Rupert Thunders at the Northern Nationals
Text by Mike Sopko Jr.
Photos by Mike Sopko Sr. & Mike Sopko Jr.
Jason Rupert’s aptly named “Rolling Thunder” AA/FC lead a group of hard-charging floppers at the Mother Nature hampered Northern Nationals. A stout field of 13 funny cars came to “The Fastest Track in Michigan” in hopes of making the field at the season- ending event. Also on the line was the AMS Oil Funny Car championship that was still up for grabs with four pilots all having a mathematical opportunity to take home the season crown. Leading the way was Jason Rupert who held the lead over Shawn Bowen, Mike McIntire Jr., and Mark Sanders, who had an outside chance at the title.
Rupert's "Rolling Thunder"
The event kicked off Friday evening with what was supposed to be two scheduled qualifying runs. Mother Nature had other plans, however, as she dumped buckets of rain on the property. Through a great deal of hard work the US 131 Motorsports Park team was able to get one Pro qualifying session in. Rupert kept his stranglehold on the field with an outstanding 5.57 pass. That was followed by Bowen and McIntire who each visited the 5.60’s and then Marc White in his Frank and Debra Ousley owned “Crop Duster.”
Marc White faced John Hale in the first pair of the first round.
John Hale's "One Bad Texan"
Other cars in the preliminary eight car field also included NHRA Big Show stalwarts John Hale in his “One Bad Texan” and Tim Wilkerson crew chief, Richard Hartman, in his family’s “Running Wild” Camaro. Greg Jacobsmeyer also bumped into the initial field with a sub-6 second pass. Bruce Litton anchored the top eight after the first night of qualifying with a 6.09. The biggest surprise coming out of qualifying was that championship contender Mark Sanders had gone up in smoke and was not currently qualified.
Richard Hartman earned the bump spot with 6.01
Bruce Litton's "U.S. Male" tribute
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