NHRA sportsman classes at Charlotte, NC

NHRA sportsman classes at Charlotte, NC

Using Two Lanes at the Four-Wides

Corey Michalek scored in just his first Top Alcohol Dragster event competition, and Dan Pomponio took his second win in three years at zMax Dragway for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals on April 11-13. Scotty Richardson became just the third driver in history to win an NHRA national event in six different classes.

Michalek, who normally competes in bracket races out of New York, turned his alcohol dragster into a bracket car running consistent 5.30’s in knocking out five-time national champion Bill Reichert and Randy Meyer on his way to a final round match up with Brandon Booher. Michalek cruised to a 5.428-second lap in the final as Booher broke on the line.

Pomponio, who won the event in 2012, bettered Jonnie Lindberg in the Top Alcohol Funny Car final. Both drivers shook the tires but Pomponio got his ’10 Monte Carlo hooked back up first to record a 6.120 pass at 249.81 mph for his second win of the year.

Richardson joined Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Peter Biondo as the only drivers to win NHRA national events in six different classes of competition.  The Barbourville, Ky., racer won when Russell Joly, Louisa, Va., left early with a foul start. The win was Richardson’s first in Comp Eliminator to go along with his wins in Stock, Super Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas and Super Street.

Brad Plourd and Ray Sawyer each had .001-second reaction times on the way to their final round wins with Plourd taking out former national champion Al Kenny in Super Comp and Sawyer beating Jeremy Jensen on a double breakout in Super Gas.

In Super Stock it was Peter D’Agnolo picking up his first national event trophy defeating Jimmy Ronzello and Greg Rowe won on a hole shot in Stock over Jeff Hairrington. The Top Sportsman trophy went to Warren, Ohio, racer Marco Abruzzi and his ’68 Camaro who ran down Marc Caruso in 6.890, 192.30 mph.

NHRA National Sportsman at Las Vegas

NHRA National Sportsman at Las Vegas

BIONDO DOUBLES, SEVERANCE, JANUIK ALSO SCORE

Peter Biondo took home not one trophy but two scoring the rare NHRA National event double at the Summitracing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway while Joey Severance and Nick Januik grabbed wins in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car.

Peter Biondo in Stock Eliminator.

Peter Biondo in Super Stock

Biondo, Mespeth, N.Y., first faced off with Andrew Durham in the Super Stock final taking the starting line advantage and holding on for his 47th national event win in 9.862 seconds at 133.96 mph to Durham’s 9.638, 135.82 in his ’11 Challenger. He then came back to meet up with Ryan Mangus, Rialto, Calif., in Stock Eliminator taking the hole shot again with a .013 second reaction time, and was near perfect at the strip posting a 10.672 second lap on his 10.67 dial giving him the win and the double up.  This was the second time Biondo has doubled up, having done so at National Trail Raceway, Columbus, Ohio, in 2005. 

Regional/Divisional at Las Vegas

Regional/Divisional at Las Vegas

SEVERANCE AND WESTERFIELD RACE TO VICTORIES

Shane Westerfield

In the final results from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, Joey Severance and Shane Westerfield took home the wins on March 23rd in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car respectively.

Severance, Woodburn, Ore., worked his way through the field and ran 5.315 seconds at 269.24 mph in his final round victory over Mark Taliaferro, Odessa, Texas, who clocked in at 5.408 seconds, 271.02 mph.

Westerfield, Anaheim, Calif., faced off against Doug Gordon, Paso Robles, Calif., and posted a winning run of 5.648 seconds, 257.33 mph in his '06 Monte Carlo. Gordon drove his '12 Mustang to a runner up finish.

Other racers visiting the winner’s circle this weekend were Tony Mandella, Riverside, Calif., in Comp Eliminator; Jimmy DeFrank, Chatsworth, Calif., in Super Stock; Peter Biondo, Maspeth, N.Y., in Stock Eliminator; Raquel Roper, San Diego, Calif., in Super Comp; Robert Naber, Ontario, Calif., in Super Gas; and Bernie Polvadore, Sun City, Ariz., in Super Street.

In the division’s Top Sportsman class it was Dean Hall, Guerneville, Calif., taking the win while Thomas Bayer, Fontana, Calif., won in Top Dragster. In Sportsman Motorcycle presented by Harley Davidson Leo Shaver, Las Vegas, Nev., took the win.

JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals at Belle Rose, LA

JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals at Belle Rose, LA

With an unfavorable weather forecast for Sunday, March 23, in Belle Rose, La., NHRA and track officials shifted the weekend’s schedule, moving eliminations for the NHRA JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals at No Problem Raceway to Saturday morning with all qualifying and time trials being completed Friday.

The NHRA Moser Sportsman Shootout specialty event originally scheduled for Saturday was run Friday with all four rounds of eliminations Friday afternoon followed by the winner’s circle celebration. Class eliminations for both Stock and Super Stock shifted to Friday.

The annual “fun” races held during the JEGS SPORTSnationals will be held on Sunday as weather permits. These events include the King of the Bayou, Stock/Super Stock CIC race, and the Top Sportsman and Top Dragster Shootouts.

FRIDAY

Austin Williams took home the honors in the NHRA Moser Sportsman Shootout and Charlie Westcott captured the Inaugural Tim Hebert “Chootout” in Friday’s action.

Williams, Burleson, Texas, qualified for the Moser Shootout specialty race in not one but two classes running in both Stock Eliminator and in Super Comp. Williams defeated David Latino in the round one Stock pairing but fell to former NHRA Lucas Oil world champion Jeff Lopez in the round one Super Comp pairing. Lopez was also pulling double duty but lost to Jimmy Lewis in Super Gas round 1.

Williams and Lopez were on opposite sides of the 16-car ladder and would both win their second and third round match ups setting up the final round rematch with Williams getting a second chance at Lopez. Williams was determined not to lose to Lopez a second time taking the win in his ’72 Duster running 6.924 seconds on his 6.91 dial.

Westcott, Parma, Mich., outran Schriever, La., racer Joe Teuton as Westcott’s “War Fish” ’68 Barracuda went 8.314 seconds at 160.16 mph to Teuton’s 8.461, 157.36 in his “King Cuda” ’68 Barracuda. The event was held to honor Tim Hebert, who passed away suddenly last June at the age of 53 and was a regular at Hemi Shootouts across the country.

Summit Bracket Racing Series Race 3 at Memphis

Summit Bracket Racing Series Race 3 at Memphis

Rain shortens competition to one day

The Summit Bracket Racing Series Presented by COMP Cams returned to Memphis International Raceway (MIR) over the March 15-16 weekend for what was intended to be a doubleheader race event until rain showers moved through the area.

Drivers battled it out on Saturday to see who would end up victorious in the third edition of the Summit Bracket Racing Series at MIR. In addition, a new Jr. Dragster category was introduced, Second Chance Shootout. Unfortunately, drivers would not see any track time on Sunday as rain fell throughout the day.

"We saw some great racing Saturday and the day was extra special as Tony Newberry won the Rick's Powder Coating Super Pro on his daughter, Sophie's ninth birthday,” said Paul Cartwright, Director of Race & Facility Operations. "The only downfall was once again Mother Nature worked against us as we were not able to race on Sunday and host a doubleheader as we had planned."

Jr. Dragsters

The young guns of the sport were out in full force again this weekend with nine contestants battling it out for top prize in the R.T. Turbines Jr. Dragsters. Tyler Poindexter, from Millington, Tenn., picked up his second win of the short season over Covington, Tennessee’s Devan Lowe. Poindexter had a .100 reaction time and stopped the clocks with a winning time of 8.103 @ 71.48 mph over Lowe's .244 reaction time, 8.081 elapsed time at 81.85 mph off his 7.93 dial-in.

Drew Mann Tracey from Motorvation Motorsports was the semifinalist for the evening.

Jr. Dragsters Second Chance Shootout

This weekend marked the creation of a new twist to the Jr. Dragster category, a Second Chance Shootout. Racers who didn't qualify for third round of eliminations in the main event were entered into this race. Tara Taylor, from Bolivar, Tenn., took the victory over Weiner, Arkansas' birthday girl, Sophie Newberry, in a red-lighting affair as Sophie turned on the red light six-thousandths of a second too soon.

NHRA Sportsman at the Gatornationals

NHRA Gatornationals Sportsman Classes

Duane Shields and Dan Pomponio took home wins in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car for the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals March 13-16 at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville, Fla., and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.

Duane Shields  (Steve Gruenwald photo)

Shields, Boulder City, Nev., faced off with defending event champion Rich McPhillips, Phoenixville, Pa., who was first off the line before losing cylinders as Shields raced by with a 5.335-second, 266.74-mph winning pass. 

