Champions Crowned at Western Conference Finals
June 25, 2022

Graeme Rufenacht earned the second NHRA RightTrailers Western Conference Finals Wally of his career to highlight the 2022 edition of the national-level event for racers in the NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League. Rufenacht outlasted the field in the 16-17 age group. He was joined in the winner’s circle at Bandimere Speedway by first-time champs Oakley White (6-9), Aiden Rizner (10), Blaine Denunzio (11), Kane Kern (12), Justice Brown (13), Parker Stewart (14), Jamie Johnson (15), and Ayden Pires (Jr. Comp). Houston Raceway Park Team 1 claimed the team championship.

Tecumseh, Okla., racer White outlasted Erie, Colo., driver Eli Johnson to claim top honors in the 6-9 age group. In the final, Johnson had the slight advantage at the starting line, but White was able to drive around him and win on a 12.651 (12.60 dial) to 14.760 (14.48) count.

Rizner, from Longmont, Colo., got a reaction-time advantage of more than six-hundredths in the 10-year-old bracket final, and he turned it into a 9.026 (8.92) to 9.703 (9.55) win against Lehi, Utah’s Bentley Clement.

Denunzio made the long haul from Corona, Calif., pay off when he outlasted Sedgwick, Kan., competitor Karson Roberts in a great title round match in the 11-year-old category. Roberts had the slight lead off the starting line, .010 to .016, but Denunzio outmaneuvered him downtrack, getting the win with an 8.954 (8.92) vs. the 8.998 (8.91) of Roberts.

Kern, a runner-up at the 2020 Western Conference Finals, was able to go the distance this year, wheeling his Pierre Part, La.-based dragster past Jackson Melchert, of Owatonna, Minn., in the 12-year-old age-group final, a heads-up match in which both drivers dialed 8.90 seconds. Kern left the starting line first, and he turned the advantage into an 8.961 to 8.968 victory.

A reaction-time advantage of nearly one-tenth helped lift Yermo, Calif., driver Brown to victory in the 13-year-old class. Casper, Wyo.’s Kody Havens ran right on his 8.02 dial, but it wasn’t enough to make up the difference Brown got at the start. He clocked a 7.967 (7.93) to turn on the win light.

Herriman Utah’s Stewart put together a .007-second package to turn on the win light in the 14-year-old class final. After cutting a .005 light, Stewart ran a 7.902 (7.90) to defeat Sugarland, Texas’ Mario Gonzalez, who didn’t go down without a fight, pairing a .003 reaction with a .001-under 7.969.

Johnson, who hails from Palisade, Colo., nabbed the 15-year-old class Wally when he bested Pearland, Texas, driver Camron Nelson in the title round. Both drivers broke out with Johnson’s 8.675 (8.70) getting the win against Nelson’s 7.889 (7.93).

Rufenacht added this year’s 16-17 age-group Wally to the one he earned in the 12-year-old bracket in 2017, defeating Lakewood, Colo.’s Andrew Hushman in the final. Rufenacht got off the starting line first and never looked back, defeating Hushman, 8.082 (8.00) to 7.970 (7.98).

In Jr. Comp, it was a battle of California racers vying for top honors. When the dust settled, Madera’s Pires got the better of Bakersfield’s Ethan Williams. Pires and Williams left the starting line within .002-second of one another and stayed glued together all the way downtrack with Pires’ 7.114 (7.10) turning on the win light against Williams’ 7.161 (7.10).

Bolstered by Rufenacht’s win in the 16-17 age group, Houston Raceway Park Team 1 claimed the team championship. This is the third team title for the Texas track, which tallied 20 points to claim the top spot. Thunder Valley Raceway Team 1 finished second with 17, followed by Houston Raceway Park Team 2 and Western Colorado Dragway Team 1, who each earned 14 points. Famoso Dragstrip’s Team 1 and Team 3 each tallied 13 points to round out the top five.

2022 Western Conference Finals Results

6-9
Driver Hometown RT Dial E.T. MPH
QUARTERFINALS
Evan Bryning Sapulpa, Okla. 0.108 11.90 11.899 55.06
Vanessa Butler Grand Junction, Colo. -0.124 12.12 12.126 52.81
 
Gavin Fojt Dayton, Texas 0.037 12.10 12.132 52.35
Easton Oliveira Rossmoor, Calif. 0.230 14.05 14.051 40.06
 
Oakley White Tecumseh, Okla. 0.199 12.59 12.574 50.82
Parker Howe El Segundo, Calif. -0.024 11.90 11.823 55.66
 
Eli Johnson Westminster, Colo. 0.867 14.43 14.586 42.54
bye
 
SEMIFINALS
Oakley White Tecumseh, Okla. 0.137 12.56 12.638 49.39
Gavin Fojt Dayton, Texas 0.205 12.11 12.270 51.11
 
