SAN ANTONIO, Texas – They said it was too heavy. They said it was too different. But it is Jay Turner who is having the last laugh now.
Turner, who spent a majority of the offseason working on a new, unique Nitro Harley, debuted what his team calls the "big pig" in front of a large Friday crowd at the San Antonio Nitro Jam at San Antonio Raceway and drove the bike to a victory over friend and rival Jake Stordeur on opening night.
The new Nitro Harley, which is quite a bit longer than the other bikes with some added weight, blasted down the quarter-mile with dual flames kissing the ground as he drove to a pass of 6.526 seconds at 208.53 mph to storm past Stordeur who ran a 7.605 at 155.82 mph in his seventh career Nitro Jam win.
"Everyone had doubts about this bike, but we knew what it was capable of," Turner said. "We heard it all, but mostly people thought it was just too heavy to go fast. But with the way this thing is made, it gives us a few advantages over others that I think we can turn into some consistently fast passes throughout the season."
Other pro winners from Friday's San Antonio Nitro Jam included Texas native and fan favorite John Hale in the "Nitro Boss" AMSOIL Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car, Bill Evans in the "Black Pearl" Pro Fuel Dragster and Ron Maroney in the "Blind Faith" Fuel Altered.
Turner showed just what his new bike could do right from the start on Friday with an opening round shot of 6.470 at 198.59 mph to drive around defending champion Steve Dorn to reach to final. In the main event Turner left first and never looked back, lighting up the night sky with a flame show not often seen on a motorcycle straight through the trap. In the consolation round Dorn defeated Mike Scott.
Hale was another driver making a statement on Friday, winning in his very first passes in Nitro Jam competition. Hale, going against one of the toughest Funny Car fields of the season, bested last weekend's winner Mike Savage in "Candies & Hughes" in round one before meeting defending series champion Peter Gallen in the "Poverty Stricken" machine in the final.
Despite such a thrilling final round pairing, the show turned anticlimactic when Gallen broke and Hale took an easy stroll down the quarter-mile in a makeshift victory lap. With the loss, Gallen fell short again in what is the worst stretch of his young nitro career.
In the consolation rounds Dale Pulde put a check in the win column in his big return behind the wheel of the "War Eagle" in a win over Savage, Mitch King drove the "Brand X" Mustang to a win over Brad Thompson and Tim Boychuk rounded out the list with a solo pass in the "Troy Lee Designs" Pontiac.
Of all the classes running at Nitro Jam, the driver making it look the easiest is defending Fuel Altered champion Ron Maroney who drove to his third consecutive win Friday night at SAR. Maroney, behind the wheel of the Blind Faith machine, took out Jason Richey in round one and then put down a solid 6.531 at 191.65 mph to defeat rookie Kyle Hough's 6.816 at 206.42 mph in the final.
Rounding out the pro rounds on Friday was Bill Evans' big win in Pro Fuel Dragster. Evans had two very consistent laps on Friday on his way to a victory, ending the night with a win over Kristen Dennis for his ninth career Ironman. Evans ran a 5.539 at 250.28 mph in the final to Denis' 6.024 at 208.53 mph. In the consolation pairing Cherissa Smallwood defeated Robin Samsel.
One of the most anticipated matchups of the evening ended with a split between Grave Digger and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle as Randy Brown drove Digger to a victory in round one and drag racing newbie Joey Parnell claimed the second matchup.
The wild evening concluded with a few unexpected long runs into the nets when the Chattanooga Choo-Choo jet train went long, but the remaining jet dragster, jet funny cars and jet truck put on a tremendous show.
The San Antonio Nitro Jam will continue on Saturday with day two at San Antonio Raceway. Gates open at 11 a.m. with FanFest set to being at 6:30 p.m. and two rounds of Nitro Jam at 8 p.m.