POINTS CHALLENGES SURFACE EARLY IN THE CHASE
Getting a late start on the hunt for points to represent Island Dragway at the Bracket Finals surely hasn’t diminished the quality of the competition for supremacy to be the top seed at the divisional event. Although there is still plenty of time for a great deal of shuffling in all categories, each bracket has brought the few to the top of the list and provides both a numerical and psychological advantage. But even those who seem to be presently in control know that just one bad outing can cause a huge swing in the standings and they must be on their game each and every round.
The Super Pro tally currently is a toss-up between Frank Duplissis Jr and George Roche Jr. Each racer had one bracket victory to his credit as the day’s event got underway and early rounds seemed to set the stage for a showdown before it was over. Rich Wilk was also in the hunt but dropped his opening race and fell back from contention for the present. Roche had dispatched Mark Pullen and Barry Moyer to move into the quarters while Duplissis got the better of James Arata and Randy Kurachik in his quest. Roche then faced Bob Willing and the Camaro took down the quicker RED entry with a 9.13, 111.28 slip to a losing 6.61 and 150.55. Todd Martin, making his first appearance of the year, edged out the 56 Chevy of Mike Canova when the 7.96 and 129 3 effort came up short to the dragster’s 6.42, 156. After Duplissis took the bye to complete the round, he matched his dragster with Martin’s and advanced into the final as he recorded a 6.43 at 146.96 that defeated Martin’s 6.46 and 151. Roche went to the final on a solo pass and a classic matchup for the points lead developed. Whoever won the round would leave with the lead, but it would be very slim indeed. Duplissis picked up a little advantage on the tree and as both racers neared the finish line it was time to play who can push the other guy to go too quick for the stripe. As it turned out neither driver dipped under the handicap but a 6.42 at 161.57 showed up for Duplissis and he took the S/P title for the day as well as the points lead. Roche was runner-up and kept the competition close on a 9.16, 110.66.
While the Duplissis family goes head to head in S/P, the Maffiore clan competes together in Pro eliminator. And they’d do so very effectively. Frank Jr had the lead prior to the start of eliminations with Sr only about a round behind. But a rare first round loss for Frank Jr changed the dynamics quickly and Frank Sr won his race to draw virtually even. Frank Jr and Chuck Henion Jr, who was also looking the rule the category both lost early, and trying to buy back in found on the Monte Carlo of Maffiore being successful. With his closest rivals both out of the points count for the day, every round that Maffiore Sr won expanded his lead by 100. The father and son met in the QF round and after Sr, this week in a 94 Caprice, was late on the tree Jr fell off the pace to a 13.00 and let pop advance on a 14.93. Duane Hoven was having a good day with his Maverick as he sent Mile Williams home, 10.85, 122 to the Camaro’s 10.69, 123. Matt Cestra fouled out against Reggie Whitson, a buy back runner with his Buick. And Andrew McCauley gunned down the Nova of John Lobosco, 10.82 at 125 aboard the Mustang to a losing 10.39, 122 that was too quick and too late. Whitson surprised McCauley in the semis, 12.36 and 104 turning back a 10.82, 125. Maffiore then went to the trophy dash when his 14.55 and 88.99 held off the closing march of Hoven, who lost on a 10.81, 122.88 ticket. It didn’t take Maffiore long to secure the victory when Whitson turned on the red light and tossed away a 12.44 at 107.97 for second place to Maffiore’s 14.52 and 93.10.
Of the four drivers who headed the points in Street only one survived past the opening round. Tony Golonka came up short in the first round, and Rudy Gnehm and Russ Picone were gone by the end of the second session. Only Bill Voelzke made it to the QF segment where he lost to Dan Baker’s Ford, 14.89, 84.14 to the Dart’s 11.63 and 112.79. Matt Cestra, who bought his way back in after an initial loss, sent Vincent Gould to the exit as the Suburban used a 17.70 and 77.13 to turn away the 12.62, 105.84 by the Malibu. Bob Levers soloed the round in his Corvette. Baker took the semis over Levers after the Vetter fouled out a 14.07, 95.73 and the Lightening machine clocked a 14.82 at 89.81. Cestra was unopposed on his way to the title race. Cestra completed his comeback via a superior RT and a 17.76 at 74.75 that was enough to hold off the closing but too late truck’s 14.87, 87.69.
Bike eliminator was taken by David Ferguson, whose Arctic Cat went off against the Suzuki of Ken George in the final. Ferguson added to his points total with a 10.98 and 108.95 to cross the stripe ahead of the multi-time track and division champ, who ticketed a 9.44 at 145.86 mph.
James Arata defeated Randy Kurachik for the Consolation One honors while Randy Pobutkiewicz was better than Gerard Lisa for Consolation Two. Arata and his Mustang made a withdrawal from the luck bank after giving up the advantage on the starting line and it appeared the dragster had it covered. Both drivers feathered it at the finish line hoping perhaps to push the other under but good times popped up with a win light for Arata. An 8.37 at 123.63 was good enough to beat the 6.54 and 154.16 in a race decided by a mere .002 seconds at the stripe. Randy P cut a great light at .006 to start the final round with Lisa for the C2 class. Needing only an 11.06 and 105.03 to complete the task the Chevy pickup bumped out the Malibu’s 10.35 at 128.19.
With a week off to recover and a two day points event coming the first weekend in August, one thing is certain. The struggle for a spot on the finals team and for the right to go to the Race of Champions will intensify very shortly. Stand by for some great racing action.