POINTS RACE NEARING END FOR 2017
The season long points race in four categories hit the next to the last weekend for the 2017 season, and while there are still challenges for some to make it onto the team for the finals, three of the four brackets appear to have the top seed position decided. Craig Sonderfan and Barry Stephens have leads too big to overcome with only one race remaining in Pro and Bike. Street is led by Steve Baker by four rounds over Connie Wackermann so there is a chance for her to overtake the leader, but it will take her winning the bracket next weekend and Baker going out in the first or second round, depending on the car count. In Super Pro, top seed Todd Martin gave up a lot of ground this week to a fast closing Robbie Boyd. Boyd has moved within a round of the leader and will face a critical challenge in the final event as these two seem destined to battle it out to see who gets to compete in the Race of Champions.
Todd Martin started the day with a five round lead over Robbie Boyd in S/P, but the RED machine lost in round one and had to hope the Camaro driver miscued early in eliminations. That did not happen. Boyd beat Barry Moyer and Steve Sperone in the early going, then took out John Graziano’s Impala in the quarters. Rich Wilk, who had to buy back into the bracket, gunned down the Buick of Rob Chilenski for a QF advance and Dave Hebig stayed alive by taking out Terry Kimball. Wilk ran solo in the SF and Boyd tuned up with a 7.58 at 135 in ousting Hebig’s dragster when a foul light came on in his lane. Boyd suffered a similar fate when he went red in the final a blasted a 7.54, 136.58 for second place while Wilk cashed in on his second effort with a 6.29 time at 161 mph.
Joe Theodore has run well with his Monza all season, but hadbeen unable to get into a title round, until this week. Jim Trommelin and his AMC Spirit entry pushed Bill VanGoor under the number to move up to the semis. Steve Shadis, again making strong and clean passes in the family Mustang, won over a fouling Mike Franek, 11.96 against a 10.18. Theodore ran unopposed. Trommelin got a slight advantage on the tree against Theodore but ran out big time on an 11.27, 114.76 to give the Chevy a last chance on a 9.71, 137.64. After a Shadis bye run he matched up with Theodore where both entries were competing in their first final of the year. Shadis was inexplicably late on the tree and lost even with an on the dial 11.96 and 110.18. Theodore grabbed the win light with a slip of 9.75 and 127.21.
Steve Baker upped his record to three wins and one loss in final round appearances with a victory in Street bracket. Baker helped his cause for the run to the top points spot by taking out number two overall Connie Wackermann in the QF. Jeff Rahner got by Bill Hakucsa, Vincent Gould outdrove Russ Picone and Patty Franek ran solo. Gould, having his best outing of the year, ran a 13.62 and 96.73 in the Olds to make Franek’s 11.69, 110 time null. Baker easily won over Rahner when the Buick racer fouled out. Gould then made the same mistake against Baker in the trophy pass, a red light negating a 13.58, 97.37 effort while Baker sealed the deal with a ticket of 12.08 at 109.81.
The Bike points were the closest they have been at this point inthe season in many years, with Barry Stephens only a couple of rounds ahead of Don Hookway. It didn’t take long for Hookway’s chances for a ROC spot to disappear when he lost to Charlie Koenig in the opening round and Stephens beat Dave Ferguson. Those two runners, along with Gary DeGrange made it to the semis where Stephens ran solo. Koenig had a mishap just off the starting line, coming separated from his sled and DeGrange was a finalist. Fortunately Koenig was uninjured in the incident, largely due to the slower speed at the time and proper safety equipment. Stephens was better than DeGrange for the title, using some top end guile to make DeGrange back off his throttle to slow to a runner-up time of 11.38, 115.41 and Stephens to grab the money on a 9.70, 120.94 card.
Wayne Rudy won Consolation One when Jim Baggiano went red and the dragster hit a 6.87, 147 to an 8.08, 124. Tylor Wyker was the best of Consolation Two after he ran hard enough to cause a run out by John Lordito. A 10.41, 125 won the day over a too quick 14.29, 93.73. Paul Stanko was Trophy winner in his Dodge truck at 12.92 and 106.42.
We are saddened to report that Super Pro racer Jerry Nedo suffered a serious medical emergency in the pits on Saturday night. Despite all the efforts of the track safety crew and local paramedics, Jerry did not survive. Our sincere condolences to Jerry’s family and friends on their loss. His passing leaves yet another hole in the Island Dragway family album.