First-time winners dominated the 2014 NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League Western Conference Finals held at rocky Mountain Raceway outside of Salt Lake City, one of two national events for drivers in the NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League.
All eight of the age-group winners — Kaylee Haarbrink (age 8-9), Braden Bettis (10), Jason Horridge (11), Cadie Del Toro (12), Jenna Michaud (13), Seth Andersen (14), Shelby Rae Schoenfeld (15), and Travis Van Maarion (16-17) — were first-time victors, as was team champ Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. Only Jr. Comp winner Joe Harless was a repeat winner; Harless won the 15-year-old age group in 2011.
Rocky Mountain Raceways made its debut as the host track for the Western Conference Finals, and its racers enjoyed a fair amount of success, tallying three wins.
In the team competition, Wild Horse Pass dominated with its teams finishing first, second, and tied for third. Wild Horse Pass Team 2 tallied 19 points to win the championship, followed by Wild Horse Pass Team 3 with 17. Wild Horse Pass Team 1 and Rocky Mountain Team 4 both earned 14 to finish tied for third. Bandimere Speedway Team 2 and Barona Team 2 tied for fifth with 12 points.
Drivers were also competing for special Battle of the Best: East vs. West trophies during eliminations. The driver with the best package of eliminations in each age group received a special trophy. Trophies will also be awarded at the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League Eastern Conference Finals presented by ViperizerRacing.com in two weeks. The driver with the best overall package from both events will receive a custom-painted helmet from Brando Custom Paint. Joshua Kirk, age 15, is the current frontrunner for the overall award after putting together a .010 package. Kirk received a custom trophy for his effort and will await the top performers at the Eastern Conference Finals to see if he will win the helmet.
Other Battle of the Best class winners were Gage Wilson (age 8-9, .042 package), Ryan Mason (10, .073), Nolan Oliveira (11, .058), Tyler Ellison (12, .045), Jenna Michaud (13, .028), Matthew Michaud (14, .030), and Carina Wilkerson (16-17, .012).
In the hotly contested Team Spirit contest Barona 1/8-Mile Drag Strip outlasted Western Colorado Dragway and Auto Club Famoso Raceway for the award. Other special-awards winners were Parker Haarbrink (Brando Custom Paint Best Overall Appearing Car), Gartner (Brando Custom Paint Best Appearing Theme Car), Mason (Brando Custom Paint Coolest Car), and Western Colorado Dragway (Best Appearing Track).
8-9 Year Old: Kaylee Haarbrink, South Jordan, Utah, .222 seconds, 12.882 seconds, (12.75) def. Jessica Boardman, Las Vegas, .143, 12.722, (12.80)
10 Year Old: Braden Bettis, DeLeon, Texas, .108, 8.943, (8.90) def. Grace Doubleday, Temecula, Calif., .250, 9.505, (9.57)
11 Year Old: Jason Horridge, Victorville, Calif., .071, 8.943, (9.00) def. Jack Stanfield, Placerville, Calif., -.060, 8.872, (8.92)
12 Year Old: Cadie Del Toro, Las Vegas, .169, 9.770, (9.55) def. Hanna Ellison, Las Vegas, -.003, 8.928, (8.90)
13 Year Old: Jenna Michaud, Edmonton, Alta., .014, 7.964, (7.95) def. Joey Leal, Loomis, Calif., .068, 7.903, (7.91)
14 Year Old: Seth Andersen, Kearns, Utah, .029, 8.975, (8.93) def. Codi Bettis, DeLeon, Texas, .065, 7.887, (7.90)
15 Year Old: Shelby Rae Schoenfeld, Magna, Utah, .042, 8.175, (8.13) def. Sierra Gartner, Wellington, Colo., .056, 7.946, (7.90)
16-17 Year Old: Travis Van Maarion, Medicine Hat, Alta., .001, 7.999, (7.98) def. Madison Whitten, Corona, Calif., .007, 7.915, (7.90)
Jr. Comp: Mikaylah Harless, Colorado Springs, Colo., .036, 6.860, (6.90) def. AJ Thomas, Chowchilla, Calif., .061, 6.852, (6.90)