Shields scored not once, but twice this weekend as he beat Mike Strasburg in the rain delayed Houston NHRA South Central Division alcohol dragster final that was run on Friday during national event qualifying.

“The car is now responding very well to our tuning and we are able to hop it up when needed and tune it to the track conditions. The car is running good which also gives us a chance to learn more,” explained Shields, driver of the PEAK A/Fuel Dragster. 

Dan Pomponio (far lane) got the TAFC win over Dale Brand.  (Adam Cranmer photo)

Pomponio, Berlin, N.J., defended his title from a year ago beating Dale Brand in his final round match up with a run of 5.662, 258.52 as Brand, Sully, Iowa, left early with a foul start. Pomponio ran consistent 5.6’s throughout eliminations taking out Andy Bohl, No. 1 qualifier Ulf Leanders, and Steve Harker on his way to the final.

Dukes Doubles Up In Inaugural Jr. Dragster Spring Nationals

DUKES DOUBLES UP IN INAUGURAL JR. DRAGSTER SPRING NATIONALS

Alec Dukes of Orangeburg, S.C., was the big winner Saturday in the inaugural Southeast Jr. Dragster Spring Nationals at Rockingham Dragway.

With bad weather in the forecast, more than 50 junior racers from throughout the Southeast outran the elements by consolidating two days of racing into one.  Dukes left with more than $2000 after winning once in the Pro Dragster 7.90 class and once in Bracket 1.

Thomas Oates of Clearbrook, Va., missed a chance to join him as a double winner when he was beaten in Sunday’s Bracket 2 final after winning Bracket 1 on Saturday. 

Other champions included Trevor Jenkins of Heath Spring, S.C.,the other $1,500 winner in Bracket 1, Rockingham regular Dawson Wiggins of Dunn in Bracket 2 and Fayetteville’s Noah Johnson, who used a .045 package – including a .002 reaction time – to win 7.90 on Sunday.

Dead On – Time for Change? Hope it’s not too late

Time for Change? Hope it's not too late

I realize that every region of the country and probably every drag strip has different programs that work for them. There is a trend in the upper Midwest and other sections of the country I feel should undergo a change if the tracks are going to get more cars and, hopefully, more young racers to come join our shrinking sport.

I know, a lot of you are thinking "It isn't my business what tracks do." I agree, but on the other hand the majority of racers will not speak out so I am their voice so to speak (and I have the editorial space others do not). The less-vocal racers are there to race and if they end up getting discouraged by the local track's system, they simply "disappear" and fishing picks up a new friend.

Several years ago the lines between S/Pro (call it Box) and Pro ET (No Box) began to get blurred. ET breaks were basically eliminated in an attempt to let you race in any bracket you wanted to and the only defining character was whether you ran a delay box or not.

Let's use this example: S/Pro (1/4 mile) was 11.50 and quicker and PRO was 11.00 to 13.99. Two distinct groups of cars in how fast they run, the serious nature of their construction, competition licenses, chassis inspections, etc., and in general the cost to operate a car in each bracket.

Then the lines got blurred when ET Breaks were changed and:

1. You could have 8- and 9-second Super Pro door cars in the PRO ET bracket and

2. The tracks started running the brackets separately but having a run-off between the Box and the No-Box winner for a bigger Winner's Payout. It was a way for the tracks to say they were paying more to win, but at what cost to the growth of the sport?

I feel that started a trend where the faster door cars and more sophisticated S/Pro cars wanted to take the delay box out, get away from the dragsters, put themselves in the "race from behind” position at the finish line and run in PRO where the competition seemed it would be easier. (That soon changed in a hurry!)

A lot of this started when the suspended dragsters started coming on the scene and were acclaimed to be "the answer" to more consistent ETs and offered a better "look" at the finish line because they were coming from behind on even the fastest door cars. The primary reason wasn't that dragsters were better, it was just that a lot of dedicated, winning drivers decided to buy dragsters and they were putting them in the winner's circle, just as they did their door cars.

Once the faster door cars got settled in a No Box bracket and they figured out the bottom-bulb with either adjustable transbrake buttons, blocking the tree, slow-releasing transbrakes, low start line rev limiters, timing retard, etc., they began to dominate the PRO ET (No Box bracket). The first thing they did was to ask for more Winner's Money. It's hard to make yourself take a high-dollar 8- or 9-second door car to a race that pays $400 to $500 to win, right? So the tracks caved in, not wanting to lose racers, and came up with the "Run-off Idea."

