The North Central produced a set of division champions led by a very familiar face: Bill Reichert, who has been the national champion in the Top Alcohol Dragster category for the past five seasons. Joining Reichert in roles as newly christened - or re-christened - Division 3 titlists were Brent Henry (Top Alcohol Funny Car), Brian Browell (Competition Eliminator), John Scali (Top Sportsman), and James Monroe (Top Dragster), among others.
He fell off a bit in Joliet at Route 66 Raceway but righted the ship in Columbus and managed another event win, and then rounded out his Division 3 play by notching a win in Bowling Green, Ky. Two events later, at the South East Division's Atlanta Raceway event, Reichert put another win on his scorecard, and the division title was in hand.
Marty Thacker tried his darndest and produced three runner-up finishes and a victory in Atlanta, but his final count was 320 marks to Reichert's triumphant 425.
The first North Central race, at Norwalk, was awarded to Division 1 ace Frank Manzo, with Hales Corners, Wis., driver Raymond Drew taking runner-up. Henry won his first round match and Bohl didn't fare well, bowing out without seeing a win light. The two came head-to-head at their next race, at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, with Bohl taking the victory over Henry. The race for the title was on.
Bohl was runner-up at Route 66 Raceway, and Henry struggled with a lone round advancement, but in Columbus, the old switcheroo came into play and Henry, who match raced his A/Altered before stepping into alcohol Funny Car, went to the final round - falling to Brockton, Mass., pilot Paul Gill - after Bohl tucked away a round win and then couldn't capitalize.
Bohl picked up a couple of rounds and a few more points at the next two events, and Drew kept his hopes alive with back-to-back runner-ups, while Henry stayed home, waiting for Bowling Green. The event proved to be a success for Henry, who logged his first victory in his first season and effectively closed the door on the title. Bohl went on to runner-up in Earlville, Iowa, and made an attempt to pick up more points in Noble, Okla., but it wasn't meant to be.
His season started slow, but the Lafayette, Ind., driver kicked it into high gear mid-year, wheeling his dragster to a win at Mid-Michigan Motorplex over defending division champ Steve Ambrose. From there, Browell was on a roll, posting a final-round finish at the next two events in Columbus and Bowling Green before taking the important out-of-division win in Atlanta.
No. 2 finisher Ray Vierheller III was runner-up at Indy and went on to win at Joliet, but the rest of the season - three more events - amounted to early exits and an 87 point deficit to Browell's winning 390 marks. The highlight of Ambrose's season was a final-round performance in Michigan next to Browell, preceded by a trip to the semifinals in Joliet. Ambrose finished third in the North Central standings.
After missing it at the out-of-region event in Cordova, Ill., and then again at Bowling Green, Scali was back on his game in Iowa, scoring the Earlville title. He rounded out the season by going a couple of rounds at the second Columbus event and then finishing early in an inconsequential effort in Louisville, Ky.
Warren, Ohio's Marco Abruzzi was Scali's closest competition at the very end, finishing second, just 20 points back. Abruzzi had a pair of round wins, a couple of semifinals, a runner-up to Thad Martin in Indianapolis, and a win at the first event in Columbus to pad his points. Third place Glenn Butcher, of Doylestown, Ohio, highlighted his season with the Mid-Michigan Motorplex title.
The Spitzer Race Cars Top Dragster championship was awarded to Bloomington, Indiana's Monroe on a tiebreaker; both he and Pro Stock competitor Dave Connolly posted identical points totals at the end of the season, but Monroe had a better scorecard within the division.
The tables turned again in Columbus, and Monroe got the last win-light of the weekend in the category with Connolly leaving without much to show, and as the season slowed to a halt, the two rivals toted their dragsters to Bowling Green and the division closer in Columbus, battling to the final hour for the gold. Monroe went two rounds at each of the last two events, and Connolly was a semifinalist in Bowling Green and then won a round at Columbus, falling just short of stealing the No. 1 spot from his closest competitor.
Phillip Oakley, of Owensboro, Ky., notched an Atlanta Dragway win and finished fourth, and Jeffrey Brown was the head of the class at the last event at Columbus, bringing home the win and finishing up his game with 248 points. John Coughlin clocked out with 292 marks for third place and Lynn Ellison ended the season fifth in the division with 260 marks.
More Division 3 champions will be spotlighted in the near future.
Division Three Top Alcohol Dragster Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 Bill Reichert 425 9 2 Marty Thacker 320 7 3 Ken Perry 236 5 4 Brandon Booher 171 6 5 Dave Hirata 160 6 6 Brian Mans 96 3 6 Scott Moore 96 3 8 Jerry Powell II 62 4 9 Brandon Greco 52 3 9 Dave Hill 52 3 Division Three Top Alcohol Funny Car Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 Brent Henry 299 5 2 Andrew Bohl 299 8 3 Raymond Drew 278 6 4 Paul Gill 235 7 5 John Bojec 160 5 6 Fred Hagen 107 3 7 Tony Bogolo 96 3 8 Don Devault 74 3 9 Cassandra Simonton 72 5 10 Robert Atchison 52 3 Division Three Competition Eliminator Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 Brian Browell 390 8 2 Ray Vierheller III 303 8 3 Steve Ambrose 293 8 4 Chad Voges 281 5 5 Robert Bailey 271 6 6 Jerry Arnold 260 6 7 Mike Farrell 259 5 8 Greg Kamplain 249 6 9 Rick Brown 248 7 10 John Coughlin 227 7 Division Three Top Sportsman Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 John Scali 357 9 2 Marco Abruzzi 337 7 3 Glenn Butcher 293 8 4 Thad Martin 271 7 5 Belva Brinegar Jr. 260 6 5 Jerry Albert 260 7 7 Tim Molnar 249 5 8 Robert Mandell Jr. 230 4 9 Chris Nyerges 227 7 10 Jeff Sexton 217 8 Division Three Top Dragster Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 James Monroe 368 7 2 Dave Connolly 368 8 3 John Coughlin 292 8 4 Phillip Oakley 281 8 5 Lynn Ellison 260 6 5 Walter Sullivan 260 7 7 Jeffrey Brown 248 6 8 Dean McIivain 238 7 8 Ricky Adkins 238 7 8 Mark Harmon 238 7
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