Plourd powers back into winner's circle

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					                           SUPER COMP — 5th annual Jegs NHRA Northern SPORTSnationals, Sept. 25-27, Hebron, Ohio

                           Plourd powers back into winner’s circle

 Brad Plourd, near lane, had to make up some ground in the final after Dennis Rutherford launched with a .009 light, but he was able to get around for an 8.93 to 8.97
 win, his ninth at the NHRA national event level.

by Duke Ritenhouse                                        difference or not, but
                                                          I can say that it was

I  t turned out that a quick break was all
   Sportsman hitter Brad Plourd needed to
recharge his batteries and get back into the
                                                          nice to get away from
                                                          it for a week.”
                                                              Before going
winner’s circle, snapping the longest winless             winless in 2008,
drought of his career. One week after purposefully        Plourd had won at
skipping the NHRA Carolinas Nationals and                 least one national
heading off to an amusement park instead, Plourd          event title every year
survived six rounds of racing during a weather-           from 2003, when he
challenged schedule to win the Jegs NHRA                  scored his first at the
Northern SPORTSnationals title and claim his              season-ending NHRA
first NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event             Finals in Pomona, to                                     Plourd (left) was happy to be celebrating his first national
win since the midpoint of the 2007 season.                2007. His most recent                                    event win since 2007. (Above) In the semifinals, he again
    Plourd wrapped up his ninth career NHRA title         win had come at the                                      trailed off the starting line, but an 8.92 got him safely into
by winning three times on Monday, including an            2007 Sonoma event,                                       the final over David Klomps’ breakout 8.88.
8.93 to 8.97 win in the final over Dennis Rutherford,     which was followed by
who reached two finals at the event but won neither.      a winless 2008 and a                                     I’ve really been doing wrong; it’s just if you race
Rutherford got the early jump with a .009 light, but      2009 season with no                                      more, you lose more. But it can definitely weigh on
Plourd was able to get around and reach the stripe        scores at the national                                   you. Especially if you have a couple of bad weeks,
first by almost two-hundredths.                           event level for the first                                there are points when you just say, ‘Man, I need
    “For the final, I liked my chances, but I was also    eight months of the                                      something good to happen here.’ ”
concerned because he was obviously doing something        year. Although he’d put
right all weekend. I had just watched him lose in         together a number of good results in that time at        The key race: The clock was literally going to
Super Gas, but I didn’t know if that was going to         both the national and LODRS levels, including a          strike midnight for either Plourd or Tom Dauber,
make it easier for him or easier for me; I didn’t know    runner-up in Super Stock at last year’s Seattle event,   who met in a third-round race that was run near the
how he’d react to that,” said Plourd. “Overall, before    Plourd admits that the lack of a big payoff was          end of Sunday’s long, disrupted schedule. With the
this event, I hadn’t had a week off since the Fourth of   beginning to get a bit tiresome.                         round beginning on one day and ending on another,
July, so I just decided to skip Charlotte and do              “I race more than anyone, but that means I also      Plourd was able to advance into Monday’s
something else. I can’t say for sure if that was the      lose more than anyone,” Plourd said. “It’s nothing       competition with a .013 light and a safe 8.98 that got
                                                                                                                                     the better of Dauber’s near-miss
                                                                                                                                     8.898 breakout.
 About the winning car
 I n his return to the winner’s circle, Brad Plourd                                                                                    The runner-up: Rutherford was
                                                                                                                                       making just his second points-
 piloted the same dragster that current Top Fuel
                                                                                                                                       scoring appearance of the season
 racer Shawn Langdon drove to the national
                                                                                                                                       with both events coming in
 championship last season. The car is an ’08 TNT
                                                                                                                                       Hebron, Ohio. He is still seeking
 model powered by a 582-cid engine from Sunset
                                                                                                                                       his first NHRA national event
 Racecraft. Plourd thanked Langdon; Forrest and
                                                                                                                                       win after finishing as runner-up
 Charlotte Lucas; Tom Bogner; his parents, Bernie
                                                                                                                                       in both Super Comp and Super
 and Ronna; girlfriend Brina Splingaire and the
                                                                                                                                       Gas at this event.
 Splingaire family; John Coughlin at Jegs Mail
                                                          Rutherford secured a place in one of the two finals he reached by out-
 Order; Jerry Emmons; and Mark Faul.
                                                          running Scott Albrecht in the semi’s, 8.93 to 8.96.                          Fast facts: The quarterfinal
78 ✦ National DRAGSTER
                                                                                                                      Super Comp Qualifying
                                                                                                                                         (Top 16 of 52 first-round winners)
                                                                                                               1. Robbie Mayse, Frost, Texas (dragster) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                       8.901 (0.001)
                                                                                                               2. Don Higgins, Mapleton, Ill. (dragster) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                    8.902 (0.002)
                                                                                                               3. John Maddox, Jacksonville, Texas (dragster) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                             8.903 (0.003)
                                                                                                               4. Jackie King, Norman, Okla. (dragster) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                       8.903 (0.003)
                                                                                                               5. Duane Hawkes, Wichita, Kan. (dragster) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                    
Description: The quarterfinal match between Plourd and Ray Connolly (who went on to win the event's Super Gas title) featured a former Mac Tools U.S. Nationals winner in Super Comp in each lane. Plourd won the 2005 title, and Connolly scored in 2002 for his first career NHRA national event title.
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