In my opinion, there were two results:

1. It ended growing the PRO ET bracket by offering a bracket for racers who have a smaller budget or are new to the sport, a chance to get better, go some rounds, develop their winning skills and look forward to the day they get fast enough to race in the S/Pro bracket and race for more money.

2. Allowing the fast cars (basically a S/Pro car in disguise) into PRO ET has chased off the weekend warriors who race on older slicks, don't want to spend the $180 a weekend on entry fees for a chance at a bigger payout that they feel is out of reach for them anyway as their cars are not $25,000-$40,000 door cars that throw out ET slips like they came from a copy machine.

The tracks that had the foresight to not cave in to this idea are stronger for it in my opinion. They have two diversified ET brackets that can grow or shrink on their own. Most of the tracks that keep them separate are doing fine and I have not seen or heard of a program that has blended the cars together in the final growing their program. At first the car counts went up as the higher payouts looked good but then reality hit: PRO would be dominated by the faster, better prepared cars and that drove away the PRO ET guy on the smaller budget.

Then, if you throw in the fact that a lot of tracks are letting guys double enter, allowing them to run the same car in the Box race and the No Box race it drove the knife even farther into the heart of the racer who can afford only one entry. The reason behind allowing it was simple; more entry fees means more profits for the track...but they forgot to add in the diminishing turnout by the guys getting busted every week by one of the "killers" running both sides of the bracket.

Just so you know, I was one of the guys who occasionally double entered in the Box side and the No Box side. I didn't make the rules and if I can tow one time and race twice the racer in me for over 40 years says "get out the checkbook and buy another entry."

Again, this is just my opinion, but the facts are the racer participation at tracks where the lines between S/Pro and PRO are blurred, the overall car counts are falling and getting a racer to come back to the track is a tough thing to do.

All I want to see are drag strips staying open, more people getting involved in what has been my favorite thing to do for over 40 years and to see the smiles on the driver and crew of a first-time race winner.

Good luck to all of you as racers and to the track owners as well as the 2014 season revs up across our great country. Top bulb or bottom-bulb, we just have to line up and see who turns on the win-light. That part never changes.

 

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LODRS at South Georgia Motorsports Park

Freeman Wins in Comp; Williams Doubles

Tim Freeman grabbed his first NHRA divisional event win and Troy Williams Jr. doubled up winning in both the Super Street and the 10.00 Index class at the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Ultimate Sportsman Weekend at South Georgia Motorsports Park.

Freeman, Roan Mountain, Tenn., met up with one of the best in the county in the Comp Eliminator final round as he took out David Rampy, Piedmont, Ala., with a starting line advantage and a run of 8.707 seconds at 156.59 mph in his ’98 Grand Am.

Troy Williams Jr., Bradenton, Fla., raced to the final round in both the 10.00 Index class and in Super Street.  He first met up with Matt Weston, Hendersonville, N.C., winning on a double breakout then returned to the starting line to face off with Mike Griggs, Ocala, Fla., in the Super Street final.  Williams, drove his ’70 Nova to his 4thNHRA Lucas Oil win in 11.897 seconds.  

In probably the closest final round of the day, Joe DiPasquale, Palmyra, N.J., and Larry Roberts, Laurens, S.C., were identical off the line in the Hickory Enclosed Trailer Top Dragster class with DiPasquale taking the win by about 3 inches.  DiPasquale ran 6.921 seconds at 193.74 to Roberts’ 6.702, 190.30.

John Benoit, Montpelier, Vt., was perfect off the line in the Davis Golf Cart Top Sportsman with a .000-second reaction time as he held on to beat Matthew Buck, Lantana, Fla., posting a 6.831, 196.36.

Russell Linke, Old Bridge, N.J., picked up his 11th divisional event win beating Jamie Southards in Super Stock while Drew Skillman, Greenwood, Ind., downed Robbie Shaw who had the early lead but broke out.  Skillman ran his ‘10 Ford to an 8.995, 146.72 mph pass.

In Super Gas it was Steve Furr, Harrisburg, N.C., taking his second win of the year winning last month in Orlando as he won over James Justice, Gotha, Fla., with a pass of 9.925, 162.63 and John Labbous Jr., White House, Tenn., won in Super Comp on a double breakout with George Caheely, Lafayette, Ga.

