After a weekend that saw over two-inches of rain fall on The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway forcing the cancellation of the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, the sun shined bright for the opening day of the K&N Spring Fling Million presented by Optima Batteries.
Today's schedule calls for the free test and tune session sponsored by Yukon Gear & Axle followed by the Poulson Trailer Shootout whereby 32 pre-entered racers will contend for a brand new trailer valued at $20,000 and the runner-up receiving an entry to the 2017 K&N Spring Fling Million race. Semifinal losers won't go home with empty pockets as they will receive free entry into the 2017 'Fling support races.
By the time the gates were closed on Monday night for parking, over 450 racers had entered to compete in the three support races to be held Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Friday is reserved for the Spring Fling Million Dollar race which will definitely change the life of one lucky racer. By close of day on Tuesday, close to 500 racers took part in the Yukon Gear & Axle Test and Tune.
This is also the official rollout of the new TruSTART Worst Red-Light system, a product of Compulink and the Spring Fling. It settles the debate once and for all where the person with the worst red-light loses regardless of his dial-in, leaving first or last. The first reversal of fortune came early in the first round of the Poulson Trailer Shootout when Bob Halina came up against Vinny DiMino. Halina was dialed a 4.66 against DiMino's 4.74. With DiMino getting the head start, he red-lighted by .005 which would have normally given him the Lose ticket, but Halina lit the red bulb by a worse .018 handing the win to DiMino.
In the Poulson Trailer Shootout, four remained in the semifinals; Former Spring Fling winners Peeps Pennington and Scott Lemen, along with Dustin Hentges and Cecil Hankins.
At four cars, Hentges used a .006 reaction time and a .005 over his dial to turn back Hankins. In the other half, Lemen turned Pennington away with a .005 reaction time.
With racers from roughly 35 states in the union including two other countries (Canada and Mexico) the final round for the Poulson trailer was Tennessee (Lemen) versus Washington state (Hentges).
With both drivers wearing matching dial-ins of 4.78, Hentges left with the better reaction time but gave up the finish line early to hand the win to Lemen.
On Wednesday, time trials begin at 8:00 with eliminations set for immediately after one time trial with $10,000 to the winner on the line. Follow the results live at www.bangshift.com with round by round results at www.dragracecentral.com.
Three years ago co-promoters Peter Biondo and Kyle Seipel added the K&N Spring Fling Vegas event three years ago to their successful Spring Fling even held in May in Bristol, TN. Not knowing just how many racers would support their race, they decided to (pardon the “Vegas” pun) hedge their bets and add the Pro class of cars to the normally one class run at typical high dollar bracket races.
"The Pro class is pretty popular here on the west coast," says Seipel, "so it was only natural for us to run them in Vegas, and for the past three years we've had great support from those racers. With the introduction of the K&N Million this year, our first assumption was that we might not have the time to run both classes should we receive the type of car count we anticipated."
The only alternative was to just limit the race to one class, Super Pro. But there is little doubt that Biondo and Seipel were concerned.
"We haven't forgotten about our Pro class friends though," says Biondo. "Just like we have done with our other concepts; we came up with our Pro 32 class which involved pre-entry into that field. Thirty-two Pro class cars will run their own race after which the winner will be seeded directly into the sixth round of the Super Pro field."
Any concerns though were put to bed as when the gates closed on Tuesday night, 502 tech cards were sold for the K&N Spring Fling Million presented by Optima Batteries.
A free test and tune session took place on Tuesday with Scott Lemen winning the Poulson Trailers Shootout but Wednesday dawned with more great weather. One time trial session was slated for all competitors with eliminations starting immediately afterward. With that many cars, round one of eliminations can be quite agonizing; especially if you lose; but in any event the first round took a lengthy four and a half hours. Once the smoke cleared from that, the official count of cars was a new Spring Fling record of 511.
At the round of eight those left were Trevor Larson, Tim Markoglu, Gary Williams, Rob Asbury, Allen Wickell, Paul Nero, Steve Schaefer and Steve Hannawacker. In that round, Markoglu took out Larson, Williams went red to advance Asbury, Wickell defeated Nero and finally, Schaefer defeated Hannawacker.
In the semifinals it was door car (Schaefer) versus dragster (Markoglu) and door car (Asbury) versus dragster (Wickell) but in the end, the final round for $10,000-to-win would be the dragsters of Wickell and Markoglu. Ironically the final round would be opponents from Alabama (Wickell) and New York (Markoglu).