Eli Johnson Westminster, Colo. 0.072 14.55 14.508 42.25
Evan Bryning Sapulpa, Okla. -0.026 11.90 11.971 54.23
 
FINAL
Oakley White Tecumseh, Okla. 0.289 12.60 12.651 47.01
Eli Johnson Westminster, Colo. 0.275 14.48 14.760 37.85

10
Driver Hometown RT Dial E.T. MPH
QUARTERFINALS
Bentley Clement Lehi, Utah 0.057 9.46 9.549 65.62
Kaylee Pacheco Littleton, Colo. 0.073 9.10 9.061 71.59
 
Mace Crandall Elgin, Okla. 0.086 9.12 9.129 69.98
Allen Miller Littleton, Colo. -0.035 9.09 9.185 70.54
 
Aiden Rizner Firestone, Colo. -0.033 8.90 8.915 73.78
Dominic Genardi Berthoud, Colo. -0.054 8.94 8.936 74.20
 
SEMIFINALS
Aiden Rizner Firestone, Colo. 0.076 8.90 8.944 72.64
bye
 
Bentley Clement Lehi, Utah 0.070 9.48 9.609 66.25
Mace Crandall Elgin, Okla. 0.234 9.10 9.117 69.61
 
FINAL
Aiden Rizner Firestone, Colo. 0.023 8.92 9.026 71.28
Bentley Clement Lehi, Utah 0.089 9.55 9.703 66.74

11
Driver Hometown RT Dial E.T. MPH
QUARTERFINALS
Rydier Olston Jarman Littleton, Colo. 0.047 8.96 8.956 70.96
Logan Oliveira Rossmoor, Calif. 0.049 8.90 8.888 77.73
 
Blaine Denunzio Corona, Calif. 0.023 8.92 8.921 76.51
Brody, Colo.nner Bakersfield, Calif. 0.007 8.94 8.968 74.09
 
Karson Roberts Sedgwick, Kan. 0.081 8.95 8.936 72.22
bye
 
SEMIFINALS
Karson Roberts Sedgwick, Kan. 0.031 8.93 8.924 72.54
Rydier Olston Jarman Littleton, Colo. 0.171 8.92 8.908 73.13
 
Blaine Denunzio Corona, Calif. 0.056 8.92 9.011 75.10
bye
 
FINAL
Blaine Denunzio Corona, Calif. 0.016 8.92 8.954 75.43
Karson Roberts Sedgwick, Kan. 0.010 8.91 8.998 72.04

12
Driver Hometown RT Dial E.T. MPH
QUARTERFINALS
Tate Hildebrandt Pearland, Texas 0.018 8.93 9.175 63.31
Kian Allen Grand Junction, Colo. 0.203 9.56 9.705 66.55
 
Kane Kern Pierre Part, La. 0.052 8.90 8.872 75.10
Maddox Woolverton Firestone, Colo. 0.059 8.90 8.823 73.64
 
Jackson Melchert Owatonna, Minn. 0.049 8.90 8.900 75.33
Chase Sullivan Santee, Calif. 0.056 8.90 8.916 73.86
 
SEMIFINALS
Kane Kern Pierre Part, La. 0.052 8.90 8.886 71.28
Tate Hildebrandt Pearland, Texas 0.017 8.93 8.850 69.90
 
Jackson Melchert Owatonna, Minn. -0.044 8.90 8.903 75.25
bye
 
FINAL
Kane Kern Pierre Part, La. 0.092 8.90 8.961 73.02
Jackson Melchert Owatonna, Minn. 0.109 8.90 8.968 74.22

13
Driver Hometown RT Dial E.T. MPH
QUARTERFINALS
Kody Havens Casper, Wyo. 0.102 8.03 8.039 80.15
Stephanie McCulley Parker, Colo. -0.071 7.99 8.058 82.46
 
Hayden Pennington Huffman, Texas 0.045 7.98 8.026 82.14
Race Ragland Norman, Okla. -0.020 8.10 8.116 81.89
 
Justice Brown Yermo, Calif. 0.056 7.93 7.937 82.20
Saylar Garrett Velma, Okla. 0.045 8.03 8.024 80.75
 
Andie Rizner Firestone, Colo. 0.007 7.97 8.017 76.08
Madalynn Price Las Vegas, Nev. 0.134 7.90 7.858 82.89
 
SEMIFINALS
Kody Havens Casper, Wyo. 0.112 8.03 8.029 79.90
Andie Rizner Firestone, Colo. -0.023 8.01 7.993 81.21
 
