NHRA LODRS Summer Showdown at Cordova, Ill.
Booher wins second, Brand stops Manzo
Brandon Booher ruled Top Alcohol Dragster for the second week in a row and Dale Brand won Top Alcohol Funny Car over Frank Manzo, running his lifetime win-loss record against the reigning world champ to 2-0 at the June 21-23 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Summer Showdown at Cordova Dragway Park.
Booher, who went the distance for the first time in his career just two weeks ago at Joliet's Route 66 Raceway, won a tight final over veteran Robin Samsel, 5.45 to 5.46, after taking an even closer semifinal win over Dave Hirata.
"Both of those guys stepped up," Booher said. "I was shooting for.40-flat or a .41 in the final, but I got a little greedy and shook and spun the tires. There he was – boom, right beside me – but the car made it through the shake without me having to pedal. I probably wrung out both gears a little more than I should have, but we got it done."
As in Joliet, Booher qualified father Aaron's AB Construction dragster in the No. 1 spot, this time with a 5.41 at 266.64 mph. He was right back in the 0.40s and mid-260s in all three rounds of eliminations, including a 5.47/264 in the opening round that eliminated returning veteran Paul Fishburn, and a 5.44 at 265 in the semi's that was just enough to hold off Hirata.
"Hirata sawed the Tree down, picked up a tenth, and almost beat us," Booher said. "We picked up in that round, too, because we weren't taking him for granted. This car has always been consistent but now it's consistently quick. It was a little stagnant the last few years, but now, instead of a car that can run 0.45 to 0.50 and a driver who can cut a light, we're running good, too. People come up against us, and it's not just 'Don't screw up and we've got this' anymore. They know we're here to play."
Samsel had his best outing to date, stopping Norwalk winner Marty Thacker, who surprisingly qualified just seventh, in the first round and 2012 Central Region champion and defending event winner Gord Gingles, who red-lighted, in the semi's. Samsel was off the mark with a solid 0.069 reaction time in the final, but Booher had it all the way with a 0.022 light and slightly better ET.
Beating Manzo will always go down as an upset, but Brand was right with the perennial world champ all weekend.
"Gainesville this year was the only other time we've ever lined up against Frank, but we just happened to be in the other lane when he had trouble," Brand said. "I don't look at that as beating Frank Manzo. This was a little more legit."