The final was sort of anticlimactic as Wickell lit the red-light by .010 to hand the win and the $10Gs to Markoglu. "I've never raced on the eight-mile before and it's pretty tough," said Markoglu, "but right now I'm having the time of my life."
Thursday's schedule calls for no time trials and eliminations beginning at 8:00 am. Follow the results live at www.bangshift.com with round by round results at www.dragracecentral.com.
Day two of the K&N Spring Fling Million presented by Optima Batteries came after a long night for Wednesday's race. That race, won by Tim Markoglu consisted of nine rounds of eliminations taking roughly twelve and a half hours to complete; a good problem to have when you have 511 cars make the first round.
Thursday's $20K to win event began with eliminations at 8:00 am with another four and half hour first round that saw 512 cars hitting the starting line. Thirteen hours after eliminations began, 12 cars remained with only 11 drivers as according to the ladder, J.R. Lobner was still left in with both of his entries. As fate would have it, Lobner would have to race… Lobner, which naturally advanced him to the round of six. The other contestants would be Chuck Hawk Jr., Disco Dean Karnes, Russell Stryker, Luke Bogacki, Tommy Dutcher, Tony Marconi, Kevin Brannon, Dave Umberger, Lane Dickey and Jeg Coughlin.
The winners of that round moving to the quarter-finals would be Karns, Bogacki, Dutcher, Dickey, Brannon and naturally Lobner. With six cars left, there will be a bye run in the semifinals based on the best winning reaction time which in the case of the round, went to Bogacki with a .002 reaction time. In the balance of the round, Brannon defeated Dutcher and Lobner took the win over Karns.
For the chance to meet up with Bogacki, Lobner took the reaction time advantage but ran out to hand the win and the chance for $20K to Brannon.
For the final round, Bogacki took the reaction time advantage and never looked back, taking win with a dead-on the dial with a "5." Brannon also ran dead-on but it was the reaction time which made the difference.
"The last couple of months have been sort of surreal," said Bogacki, "and then to come to Vegas and win an event like this…unbelievable. I'm so thankful for K&N and all the sponsors and the 'Fling staff."
Friday is the big day with the Spring Fling Million to be contested. A preview video of the day can be found at https://youtu.be/c6PzqsAX46k. One time trial will be allowed for each competitor followed by eliminations. A special Brodix-sponsored Run for the Money will also take place whereby competitors place a dial-in on their car for the time shot. The amount over your dial-in when combined with your reaction time becomes your total package. Best Package awards will go to the best first, second and third place; however, a "perfect run" which amounts to a perfect reaction time and dead-on your dial with a zero will be awarded $100,000. Not a bad payday for one run.
There are also plenty of other special surprises on tap for all on Friday followed by the Sparco Racer Appreciation Party held at night. Stay tuned to all the action live as it happens on www.bangshift.com with round by round results at www.dragracecentral.com.
After Friday's Million Dollar race at the K&N Spring Fling Million presented by Optima Batteries, one lucky person next year will have a very special April 15, 2017 to look forward to… or maybe not. It'll be the day the IRS will be looking for their due after that person's big win in what will certainly be a life-changing experience as the first winner of the K&N Spring Fling Million. That might sound like sort of a “buzz kill,” as announcer Nate Hirschi said, but it will be a good one to concern one’s self with.
The week so far has gone without hiccups except for some very long days, but nonetheless clean and green all the way. The plan for today was one time trial followed by a special Brodix Run for the Money where a perfect package gets that person a cool $100,000 to get the party started. Unfortunately, no one had that perfect run but the Best Package was Alabama’s Jared Pennington with a .003 run, which earned him a set of SR20 cylinder heads from Brodix.
Besides the entry window open for Million Dollar race entries, the Last Man Standing raffle also took place. The concept is that anyone; racers, crew, fans, etc. but limited to 200 entries; can enter a raffle for $50 whereby a Million Dollar racer’s name is placed in a hat. Each raffle entrant then pulls a name out of the hat. If their racer goes the furthest in competition, the lucky person wins $10,000.
"We came up with the Last Man Standing because we want everyone involved with this special day," says co-promoter Peter Biondo.
Prior to the first round, co-promoters Biondo and Kyle Seipel offered their words of thanks to all of their customers and friends. And with the traditional Star Spangled Banner and Racers For Christ invocation sung and spoken, the last step was the cutting of a ribbon to open the track for the 270 entrants in the very first K&N Spring Fling Million; an event that will pay some lucky racer $270,000 to win by the end of the day.
