event: ADRL Virginia
when: August 12-13, 2011
where: Virginia Motorsports Park, Dinwiddie, Virginia, USA
story, photos and video by Tim Hailey
Even though it wasn’t unexpected, it was still a stunning achievement on a stunning weekend. Ashley Owens’ 3.98, and then a 3.97, came on the first weekend he was really pushed. Sixty foots of .99something rained down more than the expected showers that surrounded but never really threatened the 2011 edition of the ADRL’s Virginia Motorsports event. Owens’ bright red Fast By Gast Suzuki posted a .996 Saturday night while nailing down #1 qualifier, then Billy Vose and Carlos Wilkerson (and more?) dropped below 1.00 on the 60 foots during the course of the weekend. Owens suspects a little extra rollout at the VMP starting line.
So as four bikes ran in the rarified 4.0 range at Virginia, it was time for Owens to move into exceptionally rare territory. It didn’t happen in qualifying, though it would have if the motor hadn’t “nicked a piston.” It didn’t happen in the first round of eliminations against David Vantine, and Ashley told me in the lanes that it wouldn’t happen that round. But it DID happen in the second round against Kim Morrell, who ran startling 4.0s at Dallas last year but has struggled to find that form yet this season. After spinning and slowing a bit in a dramatic semifinal come-from-behind win over Billy Vose in the semi, Ashley lowered the bar even further in the final over #2 qualifier Casey Stemper and became the ADRL's all-time win leader.
Owens Leads Quickest Ever PXM Field!
I took both of my camera cases up to Ashley Owens, waiting at the head of the staging lanes for Q3 of the ADRL event at Virginia Motorsports Park. "So Ashley," I said. "Is this gonna be a milestone pass or another 4.0 run? Because I have to decide whether I'm shooting video or stills." Ashley was non-commital, as expected. The air was thick and still and his best run of the day was over 6/100ths away from the magic 3. I chose the still camera and captured yet another photo of another 4.0 pass, although that was nearly a fatal mistake on my part as the red Fast By Gast Suzuki laid down a record blasting .996 60 foot on the pass and posted a decent 176.12 mph top speed.
So why no 3 on the pass? "We were trying some experimental pistons in the bike and we nicked one," said owner/builder Paul Gast. "We bring something new in the engine every race. It looked good after the previous pass so we put a little more to it. We put some more in the bottom and it liked it." The team swapped motors overnight, so I'll keep the video camera handy today.
And what a day it's shaping up to be as the field is finally breathing down the neck of Owens' leathers. This quickest ever PXM field features four 4.0 bikes, with Casey Stemper (.089), Ronnie Procopio (.093) and Billy Vose (.095). Only Mac McAdams and David Vantine failed to post a teen in qualifying. Vantine will face Owens in round 1 of eliminations.
Evil Bill entered the 4.0 Club on TT Jones's beautiful bike
Casey Stemper leans into it at VMP
Mike Lozano and the Procks have Eric McKinney just out of the 4.0s with a .102. He'll face Robbie Hunnicutt in E1
Keith Dennis! Shine missed the show by .011. Vantine, in the other lane, will have Owens in E1
Kim Morrell is eighth with a 4.142 and will have Paul Gast in round 1
Gast had a rough looking Q4 pass, will he have anything for Kimbo?
Robbie Hunnicutt, like everyone, willnot be rushing down to Rockingham with that race's rainout
With Billy Vose on TT Jones' bike, Ron Clark stepped into McArthur's seat and blew it up pretty good this morning
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