The annual running of the King of the Track always brings out the best ion racers all vying for the coveted Wally and bragging rights that go along with winning the four class runoff. Run over a course of 1000 feet because that is the distance the Super Pro cars run and without crosstalk, it still seems that the fastest class enters the fight with a little advantage. But as can be seen, concentration and desire makes up for any perceived advantage. Just goes to support the saying, that’s why we run it on the track instead of on paper.
Barry Stephens has a long history of being one of the hardest to beat in Bike eliminator with a bucket full of track championships and a few Wally’s in his trophy case to prove it. In the past two years he has won the Race of Champions at the Division and runner-upped in the bracket runoff. Still, when you have to race against a long term racer like Leigh Ratzkovich who won in Pro and Frank Armando who pulled a double victory by taking the title in Super Pro and Sportsman, becoming the KOT is no walk in the park. Stephens needed a little help when he first ran Armando as the Camaro racer cut the better light and took the stripe, but with a break out 9.58 on a 9.61 dial that had the two-wheeler moving on at 7.92. Armando then faced the Mustang of Ratzkovich and again ran under at 9./71 while the Ford clocked an 8.72. Primed, aimed and ready, Stephens gave up the head start in the final then nabbed a couple of hundredths on the tree and hauled in the honors with a pass of 7.98, 125.59 as the Stand hit an 8.76 and 109.54. So for the next year, the cry in the pits will “ All Hail Barry”, the king lives.
Now that we know the ultimate outcome, let’s find out how they all got to that point. Frank Armando had perhaps the slowest car in Super Pro but marched through the faster field to take the nod. Armando drove his Camaro past the Nova of Walt Kumka in the quarters and then took out the dragster of Jason Wilson for a SF win. Meanwhile, Matt Bonocore and his RED machine was taking care of business with the sleek Camaro of Randy Wendtland and the digger of Terry Kinball. Armando parlayed a little starting line advantage into a win light as he recorded a 9.66 at 103.11 that pushed Bonocore under the dial with a losing 6.49 and 153.72.
After a bit of confusion in Pro due to an operator error in the tower that muddled the round number, the quarter finals had John Hedenburg besting Pat Conway, Pat Campomizzi taking down Brian Mullaney and Leigh Ratzkovich turning back Larry Pappas. Hedenburg fouled out in his SF match with Campomizzi and the 56 Chevy racer went into the final race with Ratzkovich who had soloed the semis. Ratzkovich ran his 351C motored Mustang to the winner’s circle with a 10.50, 125.54 effort as Campomizzi came up short with his 10.33 at 127.23 ticket.
It is a bit unusual for one car and driver to win in two brackets at an event, but when it happens it is generally Pro and Super. But Frank Armando took a different path when he claimed the victory in Sportsman as well as Super. Bill Wackermann fell to Armando in the QF round while Connie Wackermann was taking out Gary Coleman’s’s1Ford and Mike Barbone took the measure of Bob Levers. Wackermann ran unopposed in the semis as Armando set down Barbone to set the stage for the trophy run. A superior light and an 11.68, 113.56 ticket was all Armando needed to drop Wackermann to second place on an 11.81 and 114.66.
Barry Stephens won in Bike as you know from the KOT report, but how he did it was a story in and of itself. His sec0ond round race was where he was most vulnerable where last year’s points champ took a small RT advantage and ran just .02 off his number that wasn’t good enough to best Stephens. Other than that race, Stephens had the starting line advantage for the rest of the event. Ken Thiedemann fouled out against him in the SF and Hookway got by Joe DiPiazza in the QF and had the single in the semis. Now, Stephens and Hookway have raced each other so often that they could take it on the road as a match race duo, and while Stephens holds the win/loss advantage thus far, Hookway did beat him at the finals last year. But tonight, Stephens picked up a little more ground in the points race as he legged a 9.61 and 133.28 to put on the win light. Hookway kept it close with his 9.43 and 143.47 runout.
Not satisfied with one eliminator win, Pat Campomizzi also scored in Trophy eliminator. The Hawthorne pilot took down Bobby Pip’s beautiful 66 Mustang for the cup, 10.35, 121.38 versus a 12.02 at 109.14.
Evan Wackermann was the best of Jr. Street as the family Camaro held sway over the Mustang driven by Tom Dugan. Dugan went red of the tree to toss away an 11.16 that gave the title to Wackermann on a 9.18, 73.77.
And Alexis Sanseverino was the cream of the crop in Jr. Dragster competition. Final round opponent Madison Meredith ended the final early with a foul start that negated her 7.93, 82.23 effort. Sanseverino ran up a time of 8.52 at a speed of 76.76 for the award.
After a week off the second half of points for the year kicks off on June 15. Clear the boards and load the horses cause it looks to be a very exciting season to chase a trip to the finals.