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NHRA LODRS IHRA Drag News Photos
Wed, 18 Oct 2006, 07:47 AM

I Told You So
By Bob Frey
Photo copyright 2006 Auto Imagery, Inc.






Line and team celebrate win.
A few weeks ago, before the first weekend in Richmond, I told you that the Pro Stock drivers who had tested at Virginia Motorsports Park liked the track so much that they said we should see a 6.5 run at the event. What they didn't tell me was that there would be so many. A full twenty-four Pro Stock drivers recorded their personal best numbers, either elapsed time, speed or both, at the Torco Racing Fuels Nationals this past weekend. The barrage was so stunning that, coming into the race there had not been a single run in the 6.5 range, and now all of the top ten runs in the class are 6.5 seconds. It was simply amazing. The leader of the pack, of course, was Jason Line who not only set the national record for the second consecutive event, but he won the race, got the maximum (138) points and is now the leader in the clubhouse in the battle for the POWERade Championship. With two races to go Jason has increased his lead to a healthy 119 points over his teammate, Greg Anderson. The two Summit Racing Pontiacs have been the best cars all year long from a performance

Line vs Anderson
standpoint and it now looks like Jason may be the heir apparent to the Pro Stock throne that has been held by Greg for the last three years. Wasn't it John Force who once said of Tony Pedregon "I've hired my own assassin?" That same line could apply to Greg right now, couldn't it? The fact that Jason has set the record at consecutive events can't be lost in this championship battle since that accounts for forty points, or two rounds. And just how tough is it to set a Pro Stock elapsed time record at back-to-back events? Well, did you know that the last time that was accomplished was back in 1990 when Darrell Alderman did it at Topeka and Dallas? And did you know that in the history of the Pro Stock class, which began in 1970, a driver has set the national elapsed time record at consecutive national races a grand total of six times. Jason and Darrell did it and so did Larry Lombardo in 1976 (Englishtown and Sanair), Bob Glidden in 1975 (Pomona and Gainesville) and both Don Nicholson (Pomona and Gainesville) and Wayne Gapp in 1973 (Amarillo and Ontario). That's how good Jason's car is right now. The 138 point effort was the first for Jason and that makes him only the fourth Pro Stock driver to do that. Greg has done it once, Warren Johnson did it five times and the great Bob Glidden did it an amazing fourteen times. That's how good Bob was. Anyway, now that all the shouting has died down, you have to like Jason's chances of becoming just the fourteenth driver to win the Pro Stock championship since the class began thirty-six years ago. I know, it's not over yet, but if anyone wants to take Greg you can catch up with me at the

Bob Glidden
tower in Las Vegas on Thursday and we can make a little wager. For amusement purposes only, of course...If he holds on and wins the title Jason will join drivers like Jeg Coughlin, Ronnie Sox and Mike Fons as guys who won the Pro Stock championship after winning a sportsman crown, too. Of course Ronnie and Mike won their sportsman crowns back in the 1960's before Pro Stock was a class, while Jeggie won the Super Gas championship in 1992 to go with his two Pro Stock titles. Jason, for those who may not know, won the Stock Eliminator national championship in 1993....Tom Martino, who was in the other lane when Jason won the event, has had several good years in the Pro Stock class but 2006 has to be among his

Tom Martino
best. Despite not running all of the events Tom has been to three final rounds with a win at Gainesville earlier this year. Along with car owner, Richard Maskin, and their primary sponsor Knoll Gas & Energy, they have done very well and let's hope this team starts the 2007 season out in Pomona because they could be a real factor in the title chase next year. Did you know that this is the third time that Tom has been to three finals in the same year? He did it back in 1997 and 1998 in addition to this year. The final round was also the fifteenth of his career which moved him past his idol, Bill Jenkins, and ties him with Wayne Gapp on the all-time list..By the way, you may have read (but not here) that Ken Black, who owns the cars that Greg and Jason drive, was thinking about bringing out two more cars because of the new point system for next year. Well, that simply isn't going to happen and never was. "Greg and Jason would kill me if I did that," Ken told me Sunday. "The amount of work involved in something like that is unbelievable not to mention the expense. I was just making on off-handed comment about what I might do because that points thing narrows it down to four cars for the final two races of the year next season, and anyone who heard it should have known that's just what it was. Believe me, it was never a consideration, not for a moment." There, another internet rumor put to rest...maybe!


