NORWALK, Ohio --
Mon, 28 Jun 2010, 08:54 PM
By Kelly Wade
Photo copyright 2010 Auto Imagery, Inc.
The Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals stuttered in the
midst of the sportsman final rounds but finally drew to conclusion in dramatic
fashion late Sunday afternoon between a pair of signature Midwestern
downpours. Stock racer Ben Wenzel last
won at the 1967 U.S. Nationals and finally made it back to the winner's circle
but had to beat the best to make it happen, and Bill Reichert (Top Alcohol
Dragster), Frank Manzo (Top Alcohol Funny Car), Al Ackerman (Comp), Mike Walter
(Super Stock), Kyle Cultrera (Super Comp), Dan Northrop (Super Gas), and James
Monroe (Top Dragster) also celebrated Norwalk triumphs.
Though the stands weren't packed to capacity due to the
series of drenching storms, all eyes remaining on site were on Wenzel and
final-round opponent David Rampy, a killer competitor with more collective
victories than almost anyone else in the sport. His 73-47 multi-category win
record entering the round did not prove to be a factor, though, as Wenzel
tree'd him, .014 to .057, and then ran five-thousandths over his 10.63 dial to best
Rampy's breakout 11.350 (11.38).
Wenzel vs. Rampy
Freeland, Mich., resident Wenzel, driving the same C/SA '67
Camaro Z28 that he scored the win over Ken Gunning with in Indy 43 years ago, put
away Bo Kenney in the first round on a huge holeshot, was on the winning end of
a double-breakout with James Perrone in
round two, got the nod in the third round when Ed Fernandez fouled, defeated
Jeff Strickland by just nine-thousandths in the quarterfinals, and then
advanced to the final when sportsman ace Peter Biondo red-lighted by just .001.
The Norwalk money round was Wenzel's first since
falling to Biondo at Chicago in 2005.
Their were no surprises in the Alcohol finals as Reichert,
in his 42nd final round, reeled in the dragster title and Manzo kept on the
flopper win wagon with his 28th consecutive and 88th career national event
Reichert piloted his Bars Leak/Rislone A/Fueler to a 5.384
to 5.449 defeat of Mike Kosky in the closing match after leaving him on the
starting line, .083 to .102. After qualifying No. 1 with a 5.358 that was
better than second-quickest Darren Nicholson by a couple of hundredths,
Reichert picked up a single in the opening act and blasted to a 5.355 for lane
choice over Robin Samsel in round two, where Samsel was super late on the
launch, could not recover, and had Reichert in clear view as he charged ahead
for the win.
Fellow finalist Kosky, who also runner-upped in Englishtown,
got a freebie when Nicholson was a no-show in the semifinals, and Reichert put
on an excellent show in his semifinals competition with Ken Perry. Reichert was
first off the starting line by a smidge, .076 to .099, but Perry took the lead
in his blown rail early and held on until Reichert nudged past just after the
660-foot timer to win by .039-second.
Manzo vs. Ferro
Al-Anabi Racing's Manzo and Ryco Hydraulics Monte Carlo
driver Mickey Ferro continued their series of final-round tangles with a fifth rendezvous
of the year. No. 1 qualifier Manzo left first, .034 to .052, and crossed the
finish line first, 5.602 to 5.623. Ferro, who qualified No. 2 in Norwalk, has tallied one
round-win over Manzo in their previous 10 meetings but has yet to get the best
of the reigning series champ in a title round.
John Hart was a bit too anxious and double-stepped in the
first round before the tree was activated, allowing Manzo an easy win despite
problems that led to an early shut-off. Round two was highlighted by Manzo's
low of the round 5.588 to stop Clint Thompson, and in the semis, the freight train from the
Northeast put a 5.595 on the scoreboard after Permatex/Follow A Dream driver
Todd Veney, whose crew scored Best Appearing honors at the event, ran into
trouble before he could even get his Impala staged.
Ferro got the W over Wayne Butler, Paul Gill, and Steve Harker before closing out
eliminations with another chance to try to end rival Manzo's winning streak.
Ackerman vs. Browell
After a weather delay that halted sportsman finals with just
four categories left to decide, Comp victor Al Ackerman, in his F/D entry,
recorded an efficient .018 launch to three-time Atlanta winner Brian Browell's
.035 and claimed the title with a (-.53) 8.56 to (-.53) 7.77.
Ackerman, runner-up to Vinny Barone in Atlanta earlier this season, remained CIC
penalty-free until taking a bite in the semis to put Rampy on the trailer after
logging round-wins over Jim Greenheck, Steve Ambrose, and Nick Panagiotaros. On
the other side of the ladder, Browell advanced from round one after Larry Pritchett was a no-show
stopped Glenn Butcher but accumulated a 0.01 CIC penalty. Round-three opponent
Robert Bailey carried a 0.07 penalty into their match that worked against him
when Browell cut a .013 light to his .089 and went (-.51) 7.78 to (-.49) 7.12
for the go-ahead. Browell was an awesome .004 at the tree in his semifinals
round with Santo Volpe and was closer to the index at the top end for a ticket
to the final.