Rounding out the winners were Brendan George, Gainesville, Fla., and Danny Towe, Lawrenceville, Ga., in the 11.00 and the 12.00 Index classes.  George raced his ’92 Mustang to the win over Dallas Burger, Sumner, Ga., and Towe, Lawrenceville, Ga., was better at both ends of the track in his match up with Michael Smith, Ocoee, Fla.

Southeast Division Lucas Oil racers head south to Gainesville, Fla., where they will meet up with the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series at Auto Plus Raceway this weekend, March 13-16. 

The following are the final results from the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Ultimate Sportsman Weekend at South Georgia Motorsports Park:

COMP ELIMINATOR
Tim Freeman, Roan Mountain, Tenn., '98 Grand AM, H/A, 8.707, 156.59  def. David Rampy, Piedmont, Ala., '32 roadster, A/EA, 7.377, 156.35.

SUPER STOCK
Russell Linke, Old Bridge, N.J., '73 Corvette, SS/IA, 9.904, 132.92  def. Jamie Southards, Grover, N.C., '74 Plymouth, GT/HA, foul.

STOCK ELIMINATOR
Drew Skillman, Greenwood, Ind., '10 Ford, AA/SA, 8.995, 146.72  def. Robbie Shaw, Bowdon, Ga., '01 Firebird, A/SA, 10.035, 127.87.

SUPER COMP
John Labbous Jr, White House, Tenn., '07 dragster, 8.895, 168.37  def. George Caheely, Lafayette, Ga., '02 dragster, 8.892, 170.43.

SUPER GAS
Steve Furr, Harrisburg, N.C., '68 Camaro, 9.925, 162.63  def. James Justice, Gotha, Fla., '68 Nova, 9.932, 138.80.

SUPER STREET
Troy Williams Jr., Bradenton, Fla., '70 Nova, 11.897, 87.15  def. Mike Griggs, Ocala, Fla., '66 Chevy II, 17.316, 48.11.

TOP SPORTSMAN
John Benoit, Montpelier, Vt., '10 GXP, 6.831, 196.36  def. Matthew Buck, Lantana, Fla., '01 Firebird, 6.882, 196.53.

TOP DRAGSTER
Joe DiPasquale, Palmyra, N.J., '12 dragster, 6.921, 193.74  def. Larry Roberts, Laurens, S.C., '06 dragster, 6.702, 190.30.

10.00 INDEX
Troy Williams Jr., Bradenton, Fla., '70 Nova, 9.877, 112.74  def. Matt Weston, Hendersonville, N.C., '70 Camaro, 9.788, 121.39.

11.00 INDEX
Brendan George, Gainesville, Fla., '92 Mustang, 11.025, 122.13  def. Dallas Burger, Sumner, Ga., '68 Camaro, 10.997, 118.91.

12.00 INDEX
Danny Towe, Lawrenceville, Ga., '70 Mustang, 12.039, 99.19  def. Michael Smith, Ocoee, Fla., '96 Pontiac, 11.971, 110.43.

 

IHRA Summit Pro-Am at Carolina Dragway

IHRA Summit Pro-Am at Carolina Dragway

A Divisional Double Feature

After an unpredictable start to the 2014 season at the season opener last month, status quo returned to the Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour presented by AMSOIL over the first weekend in March as the top racers from IHRA's southernmost division returned to the forefront at Carolina Dragway.

Multi-time divisional champion Mark Nowicki continued his hot start to the 2014 season, winning his third consecutive race in Super Stock and improving his round record to 14-1 on the year.

Defending divisional champions Mike Thompson, B.J. Bianchi and Dave Marcus Jr. also took home Ironman trophies during a weekend that saw another large bump in car counts over last season and another large spectator count tuning in for the series' live broadcast on www.ihra.com

Day 1 Results

GOOD VIBRATIONS TOP SPORTSMAN
Rick McDonough, SW Ranches, Fla., '01 S-10, 4.827, 135.99 def. Jim Cairnes, Hendersonville, N.C., '65 Comet, 4.899, 142.16.

GOOD VIBRATIONS TOP DRAGSTER
Michael White, Arden, N.C., '11 American, 4.626, 148.01 def. Steve Furr, Harrisburg, N.C., '13 American, 4.439, 156.21.

SUPER STOCK

Mark Nowicki (shown), Gaylord, Mich., '98 Avenger, 5.975, 107.42 def. Emory Pierpont, Cartersville, Ga., 6.786, 96.01.