Despite winning three of the five Pro Open Outlaw races contested within nine PDRA events this year--including the PDRA World Finals--Phil Esz still finished runner-up to Jody Stroud in points.
"We had an oil leak and got shut off in round one at Rockingham and that really cost us," Esz said after defeating Stroud by eighth-thousandths of a second in the final round at VMP. "We'll be back next year, though."
In the biggest turnout for the class all season, 11 cars made qualifying attempts and Paul Molnar led an eight-car field into eliminations with a straight-off-the-trailer 3.607 at 204.26-mph pass in his '04 Spitzer dragster. Stroud qualified third with Bryan Keller sandwiched between him and Molnar, with Esz completing the top half of the field.
In eliminations, Esz set low ET and top speed for the meet and a potential new ET record with a 3.604 at 204.76 win over Andrew Johnson in round one while Stroud easily handled Eddie Careccia with a 3.68 on the opposite side of the ladder. Round two, the semis, saw Esz run 3.74 to get by Robert Frigon, but he lost lane choice for the final to a 3.65 solo run by Stroud after Keller's car broke.
In the final, Stroud left with a sizable .032 starting line advantage, but his 3.67 at 200.17 fell short by seven thousandths of Esz's 3.63 at 201.91 that also served as an official back-up for the ET record.
Later, Esz revealed that with the help of Top Sportsman racer Mick Snyder he'd made a hasty transmission change between the semis and final round. He also thanked GALOT Racing and Rick Hickman for their help and dedicated the win to the memory of his father, Mike, whose birthday was the same day as the PDRA race.