WEST LEBANON, N.Y. -
Competing at his home track, Finke completed a storybook weekend with a final-round decision over teammate Jackie Fricke, who was appearing in her first regional final. They left with almost identical .050 lights and Finke earned the title with a consistent 5.48 when Fricke, driving Joe Cantrell's car, went up in smoke.
"I knew I was on another good one when the car hiked up the front end around half-track," Finke said. "I was already getting over by the centerline and couldn't do anything to bring it back because the front tires weren't on the ground but I didn't want to lift because I didn't know where she was."
Fricke had low e.t. of the first round (5.44) and Finke had low e.t. of the semi's (5.43), so it figured to be anybody's race. "I actually had a feeling that this was going to be her weekend," said Finke, who attributed much of the credit for the victory to a productive test session at the track a week earlier.
Finke won the first round with a 5.48 over defending event champ Dan Mercier, who had appeared in the last two finals at Lebanon Valley. Fricke's 5.44 in that round came against Jeff Veale, who red-lighted by just a thousandth of a second on a losing 5.66. Also in that round, Rich McPhillips nipped Karen Stalba, 5.53 to 5.54, and Frank Schuster knocked off early season East Region points leader Richard Bourke, 5.57 to 5.71.
In Top Alcohol Funny Car, Veney won the final over Top Alcohol Funny Car's most overdue driver, John Anderika, who shook so hard his parachutes fell out, with a 5.637, low e.t. Veney qualified No. 1 with a 5.639 and ran a 5.638 to defeat John Headley in round one and a 5.65 to eliminate Eric Lourie, who had won here in each of the last two years, in the semifinals.
"The crew won this race," Veney said. "To run consistent low .60s at Lebanon Valley is unbelievable. I've never had a car like that and just tried not to screw it up."
Anderika qualified No. 2 with a 5.66 and put away second-generation driver Matt Gill in the first round with a 5.70 and Dan Pomponio, who won the Gainesville and Richmond regionals, in the semifinals with a 5.72 to reach his third final already this season. The team had to swap engines before the final, which was run the next day, and had electrical problems in the pits.
"I was going to leave in 2nd gear, run a 6.0, and hope he red-lighted because we were afraid we couldn't take any ignition out of it in low gear," Anderika said. "The car left hard but it started shaking and I could feel the parachutes hit and shut off."
"Well, that does it," said his brother, car owner and crew chief Chuck Anderika. "We're now a 'Perfect 10' in final rounds: 0-10."
The Comp Eliminator final was close at the start with Kyle Cultrera, Eliot, Maine, pulling away from Chip Ippolito for the win in his '32 roadster while Ronald Riegel used a perfect 0.00 second reaction time in his '68 Camaro to take the win in the Magnaflux Top Sportsman class presented by Select Performance. Riegel took out Ed Foley who broke out in his '12 Mustang.
Ian St. Pierre and Michael Rosa also turned starting line advantages into wins as St. Pierre drove his '57 Corvette to the Super Gas win over Francis Ross and Michael Rosa, Southington, Conn., was ..001 at the start and ran 6.989 on the 6.96 dial to knock out Scott Luken in Magnaflux Top Dragster.
Jack Sepanek saw his early lead slip away to Al Williams in the final of Super Comp as Williams ran 8.901 on the 8.90 dial for the win.
Other racers visiting the winner's circle this weekend were Bob Broadbent over Malcolm London in Stock; Bryan Worner won on a hole shot over John Armstrong in Super Stock; Jason Lawrence beat Casey Grubb in a double breakout; and Frank Berard Jr. road around Nick Washburn for the win in Pro Stock Snowmobile.
Northeast Division Lucas Oil Series racers head to New England Dragway this coming weekend where they will meet up with the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series for the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals June 20-23. Up next for Lebanon Valley Dragway is their National Dragster Challenge event Wednesday, June 19.