Walter vs. Duncan
The 2007 Super Stock event winner Mike Walter scored again
in Norwalk with
a slim three-thousandths margin of victory over Jeremy Duncan. Walter, of
Paris, Ohio, drove his GT/JA '92 Formula off the starting line a thousandth
behind Duncan's .024 start but clocked a 10.783 (10.78 dial) to narrowly edge
his opponent's respectable 9.857 (9.85) for his eighth national event win.
Walter was unfazed by Chuck Gallagher Jr.'s ultra quick
.003 reaction in the eliminations opener and survived the double-breakout
competition before advancing easily when Kenney broke before staging. In the
third round, he ran dead-on his 10.65 dial to shut out Byron Worner and then
was a clean .008 out of the gate with a 10.798 (10.75 dial) to end Jeff Dona's
day. Walter put together a fine package in the semifinals, pairing a .014
reaction with a one-thousandth over 10.79 to send Brad Zaskowski back to the
Charlestown, Ind., racer Duncan picked off
Ricky Decker, Bob Marshall, Andy Kronenbitter, and Larry Hodge before running
two-thousandths over his 9.86 dial to end Biondo's quest for success.
Cultrera vs. Taylor
First-time winner Cultrera, who hails from Eliot, Me.,
was absolutely on his game in Super Comp, recording a cool .002 reaction in
round one to John DiBartolomeo's nearly as great .007 and then running closer
to the 8.90 index for the win in their double-breakout contest. The keen
display of skill continued with a .011 and .001-second over effort to stop Troy
Coughlin Jr. and .017 and 8.937 to eliminate Joey Cambria. A supremely
impressive .002 and dead-on 8.90 in the quarterfinals was too much for Scot
Lamar, and in the semifinals, the hits kept on coming when Cultrera kicked
Samantha Kenney out of contention for the title with an increasingly
predictable remarkable reaction (.005) and a closer to the index breakout pass.
In the final, John Taylor, fresh off of a semifinals bye run, had nothing for
the kid at the tree with a .051 to Cultrera's worst of eliminations .025, and
Taylor's 8.936 to 8.935 simply wasn't enough to compensate.
Northrop, the 2000 Super Gas world champ and Super Comp winner
in Charlotte earlier this season, got to add another victory to his resume when Steve Furr,
fourth in the standings following the event, broke out of the 9.90 index by
five-thousandths in the last round of the weekend for the category. On his way
to the finale, Northrop drove his '75 Vega to victories over a group of worthy
competitors, including former division champion and IHRA standout Rusty Cook in
the first round and previous Pro Stock heavy-hitter and multi-category winner Dave
Connolly in the quarterfinals for the bye run into the title round.
Northrop vs. Furr
The Top Dragster competition ended on a high note for
Monroe, who claimed his very first national event title after Troy Stone
red-lighted by .015-second. Monroe opened eliminations four-thousandths away from a perfect light
O'Brien's .083 and advanced when his opponent broke out by a thousandth.
Second-round challenger Jim Kreitzer joined the burgeoning breakout crew,
sending Monroe ahead to the third round where he was quicker at the hit and closer to his dial
to put Frank Carpinelli on the trailer, and in the semifinals, he was the
winner of a double-breakout affair with Dennis Kline.
Lucas Oil competition on the Full Throttle Series tour takes
a one week break before summer action heats up with the Western Swing,
beginning with the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in Seattle, July 9-11.
Top Alcohol Dragster
Monroe vs. Stone
-- Bill Reichert, 5.384, 262.44 def. Mike Kosky, 5.449, 257.78.
Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Frank Manzo, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.602, 259.36 def. Mickey Ferro,
Monte Carlo, 5.623, 255.39.
Competition Eliminator -- Al Ackerman, Dragster, 8.027, 166.21 def. Brian Browell,
Dragster, 7.236, 181.76.
Super Stock -- Mike Walter, Formula, 10.783, 123.80 def. Jeremy Duncan, Camaro, 9.857,
Stock Eliminator -- Ben Wenzel, Camaro, 10.635, 121.06 def. David Rampy, Camaro, 11.350,
Super Comp -- Kyle Cultrera, Dragster, 8.935, 170.23 def. John Taylor, Dragster, 8.936,
Super Gas -- Dan Northrop, Vega, 9.910, 141.62 def. Steve Furr, Camaro, 9.895, 151.20.
Top Dragster -- James Monroe, Dragster, 6.753, 197.54 def. Troy Stone, Dragster, 6.233,
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