NORWALK, Ohio -- Former U.S. Nationals winner Ken Perry claimed Top Alcohol Dragster and two-time Division 3 champ Chris Foster took Top Alcohol Funny Car at the B'laster Cavalcade of Stars presented by Budweiser at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, Race 2 of the NHRA North Central regional series
Perry came from behind in the final to nip veteran Marty Thacker, who had a .017 second reaction time, 5.38 to 5.48. The Canadian driver was the class of the field throughout eliminations, running low elapsed time of all three rounds, a 5.42 and back-to-back 5.38s.
"The car's been working really well all year and it's not hurting itself at all," said Perry, who was runner-up at the North Central regional opener three weeks ago in Indianapolis. "I changed just about everything in the engine, and it's happy right now. This should be our second win; we should have won Indy, too." Jared Dreher beat Perry in the Indy final but lost the rematch in the first round of this event, 5.42 to 5.56.
Thacker, who left on everybody he raced by at least half a tenth, had the early lead in the final but fell short by 25-thousandths of a second - about half a car length. "We knew we had more car and should win, and I didn't want to get stupid and red-light because I've already had one this year," Perry said. "You shouldn't have to worry about another blown-alcohol car driving around you, but I drove it out the back door just to be sure."
In qualifying, which was run in front of a turn-away crowd, five-time Top Alcohol Dragster world champ Bill Reichert was the quickest in each of the first two sessions and left with low e.t., 5.28. He smoked the tires in a first-round loss to Jerry Powell.
Foster was as consistent in Top Alcohol Funny Car as Perry was in Top Alcohol Dragster, establishing low e.t. of all three rounds of eliminations and the last two rounds of qualifying. Fred Hagen Jr., who dominated the Norwalk national event last year, ruled the early going with a 5.53, which was low e.t. by almost a full tenth.
Hagen broke on the burnout in the semifinals against John Anderika and Foster won a close one over Brian Harvanek in the other semifinal matchup, 5.72 to 5.76, to clinch his spot on the Jegs Allstars team. "Making the Allstars team is like winning another division championship," he said. "We always ran a few races in Division 4 and Division 5 and never enough in Division 3 to do it until now."
Foster's crew chief, Will Hanna, was carted off to the hospital before the first qualifying session when a Dzus button run over by an A/Fuel Dragster on a burnout became embedded in his leg. He was taken away in an ambulance but returned for what turned out to be Foster's seventh career Lucas Oil Series win, including three in both 2009 and 2011, the years they won Division 3 titles.
In the final, in the best race of the day, Foster slipped past Anderika to win by less than a foot, 5.74 to 5.75. Anderika moved first by a hundredth of a second, and the cars were never separated by more than six-thousandths at any point on the track. It was Anderika's fifth runner-up - one a year every year since 2008: Cecil County in 2008, Richmond in 2009, Atco in 2010, and Cecil County again in 2011.
"I never saw him, but it must have been tight down there," said Foster, who scored at Norwalk for the second year in a row. "I was over against the wall just about the whole way down the track. It kind of walked out of the groove, and I was worried that if I yanked it back over, he'd get past me. It was just a great weekend overall. Saturday, they had to close the gates and start turning people away, and it was wall-to-wall people in the pits and in the stands. We need somebody like Baders running all of these events."
Jason Coan, Kokomo, Ind., raced to the Comp Eliminator title defeating David Billingsley, Decatur, Ill., who was coming off a win at the division's season opener last month at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. Coan powered his dragster at an 8.109 second lap at 157.74 mph.
In Top Sportsman it was Curt Fredrich, Burlington, Wis., taking the win over Mike Miodowski, in his '68 Camaro running 6.834 seconds at 199.17 mph while the division's Spitzer Race Cars Top Dragster win went to Andy Johnson, Cynthiana, Ky., who had a single in the final when Jim Prevo blew up his motor in his semifinal round win. Johnson went 212.96 mph in 6.490 seconds for his winning run.
Drew Skillman continued his winning ways as he knocked out Brad Zaskowski in Super Stock. The Greenwood, Ind., racer scored the rare double-up win at Atlanta Dragway earlier this month where he won in both Super Stock and Stock Eliminator. Skillman went 9.202, 138.41 in his '12 Mustang to beat Zaskowski by about 8 inches.
Cousins Ricky Shipp and Joey Shipp faced off in the final round of Super Street with Ricky taking home the trophy and the bragging rights to Needham, Ind. Ricky crossed the finish line in 10.898 seconds at 137.69 mph.
