NORWALK, Ohio -
Thacker defeated rookie 28-year-old Kyle Michalek in a close final, 5.40 to 5.45, and never ran out of the 5.40s all weekend. "We were trying to get into the .30s in the final, and we might have made it if I'd wrung out 2nd gear another 100 or 150 rpm," he said. "He pulled on me through the middle and I pulled on him at the top end. It sounded like his car was fading a little at the end, but I've raced those A/Fuel cars too many times to ever take anything for granted."
It was Thacker's first victory since the national event at Norwalk two years ago; last year was the first year since he moved to NHRA competition with a screw blower that he didn't win at least one race. "Last year was tough on us, but that's over now," said the two-time U.S. Nationals champion, who defeated recent Indy regional winner Bill Reichert in a rematch of that Indy final in round one, 5.41 to 5.54. "To stand a chance against Bill, you've got to get to him early. The longer the race goes on, the better he gets."
Thacker's Rapid Transit/Total Flow team stayed in the .40s in the semifinals with a 5.49 against returning veteran Paul Fishburn despite Thacker stepping off the gas not far past the 1,000-foot clocks. "It nosed over, and I couldn't hear him beside me, so I took a chance," he said. Fishburn's car lurched forward and deep-staged when he brought the motor up, and, trying to avoid a foul start, he had a cautious .223 light.
Michalek, who, with brother Corey earned a sponsorship by winning Champion Spark Plugs' "Search For a Champion" contest, reached the final in his very first start in an A/Fueler. Driving Jared Dreher's car, he qualified No. 2 with a 5.39, easily won the first round when Jeff Veale kicked a rod on the burnout, and defeated Robin Samsel on a holeshot in the semi's, 5.48 to 5.47.
With the win, Thacker joins Reichert on the North Central Jegs Allstars team under the new two-drivers-per-region format. "We made the team for seven or eight years in a row, but that was a long time ago now," he said. "It'll be great to be a part of it all again in Chicago next month."
In the Top Alcohol Funny Car final, Foster defeated Anderika in a rematch of last year's finale - this time by a more comfortable margin, 5.65 (low e.t. of eliminations) to 5.72. Last year, the cars were separated by just two-thousandths of a second at the finish line.
Foster had low e.t. of all three rounds after qualifying in the middle of one of the closest fields in class history. The top seven cars were within three hundredths of a second, from Anderika's off-the-trailer 5.63 to Ray Drew's seventh-best 5.66. Half the field ran a 5.66, and John Bojec set the bubble with a 5.75.
Foster won the opening round with a 5.70 when Drew's car lost the crank trigger near the top of low gear. In the semi's, he advanced easily with a 5.69 when reigning North Central region champion Mickey Ferro went up in smoke right off the line. Anderika won the other semifinal when recent Indy regional winner Andy Bohl was charged with a red-light despite leaving with Anderika. The front of Bohl's Mustang body was deemed to be too low, which led to a -.069 foul and a 1.17 60-foot time.
The win landed Anderika in a final for the ninth time in his career and the second time in 2013. He's been to two regional events this season, reached the final at both, and qualified No. 1 at both - both times with a 5.63.
The Comp Eliminator trophy went home with Greg Kamplain to Brownsburg, Ind., running a 7.676 second pass to Frank Affronti with a red light start handing the win to Kamplain.
Doug Horne kept his streak of final rounds going in Top Fuel Harley as the NHRA Harley Davidson Drag Racing Series was also in action this week in Norwalk. But his win streak would end as Tommy Grimes put his '12 Harley right down the grove with a 6.256 second lap at 223.10 mph. Horne one the first two events of the season but slowed in the final when his bike moved sideways about 200 feet into the run.
DJ Raiser and Thomas Losket headlined the Super Stock and Stock fields taking home the wins and the NHRA Wally trophies. Raiser beat Tom Sheehan to close out the day in his '00 Super Stock Firebird and Losket was 0.001-second on the start in his '69 Roadrunner to defeat Charley Downing in 11.162 seconds at 110 mph.