John Force
John Force, Ron Capps and Robert Hight, the three guys battling for the Funny Car championship, didn't win the race in Virginia, Eric Medlen did, and in the process Eric and the Castrol Syntec team moved into fourth place in the standings. At the same time, Ron went out in round one, Robert in round two and John a round later which means that John now leads the pack by forty-six points over Ron and by fifty-four over Robert. A quick look at those numbers means that we should have a points battle going into Pomona. The only thing we don't know is which teams and how many will be involved in it. Eric, who won from the number one spot, did everything but set top speed en route to the win and he certainly seemed to have the best car on race day. Along with his father, John, and the rest of the Syntec crew, Eric bunched four runs between 4.831 and 4.795 on Sunday and that's tough to beat. Sure, a couple of other cars ran better, but none ran longer than Eric. Scott Kalitta and the Toyota team, ran 4.808 in round one while John went 4.828 and Robert logged a 4.760 (which was low E/T on race day) in the initial stanza, but other than that, Eric had low elapsed time in every other round and he was the last man standing. Eric's

Pedregon vs Medlen
opponent in the final round, Cruz Pedregon, was trying to duplicate the feat that his brother, Tony, did earlier this year and that was to beat all three of the Team Force cars on the same day. Tony did it in Atlanta and, to date, he is the only guy to stop all three of John's cars at the same race. Cruz came close, and his 4.873 in the final round kept Eric honest but it just wasn't enough to beat him....I did a podcast interview with John Force after the race and it should be available on NHRA.com and I think you'll find it very interesting and informative. John talks about his incident at the race when his car blew up and he was rolling around on the ground at the end of the track. "I need to follow the instructions that came with my fire suit," he said. "They tell you to always wear the fire-proof underwear with it and I wasn't and I got burned. I can tell you that that will never happen again." John also talks about his daughter, Ashley, who tested yesterday in Virginia and, from what I heard, it now looks like she will turn pro next year. At least that's what I took from the interview and you can judge for yourself by checking it out. John is, as always, very honest and out spoken and he also talks about the points battle and his approach to the next two races. Anytime you can get a moment to sit down with John it's a good thing. Plus, and I know this will make him happy, there are no edits on the tape so you'll get everything that he said just as he said it. Good luck to John, Ron and Robert at the next two races..By the way, the Funny Car class was the only one of the three pro classes that didn't have a single driver record his personal best this past weekend. What's up with that?


McClenathan and team celebrate win.
Cory McClenathan's win was big for him, the Carrier Boys, Mark and Andy, Fram Boost and everyone associated with that team. After a near miss in Columbus earlier this year, Cory finally broke that long, two year drought as he picked up his 29th career Top Fuel win which ties him with Doug Kalitta for sixth place on the all-time win list. I would also like to add a special thanks to all the folks at Fram who said earlier this year that they would donate $1000 to DRAW for every win that their teams recorded this season. Thanks, Fram, and I ask you, how cool would it be if we could get every sponsor to do that? Anyway, I digress. The win moved Cory and the team back into the POWERade top ten (ninth) ahead of JR Todd and less than a round away from Morgan Lucas who is in eighth place....I have never been able to figure out why but certain drivers always seem to do well at certain tracks. Did you know that when the NHRA tour was in Virginia a few years ago Cory won the race three times and was in another final round. He told me after the race that "you just get into a comfort zone at certain tracks and this is one for me." I guess it is, Cory. Nice job by the entire team who vowed not to smoke the tires in the final round. "We want to go down the track and if they beat us, fine, but we don't want to beat ourselves," Wes Cerny said. By the way, there aren't many guys, or any guys, who have sent more fuel cars down the track over the course of the years than Wes Cerny has? Did you know that Wes Cerny, along with his partner, Don Moody, set the national Top Fuel record at the "Last Drag Race" at Lions Dragway in 1972? They also set records at Orange County, Irwindale and Carlsbad that same year. Prior to that last drag race, almost immediately prior to that, the team also won the big National Challenge event in Tulsa and the NHRA Supernationals. That was one, tough team. Anyway, congrats to the

