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IHRA Texas Nationals; Recaps and points

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The Good Vibrations Texas Nationals Fueled by Sunoco saw some former 2015 champions in the winners circle and brought them back into contention in the point standings following race number two of the 2016 season. Past champions Cary Goforth, Pro Stock; Jason Rupert, AMSOIL Nitro Funny Car; and Jay Turner, Nitro Motorcycle sit second in the point standings leaving San Antonio Raceway.

The IHRA Drag Racing Series condensed a two-day event into an abbreviated one-day event due to the postponement of qualifying from severe cross winds on Friday. The nonstop action did not deter the racers as they were up for the challenge; running two qualifying sessions and three elimination rounds on Saturday.

The fans witnessed a new ET record by Pro Modified driver Billy Harper, a hole-shot win to determine the Pro Stock winner and IHRA champions Jay Turner and Jason Rupert returning to the winners circle for the first time this season. The shake-up out on the track resulted in new point leaders in Pro Modified, Billy Harper, and Pro Stock, John Konigshofer.

2016 Point Standings

AMSOIL Nitro Funny Car

Shawn Bowen 206

Jason Rupert 190

Mike McIntire Jr. 169

Mark Sanders 127

Tim Boychuk 118

Pro Stock

John Konigshofer 170

Cary Goforth 167

Trevor Eman 150

JR Carr 126

Larry OBrien 120

Pro Modified

Billy Harper 229

Ruben Tetsoshvili 166

Adam Flamholc 164

Jerico Balduf 149

Bill Lutz 126

Nitro Motorcycle

Randal Andras 185

Jay Turner 166

Rickey House 164

Jake Stordeur 161

Tii Tharpe 107

The IHRA Drag Racing Series takes a two month break from on-track action and will return for race number three at Maryland International Raceway June 17 18. The Presidents Cup Nationals Fueled by Sunoco will feature AMSOIL Nitro Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Modified and Nitro Motorcycle along with sportsman racing. Tickets are now available and feature free pit access. Purchase now and save at BuyIHRAtix.com.

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Finally, Saturday and Sunday were perfect race days weather-wise - the racers in San Antonio were wondering about Texas weather hospitality on Friday, when qualifying was called for weather. Not for rain, but wind, when a steady 24mph crosswind, with gusts over 30mph, were deemed too dangerous, so the Pro schedule was condensed into Saturday.


And the racing on the IHRA Good Vibrations Texas Nationals Fueled by Sunoco at San Antonio Raceway was well worth the wait. Two-time and defending AMSOIL Nitro Funny Car World Champion Jason Rupert and four-time Nitro Motorcycle World Champion Jay Turner raced to their first wins of the 2016 season, while John Konigshofer and Billy Harper also raced to wins in their respective categories.


Rupert, the No. 3 qualifier, was consistently strong in eliminations. He defeated Bruce Litton and Mike McIntire before defeating Orlando winner Shawn Bowen in the AMSOIL Nitro Funny Car final round in the season opener.


"The competition out here is tough, and these guys are getting tougher, too," Rupert said. "You try to stay ahead, but then all of a sudden, there's a bunch of guys that come up with some stuff so you're chasing them. It's always tough."


For the second time in as many races this season, Konigshofer reached the IHRA Pro Stock final round. He came up short in Orlando but made the most of his San Antonio opportunity with a hole-shot win over Team Aruba Racing's Trevor Eman. Konigshofer defeated Larry O'Brien and John DeFlorian on his way to the final round.


"It was an awesome day for us; the car is strong," Konigshofer said. "Jon Kaase gave us some awesome motors. We ran 6.22 (seconds) with a five this morning in real good conditions. I thought we could maybe grab the record tonight, but it wasn't there. We're really happy with the car; everyone's doing their jobs, the brothers are doing their jobs so it's working."


Harper saved his best performance of the weekend for the most important time - the Pro Mod final round. His 5.842-second elapsed time set the IHRA Pro Mod record, and it was the second time in as many races that Harper set the IHRA mark. He defeated Jerico Balduf and Bill Lutz before besting Ruben Tetsoshvili on his way to his first winner's circle celebration of the season.


"It always feels great to win, but I could never do it without this crew," Harper said. "They've done a great job. We had a lot of bugs this weekend, but they got through it and brought home a national record and a win. The car's coming around; we made a lot of changes in the winter, and we're excited about how the car's running. We're having a ball here at the IHRA."


The Nitro Motorcycle final round was a battle between the seventh and eighth qualifiers. Turner, a four-time IHRA Nitro Motorcycle World Champion, was the No. 7 qualifier; he upset No. 2 qualifier Tii Tharpe, and outran Randal Andras in the semifinals. In the final round, Turner defeated Rickey House to take home the Ironman. His Good Vibrations Texas Nationals victory is his first of the two-race season.


"It was a long day, but it worked out," Turner said. It feels good to get a win for the 2016 season."

The 2016 IHRA Drag Racing Series season continues at the IHRA Presidents Cup Nationals Fueled by Sunoco June 17-18 at Maryland International Raceway in Mechanicsville, Maryland. The two-day show will feature the AMSOIL Nitro Funny Car class, Pro Mod, Pro Stock, Nitro Motorcycles and sportsman racing.

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A fan at the Good Vibrations Texas Nationals Fueled by Sunoco at San Antonio Raceway perhaps said it best: "These cars remind me of some of my best times at the drag strip." She is not alone – the IHRA's AMSOIL Nitro Funny Cars are consistently one of the most popular classes, and invariably put on some of the best action.


With bodies based on cars no newer than 1979, nostalgia is a big part of this IHRA class, and Chevrolet Camaros, Pontiac Firebirds, Ford Mustangs, Chevrolet Vegas and Chevrolet Novas are especially popular.


But make no mistake – the look outside may be vintage, but underneath, the AMSOIL Nitro Funny Cars are absolutely up-to-date, with some sporting brand-new supercharged engines of 3,000 horsepower or more, on new chassis. And, of course, the cars incorporate the latest in safety equipment.


The AMSOIL Nitro Funny Cars are fast, too – at last weekend's Good Vibrations Texas Nationals, Jason Rupert won the class with a blistering quarter-mile pass of 5.6495 seconds, at 255.68 mph, defeating Orlando winner Shawn Bowen. With typical half-track burnouts, the pits empty when the Funny Cars are on the track.


The class has attracted some true veterans of drag racing, such as former world champion Bruce Litton, driver of the U.S. Male funny car. "It's a great class," he said. "There's some top-notch competition."


The class has been a staple of IHRA competition when it was introduced for the 2010 season. Without the plethora of computer controls that new conventional funny car racing uses, the IHRA class puts much of the results back in the hands of the drivers – the way it used to be.


Old school? Definitely. But the AMSOIL Nitro Funny Cars are teaching drag racing some new tricks.

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