LAS VEGAS --
Last weekend, Biondo wrapped up yet another banner season with yet another huge victory, as he claimed the $42,000 winner-take-all Ultimate Gambler event at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Ultimate Gambler, in which Biondo was runner-up in 2007, is the marquee event of the facilities Thanksgiving Bracket Nationals event, which was contested throughout the week.
Rather than make the cross-country tow to Las Vegas from his home near New York City, Biondo made arrangements to fly to the event and drive for friends and fellow competitors Chris and Justin Lamb. Biondo purchased two entries into the 42-car Ultimate Gambler event, a shootout loaded with the top names in bracket racing from coast-to-coast. Biondo nearly pulled off an epic feat, as he came within .003-of-a-second of having both his entries in the final round of the biggest bracket event on the West Coast.
After mowing through the first three rounds of competition (knocking out the likes of J.R. Leerkamp, Andy Morris, John Phlegar, and good friend Kyle Siepel), Biondo had both of his entries in the event with just six cars remaining. There, he and two-time defending NHRA Super Comp Champion Shawn Langdon squared off with a semi-final bye run at stake. Biondo, as would be expected, was clutch with a .008 reaction and dead-on 4.740. Langdon, however, posted a stellar run of his own, with a .005 and dead-on 4.840 to get the win and the bye into the final round.
On the other side of the ladder, Biondo used a .011 and 4.753 on his 4.74 target to oust Idaho standout Dan Lafferty. In the semi-final round, Biondo and perennial bracket and super-class threat Jeff Cheney locked horns, with Biondo posting another clutch .009 package (.003, 4.756) to advance to the final for a rematch with Langdon. In the final, Biondo posted yet another telepathic reaction, .006, and backed off the throttle to take the victory with a 4.806 on his 4.77 dial over Langdon's .018 induced 4.893 (4.85 dial).
"What a gratifying feeling to come out on top of a race like this," said Biondo of the 42-car shootout with an entry list that read like a 'who's who' of sportsman racing. "I want to especially thank the Lamb family and Kyle Siepel for allowing me to fly in and drive their cars."
As if the Ultimate Gambler triumph weren't enough, Biondo also drove good Siepel's dragster to a runner-up finish in a special "Race for a Dragster" event earlier in the weekend.
The Ultimate Gambler victory put an exclamation point on Biondo's incredible 2008 campaign. After kick starting his season with a Stock victory at the IHRA Sportsman National event at Immokalee Regional Raceway, Biondo went on to appear in five NHRA national event final rounds, winning three: Stock at Gainesville, Super Stock at St. Louis, and Stock again in Englishtown. Meanwhile, Biondo has remained true to his well documented schedule of running national events and big money bracket races almost exclusively, and attended just six bracket events all season.
In those six appearances, Biondo's credentials are nothing short of amazing. At the JEGS U.S. Open in July, Biondo made his first bracket appearance of the season a memorable one: winning the opening $10,000-to-win event and taking runner-up honors to Jeg Coughlin, Jr. in the $20,000-to-win event on day 2. A month later, he made an appearance at the AA Auto Salvage Superbucks weekend at Atco Dragway. There, he made another hefty deposit, scoring a $25,000 victory on the event's opening day.
In September, he made the journey to Memphis, TN for the annual Million Dollar Race. There, he again opened competition with a victory, taking home a new dragster and motor in a special 64-car shootout on Thursday evening. Two days later, Biondo made another splash, advancing to the final 14 cars in the Million Dollar Race before falling by less than a thousandth of a second to eventual winner Dave Triplett.
November actually brought the only non-winning appearances of his bracket season, as Biondo ran a limited portion of the annual Winter Series events in Bradenton, FL and Valdosta, GA. In five days of competition, Biondo was able to muster "only" a semi-final finish in a $15,000 main-event at Bradenton.
Following that outing, he made his appearance in Las Vegas worthwhile, claiming his fourth big money bracket triumph, and second bracket runner-up of the season in extremely limited appearances.
Biondo once again thanked his family and co-workers at Biondo Racing Products (www.BiondoRacing.com), the family owned business is at the forefront of racing technology offering competitors the latest electronics and other accessories designed by racers.
Biondo was grateful and thankful in recapping his 2008 season. "It was an exciting and successful season. I have a lot of people to thank for giving me the opportunity to continue to compete at a high level. I would especially like to thank the following companies for making 2008 so successful: BiondoRacing.com, JEGS.com, K&N Filters, Sparco Safety Equipment, RacePartDepot.com, Goodyear Tires, ATI Transmissions and Converters, Kooks Headers, and PAR Racing Engines."
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