BOWLING GREEN, Ky. --
For Reichert, it was his 10th career win at Beech Bend Raceway, including five in a row from 1994 to 1998 and four in a row from 2008 to 2011. "I think I've done better here than I have at any other track," he said, "but we struggled almost all weekend."
Reichert qualified second-to-last with a 5.48 and slowed to a 5.63 in a first-round win over No. 2 qualifier Jared Dreher, then picked up almost two-tenths in the semi's, just in time to take out Marty Thacker. "I've been working with different cams all year trying to make more power, and I tried something different this weekend, too," he said. "When the car slowed down in the first round, we had to accept that we just weren't doing what it wanted and made a major move."
In the final, Reichert's Rislone Dragster dipped into the 5.30s with a 5.36 (low e.t.), in a lopsided win over 2006 Bowling Green winner Ken Perry, who shook hard immediately. "After all these years, this still feels as good as it ever did," he said. "This combination seems to be tunable, and I think we might actually be 'back,' but it'll be pretty hard to win the [national] championship - I think that's just about impossible now - and the region isn't looking too good, either. I'd have to win another one, and [Brandon] Booher would have to not make it to any more finals."
With three consecutive wins coming into the event, Booher, who surprisingly hasn't raced Reichert head-to-head all year, would appear to have a stranglehold on the regional crown and can clinch it with a final-round appearance at Earlville the week after Indy. He qualified No. 1 with a 5.37 but fouled against Perry in the semifinals by just three-thousandths of a second, his second -.00 red-light of the year.
"It's a relief to finally win a [regional] championship," Bohl said. "I lost one on a red-light right here at Bowling Green and lost another when the other guy [Foster, in 2009] had to win the last race of the year to pass me. Frank Manzo was the first person I saw when I got out of the car, and I hugged him so hard I almost knocked him over."
With the title locked up, Bohl edged Ray Drew by just eight-thousandths of a second in the semifinals, 5.69 to 5.72. Manzo, who qualified No. 1 with a 5.62 and set low e.t. of eliminations with a 5.65 on his first-round single, had a harder time than expected getting around Wayne Butler in the other semi, when his car broke a lifter and Butler got a better light in a 5.72 to 5.80 race.
For Manzo, who had been to four previous regionals this season and reached the final every time, nothing less than a win would help him in the national standings. Manzo, whose 40-final winning streak in national competition will never be beaten, surprisingly had lost three of four regional finals this year, including the Indy final against Bohl, and he dropped this one, 5.70 to a tire-shaking 5.79.
"Lane choice won that race," Bohl said. "It was a coin-flip which one was better in the first round, but by the final, the right lane was definitely the one to be in. I looked at the left before we ran and said, 'No way is going to get down that lane.' I'm surprised he ran as good in that lane as he did. I know how it sounds, but I had more confidence against Manzo in the final than I did against Foster. Against Manzo, I had the good lane, and I knew what my car was going to do. Against Foster, that was a pretty clutch deal - basically one run for the championship and I'd just changed five things after pretty much embarrassing myself in qualifying."
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