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NHRA Summit Series | Pacific Division 7 Season Review

NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Racing Series
Pacific Division 7

by Kirk Walton / Photos by Bob Johnson Photography

Pacific Division 7 Season Review

The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for 2020 started the season in January. We made it through March before COVID-19 shut most of the racing down the rest of the year. The last points race was in July but the track was still trying to get races in as late as December. Thanks to Jeff Foster and the crew at LVMS for trying their best and doing a great job of getting the other NHRA races and series in this year in an almost impossible schedule! Their work this year will not be forgotten. With the shortened schedule, instead of the usual three worst races of the year being dropped, only one would be not counted.

NHRA Jeff Durfey
Jeff Durfey on “BOHICA” in March 2020 at LVMS

Jeff Durfey from West Jordan, Utah held off the usual strong challenge and is the LVMS Summit ET Motorcycle champion for 2020. He held off former champ Kahea Woods by just 5 points at the end to win (299 to 295). The third was Rick Newport at 249 points. Larry Mota and Justin King tied for fourth to round out the top five with 237 points each.

Race #1

The first race in January was a double one with races on Saturday the 25th and Sunday the 26th. Race #1 saw Dave “Wheels” Wheeler of Murray, UT take the #1 qualifying spot with a perfect .000! Tracy Giles was next with Jeremy Bates third. We ended up with a great turnout of 28 bikes/sleds for race #1. Rick Newport, Bluffdale, UT ended up beating Ken Giles, West Valley City, UT in the final making up a small reaction time disadvantage (.021 vs .005) when Giles couldn’t run his number. Newport ran 8.137@149.98mph on the 8.07 dial, Giles an 11.606@105.11mph on the 11.52.

Race #2

Sunday’s race 2 saw 25 bikes/sleds with the #1 qualifier going to Ron Alves. The second spot was Dave “Wheels” Wheeler and the third spot was Mike Cragun. Mike made it to the finals but it was Kahea Woods with the win. Kahea ran an 8.591@143.58mph on the 8.53 with a .023 reaction time to Mike’s 10.281@125.48mph on the 10.21 with a .052 reaction time.

Race #3

We had some great weather and a great turnout of racers on February 15 & 16 for the triple race weekend. Race 3 on Saturday morning we had 31 riders! With a few having problems it was 28 for the rest of the weekend. Mike Cragun seemed to have the most damage but Matt Fredericks let him ride the ‘Busa for the rest of the weekend which was very nice. Race 3 I got the first-round bye with a .004 qualifying effort. Mike Cragun was second with a .022 and Gary Oaks and Justin King both had.025 reaction times. Jeff Durfey ended up taking the win over Kahea Woods. Kahea had a nice light of .012 but ran an 8.766@149.95mph on the 8.69. Durfey ran a 9.101@144.72mph on the 9.09 with a .062 light.

Race #4

Later on, Saturday saw Rick Newport taking the #1 qualifying spot with a .006, Gary Oaks second with a .020, Ken Giles with a .023 along with Larry Mota. Justin King ended up beating Mo Rider in the final of race #4. He had a .002 reaction time to Mo’s .066 and ran a 10.278 @113.27mph on the 10.26. Mo ran a 9.249@146.86mph on the 8.92.

Race #5

On Sunday, I (Kirk Walton) ended up with the #1 spot with a .004. Justin King was second and Don Nielsen third (sorry I don’t have the times). Mo Rider was having shifting problems at the start of the weekend but got it all figured out and ended up winning on Sunday over Leo Shaver. Leo had the better light (.015 vs .035) but couldn’t run his number of 9.03 with a 9.145@137.92mph to Mo’s 8.962@137.22mph on the 8.90.

Race #6

We had a great weekend of racing, March 7th, and 8th. The temps were in the ’70s and the wind didn’t get too bad. We had 23 shows on Saturday and 20 riders on Sunday. We had a crash with one of the Quick 16 cars that really made a mess (the driver was ok thankfully!). So Jeff and the staff just got the other two lanes ready since it was going to take a LONG time to clean up all the mess. So thanks to the LVMS crew for making the decision and also getting the other two lanes ready quickly!

#1 Qualifying was a .001 by Kahea Woods. Matt O’Dell was second with a .004, Larry Mota was third with a .009, Leo Shaver just behind at .010, with Wayne Taylor #5 with a .012.

We had a ton of red lights in the first round with five! The second round calmed down a little with only 2 reds. In the final, it was Matt Fredericks getting the win over Craig Jensen. Jensen’s Polaris snowmobile got a huge holeshot (.019 vs .111) but spun and couldn’t run his number of 9.72, running 9.871 at 131.61mph with Fredericks running a 10.014 at 132.22mph on the 10.00 dial. This was Matt’s first win in Las Vegas.

On Sunday, another .001 was the #1 qualifier but this time it was Mike Cragun getting it. Rick Newport was right behind with a .004, Gary Oaks third with a .015, Craig Jensen with a .005, and Wayne Taylor fifth with a .026. Again a lot of foul starts with five in the first round again. In round two there weren’t any at all. In the final, it was an all Newport/Woods/Mota Sports final with Larry Mota taking the win over Rick Newport. Mota had a great light (.007 vs .063) and ran a 9.083 at 145.86mph on his 9.07 dial-in time. Newport ran it at 8.179 at 163.71mph on his 8.13 dial. So after the weekend, Jeff Durfey is the points leader.

After this race was COVID-19 took over then LVMS tried their best to get the rest of the season in. So they moved the next race to July.

Race #8

Ten bikes that showed up with Rick Newport getting the #1 qualifier with a .002. He hurt the engine and couldn’t continue in eliminations. Justin King had perfect light in the first round for the win over David Phillips. Larry Mota was trying out his new dragbike and ran dead on but was a little slow on the reaction time against Jeff Durfey. It was Jeff Durfey making it to the final against Kahea Woods but gave up the stripe at the end and Kahea took the win. But it kept Jeff in the lead for the season points. And that would be the last points race of the season.

NHRA Jeff Durfey
Jeff Durfey wins race #3 on February 15, 2020

It wasn’t for the lack of trying by The Strip manager, Jeff Foster. He kept working hard to get us back racing all the way to December but it wasn’t to be. Congratulations to Jeff Durfey on his first Summit ET championship in Las Vegas, he won one at Rocky Mountain Raceway in Salt Lake City a few years ago. Jeff added, “I’d like to thank Kenzie and Cole Fivecoat for being the best crew.”

We had 31 bikes/sleds register and race this season. Here are the top ten points standings:

  1. Jeff Durfey 299
  2. Kahea Woods 294
  3. Rick Newport 249
  4. Justin King 237
  5. Larry Mota 237
  6. Mo Rider 219
  7. Mike Cragun 214
  8. Mathew Fredericks 207
  9. Leo Shaver 204
  10. Tracy Giles 192

We want to dedicate the 2020 season to long-time friend Randy Clickner who lost his battle with cancer on November 22, 2020. He was a Las Vegas area paramedic and we all know him as drag strip manager Jeff Foster’s right-hand man. He will be missed greatly by all.

Check out the season photo galleries by Bob Johnson at  https://bobjohnson.zenfolio.com/

– Kirk Walton
NHRA #7151

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