Connor Boyd (age 6-9), Jesse Varner (10), Easton Hodge (11), Joey Torchia (12), Dylan MacNicol (13), Jude Kersnason (14), Dexter Gomez (15), Logan Grayson (16-17), and Beech Bend Raceway Park (team) took top honors during the NHRA Right Trailers Eastern Conference Finals presented by MikeBosRacing.com at Bristol Dragway. All are first-time winners of the national event for racers in the NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League.
Boyd, who hails from Bunker Hill, W.Va., got the automatic nod in the 6-9 class final when Grundy, Va., runner Carson Blankenship red-lighted. Boyd celebrated with a 12.039 (12.01 dial) victory pass.
A foul start also determined the outcome of the 10-year-old group title round. This time, Auburn, Ala.’s Braiten Britton left too soon, turning on the win light in the lane of Temple, Ga., racer Varner. After cutting a .012 light, Varner posted a 9.010 (9.03) en route to victory.
Newcastle, Okla.’s Camden Teel’s bid to win a second Eastern Conference Finals and third overall Conference Finals title ended when he fouled out in the 11-year-old bracket final. That turned on Franklin, Ky., driver Hodge’s win light. Hodge posted an 8.827 (8.92) on his winning run.
The red-light streak continued in the 12-year-old class final with Selma, Ind., competitor turning on the red bulb against Galloway, N.J., runner Torchia. Torchia finished with a 9.091 (9.06).
In 2021, MacNicol, who calls North Port, Fla., home, came up one win light short of winning an Eastern Conference Finals. This year, he was able to get it done, defeating New Tripoli, Pa.’s Ella Kershner for the 13-year-old age-group Wally. MacNicol got off the starting line first and used the more than six-hundredths advantage to best Kershner in a 7.988 (7.90) to 8.009 (7.96) contest.
Madison, Tenn.’s Hope Capley, a winner at the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals, had the reaction-time edge in the 14-year-old bracket tile round, but Kersnason, of Port Charlotte, Fla. was able to drive around her and win with an on-the-dial 8.119. Capley finished as runner-up with an 8.077 (8.04).
Amherst, Ohio’s Gomez was better on the Tree in the 15-year-old class final, and that proved key. Youngsville, N.C., racer Kamryn Love carried too much momentum at the top end while trying to catch Gomez, breaking out with a 7.950 (7.97). Gomez eased his entry to a safe 8.108 (8.08) to claim top honors.
The final final of the event was a thriller decided by .003-second. Murfreesboro, Tenn., competitor Grayson left the starting line .007-second ahead of Hanson, Ky.’s Hunter Davis, before easing his entry to an 8.249 (8.23) to best the slightly closer 8.035 (8.02) of Davis.
Led by 11-year-old class champion Hodge and 14-year-old bracket runner-up, Beech Bend Raceway Park Team 1 earned the team title, tallying 33 points. It’s the first team title for the Bowling Green, Ky., track. Mason-Dixon Dragway Team 2 and Bradenton Motorsports Park Team 1 tied for second with 27 points apiece. Mobile Dragway Team 5, Numidia Dragway Team 1, and Capital City Motorsports Park Team 2 finished another point back to tie for fourth.
Beech Bend also won the Team Spirit award. Other special-award winners were National Trail Raceway (Best Appearing Track), Gavin Roth (Best Engineered Car), and Kylie Varier (Best Appearing Car).
Connor Boyd, Bunker Hill, W.Va., .044, 12.039 (12.01 dial) def.
Carson Blakenship, Grundy, Va., -.029, 12.424 (12.35)
Jesse Varner, Temple, Ga., .012, 9.010 (9.03) def.
Braiten Britton, Auburn, Ala., -.035, 8.997 (8.99)
Easton Hodge, Franklin, Ky., .031, 8.827 (8.92) def.
Camden Teel, Newcastle, Okla., -.018, 8.957 (8.97)
Joey Torchia, Galloway, N.J., .055, 9.091 (9.06) def.
Korbin Bray, Selma, Ind., -.039, 9.296 (9.33)
Dylan MacNicol, North Port, Fla., .022, 7.988 (7.90) def.
Ella Kershner, New Tripoli, Pa., .084, 8.009 (7.96)
Jude Kersnason, Port Charlotte, Fla., .064, 8.119 (8.11) def.
Hope Capley, Madison, Tenn., .044, 8.077 (8.04)
Dexter Gomez, Amherst, Ohio, .043, 8.108 (8.08) def.
Kamryn Love, Youngsville, N.C., .060, 7.950 (7.97)
Logan Grayson, Murfreesboro, Tenn., .052, 8.249 (8.23) def.
Hunter Davis, Hanson, Ky., .059, 8.035 (8.02)