There are just two events left on the inaugural PDRA tour. Excitement is building as the time draws close to crown the first ever PDRA Champions. While all classes have produced phenomenal runs and thrilling competition, the Top Sportsman (TS) category will arguably be the class to watch as the season nears its end. There are only 190 points separating the top three competitors, making Top Sportsman the tightest points battle in the PDRA.
Rookie driver Dan Ferguson leads the pack with 1698 points. Fellow North Carolinian Dylan Stott trails only 120 points behind, taking over number two from the veteran of South Georgia, Bruce Thrift (1508 points), with his win at the last event in Tulsa.
Each of these drivers would like to claim their first World Championship, made all that much sweeter as going down in history as the original PDRA TS Champion. For Stott, however, a Championship would mean more than a resume` builder. It would continue the legacy of the widely known Stott name.
Quain Stott, cousin to Dylan, lays claim to the 2006 IHRA World Championship and has been a regular top contender in the Pro Mod ranks for decades. Sadly, he was sidelined for the 2014 season due to a lack of primary sponsorship. Before Quain rose to the top of his game his brother, Mitch, took home the 2003 IHRA Pro Mod Championship.
With Dylan’s win in Tulsa, he is one step closer to joining the fame of his cousins.
“It was a really good weekend,” he told about the Tulsa win. “I knew there wasn’t a full field so I didn’t really lean on my stuff too much. I just put it in bracket mode to see how consistent it was. I had tough opponents. I had to run Bruce [Thrift] second round. He’s always tough. It was really big to get by him because he was head of me in points. Then I had to run Billy Albert in the finals. He’s another really good guy and a tough guy, too. I had to run him in South Georgia when I won, also.
“My lucky break was probably first round. I was a little bit faster than we expected. I had to run Barry Daniluk. He red lighted and I was three under. The car was on after that. It was going a .29 every run.”
Stott qualified 13th at a 4.26 in his RJ Race Cars built, Stott Ford backed ‘67 Mustang. After his lucky run against Daniluk, Stott took out Bruce Thrift who broke out by .003. In the semi-finals he faced Darrell Reid. The pair was nearly identical on the tree, but Stott was much closer to his dial. In the finals, it was a reaction time advantage for Stott that gave him the win that moved him up to second in points.”
Despite being in a prime position for a run at the Championship now, Stott says it’s been difficult to get to this point in his season.
“It has a been a rough year to say the least, like with everything that happened in Memphis,” Stott said, referring to a return road accident that nearly demolished his front end. “Then a couple weeks before Tulsa I was running at a local track and had a nitrous explosion and messed my front end up again. So the guys at our body shop actually had that fixed the Tuesday before we left for Oklahoma. They kinda patched everything up just to get us out there. We were hoping it would stay together.
“It’s been a really rough year. We’ve fought back extremely hard. Hopefully it will all pay off in the end. I want to thank my dad, my grandpa, Jason Oteri, Keith Gilliland, Oakley Motorsports- they’ve been huge, Moroso and Hoosier Tire, and of course Stott Ford.”
Dylan, who graduated from the Junior Dragster ranks, actually began competition in Top Dragster when he was 16. He added the Mustang when he was 18 and has competed in both categories for the last four years.
“It is extremely hectic to run two cars,” Stott confessed. “But to get out of one car and go right back up with the next one is really fun. I really like it, and I actually I feel like it gives me a little bit of an advantage maybe because I’m getting an extra hit at the tree. I can see what the door car will do first and then dial the dragster off of that. It’s an advantage, but it’s really tough.”
It’s clear that the Tryon, NC native has a preference over his two classes: “The dragster is fairly predictable. It will go straight pretty much every pass. Top Sportsman cars are so ill handling. You don’t really know what they’re going to do so you’ve always got to be on your toes, especially bracket racing one because looking over and trying to drive the finish line while you’re doing all that makes it really, really difficult – and fun.”
Now Stott is taking his 180 MPH bracket car to Dragstock at Rockingham Dragway, where he hopes his efforts will be enough to close the gap on points leader Ferguson. “We’ve got a lot of stuff on the car that’s new. We’re trying to lose some weight to make sure we qualify for the last two because it’s probably going to get pretty crazy at Rockingham and Richmond as far as what it’s going to take to qualify. We’ve got the car set on kill, so hopefully we can get in, then set it back for bracket mode and hopefully win this deal. It’s definitely not going to be easy with Dan Ferguson and Bruce. Definitely can’t afford to give up anything.”
The quickest time the Stott’s Ford machine has recorded so far is a 4.21. Stott predicts this won’t be fast enough to qualify for Rockingham or Richmond, but is planning on implementing a third system of nitrous to make the show. Running the third system will also take the 22 year old Parts Manager one step closer to his goal of joining his cousins among the Pro Mod ranks.
“[Running Pro Mod] is definitely mine and my dad’s goal. We would need a lot of money to go professional racing, but that is definitely our long term goal. Seeing Quain and Mitch do that had a pretty big influence on what I wanted to do. I love the sport. I definitely want to live up to the name. For now, though, we’re focusing on the Top Sportsman Championship. We’ve got two World Champions in the family and I would like to join them. I think that would be pretty cool.”