Las Vegas weather usually sees about 310 days of gorgeous sunshine. The previous weekend found about two inches of rain fall on the track which bode well for Spring Fling days. With sunshine so far all week, Friday found high winds and sprays of moisture every once in a while. This forced eliminations to be held up from time to time, but the show went on.
Normally high dollar bracket races involve only one class of cars; in this case Super Pro. But for the past three years, the Pro class cars have been included and supported the Spring Fling well. That fact had Biondo and Kyle enact a Pro 32 class which included 32 pre-entered cars which ran all by themselves until a winner was chosen. At that point the winner was seeded directly into the sixth round of the Super Pro class. That winner tonight on Million Dollar Friday was Paul Russell in his Nova over Justin Lamb's Super Stocker.
At the quarter-final round consisting of seven racers, left were Thursday's runner-up Kevin Brannon, Jeff Verdi's door car, Courtland Carter, David Beedy, Lane Dicken, Jerry Ross and naturally Russell.
The lucky bye run to advance to the semifinals went to Beedy and his GTO door car. Dicken took the best of Ross, Brannon defeated Carter and in a door car versus door car battle, Verdi beat Russell.
The semifinals would pit door car versus dragster in both halves. In the first set, Beedy ended the hopes for his win when he red-lighted to Dicken, and then there was Jeff Verdi. The Virginia racer made the tow out west on an open trailer breaking down at times along the way, earned an entry into the field by winning one of the many raffles for the Million Dollar entry, and by defeating last night's runner-up Brannon, he's eligible to become the very first Spring Fling Million Dollar winner.
In the final round, all that "Vegas-style luck" came in handy for Verdi who used a .014 reaction time coupled with dead-on the dial with a "1" to turn back Lane Dicken's .009 reaction time and .017 over the dial.
"Unreal," is about the only thing Verdi could say. "I've got to thank the Lord. I was praying every round and thanking the Him each time. I don’t even know what to say. It's just unbelievable."
One more day left to crown a $20,000 winner of the K&N Spring Fling, Madcap Racing Engines Saturday. Continue to stay tuned to www.bangshift.com for all the live action with round by round results at www.dragracecentral.com.
Day last has finally come to the K&N Spring Fling Million presented by Optima Batteries. It all began on Tuesday with the Yukon Gear & Axle test and tune session along with the Poulsen Trailer Shootout won by Tennessee’s Scott Lemen.
Three more Spring Fling champions were crowned including last night's Million Dollar race winner Jeff Verdi. Saturday called for race No.4 with a $20,000 to win payday for someone. Weather all week for the most part cooperated except for Friday when 40 to 50 mph winds cropped up with occasional sprays of moisture which is highly unlikely for Sin City. It all held up enough to finish the Million Dollar event late on Friday followed by winner Verdi and crew enjoying a stay in a suite at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in downtown Vegas courtesy of the K&N Spring Fling. The stay might not have been such a good idea as in the first round of Saturday's event, Verdi red-lighted by .002, but still ending his week on a good… make that a great note.
After thousands of run down the track, it came down to eight cars left for the last $20K to win of the weekend. Steve Casner, Robbie Gear, Paul Nero, Disco Dean Karns, Kenny Underwood, Andy Taylor, and Top Fuel pilot Shawn Langdon who was left in with two entries going into round seven.
In the quarter-final round, Disco Dean defeated Underwood, Taylor red-lighted to advance Casner, Nero took out Langdon's door car entry but Langdon got revenge with his dragster entry in defeating Nero.
For the semifinals, Casner ended Langdon's day and Karns used a .014 reaction time and a dead-on the dial with a "9" to defeat Nero.
In the final, "Disco" was on the 'tree with a .012 reaction time compared to Casner's .047. The rest was easy as Karns was once again dead-on the dial with a "5" to take $20K back to Fairborn, Ohio.
"This is great and we're gonna' be partying downtown tonight as long as we can find a casino that'll cash that 'big check'," said Karns.
"We can't thank enough all of the racers and our family of friends who have supported our dream here in Las Vegas," said co-promoter Peter Biondo. "It's definitely our pleasure and we can't wait for next year's K&N Spring Million when we'll be able to do it all again."
"We're thrilled that this was such a successful event," Biondo added, "but success for us is defined as everyone having a good time and being able to finish each and every race, which we did. By those standards, yes we are thrilled."
Continue to stay tuned to www.bracketraces.com for future announcements. Next up on the K&N Spring Fling schedule is the K&N Spring Fling 5-Day presented by Sparco in Bristol, Tennessee on May 17-22.