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Gallen wraps up Mardi Gras Nitro Jam weekend with Prostalgia sweep


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Gallen wraps up huge Mardi Gras Nitro Jam weekend with Prostalgia sweep


Litton, Maroney, Evans and Scott fill Sunday victory lane




PORT ALLEN, La. (February 20, 2011) – No Mardi Gras celebration would be complete without an abundance of beads, decorations, music and plenty of Cajun cuisine and that is exactly what the winners of Sunday’s Nitro Jam finale enjoyed in victory lane as over a dozen different drivers hoisted a brand new Ironman trophy during an absolutely huge race weekend at the third annual Mardi Gras Nitro Jam at State Capitol Raceway in Baton Rouge.




And topping that list was the popular “Poverty Stricken” Funny Car team headed by driver Peter Gallen who swept the Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car category over the weekend and vaulted to the top of the Prostalgia championship standings in the process. Gallen pushed his car to the limit both nights of the annual Louisiana event, defeating Mike McIntire both times to perform the only sweep of the weekend.



Both cars also found little resistance in their road to the final, rocketing to the top of the charts with a pair of five-second laps in round one. Palm Beach winner Mark Sanders just missed out on the final both nights, this time failing to make the championship by a few hundredths of a second, while Richard Hartman also put down a nice opening lap to create one of the tightest Prostalgia battles since the implementation of the new Nitro Jam format.




In the consolation rounds defending champion Steve Nichols continued to run just off the pace, but managed to put together a nice win over Jacobsmeyer Sunday afternoon to carry some momentum into Tucson. Hartman and Rick Krafft also recorded consolation round wins.




Another huge Sunday victory was recorded by Top Fuel pilot Bruce Litton who snapped Bobby Lagana’s four-race win streak with a monstrous lap during the hot afternoon hours. Litton ran a 4.821, 311.52 in the final, shaking off a few gremlins that had been plaguing the team throughout the early part of the year. Lagana ran a 4.992, 303.23 in the runner-up position.




Sunday’s final was also a vastly different than the one produced on Saturday when Litton lost traction at halftrack and served into Lagana’s lane, narrowly avoiding a collision as Lagana lost power early in the run and shut it down.




“We feel very fortunate. We have been going down the track, but it seems like it has been this or that and then last night I tried to drive over Bobby, which I am grateful I didn’t,” Litton said. “It was a good day for us and this track is really special to us because of the people here. From the people that own it to the spectators, it is great to race down here.




“We are also thankful for Lucas and Lucas Slick Mist. Mike Wolfarth does a great job on the car and Mike Sipple really does outstanding work tuning the car. It was a fun weekend and we are happy to be back in victory lane.”




Litton’s pass was his third trip into the four-second zone at over 300 miles per hour in four tries, but this time he was able to run the numbers when it mattered most. Sunday’s win handed Litton his 23rd career Ironman trophy and his third victory at State Capitol Raceway in five tries.



Other professional winners from the Mardi Gras Nitro Jam included Bruce Litton in Top Fuel, Jim Maroney in Fuel Altered, Bill Evans in Pro Fuel and Mike Scott in the Nitro Harley class. Local Pro Mod star “Pizza” Joe Palmisano also walked away a winner with a victory in the Outlaw Pro Modified class.




Sportsman winners from the third annual Mardi Gras Nitro Jam were Les Herod (Jacksboro, Texas) in Top Sportsman, Clayton Nance (Anson, Texas) in Top Dragster and Quick Rod, Gilbert Johnson Jr. (LeCompte, La.) in Super Stock, Myron Piatek (Holly Hill, Fla.) in Stock, Jeff Southerland (Andover, Ill.) in Super Rod and Ray Todd (Friendswood, Texas) in Hot Rod. All seven sportsman winners earned a spot in the year-end Summit Racing Tournament of Champions at Virginia Motorsports Park to determine the world champions later this year.




Additional sportsman winners from Sunday included Louis Gregoire in Top ET, Eric Landry in Mod ET, Tara Elliser in Junior Beginner, Wyatt Sproles in Junior Advanced and Blaze LeBlanc in Junior Beginner.




Gallen’s sweep of the popular Prostalgia Funny Car category began like any other race weekend, but quickly took a turn for the strange beginning Saturday night. From a busted fuel line to a near-miss and an odd timing system error caused by a piece of debris, Gallen had his share of frustration during the two-day race weekend, but he saved the best for last in the final to defeat McIntire and the “MacAttack” crew for the second night in a row.




