Drag Illustrated Issue 182, May / June 2023 - Page 126

Lyle Barnett ’ s Rivals Night Win Over J . R . Gray Adds Fuel to Rivalry

Rivals Night at the World Series of Pro Mod featured a slew of marquee grudge races during the second qualifying session Friday evening , none bigger perhaps than the ongoing battle between Lyle Barnett and J . R . Gray .
Barnett , piloting Chip King ’ s 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 , ran a 3.665 at 202.91 , easily defeating Gray , who red-lit on his way to a 3.739-second pass at 198.44 .
“ I got a little bird in my ear that said he was talking about how he was gonna drag me down the racetrack ,” said Barnett . “ He turned it two-hundredths red . I was . 008 green and still drug his ass to every timing cone down Bradenton Motorsports Park .”
The pass qualified Barnett 22nd in the incredibly tight field of 32 cars competing for $ 100,000 . And despite a disappointing loss to Rob Cox in round one , Barnett can still claim bragging rights from Rivals Night .
“ We were the only roots car in the field , so that whuppin ’ I put on J . R . Gray really set the tone for us ,” Barnett said . “ That ’ s two in a row – he ’ ll be lucky to pay his mortgage with all the money I ’ ve taken from him in the past couple months .” – CRAIG COOK DI

Scott Palmer Relishes Unlikely Rivals Night Pairing

The “ People ’ s Champion ” Scott Palmer took preparing for the World Series of Pro Mod seriously . He spent two weeks at Bradenton Motorsports Park testing his ‘ 63 Corvette .
Palmer didn ’ t so much feel the pressure of the richest Pro Mod race but rather tension . “ The best of the best were on the property ,” he says .
“ I think out of respect for all these guys who are world champions , I had to give it my best .”
One of those champions invited to the WSOPM was multi-time NHRA and IHRA world champion Rickie Smith . “ He ’ s the ultimate legend ,” Palmer says .
During the offseason , Smith helped Palmer with his clutch-equipped , supercharged Corvette , setting up the suspension in his Pro Mod . However , when it came to WSOPM Friday Night Rivals , the pair set their friendship aside to line up side-by-side on the starting line .
“ The race with Rickie and I would never have happened in a million years – not without the WSOPM . We ’ re Top Fuel guys ,” Palmer said , referring to himself and his crew , who usually compete in NHRA Top Fuel . “ Other than getting Rickie in a Top Fuel car – never say never – we wouldn ’ t have been able to race .” – KAYLA ZADEL DI
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