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Mon, 1 Oct 2001, 05:55 PM

Simrock, Paisley, Callos Yallon and Mandle Notch First-Ever NHRA Summit
Courtesy of NHRA Communications

POMONA, Calif. - R.J. Simrock scored the inaugural NHRA Summit Import Pro championship Sunday at the Mazda NHRA Import World Finals at Pomona Raceway.

Craig Paisley, JoJo Callos, Ari Yallon and Joel Mandle all clinched series championships in their respective categories at the inaugural Mazda NHRA Import World Finals at the historic facility.

Hiroshi Shiobara, Ray Lockhead, Callos, Yallon and Tony Shagway won their respective categories at the event, the final of six races in the $120,000 NHRA Summit Import Drag Racing Series. The event was unique to the series due to the fact that double points were available to all professional competitors.

R.J. Simrock
Simrock was awarded the championship trophy for his season's performance, but was upset in the in Sunday's final round by Japan's Hiroshi Shiobara. Shiobara blasted down the famed quarter-mile in hi Nissan in 7.452 seconds at 184.46 mph (top speed of the event) for his first win on the year. Despite the loss, Simrock was upbeat about his championship.

"To go down in the history books, in a small way with the (Don) Prudhomme's the (John) Force's, and others, is amazing," said Simrock. "To win the first championship is incredible. All that the NHRA and Summit has done to support import racing is fantastic."

Paisley scored the NHRA Summit Import Modified title after advancing to the final round in the series finale. Paisley was unable to finish his championship season with a win as Ray Lockhead collected his first victory of the year when he powered his Mazda RX-7 down the track in 8.638 at 156.33 to defeat Paisley.

"(Winning the championship) has sunk in and out, because it has been a roller coaster of a day," said Paisley. "This is always what I wanted to do, be a part of history. There will be other champions, but I'm the first and I'm just ecstatic."

Yallon capped off a remarkable season by earning the NHRA Summit Import Street Tire championship, winning all six races in the series. Yallon completed his undefeated season when he drove his Mazda RX-7 to a pass of 10.404 at 138.44 to hold off Joel Tazman's slower run of 10.636 at 137.74.

"We had the idea of going undefeated since the second race of the year," said Yallon. "We wanted to make history for import racing. To our knowledge, no one else in any category has ever gone undefeated. It's not about me, or about the team, it's about import drag racing and what we've got to bring for the future. That's the biggest and most important thing for the sport."

Callos won his third event on the season and captured the NHRA Summit Import Hot Rod championship with his final round win over Bruce Mortensen, whose vehicle broke at the starting line. Callos used the category's quickest and fastest pass of the weekend (9.128 at 156.93) to defeat Mortensen and win the series title by one round over rival Lisa Kubo, who lost to Mortensen in the semifinals earlier in the day.

Mandle didn't win a race all season, but his consistency to go rounds, three runner-up finishes, and a semifinal appearance in Pomona, were enough to notch him the All Motor series crown. In the category's final on Sunday, Shagday covered the distance in 11.145 at 122.14 to defeat Tsuneaki Mankumo and his slower run of 11.419 at 118.84.

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