A pair of Ohio racers made their way to the winner's circle as Jim Nichols, Centerburg, Ohio, won in Stock over Crag Marshall, Columbus, Ohio, and Glen Ginn, Galion, Ohio, beat Stephanie Shelton, Independence, Ky., in Super Comp. Nichols went 10.500 at 124.65 in his '65 Savoy for the win and Ginn won on a double breakout in the 8.90 index class.
Alan Bush, Erie, Ill., and Edwin Wirbel, Hope, Mich., rounded out the winners as Bush drove his '77 Nova to the win against Bryan Richardson, Woodburn, Ind., and Wirbel went 151.12 mph in defeating Tiina Duncanson, Action, Ont., Can., in the Pro Stock Snowmobile final. Wirbel went 8.518, 151.12 to Duncanson's 8.549, 150.73.
North Central Division racers head to Route 66 Raceway for the next NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event, June 8-10, before returning to Norwalk for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals July 5-8.
The following are the final results from the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Blaster Cavalcade of Stars at Summit Motorsports Park:
TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER: Round 1 5) Marty Thacker, Robinson, Ill., 5.478, 257.97 def. 4) Paul Fishburn, Rensselaer, Ind., 5.448, 261.72 3) Mike Kosky, Cuddy, Pa., 5.776, 239.87 def. 6) Robin Samsel, Marion, Ind., 18.683, 37.96 2) Ken Perry, Markham, Ont., 5.421, 263.67 def. 7) Jared Dreher, Clinton, Ind., 5.564, 244.12 8) Jerry Powell, Kokomo, Ind., 5.699, 259.46 def. 1) Bill Reichert, Owosso, Mich., 12.303, 68.95; Semifinals Thacker, 5.664, 248.48 def. Powell, 5.672, 260.26 Perry, 5.387, 266.95 def. Kosky, 6.216, 152.85 Final Perry, 5.381, 266.37 def. Thacker, 5.486, 259.31 TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR: Round 1 1) Fred Hagen, Godfrey, Ill., '10 Mustang, 10.326, 101.64 def. 9) Fred Tigges, Holbrook, Mass., '01 Avenger, broke 2) Chris Foster, Davenport, Iowa, '11 Mustang, 5.665, 254.62 def. 7) Paul Noakes, London, Ont., '02 Mustang, 5.833, 248.39 6) Brian Harvanek, Cheswick, Pa., '02 Camaro, 5.752, 248.39 def. 3) Cassie Simonton, Brooklyn Park, Minn., '09 Monte Carlo, 11.202, 92.70 5) John Anderika, Wyoming, Pa., '06 Monte Carlo, 5.713, 252.43 def. 4) Ray Drew, Hales Corner, Wis., '04 Firebird, 5.735, 255.24 Semifinals Anderika, 5.788, 251.95 def. Hagen, broke Foster, 5.729, 235.84 def. Harvanek, 5.760, 250.27 Final Foster, 5.744, 250.51 def. Anderika, 5.756, 251.53 COMP ELIMINATOR Jason Coan, Kokomo, Ind., dragster, F/ED, 8.109, 157.74 def. David Billingsley, Decatur, Ill., '93 Cutlass, L/AA, 8.793, 148.22 TOP DRAGSTER Andy Johnson, Cynthiana, Ky., dragster, 6.490, 212.96 def. Jim Prevo, Mundelein, Ill., dragster, broke TOP SPORTSMAN Curt Fredrich, Burlington, Wis., '68 Camaro, 6.834, 199.17 def. Mike Miodowski, Clinton Twp, Mich., '94 Avenger, 7.081, 193.99 SUPER STOCK Drew Skillman, Greenwood, Ind., '12 Mustang, SS/CA, 9.202, 138.41 def. Brad Zaskowski, Grand Rapids, Mich., '87 Camaro, GT/F, 9.949, 129.32 STOCK ELIMINATOR Jim Nichols, Centerburg, Ohio, '64 Savoy, A/SA, 10.500, 124.65 def. Craig Marshall, Columbus, Ohio, '74 Dart, E/SA, 11.060, 113.22 SUPER COMP Glen Ginn, Galion, Ohio, dragster, 8.894, 176.44 def. Stephanie Shelton, Independence, Ky., dragster, 8.887, 171.77 SUPER GAS Alan Bush, Erie, Ill., '77 Nova, 9.896, 156.35 def. Bryan Richardson, Woodburn, Ind., '34 Chevy, 9.888, 146.91 SUPER STREET Ricky Shipp, Needham, Ind., '70 Nova, 10.898, 137.69 def. Joey Shipp, Whiteland, Ind., '68 Camaro, 10.890, 145.42 PRO STOCK SNOWMOBILE Edwin Wirbel, Hope, Mich., '03 Mach Z, 8.518, 151.12 def. Tiina Duncanson, Acton, Ont., '11 Ski Doo, 8.549, 150.73