GRAZIANO GETS TKO FOR KOT
John Graziano drove his 66 Impala ragtop entry to this year’s King of the Track award in a rain rescheduled contest. The Brentwood NY racer has been a regular competitor over the past years and has acquitted himself well in the Super Pro division, proving he can strike from any place on the field at any time. While perhaps not sporting as many event trophies as some of the other racers in the bracket, this full-bodied machine adorned with imitation bullet holes in the fenders can never be taken lightly. This weekend solidly secured that notion, and a lesson that will not soon be forgotten.
The annual specialty race, contested over the 1000 foot race course because that is the distance the S/P class runs, included the winner of Pro bracket in the form of the Chevelle of Ken Destefano, the Camaro of Connie Wackermann that was victorious in Street and the best of the Bike brigade, Barry Stephens. Stephens and Wackermann faced off in the first pairing and it appeared that the motorcycle racer was about to be set down as the Camaro nabbed a half a tenth advantage on the starting line. But Stephens pressed the match at the top end and Wackermann broke out at 10/04 and 100 mph that sent Stephens to the final on a 7.88. 126 ticket. Graziano then cut a light on Destefano and punched out the Chevelle’s 7.68 and 131 as the Impala clocked an on the dial 7.94, 126. The RTs in the final were eerily similar to the opener when Graziano nailed down a .05 better light and outcome of the race was never in doubt. Graziano recorded a right on the dial 7.940 and a speed of just 87 mph to grab the crown. Stephens had too little too late and came up short via his 7.89, 125 effort on the Suzuki.
The story of how the KOT competitors got there was just as interesting as the ultimate race results. Graziano bested Robbie Boyd, Wayne Rudy and Jeremy Dittmar to annex the S/P honors. Dittmar, the last racer with a shot at stopping the Impala had taken out Ed Korpos, Robbie Boyd, in on a buy back race, and Terry Kimball. The final dash went to Graziano with a hole shot launch and 7.97, 121.42 versus a losing 8.11 and 125.05 for Dittmar.
Destefano handled the crew in Pro, facing and beating Greg Myers in the quarters, 9.25, 142 against a fouling 10.75 and 123. Ron Keegan had his S-10 firing on all eight and bested James Horton’s Malibu, 10.09 to a 13.64. Barry Van Scoten ran unopposed. Destefano was hot on the tree in the semis and gunned down Ban Scoten, 9.25 against a 10.68, and Keegan was a solo. Keegan had troubles in the final and while he staged he barely left the line and slowly drove down the track for second place as Destefano took the nod with a 9.37 at 143.41.
Connie Wackermann opened the SF in Street with a solo run followed by Bill Voelzke taking out Russ Picone, Art Harris getting past George Renz and Bob Gay dusting Bill Hakucsa. Wackermann used a 12.13, 109 pass to send Harris to the trailer on his 12.66, 106 effort. Voelzke then easily defeated Gay when the latter fouled away a 12.16 lap to the Dodge’s 11.52 at 113. Voelzke learned the truth of the axiom live by the light die by the light when he went red in the final and saw his 11.47, 113 run turn into a runner-up finish. Wackermann was the victor with a slip of 12.12 at a speed of 112.63 mph.
Having retaken the points lead in Bike, Barry Stephens tried his best to go on a tear and open up some space with the rest of the field. After a lucky win in the opener due to his very late reaction time as Gary Derange was perfect .000 but broke out, the Suzuki runner buckled down a bit. Stephens went off with Joe DE piazza in the semifinal and whipped him while Scott McGrath was disposing of Don Hookway. Stephens showed he had learned his lesson when he cut a .004 RT and hit a 9.58 at 126.52 for the win. McGrath was not able to close the gap at 8.94, 149.08.In other action, Bryan Mirsky won Consolation One over Robbie Boyd and Bill Van Goor emerged with the title in Consolation Two when he ran down Mike Franek. Junior Street belonged to Vinnie Yannone once again as the Mustang beat the Camaro of Dillon Renz. And Junior Dragster was the property of Francis Vignola in a match up with Madison Meredith.