers won three of four rounds during the weekend with the pair splitting the victories.


The other big player Saturday night was Gallen who made up for a huge misstep on Friday with a monstrous lap in the opening round of Prostalgia Funny Car to place himself in the final. Gallen ran a 5.729, 250.37 in the win, powering around last year’s winner Greg Jacobsmeyer. The battle for the other final round spot was a tough one as Hartman, McIntire and Romine all put down tremendous laps, but it was Romine that was the big winner for the second night in a row with a 5.818, 244.78 lap to edge McIntire by less than a hundredth of a second.




Friday night winner Sanders was eliminated from contention in a loss to Hartman.




In Pro Fuel competition Mike Manners did the unthinkable by besting Bill Evans in the championship round, snapping Evans’ streak of nearly four years without a loss at the Palm Beach track. Evans had won every matchup at the track including sweeping last year’s Palm Beach Nitro Jam and winning on Friday, but Manners put that streak to a halt with a big win on Saturday.




“We didn’t have quite the finish to last night that we had hoped, but we were able to turn that around tonight,” Manners said. “The car has been running great and we put down some laps we were happy with. We will take what we learned tonight and hopefully keep the momentum going throughout the year.”




Manners ran a 5.332, 270.48 in the championship pairing to pull out the win after Evans ran into problems at the line. The win was the fifth of Manners’ career.




In addition to pulling out the win, Manners also dominated the scoreboard as, for the second night in a row, the driver of the “Shredder” machine was the fastest Pro Fuel dragster on the property. In addition to his blistering lap in the final, he also roared down the track on a 5.395, 266.00 lap in round one. Evans was just off that pace with a 5.446, 272.83 in a win over Samsel.




Rounding out the night were the two new classes to Nitro Jam competition as Jay Turner upset Friday winner Steve Dorn to win the Nitro Harley title and Ron Maroney bested Ron Hope in the new Nostalgia Fuel Altered class.




While Dorn took the win on night one, it was all Turner on Saturday as he blasted down the track with a 6.302, 217.84 lap, an easy win after Dorn ran into trouble. Jay also had a big lap in round one to advance to the finals, running a 6.484, 200.83 in a win over Mike Scott.




In Nostalgia Fuel Altered Maroney ran a 7.208, 205.57 in the victory as both he and Hope ran into trouble during their runs.




While Maroney and Hope met up in the finals, it was actually Jason Richey and Chris Bennett that produced the low elapsed times of the first round, but neither could make the call for the final propelling their opponents into the championship matchup per Nitro Jam rules. Despite not making the call, Bennett had low elapsed time of round one with a 5.930, 235.97 pass.




After another huge weekend in Palm Beach, the Nitro Jam tour will now pack up and head a few hours west to State Capitol Raceway in Baton Rouge, La. For the Mardi Gras Nitro Jam the weekend of February 19-20.

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