Tony Schumacher
team for winning this weekend and, if you'd like to hear from the owners of the Fram Boost car, the POWERade podcasts this week will also include an interview with Mark and Andy Carrier...Tony Schumacher sure picked a bad time to lose in round one, didn't he? Actually there is no good time to lose in the first round but, after making a real charge to the front, or almost to the front of the points, the driver of the "Army" car was beaten in round one by David Baca and his "Mach 1 Air Services" team. That loss, coupled with Doug Kalitta's semi-final appearance and Brandon Bernstein's second round loss (to Doug) means that the MAC Tools driver is now eighty-three

Melanie Troxel
points ahead of Brandon, who moved into second place, and eighty-nine up on the "Sarge." You need to leave Las Vegas with a 139 point advantage so it looks like the Top Fuel battle will carry over to Pomona, although Doug could wrap it up in Vegas if everything falls into place for him....Melanie Troxel continued to pile up the awards this year when she was named the "Sportswoman of the Year" by the Women's Sports Foundation last night. In a gala affair at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, Melanie picked up the award and she added her name to a rather impressive list of female athletes that includes Annika Sorenstam, Juli Inkster, Steffi Graf and others. The award is richly deserved and congratulations go out to Mel and her team, including owner Don Schumacher, crew chief Richard Hogan and everyone on the Skull Gear/Torco entry.


Frank Manzo
As impressive as Jason Line's run to the winner's circle was this weekend I'm not sure that it was even the best performance at the event. Frank Manzo, who had clinched his tenth Lucas Oil World Championship at Maple Grove two weeks ago, absolutely crushed the competition en route to his win in TA/FC. Frank's worst run of the weekend, including three in qualifying and four on race day, was a 5.517 which equaled the best run in the history of the class coming into the event. Frank ran a best of 5.454 in the semi-finals and all of his runs in eliminations were in the 5.4-second range. He also made the fastest run in the history of the class, a stunning 263.26 mph blast in the semi-finals. It was, in a word, awesome. I can't remember a driver having a weekend that was that dominating in any class in quite some time...if ever. I asked Frank if he had ever had a weekend like that and he said "no," and then I asked Brad Littlefield, the reporter for National Dragster, and a guy whose dad has been running in the Top Alcohol Funny Car ranks for years, and he said that he can't remember such a dominating performance either. And Brad has seen a lot of alcohol cars go down the track. Oh, by the way, did you know that Brad's father, Mert, ran at that "Last Drag Race" that I mentioned earlier? Well he did. Anyway, Frank was almost perfect and now he can sit back, make a leisurely trip to California to pick up his hardware and enjoy what he has accomplished. As a fan of the sport I can honestly say that it was a pleasure to see that performance....Bob Tasca III, the runner-up to Frank, had a very good weekend, one that would have been a record setting

Bill Reichert
weekend had it not been for Frank. Bob, who went to four final rounds at national events this year, ran a best of 5.535 in eliminations and that's really good. The driver of the Quick Lane Ford should be pleased with his year in the class. It's got to be tough running an alky funny car in the Division 1 area, where Frank makes his living....Bill Reichert wrapped up the Top Alcohol Dragster title when he won two rounds in Virginia. Bill, his wife, Gloria and son Andy, have done a great job and this has to be Bill's finest year ever, and that's saying something since he almost won the whole thing in 2004. Did you know that Bill lost to Duane Shields in the second round at Pomona that year and when Duane lost to Mitch Myers in the semis, Mitch won the championship? In addition to his family, Bill had a lot of help this year from his sponsor, Rislone, Bob Adams, Mike Libengood, Cory Eich, Tom Hammil, Ron Potter and Steve Hammond....While he didn't win the race Ken Perry did make a little drag racing history when he went 5.255 which is the quickest pass ever by a supercharged, alcohol burning dragster. Ken also went 5.258 in the first round before his stunning pass in round two..Marty Thacker, the runner-up in the class, also dipped into the 5.20 range, and he did it three times in eliminations. It was a great race for all of the teams in the alky dragster class..Anthony Fetch won the Stock Eliminator title in Virginia and that puts him in a very select group. Not the Stock Eliminator winners, there have been 295 of them, but drivers who have won division titles in the Summit Racing E/T Series, gone to Pomona and won a national event on the Lucas Oil tour. Anthony represented Division 1 at the Summit Finals in Pomona in 2000 and, to this day, says it was "one of the best experiences of my life." Nice going, Anthony, keep up the good work.





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