SHORT FIELDS, EARLY RAIN, FOUR WINNERS
The weather has been the story all season long, and this weekend brought no break from the craziness. Starting a little early based on the forecast, an intended single time run was stretched to a pair of practice laps, and the heat and humidity played their parts in the latest dramatic comedy known as the 2017 racing season.
Coming off a first place finish in 2016, Dave Hebig’s year has been anything but stellar. With so few races completed and with his absences at times when the racing actually occurred, Hebig had managed only one trip to the finals in Super Pro prior to the event and it left him with a runner-up finish. It looked like his luck was running on the bad side as he lost his first round race, but bought back in the reappeared for a round two match. With short fields compared to the usual turnout, Hebig took on Robbie Boyd in the semis and his quickest and fastest entry for the day ran a 6.02 at 170.92 to put the RED machine into the final as Boyd’s Camaro dropped the round at 7.61, 135.47. Wayne Rudy drove his SBC RED mount to the other final spot when he easily won on a 6.97, 145 ticket after John Tesori fouled out his Camaro on a 6.90, 152 slip. A .009 versus .048 RT against Rudy in the final allowed Hebig to win his first race of the season on a slowing 6.03and only 159 mph as Rudy’s 6.98, 145 mark fell short.
Rob Zetterberg has run for the trophy in Pro a couple of times with no victories to date. That changed this weekend as he moved his Monte Carlo through the field and finally sealed the deal. Zetterberg gunned down Andy McCauley’s Mustang in the QF, 9.71, 139 to a losing 10.44, 131 and a red light. Bill Wackermann drove his Camaro to a win light over Mike Olson, 11.03 at 120 to the Duster’s 9.84 and 135. Mike Franek and his Dodge have struggled this year, but he had enough to take out Joe Duken’s S-10 entry, 10.19, 128 versus a runout 9.09 and 131. Tylor Wyker ran unopposed. With two of the three Advanced Tree Care cars still in the hunt in the semis, Zetterberg turned aside Wackermann, 9.73 against an 11. 02 and his teammate Wyker lost to Franek when he thought he had too much finish line and pedaled a 10.48 at 125 to the winner’s 10.25, 124. The final was almost dead even on the launch and this one was going to be close all the way to the stripe. Franek had a .001 on the tree and actually reached the finish line first, but his ever so slightly under the dial time of 10.189 at 125 mph pushed him to second place by a mere.001 breakout. Zetterberg cashed in his 9.71 elapsed time with a speed of 138 mph for his victory.
It has been a strange year in Street eliminator. Bill Hakucsa has made it to a final only once, and that race he lost. His dominance in the bracket has not shown itself thus far. Steve Baker had a hot hand earlier in the year but has struggled a bit since. This has opened the door for some other drivers to step up to the pay window. Jeff Rahner and Ron Zang were finalists in the opener in April where Rahner prevailed. Zang was the champ in June and moved his record to one and one. This pair faced off again this week and it was a very short race. Rahner had beaten Bob Gay’s Corvette in the quarters while Gary Coleman took his match with Ed Kozak when the latter fouled in his Mustang. Zang ran solo. Zang them got his Camaro into the deciding round as Coleman’s 31 Ford Coupe slowed down after a superior light to lose at 12.87, 101 to Zang’s 14.19, 94.36. Rahner was unopposed and was ready for Zang in the money round. Zang pushed the tree too hard and went red to drop the race at 14.36, 93.45. Rahner’s BBC motored Buick Skylark ragtop clocked in with an 11.67 at a top speed of 109.44.
Even though he rode in really late, Barry Stephens collected yet another Bike title, typically doing what needed to be done without actually dominating the competition. Stephens bested Don Hookway in the SF using superior RT as Dave Ferguson rode his sled to a win over Gary DeGrange. Ferguson cut a great .004 light in the final that looked to have Stephens all but out of contention. As Ferguson closed at the top end he decided that he had too much win light coming his way and lifted a bit. That was just the edge Stephens needed to hold on for the win via his 9.74, 114.27 time slip. Ferguson had to settle for second place with his 10.08 at 126.98.
As luck would have it, within ten minutes of the last race going off, it started to, yes, just say it, RAIN. There are rumors circulating around the pits that some of the folks are looking up the specs for an ARK and practicing counting by twos. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.