Troy Coughlin Jr. led at both ends of the track in his Super Gas final against Doug Kroft. The Delaware, Ohio, racer took the holeshot then tripped the clocks at 9.902 on the 9.90 dial for the win. Fellow Ohio racers Jacob Elrod, Lima, Ohio, and Jack Fist Jr., Thornville, Ohio, joined Coughlin in the winner's circle with wins in Super Comp and Super Street respectively. Elrod had to run down Erick Wilkerson with a 8.915, at 163.55 where Fist was near perfect at the start with a 0.001 second reaction time forcing Marsha McFall, Tipp City, Ohio, to run too fast.
Michael Galofaro also took advantage of an early lead in the Spitzer Race Cars Top Dragster class to hold off the quicker Ashley Tidrick and Jerry Albert, Avon, Ohio, won in the Brodix/Steve Schmidt Top Sportsman class with a run of 6.879 at 201.91 over Glenn Butcher.
Frank Berard Jr. made the trip from New York to battle in the Pro Stock Snowmobile Series and took the trophy back east as he knocked out Brian Pretzel. Berard went 8.374 at 153 mph for the win.
Four more riders took home wins in the Harley Davidson Series with Bruce Cronenberger leading the way with his 3rd win of the year. Cronenberger won in both Hot Street and Street Pro last month and repeated the feat in hot Street this weekend against Charles Douglass. Douglass also advanced to the final of Street Pro with a similar result as Nick Gonatas took the win in 8.899 seconds at 149 mph. Frank Capone Jr. won in Pro Gas and Janette Thornley beat No. 1 qualifier Dale Niles in Pro Dragster.
Several specialty events were also contested including the Moser Engineering Shootouts with Todd Kujawa winning in Super Comp, Scott Deffenbaugh won Super Gas, and Larry Batt beat A.J. Buchanan in Super Street. The Wiseco Fast Four wins went to Glenn Butcher in Top Sportsman and Keith McLennan in Top Dragster.
North Central Division racers head to Route 66 Raceway for the next NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event, June 7-9.
The following are the final results from the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Mickey Mart Rewards Cavalcade of Stars event at Summit Motorsports Park:
TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER: Round 1 5) Marty Thacker, Robinson, Ill., 5.413, 264.18 defeated 4) Bill Reichert, Owosso, Mich., 5.541, 260.46; 3) Robin Samsel, Marion, Ind., 5.436, 261.02 defeated 6) Ken Perry, Markham, Ont., 5.589, 258.27; 2) Kyle Michalek, Lousiville, Ohio, 15.559, 64.89 defeated 7) Jeff Veale, Hamilton, Ont., broke; 8) Paul Fishburn, Rensselaer, Ind., 7.878, 107.69 defeated 1) Brandon Booher, Urbana, Ill., broke; Semifinals Thacker, 5.499, 247.79 defeated Fishburn, 6.474, 146.42 Michalek, 5.484, 258.81 defeated Samsel, 5.473, 253.71 Final Thacker, 5.403, 263.26 defeated Michalek, 5.455, 257.63. TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR: Round 1 1) John Anderika, Wyoming, Pa., '10 Monte Carlo, 5.736, 248.75 defeated 8) John Bojec, Mentor, Ohio, '10 Monte Carlo, 5.825, 244.07; 6) Mickey Ferro, Stamford, Conn., '06 Monte Carlo, 5.739, 252.43 defeated 3) Paul Noakes, London, Ont., '02 Mustang, 6.880, 126.60; 4) Andy Bohl, Racine, Wis., '08 