There has probably never been a more active time in the sport where female drivers are competing at all levels than right now. From the professional; categories to every sportsman bracket, women are carving out a spot that says they can run with the best of the guys and you had better bring your A game when you come to the line versus the ladies or its trailer time for you.
This weekend contained the most female finalists and winners at Island that anyone can remember. Of the seven main brackets from Super Pro through Junior Dragster, four were won by the girls and in Sportsman it was an all-girl pairing. Saige Embley won her first Sportsman title with a defeat of Patty Franek about a month after appearing in her first final round. Michelle Zetterberg took the Trophy cup when her opponent failed to appear. Jaina Embley, with only a few weeks experience in Junior Street doubled up for the family with a win. And Alexis Sanseverino bested her brother Shawn to annex the Junior Dragster honors. Racing is truly an equal opportunity sport and appears these ladies are destined for some very great things in the future of the sport.
Newcomer Ben Saia took home the honors in Super Pro with a final round defeat of Matt Bonocore, who was making his second straight appearance in the final for the class. Points racers Robbie Boyd fell in the semis and Randy Wendtland and Andrew Bracuto made it to the quarters. Saia’s Chevy turned in an 8.83 at 115.48 to best the ticket of Bonocore with his 6.48 and 154.40.
Mike Franek collected the bucks for Pro when he was better than Terry Benton in the dash for cash. Benton, who had to buy back in after a first round loss, gunned down Brian Mullaney in the QF while Franek and his Dodge dispatched Larry Pappas in his Firebird and John Bosco took out Andrew Bracuto. LoBosco fell to Benton in the semis and Franek singled to line up with the Pontiac racer in the final. A double break out race ended with Franek getting the win light by running just a thousandth less under his dial than Benton. The Dodge recorded a 10.03 at 131.20 to an oh so close 11.04 and 122.08.
Saige Embley had to pay extra to get back into Sportsman but the investment paid dividends. Moving up to the quarters Embley got by Sal Bisesti’s Nova as Patty Franek drove her Gremlin around Jimbo Romagna and Steve Baker, finally in his championship winning Camaro, edged CJ Ketterer’s Mopar entry. Baker, the 2017 Street points winner lost when he raced Franek as the lady hung a huge hole shot on him and ticketed an 11.68, 107 to 11.88 and 110. Embley ran unopposed into the title dash. This all female final was over at the hit when Franek caught a red light and tossed away an 11.62 at 113.63. Embley grabbed her first ever Sportsman title as the Blazer carded a 12.24 second, 108.11 mph effort.
Two weeks ago the Bike points leader, Barry Stephens, won the annual King of the Track award. This week he bit the dust in the opening round to Jacob Teats. Last season Chris Miele led the points for about the entire year and went to the race of champions, but has struggled this season to go rounds. That changed this weekend as Miele advanced over some tough competitors, including Division one Champ Don Hookway and take on Neil Smith, who was making his first appearance of the year. Smith had problems cutting consistent RTs and in the final he went red to a runner-up time of 10.87 and 118.12, Miele made a stout run at 9.30 seconds and 146 mph.
Michelle Zetterberg was supposed to face Alice Hillier in Trophy but ran alone when her opponent didn’t answer the call to go racing. Zetterberg hauled the S10 through the traps at 10.32, 124.75.
Junior Dragster ended in a family affair as siblings Alexis and Shawn Sanseverino faced off in the final. Shawn had the head start but fouled out his 9.08, 72.16 lap to give Alexis the trophy on an 8.65 mark at 75.85.
Junior Street has had numerous winners thus far and there could have been a new name added to the list this week, except for the efforts of one Jaina Embley.
The Younger sister of Saige who you remember won in Spoortsman, posted two .008 reaction times during the event and was better than John Hedenburg in the semis and took out Frank Cariddi in the last race. The Saylorsburg Acura driver ran 10.16 at 71.80 versus the losing Ram truck times of 9.57, 73.96.
John Graziano won Consolation One over Dave Hebig when the Impala’s 7.89, 127.59 proved superior to the RED entry’s 7.52 at 135.66. John Dickson took the measure of Mitch Speert for Consolation Two honors. The Nova hit an 11.65, 103.06 that captured the Ford’s 14.19 and 99.59.
The East Coast Impala Club ran a pair of races that produced two different victors. Stew Drozd bested Dean McFadden in Race 1, 13.65 and 100.12 to a 15.25, 87.50. Race 2 belonged to Jim McCabe when he easily won at 18.45, 92.12 to a foul light start by Dean McFadden whos 15.15, 88.12 was instantly negated by the red bulb.