THIS TIME WE ALMOST MADE IT
With an unprecedented second straight week of good weather, racers showed up with a bit of a stunned look in their eyes wondering about the origin of that light in the sky. After realizing it was the sun, and that Juliet was not in the program, it was time to kick the tires and light the fires in an attempt to garner enough points to secure a first half berth for the Finals team. With the kind of climate that has plagued the season thus far, it is imperative to make rounds while the sun shines. And with only one additional week before the changeover to second half action, every point counts, big time.
With only a few hiccups along the trail, just about everything was completed and winners crowned in every bracket with the exception of Super Pro. One of the things that happens during summer night racing is that when the dew point is high and it begins to get late in the evening, there can be a tendency for some light moisture to cling to the racing surface. It generally doesn’t make much difference for most of the cars, but when you are pushing big tire dragsters between 155 and 175 mph in the 1000 foot course, it can get a bit edgy. With two buy back racers making ready to meet up for the final, both Dave Hebig and Robbie Boyd looked at the conditions and decided that safety was the better part of valor, and agreed to split the money for the eliminator without chancing a potential slip and slide pass. Boyd had moved out of the quarters on a single while Hebig got the best of Steve Jepko. Wilbur Hoopel took down George Foster and Jim Young bested points leader Andrew Bracuto. Hebig should have lost the semis when he spun the tires at mid track but Hoopel knew the dragster had a wicked top end capability and so stayed in the pedal to record a run under 8.58 while the 5 second dragster slowed to a 7.55. A huge withdrawal from the luck bank to make Hebig a finalist. Boyd also got a lucky break when Jim Young’s Camaro, which had been battling a cooling line leak all night, finally had to concede in the SF and let Boyd go unopposed at 7.53, 149. And that, as they say, was that.
Craig Sonderfan has not had the best of years thus far, starting the night outside of the top 10 in the standings. But the champ from Midland Park was on his game this night and walked off with the Pro prize and a fistful of points. Sonderfan, driving the Camaro of Bill VanGoor, marched through the field to face last week’s runner up Scott Embley in a quarter final match. Embley had a better light but used too much brake at the big end and lost via a 9.65 and 137 to the winner’s 9.27 at 137. Tanner Kootwares won when Mike Olsen went red on the tree and Joe Focarino pushed Jim Young off his number to win at 9.65, 134 to a 10.41 and 122. Focarino suffered mechanical failure in the semi round that allowed Sonderfan to move into a race with Kootsares, who ran solo. Sonderfan nailed the final with a quicker reaction time and a pass of 9.25 at 137 mph for his first victory of the year. Kootsares posted up a 10.50, 127 speed in the Chrin’s Automotive Camaro.
Ed Kozak ousted Bob Gay in the quarters of Street as Steve Baker did likewise to Patty Franek and Ed Franks gunned down John Dickson. Baker, still without his familiar Camaro that won this division last season and driving the Blazer of Scott Embley, byed the semis as Kozak ran 11.63 to take out Franks’ 11.86. Baker had the final in the bag and looked to collect the payout, the Muller Classic bonus and the $100 bonus from Renz Motorsports, but he blew a superior RT with a break out 12.19 at 103 mph to settle for runner-up money and $50 from Renz Motorsports. Kozak hammered out a slip of 11.53, 114 which was less under his dial.
Chris Miele once again hauled in the Stephens Towing #1 Qualifier bonus and led the pack from start to finish in the Bike clash. After a single in the opener, Miele got by Joe DiPiazza and Barry Stephens to face Dave Ferguson for the money. Ferguson was aboard his back up sled and may decide to make it his primary ride after a great showing. But the last dash found Ferguson going too quick at 9.64, 132 for second place finish as Miele padded his points lead with a victorious 9.28 and 146.27.
Greg Myers won Trophy class over Vinnie Yannone. The Camaro from Dunnellen went 10.11, 116 for the light to a close but losing 12.66, 111 on the Mustang. Larry Pappas beat Bill Wackermann in Consolation Two. Wackermann made it easy in the title race with red light activated 13.46 as Pappas ran on his dial at 10.40, 132.
It was a civil war race in J/D as brother faced brother when Gavin and Owen Roth raced for the trophy. While Owen was better at the starting line, his slightly under 7.97, 79.36 threw the win light on for Gavin at 8.95 and 72.83 mph. And Saige Embley repeated the J/ST victory by getting by Mike Franks. A 9.13, 69.23 was all it took for the Blazer to win on a better reaction and the truck of Franks fell just short at 11.00, 64.36.
The Impala circuit was on hand for their usual double race event. As luck would have it, local racer Keith Burnham won both of the races. Burnham was better than Doug Kelly in the first contest when the Caprice ran 15.38 and 87.31 while Kelly put on the red light. Burnham’s opponent in the final of the seco0nd race was Nabel Guffy and his Caprice out of NY. Burnham barely got this win on a 15.35 at 87.39 to a losing 11.95, 115.45.