This year’s Night of Fire at the Atlanta Dragway in Commerce showcased fast cars and featured an all Jefferson showdown in one category.
Cole Wood, age 11, and Salina Shanks, age 12, both of Jefferson, raced in the 8-12 Junior Dragster final. Shanks wrapped up the run with a -.011 foul, while Wood cut a .020 green light. Shanks made the run bittersweet with a dead-on finish in 8.98 seconds at 72.55 mph, as Wood finished with an 8.89 ET on an 8.92 dial-in, at 74.37 mph.
Wood, a seasoned junior racer in a self-proclaimed slump, found his way back to the top tonight in an all-or-nothing fashion.
“I’ve gone out every first round this year,” Wood said after claiming his first Night of Fire win. Wood thanked his family following the event.
In the Super Pro final Don Brown, Sr. of Buford lined up against former junior racer Jeremy Hancock of Commerce. Both men were dialed at 4.95, keeping the race old school with a promise of some tight competition. Brown hit the tree hard with a .007 green, Hancock following closely with a .020 reaction time. Hancock ran dead-on the dial at 137.58 mph, but Brown’s reaction time took the win after crossing the line in 4.96 seconds at 139.73 mph, with a .004 margin-of-victory.
After winning the last two points races, Chad Brewer was fired up to stay on a roll as he faced Randall Roop in the Pro finals. Both boys out of Canton meant business at the starting line, Brewer launching first (dialed at 7.29) with a .040 light, but Roop (dialed at 6.46) pulled a .007 green, making the chase neck-and-neck. Brewer finished in 7.30 seconds at 94.69, but Roop won with a .008 margin-of-victory, crossing the finish in 6.49 seconds at 104.11.
Josh Richardson of Canton and Mickey Morris of Ellenwood faced off in the Sportsman final. Richardson was dialed-in at 16.45 seconds, while Morris predicted a 13.01 second run for his car. Richardson left first with the handicapped tree, with a respectable .051 green light; Morris couldn’t take the anticipation and jumped the amber too soon with a -.024 foul, running way under his dial in 12.14 seconds at 112.46 mph. Richardson cruised the track a winner, finishing with a 16.34 ET at 84.72 mph.
The Motorcycle category pulled an impressive 33-bike count, giving regulars plenty of competition to flaunt their skills. Points leader Jay “Bird” Rhyne of Athens made it to the final round against Jeff Hackney of Ranger. Rhyne had the handicap on the tree, leaving first on his 12.41 dial-in with a .040 reaction time. Hackney left the starting line too soon, fouling with a -.024 red on his 13.01 dial-in. Hackney ran it out, finishing in 11.02 seconds at 121.58 mph, while Rhyne sailed to the finish with a 12.37 ET at 103.30 mph.
The girls dominated the 13-17 Junior Dragster category, with Bailey Denton age 15 of McDonough, and Valerie Clements, age 16 of Central, S.C. in the final round. The two dragsters were dialed closely together, Denton with a 7.91, Clements with a 7.97, making the launch difference nearly indistinguishable. Denton left the line with a .059 green light, slightly better than Clements’ .076 reaction time. Their finish was just as close – Clements ran 7.98 seconds on her 7.97 prediction at 82.38 mph, while Denton closed in with a 7.93 second run at 82.36 mph. Denton took the win with her sharp reaction skills, maintaining her top position in points with her third Summit ET win of the 2009 season, and sixth win overall this year.
For more on this story, see Wednesday's edition of The Jackson Herald, The Commerce News or The Banks County News.