Two-time world champion Tommy Franklin had a big weekend at the East Coast Nationals. His daughter Amber was celebrating her high school graduation while making her Top Dragster debut, the series Franklin co-founded in 2014 was finally starting its seventh season after being put on hold by the COVID-19 crisis, and he ended the weekend with a decisive Pro Nitrous victory.
Franklin wheeled his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro to a 3.687 at 205.51 to get the final-round win over Jim Widener, who led out of the gate with a .002 reaction time but trailed at the finish line with a 3.754 at 202.91 in his BES-powered Corvette.
“From the PDRA standpoint, we were really just trying to get the season started so we could put on a championship season,” said Franklin, who owns and operates the PDRA with his wife, Judy. “Our race team is awesome. They don’t stop working. The same thing with the PDRA team – they rocked all weekend long just to get this race in. They definitely had some challenges. Hat’s off to everybody. Coronavirus is not stopping us this weekend.”
Franklin, the No. 2 qualifier, went 3.691 at 203.22 on a first-round single. A 3.669 at 205.01 followed to beat Rob Hunnicutt’s 3.78 in the second round. He slowed slightly to a 3.674 at 204.51 in the semifinals, but it was enough to beat rival Jay Cox, who fell with a 5.75 pass.
Widener qualified No. 13 and moved past the first round with a 3.738 on a single, as opponent Jackie Slone Jr. couldn’t make the run. He recorded a 3.718 to defeat Fredy Scriba in the second round, then slowed to a 5.232 on another single. He was set to face defending world champion Jim Halsey, who was shut off after a fuel leak developed while backing up from the burnout.
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