Gallen Stops Pulde At Pittsburgh Strip
NEW ALEXANDRIA, Pa. — It was a special night for Peter Gallen.
Not only did Gallen get a big win over longtime IHRA legend Dale Pulde in front of a packed house at his home Pennsylvania track, but Gallen had extra motivation in the form of a little boy from the Pittsburgh area named Isaiah. Isaiah is suffering from a terminal illness and is enrolled in a special program that is near and dear to Gallen’s heart. Called Designing 4 Hope, the charity adorns the side of Gallen’s “Poverty Stricken” ’77 Monza and is a driving force behind Gallen’s racing operations.
And with Isaiah standing on the starting line cheering him on, Gallen powered to his first victory of the year and his 16th career win in AMSOIL Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car in front of a capacity crowd at the second annual Pittsburgh Nitro Jam at Pittsburgh Raceway Park, a win he dedicated to Isaiah and his family in victory lane.
“Having Isaiah and his mother here tonight was very special,” Gallen said. “We will be presenting Isaiah and his mother with the trophy and making this a big night for him. To help a kid that has had it rough in life and may not have long left on this earth is very rewarding for us as a team. It was definitely a bonus for us to have him here with us. He is definitely our good luck charm.”
Other pro winners from the Pittsburgh Nitro Jam were Bill Evans in Pro Fuel, Ron Maroney in Fuel Altered and Jay Turner in Nitro Harley.
Sportsman winners during Saturday’ Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour presented by AMSOIL race and Tournament of Champions qualifier were Scott Wasko (Columbia Station, Ohio) in Top Sportsman, Kevin Romeo (Hounastown, Pa.) in Top Dragster, Pete D’Agnolo (Rochester, N.Y.) in Super Stock, Michael Beard (Seagrove, N.C.) in Stock, Scott Campbell (Avonmore, Pa.) in Quick Rod, Will Hinkston (Fuquay Varina, N.C.) in Super Rod and Skip Saddler (Erie, Pa.) in Hot Rod.
Gallen’s victory was perhaps his sweetest yet. Not only did he visit victory lane in his home state of Pennsylvania and do so front of a few special guests, but he defeated three-time IHRA champion Dale Pulde to get that win.
Pulde, returning to the wheel of the legendary “War Eagle” Trans Am after an extended illness, is one of the most respected figures in the sport and the battle between new guard and old guard, east and west and about a dozen other storylines came to fruition in the staging lanes at Pittsburgh Raceway Park.
Pulde had low elapsed time of the opening round in his win over Mike McIntire, but it was Gallen that would ultimately have the last laugh.
In one of the best finals of the year Pulde pulled a slight advantage on the tree, but Gallen countered with the quickest and fastest lap of the weekend. With the car inches from the outside retaining wall, Gallen kept in the throttle and blasted to a 5.058, 224.55 on the 1,000 foot track to Pulde’s 5.246, 212.06 to give the defending Funny Car champ his first win of 2012 and a special Ironman he collected against one of the all-time greats of the sport.
“We were talking prior to the round about how long some of Dale’s crew guys have been around the sport and this team. So I told them that with all of the cumulative experience of his team I should get a head start or something,” Gallen said with a laugh. “Of course, he wanted no part of that. Honestly, he is a legend so it does give me gratification getting this win and taking out a left coast car.”
In the consolation round McIntire defeated Troy Martin in the “Chi-Town Hustler” machine.
In the remaining nitro classes it was more of the same as all three winners continued long winning streaks.
Florida native Bill Evans continued perhaps the longest streak of the season as he visited the final round for the seventh time in seven races, collecting four wins during that span. On Saturday Evans defeated Kristen Dennis in round one with low ET of the night and then took down Robin Samsel in the final. Evans ran a 4.563, 256.26 in the final while Samsel went up in smoke soon after stabbing the throttle.
With the win Evans becomes the first driver of the year to reach 200 points and has already all but sewn up his second Pro Fuel title.
In Nitro Harley Jay turner continued the longest consecutive winning streak with his fifth victory in a row over Jake Stordeur. Turner had two dominating rounds to keep his streak alive, blowing by a smoking Mike Scott in round one and then blasting to a 5.459, 202.16 in the final to easily get by Stordeur.
In the consolation pairing Steve Dorn defeated Mike Scott.
Arizona native Ron Maroney wrapped up the nitro winners from the Pittsburgh Nitro Jam as he defeated rookie Kyle Hough in the final. Maroney won round one with a less than stellar pass over Ron Hope, but got his act together in the final with a 5.057, 216.35 to defeat Hough who ran a 5.600, 168.10. The win was Maroney’s fifth of the year.