Bristol Dragway regular Carson Brown drove to victory in the 11-year-old age group during the NHRA Junior Drag Racing League Eastern Conference Finals presented by at his home track last weekend. Bristol Dragway Team 1 and Bristol Dragway Team 3 tied for third in the team championship.

Blountville’s Brown notched the victory in Thunder Valley when he stopped Autumn Greene, of Bradenton, Fla., in the 11-year-old class title round. Greene had the better reaction time, .021 to .067, but Brown was able to drive around her and win on an 8.928 (8.91) to 8.965 (8.90) count.

Eight individual racers — Thomas Oates (age 8-9), Alec Harper (10), Brown (11), Nicholas Altenbach (12), Jackson Core (13), Schuyler Turner (14), Morgen Wood (15), and Cody Barnhart (16-17) — and the team from Huntsville Dragway in Huntsville, Ala., added their names to the list of NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League National Championships/Conference Finals champions when they scored top honors Saturday. All were first-time winners.

Huntsville Dragway Team 1 won a heated team championship race that had 21 teams finish within 10 points of one another. Huntsville got its biggest boost from 16-17-year-old champion Cody Barnhart, who helped his team tally 31 points for the No. 1 spot. When Altenbach turned on the win light in the 12-year-old final, he lifted National Trail Raceway Team 3 into the second spot with 29 markers, edging out Bristol Dragway Team 1, No Problem Raceway Park Team 2, and Bristol Dragway Team 3, all of whom earned 28 points to tie for third overall.

Another Bristol regular, Ben Denton, of Bristol, Va., finished as the runner-up in the 16-17 category. Barnhart, who hails from Cullman, Ala., saved his best run for last, cutting a near-perfect .007 light and posting a dead-on 8.100 (8.10) to stop Denton, who crossed second with a .022-initiated 7.931 (7.92).

Oates, a member of the Mason-Dixon Dragway team who hails from Clearbrook, Va., took home the 8-9 age group Wally when he bested Flemington, N.J., runner Anthony Romaniello in the final. Romaniello made Oates’ job a little easier when he red-lighted. Oates cut a .120 light and ran a 13.053 (12.94 dial) en route to victory.

A red-light start also determined the outcome of the 10-year-old final. This time, Clinton, Ind., racer David Giovanini fouled out by .004-second, giving the win to Meansville, Ga., competitor Harper. Harper, who was racing for Silver Dollar Raceway, ran a .108-initiated 8.925 (8.90) on his victory pass.

Altenbach, who traveled from Westerville, Ohio, led the 12-year-old age group final from start to finish. He left the starting line first, .100 to .145, then posted a closer 8.952 (8.91) to get the nod over Princeton, W.Va., racer Jackson Bailey, who crossed second with a 10.765 (10.71).

Kirsten Smith had the advantage on the starting line in the 13-year-old final, cutting a .036 light to the .053 of Crowley, La., racer Core, but the Huntington, Tenn., runner broke out by .005-second. That opened the door for No Problem Raceway Park’s Core, who ran right on his 7.90 dial to turn on the win light.

Fostoria, Ohio’s Turner, who was part of National Trail Team 1, put together a strong .001-initiated 7.948 (7.93) run in the 14-year-old category final to earn top honors over 2008 Eastern Conference Finals champion and Ponchatoula, La., resident Alyssa Hickey, who red-lighted away an on-the-dial 7.908.

Wood, a Wabash, Ind., racer who borrowed a car for the event, went the distance in the 15-year-old age group, defeating Amherst, Ohio’s Annie Kordeleski in the final. Wood, a member of the Muncie Dragway team, ran an on-the-dial 8.197 to turn on the win light against Kordeleski, who was slightly better on the Tree but ran further off her dial with a 7.943 (7.90).

The competition for the Team Spirit award was hotly contested again with several teams making a strong run for the coveted title. With a strong presence in the grandstands throughout eliminations and its storm-themed decorations, Atlanta Dragway scored the trophy, beating out National Trail Raceway, Tri-State Dragway, Route 66 Raceway, and others. 

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