Gage Wilson repeated as an NHRA RightTrailers Eastern Conference Finals presented by Mike Bos Racing.com when he outlasted the field in the 15-year-old age group during the 2022 edition of the national event for racers in the NHRA Summit Racing Series Jr. Drag Racing League. Wilson, last year’s 14-year-old titlist, was joined in the winner’s circle by seven first-time Eastern Conference Finals champions: Evan Bryning (age 6-9), Gavin Cramer (10), Ayden Tilghman (11), Douglas Hughes (12), Kaden Pruett (13), Conor Cleary (14), and Dylan Moore (16-17). Mason-Dixon Dragway Team 1 won the team competition.
In the 6-9 age-group final, Venice, Fla., racer Kylie Mocny got off the starting line first, but Sapulpa, Okla., runner Bryning was able to drive around her and win on an 11.93 (11.90 dial) to 12.006 (11.90) count.
The 10-year-old class final was decided on the starting line when Ferdinand, Ind., competitor Callie Fischer went red. That turned on the win light in the lane of New Market, Md.’s Cramer, who ran right on his 8.95 dial en route to victory.
In a tight match that was decided by just .004-second, Henrico, Va., driver Tilgham overcame a reaction-time deficit of about two-hundredths to get the win against Rowan Parlett, of Mechanicsville, Md., in the 11-year-old bracket title round. Tilghman ran a .001-over 8.90 to turn on the win light vs. the 9.036 (9.01) of Parlett.
Pasadena, Texas’ Hughes got off the starting line first in the 12-year-old age-group final and never looked back, defeating Pennsburg, Pa., racer Anna Willing on an 8.942 (8.94) to 8.934 (8.93) count.
What started as a promising heads-up 13-year-old class final in which both racers dialed 7.90 ended in heartbreak for Alvaton, Ky., runner Eli Wiggins when his car experienced mechanical troubles as he left the starting line and he was unable to finish the pass. That gave Appling, Ga., driver Pruett a free run to the title, and he eased his car to an 8.112 (7.90) to take home the Wally.
A reaction-time advantage of more than a tenth helped lift Taunton, Mass., competitor Cleary to victory in the 14-year-old age group. Cleary carried that lead to a 7.941 (7.90) to 8.015 (7.98) win against Markle, Ind.’s Gage Byerly.
Oklahoma City, Okla.’s Wilson tallied his second straight Eastern Conference Finals win and third overall Conference Finals title (2017 Western Conference Finals) when he outlasted Leicester, Mass., racer Kyle Rice in the 15-year-old bracket. Rice made Wilson’s job a little easier when he fouled at the Tree. Wilson posted a 7.981 (8.02) on his victory pass.
In the 16-17 age group, Hanover, Md., runner Moore denied Round Rock, Texas’ Graeme Rufenacth a clean sweep of this year’s Conference Finals events when he edged the Western Conference Final winner by .001-second in the title round. Rufenacht had the advantage at the Tree, but Moore, a runner-up at the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals, was able to outmaneuver him at the stripe, winning on an 8.124 (8.10) to 7.954 (7.95) count.
In the tightly contest team competition, Mason-Dixon Dragway Team 1 came out on top. Both Mason-Dixon Team 1 and Maple Grove Raceway Team 1 finished with 36 points, but Mason-Dixon came out on top in the tiebreaker thanks to the victories by Cramer and Moore. Capital City Motorsports Park Team 1 and Mobile Dragway Team were tied for third with 25 points apiece, and Ohio Valley Raceway Team 1, Huntsville Dragway Team 1, and Mason-Dixon Dragway Team 2 rounded out the top five with 23.
Special-award winners were Maddie Head (Best Appearing Car), Shawn Nardi (Best Engineered Car), Mason-Dixon Dragway (Best Appearing Team), and Huntsville Dragway (Team Spirit). Best Reaction Time awards went to Sadie McDaniel (6-9), Mallory Dietz (10), Dylan Carr (11), Jace Enseault (12), Hunter Craig (13), Head (14), Anna Canfield (15), and Katherine Craft (16-17). Drivers receiving Closet to Dial trophies were Madison Boyd (6-9), Paisley Anderson (10), Daniel Pettit (11), Blake Toler (12), Carleigh Garceau (13), Byerly (14), Patience Carrier (15), and Sebastian Hickey (16-17).
Evan Bryning, Sapulpa, Okla., 0.150, 11.934 (11.90 dial)def.
Kylie Mocny, Venice, Fla., 0.094, 12.006 (11.90)
Gavin Cramer, New Market, Md., 0.029, 8.953 (8.95)
Callie Fischer, Ferdinand, Ind., foul
Ayden Tilghman, Henrico, Va., 0.096, 8.901 (8.90)
Rowan Parlett, Mechanicsville, Md., 0.075, 9.036 (9.01)
Douglas Hughes, Pasadena, Texas, 0.029, 8.942 (8.94)
Anna Willing, Pennsburg, Pa., 0.082, 8.934 (8.93)
Kaden Pruett, Appling, Ga., 0.045, 8.112 (7.90)
Eli Wiggins, Alvaton, Ky., broke
Conor Cleary, Taunton, Mass., 0.023, 7.941 (7.90)
Gage Byerly, Markle, Ind., 0.151, 8.015 (7.98)
Gage Wilson, Oklahoma City, Okla., 0.034, 7.981 (8.02)
Kyle Rice, Leicester, Mass., foul
Dylan Moore, Hanover, Pa., 0.036, 7.954 (7.95)
Graeme Rufenacht, Round Rock, Texas, 0.017, 8.124 (8.10)