The following are the final results from the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event at Lebanon Valley Dragway:
TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER: Round 1 4) Rich McPhillips, Phoenixville, Pa., 5.535, 257.01 def. 5) Karen Stalba, Hammonton, N.J., 5.540, 254.17; 3) Jackie Fricke, Flemington, N.J., 5.445, 252.70 def. 6) Jeff Veale, Stoney Creek, Ont., foul; 7) Frank Schuster, Chesterfield, N.J., 5.576, 253.54 def. 2) Richard Bourke, Old Tappan, N.J., 5.719, 252.84; 1) John Finke, Selkirk, N.Y., 5.484, 260.12 def. 8) Dan Mercier, LaPrairie, Quebec, foul; Semifinals Finke, 5.431, 257.91 def. McPhillips, 5.515, 260.84 Fricke, 5.483, 245.50 def. Schuster, 5.580, 254.19; Final Finke, 5.487, 258.99 def. Fricke, 13.592, 56.56. TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR: Round 1 2) John Anderika, Wyoming, Pa., '10 Monte Carlo, 5.707, 245.33 def. 7) Mathew Gill, W Bridgewater, Mass., '08 Mustang, 8.356, 106.77; 1) Todd Veney, Indianapolis, Ind., '08 Impala, 5.638, 253.89 def. 8) John Headley, Newportville, Pa., '03 Mustang, 6.821, 118.44; 3) Dan Pomponio, Berlin, N.J., '10 Monte Carlo, 5.767, 250.63 def. 6) Larry Dobbs, Welland, Ont., '02 Firebird, 22.558, 28.79; 5) Eric Lourie, Terryville, Conn., '02 Camaro, 5.756, 249.00 def. 4) Fred Tigges, Holbrook, Mass., '01 Avenger, 5.767, 249.35; Semifinals Anderika, 5.725, 249.72 def. Pomponio, 5.893, 249.11 Veney, 5.650, 253.84 def. Lourie, 5.790, 247.72; Final Veney, 5.637, 253.42 def. Anderika, 6.355, 146.83. COMP ELIMINATOR Kyle Cultrera, Eliot, Maine, '32 Bantam, H/EA, 9.165, 117.83 def. Chip Ippolito, Laconia, N.H., '01 S-10, PSTA, 9.930, 89.71. SUPER STOCK Bryan Worner, Duncannon, Pa., '90 Camaro, GT/EA, 10.020, 128.43 def. John Armstrong, Kingston, N.S., '69 Corvette, SSA/A, 8.728, 152.12. STOCK ELIMINATOR Bob Broadbent, Hampton, N.H., '69 Camaro, F/S, 11.586, 99.06 def. Malcolm London, St. John, N.B., '80 Malibu, L/SA, 12.379, 103.09. SUPER COMP Al Williams, Enfield, Conn., dragster, 8.901, 133.85 def. Jack Sepanek, Moosic, Pa., dragster, 8.938, 161.20. SUPER GAS Ian St. Pierre, Smith Falls, Ont., '57 Corvette, 9.927, 157.00 def. Francis Ross, Milford, N.H., '67 Camaro, 9.898, 166.98. SUPER STREET Jason Lawrence, Hamilton, N.J., '84 Camaro, 10.885, 126.50 def. Casey Grubb, Milford, N.H., '68 Camaro, 10.860, 134.34. TOP DRAGSTER PRESENTED BY SELECT PERFORMANCE Michael Rosa, Southington, Conn., dragster, 6.989, 191.94 def. Scott Luken, Perry Hall, Md., dragster, 6.870, 197.23. TOP SPORTSMAN PRESENTED BY SELECT PERFORMANCE Ronald Riegel, Fairless Hills, Pa., '68 Camaro, 7.244, 185.37 def. Ed Foley, Warminster, Pa., '12 Mustang, 7.258, 188.44. PRO STOCK SNOWMOBILE Frank Berard Jr, Troy, N.Y., '03 Ski Doo, 8.386, 155.25 def. Nick Washburn, Watertown, N.Y., '12 SkiDoo, 8.521, 149.30.