Ford, 5.709, 255.15 defeated 5) Cassie Simonton, Brooklyn Park, Minn., '06 Monte Carlo, 5.706, 253.33; 2) Chris Foster, Davenport, Iowa, '11 Mustang, 5.693, 254.52 defeated 7) Ray Drew, Hales Corner, Wis., '04 Firebird, 6.385, 156.43; Semifinals Anderika, 5.744, 246.80 defeated Bohl, foul Foster, 5.700, 254.52 defeated Ferro, 11.211, 81.69; Finals Foster, 5.656, 254.62 defeated Anderika, 5.727, 250.04. COMP ELIMINATOR Greg Kamplain, Brownsburg, Ind., dragster, B/ED, 7.676, 129.32 defeated Frank Affronti, Ontario, N.Y., '05 Cavalier, B/EA, foul. SUPER STOCK D J Raiser, Lancaster, N.Y., '00 Firebird, SS/FA, 9.980, 135.17 defeated Tom Sheehan, Belle Vernon, Pa., '00 Sebring, GT/JA, 10.555,126.20. STOCK ELIMINATOR Thomas Losket, South Park, Pa., '69 Roadrunner, C/SA, 11.162, 110.05 defeated Charley Downing, Britton, Mich., '10 Mustang, G/S, 11.185, 113.72. SUPER COMP Jacob Elrod, Lima, Ohio, dragster, 8.915, 163.55 defeated Eric Wilkerson, Seymour, Ind., dragster, 8.941, 149.10. SUPER GAS Troy Coughlin Jr, Delaware, Ohio, '57 Corvette, 9.902, 161.87 defeated Doug Kroft, Wabash, Ind., '68 Firebird, 9.923, 151.39. SUPER STREET Jack Fisk Jr., Thornville, Ohio, '96 S-10, 10.913, 128.01 defeated Marsha McFall, Tipp City, Ohio, '67 Camaro, 10.861, 116.99. TOP SPORTSMAN Jerry Albert, Avon, Ohio, '97 Camaro, 6.879, 201.91 defeated Glenn Butcher, Doylestown, Ohio, '68 Camaro, 6.619, 209.01. TOP DRAGSTER Michael Galofaro, Lincoln Park, N.J., dragster, 6.576, 206.80 defeated Ashley Tidrick, Logansport, Ind., dragster, 6.439, 215.37. PRO STOCK SNOWMOBILE Frank Berard Jr, Troy, N.Y., '03 Ski Doo, 8.374, 153.37 defeated Brian Pretzel, Belding, Mich., '11 Ski Doo, 8.450, 150.16. TOP FUEL HARLEY Tommy Grimes, Clemmon, N.C., '12 Harley, 6.256, 223.10 defeated Doug Horne, Aberdeen, Md., '10 Harley, 10.802, 84.27. PRO DRAGSTER HARLEY Janette Thornley, Sacramento, Calif., '11 Hawaya, 7.799, 167.74 defeated Dale Niles, Purlear, N.C., '10 Derringer, 20.822, 33.38. PRO GAS HARLEY Frank Capone Jr, Wakefield, Mass., dragster, 8.545, 152.85 was unopposed. STREET PRO HARLEY Nick Gonatas, Youngstown, Ohio, '06 V-Rod, 8.899, 149.38 defeated Charles Douglass, Staunton, Va., '92 Sportster, 9.634, 148.94. HOT STREET HARLEY Bruce Cronenberger III, Cressona, Pa., '92 Sportster, 9.880, 133.12 defeated Charles Douglass, Staunton, Va., '92 Sportster, 10.066, 127.31. WISECO FAST 4 TS Glenn Butcher, Doylestown, Ohio, '68 Camaro, 6.521, 213.23 defeated Ronnie Proctor, Harpers Ferry, W.V., '09 Mustang, 6.832, 201.55. WISECO FAST 4 TD Keith McLennan, Toledo, Ohio, dragster, 6.095, 201.43 defeated Michael Smith, Owosso, Mich., dragster, 7.844, 125.32. SUPER COMP SHOOTOUT PRESENTED BY MOSER ENGINEERING Todd Kujawa, Elkhart, Ind., dragster, 8.930, 166.99 defeated Kevin Trusty, Groveport, Ohio, dragster, 8.933, 168.56. SUPER GAS SHOOTOUT PRESENTED BY MOSER ENGINEERING Scott Deffenbaugh, Lebanon, Ind., '66 Nova, 9.887, 149.27 defeated Bill Jackson, Mansfield, Ohio, '79 Monza, foul. SUPER STREET SHOOTOUT PRESENTED BY MOSER ENGINEERING Larry Batt, Gaston, Ind., '73 Vega, 10.909, 128.08 defeated A.J. Buchanan, Vickery, Ohio, '91 Mustang, 10.938, 126.00.