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Fri, 23 Dec 2011, 10:13 AM

Reichert Leads D3 Champs
By Kelly Wade
Photo copyright 2011 Kevin Pepera

Bill Reichert
The North Central Division championship winners were led by a familiar face as Bill Reichert earned his ninth Top Alcohol Dragster title for the region. Although he was unseated by Duane Shields in the national title chase, his exhaustive efforts were noted in the division with Pro-Sportsman Driver of the Year and Crew Chief of the Year honors. Reichert was joined on stage at the division banquet by all of the other winners in the region, including Chris Foster (Top Alcohol Funny Car), Rick Brown (Comp Eliminator), John Scali Jr. (Top Sportsman) and Troy Galbraith (Top Dragster).

Rislone/Bars Leaks pilot Reichert, of Owosso, Mich., raked in a remarkable four wins in six final rounds to earn a total of 404 points and position himself well above the rest of the field. Reichert, who finished second in the national standings, began the year with a trip down south to South Georgia Motorsports Park but he was just laying the groundwork for the season ahead. A round win in the Peach State was tucked away before he stepped into the Division 3 opener in Indianapolis and emerged as a finalist.

Marty Thacker had something to say about the Reichert's defense of the region title, though, and he said it loud and clear as he beat his rival at the Indy meet. But two weeks later the tables were turned, and it was Reichert in the winner's circle and Thacker who was stopped just short. From there, Reichert held the reigns and brought in another victory at Route 66 Raceway, a runner-up in Columbus, and then two victories to close out the season: one at home at Bowling Green and another back in Georgia at Silver Dollar Raceway.

Chris Foster
Dave Hirata and Brandon Booher also logged final rounds before the year was through (Hirata was runner-up to Reichert in Chicago and Booher went to the money round in Cordova), and Brian Mans won the much delayed final originally scheduled for National Trail Raceway.

Like Reichert, Foster - now a two-time Division 3 champion and 9th in the nation - was nearly unstoppable in his Goodridge Funny Car en route to final rounds throughout the season, and a win in Houston for the Davenport, Iowa-based driver started the year on a plus. Although the trip to Indy produced nil, two weeks later he was back in the winner's circle - this time in Norwalk, and he followed it with a runner up in Chicago and then another trip to the final round in Columbus. A round win in Bowling Green preceded another win in Houston, and the bookend victories ensured a mighty lead over next-best in the region Thomas Carter.

The same weekend that Foster was winning the first Houston event, Victoria, Texas, resident Carter was matching points at South Georgia Motorsports Park with a win, and although he was unable to make it to another final during the course of the season, the early win provided a nice cushion that would help him stay towards the top as the year wound down. Andy Bohl tied it all up at his last event of the year - the out-of-division race at Earlville - but Carter won the tiebreaker over Bohl for second place, and Brian Harvanek's runner-up in Norwalk to Foster edged him into fourth.

Notably, the Top Alcohol Funny Car final scheduled for the first event in the region was delayed by weather until June, and the long wait ended in a big upset as Fred Hagen, who would go on to finish sixth overall in the division, topped ace driver and regular national champion Frank Manzo for his first win.

Rick Brown
The Competition Eliminator battle was fierce, with multiple players in the division putting multiple final rounds on their tally sheets; however, Lebanon, Ohio, racer Brown was victorious with the aid of two consecutive victories - Chicago and Columbus - followed by a final round up in Stanton. The driver of the B/TA S-10 also brought in a couple of round wins in Norwalk and a semifinals finish in Bowling Green to bring his five-best of the year to a nice, plump total.

David Billingsley made a big splash early as he raced to the winner's circle at the season opener in Indy, and another win out of the division in Cordova contributed to a strong total that tied notorious driver David Rampy. Rampy was twice a finalist, finishing in the last act opposite Brown at Route 66 Raceway and nabbing the gold in Bowling Green, however, the tiebreaker was awarded to Billingsley and Rampy finished third.

Chuck Haubiel II (fourth place) and Ray Vierheller III (fifth) kept up the good fight and enriched the competition in the region with final round performances of their own. Haubiel won twice - he beat Vierheller in Norwalk and won Stanton over Brown - and Vierheller was three times a finalist.

John Scali Jr.
By mid-season, Mike Coughlin had a nice little story going on in Top Sportsman with two wins under his belt (Indy and Chicago), but Louisville, Kentucky's Scali, the defending division champ, wasn't in the mood to let anyone else run away with the title. Scali drove his '67 Camaro to the Norwalk win and then scored again out of the division at the Cordova meet in the fall, and when he wasn't winning, he was consistently going rounds.

Coughlin reached another final round at Bowling Green, but points respectively accumulated for a pair of round wins in Indy, Columbus and at Beach Bend Raceway gave Scali an 11 point edge over his challenger at season's end.

Donald Horne scored one win in two final rounds for third place, Curtis Fredrich was twice a victor and Glenn Butcher was runner-up in Stanton to keep the guesses coming over who would eventually stand tallest.

Top Dragster went down to the wire, with Indianapolis resident Galbraith winning the last event he could count and sewing up the title. The season started on a quiet note, with Galbraith going three rounds at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indy and then scoring one round each in Chicago and Columbus, but a hot streak of three consecutive final rounds placed him in contention for the title. A not-so-great race outside of the region in Earlville would ultimately become irrelevant as he beat them all for the event title at Silver Dollar Raceway.

Troy Galbraith
Ricky Adkins was rallying from day one, going to the final at the division opener and then bringing home the Wally from the race in Norwalk. A fall from glory in Chicago was followed by a semifinals performance in Columbus, but back-to-back first-round losses set Adkins back, and a win at the second Columbus divisional wasn't enough to solidify the end product. A trek to Reynolds turned up little, and second place in the North Central Division was the result.

Meanwhile, Lynn Ellison was maintaining a threatening stance, launching into the year with a win at Indy and collecting another in Atlanta. A few round wins here and there were enough to keep Ellison in the running, but a quarterfinals performance out west in Las Vegas was where the road would end. James Monroe would finish fourth with a nice collection of semifinal performances, and John Strassweg, the winner in Bowling Green, rounded out the top 5.

Complete 2011 Division 3 Points Standings 

Top Alcohol Dragster
1 Bill Reichert
2 Marty Thacker
3 Dave Hirata
4 Brandon Booher
5 Robin Samsel
6 Brian Mans
7 Jerry Powell II

Top Alcohol Funny Car
1 Chris Foster
2 Thomas Carter
3 Andrew Bohl
4 Brian Harvanek
5 John Bojec
6 Fred Hagen
7 Raymond Drew
8 Brent Henry
9 Cassandra Simonton

Comp Eliminator
1  Rick Brown
2t David Billingsley
2t David Rampy
4  Chuck Haubiel II
5  Ray Vierheller III
6  Brian Browell
7  Robert Bailey
8  Steve Ambrose
9  Ed Bennett III
10 Scott Chamness

Top Sportsman
1  John Scali Jr.
2  Mike Coughlin
3  Donald Horne
4  Curtis Fredrich
5  Glenn Butcher
6  Ricky Adkins
7  Kevin Waller
8  Jeff Sexton
9t Billy Thoman
9t Chris Nyerges

Top Dragster
1   Troy Galbraith
2   Ricky Adkins
3   Lynn Ellison
4   James Monroe
5   John Strassweg
6t Walter Sullivan
6t  Dan Phelps
8   Robert Moser
9   Pascal Lecompte
10 Jim Prevo

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