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Record crowds on hand to witness huge Mardi Gras Nitro Jam


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Record crowds on hand to witness huge Mardi Gras Nitro Jam


Lagana breaks through with first State Capitol win; Gallen wins wild one




PORT ALLEN, La. (February 19, 2011) – Bobby Lagana didn’t cross the finish line first on Saturday, in fact he didn’t even finish first in his own lane, but he still broke through with his first ever win at State Capitol Raceway in front of a historic crowd at the Mardi Gras Nitro Jam Saturday in Baton Rouge




Lagana, who had won at every track on the Nitro Jam tour except State Capitol Raceway entering this weekend’s event, finally got the proverbial Louisiana monkey off his back Saturday to claim his fourth consecutive victory dating back to last year and his 14th career Ironman in a wild one over Bruce Litton in front of a standing room only crowd.




“To be honest it feels great to finally get a win here. We have been close so many times, but we were finally able to conquer the beast, even if it wasn’t the prettiest win,” Lagana said. “I am also thrilled to see the crowd out here tonight. Everyone, from the IHRA to the great people here at State Capitol, put on such a great show. The crowd was here early and they stayed late.”




In addition to Lagana, other winners during Saturday’s Night of Fire included Peter Gallen in Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car, Robin Samsel in Pro Fuel, Steve Dorn in Nitro Harley and Chris Bennett in Fuel Altered. Also in competition at the Mardi Gras Nitro Jam was a field of Outlaw Pro Mods which wrapped up qualifying on Saturday with “Pizza” Joe Palmisano holding down the top spot entering Sunday’s eliminations.




On Saturday, however, Lagana made the most noise – both literally and figuratively.




Lagana and Litton came out firing during round one, producing a pair of 300 mile per hour passes right out of the box making it unclear who held the advantage going into the final round. Litton won the opening tilt, but Lagana wasn’t far behind.




With everything on the line, both drivers gave it their all, but it was ultimately the track that won this time. In the final pass of the night both cars launched cleanly off the line, but Lagana ran into trouble while nearing halftrack, pedaling the car in an attempt to stay in the hunt. But several hundred feet in front of Lagana Litton, still under power, began to near the center line, eventually losing grip and fully crossing into Lagana’s lane.




Seeing the trouble ahead, Lagana quickly clicked off his 8,000 horsepower machine and coasted across the finish line a few seconds behind Litton, but all that really mattered was the outcome as Lagana walked away a winner.




“The first round was great. We both ran 300 miles per hour, but the second round I don’t know what happened,” Lagana said. “We both washed out and I was forced to pedal the thing while Bruce crossed over into my lane. There is simply no rubber in the middle so I knew he was in trouble. Seeing that I was forced to shut it off and finally give up.”




An equally as impressive show was produced in the Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car finale as one car dusted the wall and another wiggled its way across the stripe in yet another wild finish.




After producing the two quickest times in round one to advance to the final, Peter Gallen and Mike McIntire matched up with an Ironman trophy on the line and neither driver wanted to give in. McIntire left the line first in the finale as Gallen was slow on the tree, but McIntire and his bright orange “McAttack” Camaro ran into trouble when the car took a hard right and dusted the wall.




In the opposite lane Gallen in the “Poverty Stricken” Vega had a handful as well as the car began to shake and wiggle down the track, but the veteran managed to find the grove and power past McIntire for his first win of the season and his eighth overall Nitro Jam win.




Gallen ran a 7.110, 146.27 in the final to McIntire’s 8.593.




“We had quite a day to say the least. First we had a fuel leak, and the crew did a great job fixing that, but then we come back out for the final and even more problems hit us,” Gallen said. “As I got down the track the car began to move around and eventually I got up on one wheel and had to pedal the car a bit. In the other lane I saw Mac having his own trouble so I got back in it and gave it my all. I really wanted to give this crowd their money’s worth. I want them to come back tomorrow so we can give them another great show.”




Gallen and McIntire reached the final round with ease after blazing laps in round one. McIntire produced low E.T. of round one, essentially stealing the pole position with a 5.852, 246.37 lap in a win over Mark Sanders. Gallen ran a second-best 5.976, 242.98 in the opening tilt.




In the Prostalgia consolation rounds Greg Jacobsmeyer picked up a win over Rick Krafft, Steve Nichols defeated John Dunn and Richard Hartman won on a solo pass after Sanders failed to make the call.




“This place is the greatest. We travel the entire country and even Canada and the Louisiana people, the fans, are just the best,” Gallen said. “They really are into it and they make you feel welcome. I look forward to doing this again tomorrow.”




One of the more surprising outcomes of day one of the Mardi Gras Nitro Jam came in the form of a victory by Robin Samsel and the “Predator” team over current points leader and reigning Pro Fuel world champion Bill Evans.




Evans continued his reign of terror in the Pro Fuel class with the quickest lap in round one, but that meant little in the final as Samsel fired off a very quick 5.544, 252.80 to drive around Evans and pick up his second career Nitro Jam victory.




In the consolation pairing Michael Manners and the “Shredder” made a solo pass after Cherissa Smallwood stalled on the line.




Saturday’s festivities came to a close with Nitro Jam’s two newest classes which produced their own thrills and chills in front of the sellout crowd.




In the Nitro Harley category two-time Nitro Jam champion Jay Turner produced quite a scare when he tumbled off his bike at the quarter-mile mark when his machine ran into trouble. Turner was unhurt, but the incident was unnerving to say the least.




Ironically, despite the fall, Turner produced the second quickest lap in round one and was scheduled to meet point leader Steve Dorn in the final, but he was unable to make the call with any of the pieces of his bike. Even with the win intact, Dorn still fired off a 6.427, 211.71 during his victory lap.




In the consolation matchup Randal Andras defeated Mike Scott.




Wrapping up the nitro classes was the new Fuel Altered division led by the “Pure Heaven” team and pilot Chris Bennett. Bennett won for the second time this year with a 6.355, 186.41 pass in the final against Ron Maroney and the “Super Nanook team. Jim Maroney won the consolation pairing against Ron Hope.




The final pro class of the evening was the Outlaw Pro Modified division headed by Palmisano who will take the top spot into eliminations on Sunday. Local racer Earl Folse is second and Wesley Jones is third.




In addition to the on track action, the Mardi Gras Nitro Jam also featured a massive parade with floats, beads and plenty of music greeting Louisiana race fans making for one of the biggest races in Louisiana history.




Racing action will continue at the Mardi Gras Nitro Jam on Sunday with sportsman eliminations beginning at 9 a.m. followed by FanFest at 11:30 a.m. and two more rounds of Nitro Jam beginning at 1 p.m.

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