HOW HOT WAS IT
Many years ago when Johnny Carson was the Tonight Show host, he often did a bit with Ed McMahan, regarding the temperature of the day. Ed would play the straight man and when Johnny would say today it was hot, Ed would ask how hot was it. The response was always a funny punchline about some exaggeration of just how bad the heat had been. This weekend would have played right into that skit as the temperatures were in the mid to upper 90s with high humidity, making racing, watching and working the event very challenging. At one point the track temperature was measured at 140 degrees. Those conditions are tough enough if you can wear a light shirt and shorts, but strap yourself into a race car or on a bike in full protective gear, and you have better stuffed your pockets with ice cubes. Regardless, the heat didn’t soften the resolve or competitive spirits and there was some great racing to be had.
Opening day of the second half for points yielded a new name in the Super Pro and Street credits and saw the return of some old faces in Pro and Bike. Kurt Bauer gave a good demonstration of how to drive the starting line, taking the advantage in every round where he had an opponent. The RED driver from Raritan punched out James Arata and James Murphy before lining up with Dave Hebig in the final. Hebig got by Wayne Rudy and Jason Anagnostis to then eliminate arch rival Robbie Boyd in the semis. While the heat slowed Hebig’s normally 5 second racer by a few hundredths, when the last race came around the smart money had to be with the Orefield racer based on past history. The result served to prove that history can be fickle, and Bauer hung out a hole shot and then proceeded to turn in an on the dial 6.66 at 152 to gather in his first victory of the year. Hebig kept piling up points with a runner-up lap of 6.00, 171.18.
Andrew Bracuto marched through the Pro bracket once again and turned back a resurgent Greg Myers for the title. Myers, who got a late start this year waiting for his Camaro to be ready, edged out Bill Wackermann in the quarters and Gerard Lisa in a semifinal race to make it to his first trophy test. Bracuto sent Mike Franek home in the QF and then bested Jennifer Vignola’s Dodge that was having its best outing of the season. The Pontiac pilot saved his best RT for last as he hit the tree with a .012 launch against Myers and never relinquished the head start to win the deal at 10.44 and 127.80. Myers made it a close race with a losing 10/08at 130.07.
Street bracket had the most rounds of the day and at the end of the competition Mitch Speert emerged with his first award. Frank Maffiore won his QF match with Reggie Whitson by only .007 seconds and Steve Baker won against Pete Navetta when the Blazer clock the dial and Navetta was .004 under to lose. Mike Speert ran unopposed. Speert and Maffiore were locked up in the semis and neither driver could afford to lift at the top end which resulted in Speert’s Mustang moving on with a14.32,, 98.86 versus a further under the dial 14.902, 90.96 for Maffiore’s Buick. Following a bye by Baker he gave up the head start to Speert by over two seconds and waited just .001 too little, triggering a red light loss. Speert collected the pot and the Mullers Customs bonus on a 14.39, 98.29 as Baker coasted to the finish.
In Bike action, Chris Miele has had the hot hand so far and opened the night six rounds ahead in points over Barry Stephens. After Henry Charyk took the bonus qualifying money from Barry’s Towing, Miele fell to defeat at the hands of Dave Ferguson’s sled. That opened the door for Stephens to make some major tracks toward regaining the edge if only he could run the table in the class. And that is exactly what he did. The Suzuki rider beat Gary DeGrange and Joe DePiazza before running solo in the semi. Don Hookway was better than Art Romaliysky and Dave Ferguson along with a bye run in the quarters. The rubber round was perhaps the best race of the night. Hookway started with a .007 RT while Stephens left on a .014. Both bikes hit all the gears at just the right time and it was handle to handle right to the stripe. Stephens flashed the win light by just .005 seconds when his 9.697, 132.24 slip finished up by that much against Hookway’s uber-close 9.529 and 140.39.
In other classes, Trophy honors went to Liam Buccieri and his Chevy over Binnie Yannone’s Mustang. The winner carded a 19.74, 66.85 to hold off the Ford’s 12.73 at 110.15. John Moreno won in Consolation Two with his Street Roadster when Scott Embley fouled out in the Nova. Both racers backed off when they saw there was no way to change the result after Embley earlier posting times in the mid 9s and Moreno cranking out low 9 second passes.
Harley Parson was the champ in J/D by defeating newcomer Joe Cirillo. Cirillo had been very much dominate all event long and did cut the better light in the final. But Parson kept his cool and ran 7.93, 83.28 for the victory as Cirillo lifted just a bit and took second place via his 8.09, 79.28. Saige Embley wrapped up the win list in
J/ST on a slip of 8.98, 70.51.