Western Conference Finals
Each season, racers from throughout the western United States and Canada take their shot at Wallys and a share of prize money during the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing Western Conference Finals. The event features racers from all tracks in Divisions 6 and 7 and some from Divisions 4 and 5. Each NHRA member track may send an unlimited number of teams of 10 racers to the event. The event awards a Wally and prize money to the winner in each of the eight age categories — 6-9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16-17 — and a Wally to each member of the winning team.
2015 Jr. Drag Racing Western Conference Finals
Rocky Mountain Raceways (West Valley City, Utah)
July 18, 2015
Poe’s record third win highlights Western Conference Finals
2015 Western Conference Finals champions
2015 Western Conference Finals runners-up
2015 Western Conference Finals team champion
2015 Western Conference Finals Team Spirit winner
Cade Poe became the first three-time Conference Finals/National Championships winner in the history of the NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League when he outlasted the field in the 13-year-old age group. Joining Poe in the winner’s circle were Isabella Scofield (age 6-9), Lilian Cacioppo (10), Ryan Mason (11), Damon Bustamante (12), Dylan Oliveira (14), Tristan Marti (15), Jake Jones (16-17), AJ Thomas (Jr. Comp), and Sacramento Raceway (team champion).
Poe, a Los Alamitos, Calif., racer who was part of the Auto Club Famoso Raceway team, added this year’s 13-year-old age group Wally to the ones he earned in 2012 (10) and 2013 (11) when he won a tight double-breakout final against Kate Worsham, who resides in Villa Park, Calif., and was part of the Barona 1/8-Mile Drag Strip team. Both Poe and Worsham cut .025 lights in the final, but Poe was closer to his dial in the 7.88 (7.90 dial) to 7.89 (7.92) contest.
Poe wasn’t the only multi-time winner at this year’s event. Thunder Valley Raceway Park’s Marti, who was a winner alongside Poe at the 2012 event, picked up his second Western Conference Finals title by outlasting Josiah Nava in the 15-year-old age bracket. In the final, Nava, a Bandimere Speedway racer from Avondale, Colo., left the starting line .002-second too soon. That gave the automatic win to Noble, Okla., racer Marti, who cut a .081 light and posted a 7.86 (7.90).
West Jordan, Utah, competitor Jones also picked up his second Western Conference Finals victory. Jones, who raced for host track Rocky Mountain Raceways, got a reaction-time edge of more than a tenth over Trey Vetter, a Henderson, Nev., racer who was part of the The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and turned it into a 7.95 (7.90) to 7.99 (7.97) holeshot win. Jones was also a winner at the 2008 event.
Scofield, who hails from Winslow, Ariz., and was part of Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park’s team, turned a .030 to .111 reaction-time advantage into a 12.16 (11.98) to 12.58 (12.39) win against Las Vegas, Nev., runner Jessica Boardman, in the 6-9 age group final.
Cacioppo, an Orangevale, Calif., resident who was part of the winning Sacramento team, also had the reaction-time edge in the 10-year-old class final, and she used it to defeat Colorado Springs, Colo., racer Donovan Harless, 9.57 (9.47) to 8.93 (8.90).
San Clemente, Calif.’s Mason chalked up a second win for Wild Horse Pass when Brittney Sturdevant, a Draper, Utah, resident who was part of the Las Vegas team, went red in the 11-year-old age-group final. Mason cut a .077 light and ran right on his 9.09 dial en route to victory.
After finishing as the runner-up in Friday’s Top of the Mountain race, Bustamante, a member of the Barona team from San Dimas, Calif., went the distance in today in the12-year-old category. In the final, Jack Stanfield, who lives in Placerville, Calif., and was racing for Sacramento, had the slight reaction-time edge, but Bustamante ran closer to the dial in the 8.93 (8.91) to 9.22 (9.19) contest.
Oliveira, a Famoso competitor from Cypress, Calif., got the automatic nod in the 14-year-old title round when Joey Leal, a Sacramento Raceway competitor who lives in Loomis, Calif., went red. Oliveira cut a .042 light and ran an 8.05 (8.08).
After finishing as the runner-up in last year’s Jr. Comp exhibition at the Western Conference Finals, Chowchilla, Calif., driver Thomas was able to turn on one more win light this time around in the class that runs on a 6.90 index. In the final, Thomas cut a strong .009 light and he used it to beat Mesa, Ariz., competitor Brandon Marcheski, 6.940 to 6.944.
Bolstered by Cacioppo’s win and the runner-up finish by Stanfield, Sacramento Raceway Team 1 took home this year’s team championship. The group tallied 19 points. Barona 1/8-Mile Drag Strip finished second with 18 points, followed by The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Team 2 (17), Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park (17), and Auto Club Famoso Raceway Team 2 (16).
The competition for the Team Spirit award was tough once again this year with several teams contending for the title, which ultimately went to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Other special-award winners were Jordan Dyer (Best Overall Appearing Car), Dylan Horridge (Best Appearing Theme Car), Cason Segundo (Coolest Car), and Auto Club Famoso Raceway (Best Appearing Track).
Trophies were also presented to the drivers who cut the best reaction time on winning run in round one and to the drivers who had the best package on a winning run in round one. The Best Reaction Time award winners were Cy Mitchell (6-9), Lacey Martin (10), Mason (11), Maverick Molloy (12), Korban Lewis (13), Derrick Hegwood (14), Amy Book (15), and Shelby Rae Schoenfeld (16-17). Closest to Dial winners were Jake Taylor (6-9), Harless (10), Aaron Covington (10), Cavica Wilkerson (11), Molloy (12), Poe (13), Oliveira (14), Blake Johnson (15), and Schoenfeld (16-17).
For full event results and other stories from the Western Conference Finals, click here.