The 2018 season had to wait an additional week to get underway as this Spring has been anything but hospitable for racing.  After writing off almost the entire month of March and with cold and wind taking away the scheduled bracket competition opener, finally a nice Saturday greeted the competitors with temps in the 80s during the afternoon.  They slid into the 50s by event’s end with a stiff headwind thrown in for good measure. But regardless, the 2018 season officially got started with some great action and a few new wrinkles.

Two of the three car brackets were won by buy back racers who lost in the opening round and fought their way to the final after posting some extra cash to get back in.  John Graziano and his impala got the gold in Super Pro and Frank Armando was the champ in Street, and nailed the Muller Customs bonus money for the class, using the same system.  Newcomer Joe Focarino ran through the Pro category with his Monte Carlo doing huge wheelstands all event long. Barry Stephens began where he left off last year with a victory in the Bike eliminator, where the bonus #1 qualifier award he is sponsoring got collected by Scott McGrath. Mark Bogusat won Trophy, Francis Vignola was the champ in J/D and Michael Franks scored in J/St.

Graziano opened the Qf in S/P by besting Jim Young’s Camaro when the latter broke out and Bryan Mirsky took care of Kurt Bauer’s dragster. Dave Hebig had a bye run.  Hebig, who had run as quick as a 5.92 at 174 mph earlier, slowed down to a 6.96 and only 102 that proved successful against Mirsky’s Chevy that ran under the dial, and Graziano ran unopposed.  Hebig rolled the dice in the final with what appeared to be a broken car and dialed at 7 flat to face off with Graziano who ran against a number of 7.83.  Graziano had the advantage on the tree and never relinquished the lead to record his first win of the year at 7.90 and 127.39 while Hebig got close at 6.97 and 131.47.

Four of the five quarter finalist in Pro were driving actual race cars, and only Scott Embley was in his street driver after mechanical problems sidelined his Chevelle.  Nonetheless, Embley mad it as far as the semis with a solo run in the QF.  Andrew Bracuto punched out Gerard Lisa in their pairing and Joe Focarino outgunned Joe Theodore to advance.  Bracuto was a single in the SF and Embley went red against Focarino whose Monte Carlo again put on a show with the front end waving in the air on the launch.  The bright yellow Chevrolet sealed the deal in the final as Focarino took a starting line nod in pursuit of the Pontiac of Bracuto and then posted up an on the dial 9+.54 and 133.01 to haul in the payout.  Bracuto made it a good race but came up on the short end via his 10.29 at 126.98.

Street bracket was the largest contingent of the day with over 40 cars entered.  With a nice payout for that size field and the extra $50 put up by Muller Customs at stake, it was a fierce battle to go rounds.  Six cars made it as far as the quarters where Ed Franks Jr took out Bill Hakucsa while Connie Wackermann was better than Ed Kozak and Frank Armando bested Jeff Rahner.  That put two of the three semi contenders eligible via buy back rules and Wackermann and Armando raced each other to see who would face Franks for the money.  Although Armando hung a light on Wackermann it was at the other end where the race was determined as both runners ran under the dial and Armando emerged with the light at 11.48, 115.25 to a further under 11.60 and 114.77 for Wackermann. Franks rode his solo into the deciding round with Armando and a little better light for Armando and a right on 11.50, 111.53 put the bigger check in his hands. Franks lit up an 11.64 at 112.42 in the losing effort.

Barry’s Towing and Carts is sponsoring a number one qualifier award of $50 a week in Bike, and because last week was a scratch the money rolled over into $100 for this event.  Scott McGrath grabbed that money but fell out of competition in round two while Barry Stephens rowed his way past Dave Ferguson, Gary DeGrange and Chris Miele to make it to yet another final round in the bracket.  Don Hookway ran single in the opening round when his opponent was unable to race, then beat Jacob Teates and Kevin Greenwood to take on his longtime rival.  Stephens won the battle of the starting line and then crossed the top end on a 9.56, 132.43 clip to turn on the light. Hookway’s too quick 9.48, 142.28 was too little and too late but gave him runner-up money.

Mark Bogusast proved better than VinnieYannone in Trophy class as the Chevy clocked a 10.11, 121 to push out the Mustang’s 12.85 at 108.  Francis Vignola rose to the top of the J/D class when he ran a 9.40, 69.89 that outlasted the 9.06, 72.12 effort by Shawn Sansevereno.  Michael Franks took J/ST over a fouling Saige Embley, 10.14 and 78.22 versus a losing 10.55 at 70.44.