“If it wasn’t one thing it was another, but in the end we were able to put together a few solid laps and really test what this track could hold,” Gallen said. “Mac really pushed us in the final, but we found something on the top end and were able to power past him to take the win. It was really a great weekend and we are very happy to get a chance to win down here for the second year in a row. These fans are great I am glad we got to give them a show. Lanny and Valerie Lewis really know how to treat the racers and put on one heck of a show. I really want to thank them for another memorable weekend.”




Gallen edged McIntire by the narrowest of margins, finding a little extra at the top-end to drive around McIntire by roughly 13 feet at the line. Gallen ran a 5.919, 244.76 in the final, besting McIntire’s 5.952, 241.67. McIntire led at halftrack, but was unable to hold that advantage.




In the new Fuel Altered division newcomer Jim Maroney surprised even himself with the lap heard round the world to claim his first Nitro Jam victory in his very first weekend with the series.




“Luck as on our side this weekend, especially in the final. First off we started the car up and we had a fuel leak so the crew had to thrash to get the problem solved. I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to do a burnout,” Maroney said. “Then I had another leak on the burnout and at that point I said screw it I am going after it anyway. And what do you know, we end up running the fastest lap we have ever run to take the win.”




Maroney upset two-time Fuel Altered winner and point leader Chris Bennett in the final with a blistering fast 6.284, 230.00 lap to drive around Bennett who lost the blower belt as he neared the quarter-mile. Maroney had an equally impressive lap in round one to reach the final when he defeated Ron Maroney with a 6.418, 229.06 pass.




In the consolation pairing Ron Hope picked up his first Nitro Jam round win with a victory over Ron Maroney.




“This is the first time I have run with the IHRA and I haven’t been to a better race. The crowd was awesome and we have been treated absolutely great,” Maroney said. “This was a great weekend for everyone and I look forward to doing it again.”




Reigning Pro F uel champion and current points leader Bill Evans finally got back to his winning ways on Sunday in the Pro Fuel category, besting Mike Manners and the “Shredder” team to claim his second Ironman of the season while continuing to build on his championship lead.




Evans, behind the wheel of the “Black Peal” dragster, bested Manners in one of the closest races of the afternoon, running a 5.451, 269.46 to pick up the win, while Manners put down a 5.640, 266.98 in the runner-up effort. Both drivers also posted quick passes in round one to reach the final, with Evans leading the way with a 5.565, 265.72 to qualify first.




In the consolation pairing Cherissa Smallwood finally found her groove with her best lap of the year, downing Robin Samsel to pick up her first round win of 2011.




Finishing up the nitro categories was the insane riders of the Nitro Harley division. After opening night produced the biggest scare of the weekend when veteran rider Jay Turner tumbled off his bike at over 150 miles per hour, the class returned on Sunday with even more fireworks – this time in the form of quick, side-by-side laps.




And heading that list was Mike Scott who recorded his first career Nitro Jam victory in a win over Randal Andras. Andras had the early lead in the matchup, but Scott took charge at the top end for the win. Scott ran a 6.564, 210.82 in the win, while Andras ran a 6.781, 207.18. Steve Dorn won the consolation matchup over Turner who heroically returned to the track on Sunday with a brand new bike after demolishing his primary ride.




Finally, the Outlaw Pro Modified division saw local racer “Pizza” Joe Palmisano take a big win over Gary Rusich to pick up his second career Ironman trophy. Palmisano ran a 4.277, 172.91 in the eighth mile final, edging Rusich who posted a 4.966, 152.33 in the runner-up effort.




Palmisano qualified first and never looked back, defeating Rusich, Steve Wheeler and Floyd LaPointed on his way to the win.




The huge Mardi Gras Nitro Jam weekend, which featured a record car count and a massive crowd filling the brand new grandstands, came to a close with record run by the monster truck “Maximum Overkill” as driver Kirk Dabney became the first monster truck driver to ever eclipse the 90 mile per hour mark, setting a new world record for the class. The Shockwave jet semi and Jersey Thunder jet dragster closed the festivities with an incredible fire show.




After another hugely successful stop in Louisiana, the Nitro Jam series packs up and heads west for another huge event March 25-26 in Tucson Arizona for the Arizona Nitro Jam at Southwestern International Raceway.

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