Justice Brown Yermo, Calif. 0.068 7.93 7.942 81.68
Hayden Pennington Huffman, Texas -0.015 8.01 8.017 79.51
 
FINAL
Justice Brown Yermo, Calif. 0.022 7.93 7.967 80.19
Kody Havens Casper, Wyo. 0.109 8.02 8.028 80.06

14
Driver Hometown RT Dial E.T. MPH
QUARTERFINALS
Jack Beutler Florence, S.D. 0.053 7.94 7.955 82.25
bye
 
Mario Gonzalez Sugarland, Texas 0.058 7.96 8.017 77.55
Mackenzie Roberts Sedgwick, Kan. 0.030 8.08 8.189 79.34
 
Parker Stewart Herriman, Utah 0.107 7.90 7.901 82.80
Cole Foster Dayton, Texas -0.003 8.10 8.135 80.13
 
SEMIFINALS
Parker Stewart Herriman, Utah 0.006 7.90 7.920 82.64
bye
 
Mario Gonzalez Sugarland, Texas 0.002 7.96 8.018 79.50
Jack Beutler Florence, S.D. 0.053 7.95 7.965 82.07
 
FINAL
Parker Stewart Herriman, Utah 0.005 7.90 7.902 82.64
Mario Gonzalez Sugarland, Texas 0.003 7.97 7.969 80.50

15
Driver Hometown RT Dial E.T. MPH
QUARTERFINALS
Jamie Johnson Palisade, Colo. 0.068 8.70 8.684 75.11
Kassandra Strickland Lakewood, Colo. -0.066 8.01 8.037 79.78
 
Madison, Mich.odowski Almont, Mich. 0.122 7.98 7.981 81.42
Taylor McGregor Littleton, Colo. 0.095 8.08 8.145 80.26
 
Camron Nelson Pearland, Texas 0.035 7.90 7.892 80.91
Gage Wilson Midwest City, Okla. 0.019 7.92 7.897 82.32
 
Gavin Pine La, Mich.rada, Calif. 0.022 7.99 8.050 76.70
Emersyn Rose Pires Madera, Calif. 0.090 8.10 8.132 76.89
 
SEMIFINALS
Jamie Johnson Palisade, Colo. 0.056 8.70 8.702 74.17
Gavin Pine La, Mich.rada, Calif. 0.041 8.00 8.032 73.96
 
Camron Nelson Pearland, Texas 0.010 7.90 7.979 79.28
Madison, Mich.odowski Almont, Mich. 0.110 7.96 7.977 82.28
 
FINAL
Jamie Johnson Palisade, Colo. 0.027 8.70 8.675 74.49
Camron Nelson Pearland, Texas 0.058 7.93 7.889 82.94

16-17
Driver Hometown RT Dial E.T. MPH
QUARTERFINALS
Andrew Hushman Lakewood, Colo. 0.020 7.94 7.949 80.34
Willem Prins Lazbuddie, Texas 0.055 7.90 7.853 79.68
 
Graeme Rufenacht Round Rock, Texas 0.046 7.98 8.631 55.10
Jonathan McClain Owasso, Okla. -0.005 7.90 8.134 79.42
 
Corey Wattenbarger Wayne, Okla. 0.105 7.90 8.114 81.02
bye
 
SEMIFINALS
Andrew Hushman Lakewood, Colo. 0.021 7.94 8.041 79.34
bye
 
Graeme Rufenacht Round Rock, Texas 0.061 8.00 8.011 78.69
Corey Wattenbarger Wayne, Okla. 0.060 7.90 7.888 81.17
 
FINAL
Graeme Rufenacht Round Rock, Texas 0.079 8.00 8.082 78.74
Andrew Hushman Lakewood, Colo. 0.167 7.98 7.970 81.12

Jr. Comp
Driver Hometown RT Dial E.T. MPH
QUARTERFINALS
Ayden Pires Madera, Calif. 0.022 7.10 7.047 97.49
Christopher Klostriech Las Vegas, Nev. 0.046 7.10 7.047 99.23
 
Drake Padgett Ventura, Calif. 0.085 7.10 7.190 89.76
Emersyn Rose Pires Madera, Calif. 0.123 7.10 7.160 94.01
 
Ethan Williams Bakersfield, Calif. 0.039 7.10 7.062 98.01
bye
 
SEMIFINALS
Ethan Williams Bakersfield, Calif. 0.034 7.10 7.089 93.75
Drake Padgett Ventura, Calif. 0.083 7.10 7.065 96.81
 
Ayden Pires Madera, Calif. 0.072 7.10 7.135 96.04
bye
 
FINAL
Ayden Pires Madera, Calif. 0.011 7.10 7.114 92.94
Ethan Williams Bakersfield, Calif. 0.009 7.10 7.161 94.83