After finishing second in the division for two consecutive seasons, Zaskowski finally made his way to the top of the pack and held on, earning the first North Central championship title of his career. The season-opener was a promising debut for Zaskowski, of Belmont, Mich., who shifted his GT/G '87 Camaro to the semifinals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk, where Jeremy Duncan, of Charlestown, Ind., took the win over Tom Sheehan.
In Columbus, Zaskowski got the nod in the trophy stand-off when former Jr. drag racer Andy Kronenbitter wheeled his GT/BA '05 Cavalier off the starting line eight-thousandths too quick, and looking to build his points lead, Zaskowski then headed out of division to the West Central race at Cordova Dragway Park, where he bowed out in the quarterfinals. He finished up his countable points at Bowling Green, where he racked up three round-wins. Overall, Zaskowski finished third in the national points chase.
Kronenbitter, looking to finish large in his first season driving a big car, traveled to Georgia and competed at Atlanta Dragway and Silver Dollar Raceway. Atlanta paid off big with an important win, but his season concluded at Silver Dollar when he was unable to make it out of the first round, assuring Zaskowski a handsome decoration for the trophy case with his Division 3 capture.
Four-time national champion Richardson, also owner and operator of the Edmond Richardson School of Drag Racing, jumped with both feet into the year, despite missing the first event in the region. David Walther, who ultimately was second in North Central competition, was 105 points up on Richardson early on the basis of a win in Norwalk, but the gap was quickly shortened when Richardson won at the Lucas Oil race at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis.
Richardson followed the success with a trip to the quarterfinals at Route 66 Raceway and a runner-up in Columbus in his C/SA '99 Camaro. In his fourth and final race on his home turf, Greenbrier, Tenn., driver Richardson went straight to the winner's circle at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green after defeating Walther in an incredibly close final that produced a .0008 margin of victory. Though he competed at four more events outside of the division, Richardson had all the points needed to score the gold.
Notably, Mattingly recorded back-to-back home division wins, in Joliet and Stanton, Mich., to make a strong case mid-season.
Richardson was a semifinalist in Columbus and won in Atlanta, and he also went late in the rounds in Bowling Green and at the LODRS event in Noble, Okla. He took a final shot at nabbing the championship in Las Vegas, but neither Mikus nor Richardson garnered so much as a round win, and the chase was officially over with 372 points in Mikus' column and 351 on Richardson's side.
The Division 1 meet at Atco, N.J., was likely the most pivotal for the group of still-eligible racers. Mikus was within reach by a few, including fourth place Troy Coughlin Jr., who earlier in the season became a third-generation Mac Tools U.S. Nationals winner. Coughlin needed a semifinals or better finish to stay alive and was unable to follow through, and eventual third-place finisher Tony Elrod, who won the division race in Indy early in the season, was out without a round win as well. Mikus, of Ashley, Mich., came through with a strong final-round performance and 94 points that made a difference when it was time to tally season-earnings.
A rough time in Joliet was followed by a significant victory at Mid-Michigan Motorplex for the Whitelake, Mich., racer, who sent fellow Division 3 competitor Richard Kurth away without a trophy at the conclusion of their final-round meeting. Haas made another big surge when he drove his '05 Corvette to a runner-up in Bowling Green.
Cook matched Haas' points in the season-opener and stayed in the game with a runner-up at Joliet, and though he picked up a few more round wins as the events rolled on, the highlight of his North Central ascension was winning in Atlanta. Cook finished off with a couple of round wins at Silver Dollar Raceway, but came up just short.
Third place Larry Bernshausen wasn't far behind and consistently added points for rounds to his scorecard throughout the season, heading twice to the semifinals and once to the quarters. Fourth place Steve Hoyt was runner-up at both Indy and Columbus, and Billy Smith, fifth at season's end, won the first race of the year at Norwalk.
Following the runner-up in Norwalk, Shipp stalled in Indy and Joliet but picked up again at Mid-Michigan Motorplex, ending the weekend by driving his '68 Camaro to the semifinals. Meanwhile, Matthews took a sizable bite of the available points with a win at the Indy Lucas Oil race, and Ray Miller II, from Mansfield, Ohio, picked up a few points of his own as runner-up at the event.
Matthews held the lead for a spell and added to his marks with a final-round finish at the first Lucas Oil race in Columbus and another runner-up at Bowling Green, but former Jr. Dragster Eastern Conference Finals winner Shipp raced past his challenger in the last two events he contested, going to the final at the second Columbus race and the semifinals out-of-division at Silver Dollar Raceway.
Miller continued to accumulate marks, edging into the quarterfinals and the semifinals respectively at the Columbus and Bowling Green meets, but was unable to make large enough gains to have a serious shot at the division crown in the waning hours of the season. Gary Horstmann's win in Earlville, Iowa, put him on the radar, and he finished fourth in the North Central Division.
Division Three Super Stock Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 Brad Zaskowski 395 8 2 Andy Kronenbitter 331 8 3 Ryan Haag 320 8 4 Jeremy Duncan 307 8 5 Charley Downing 298 6 6 Larry Hodge 288 5 7 Jeff Dona 277 6 8 Allen Wade 264 9 9 Gary Tompa 255 8 10 Ricky Decker 232 6 Division Three Stock Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 Edmond Richardson Jr. 416 8 2 David Walther 341 7 3 Tommy Mattingly IV 331 7 4 Randy Wilkes 330 7 5 Mitch Truman 275 6 6 Mike Morgan 265 6 7 Tim Gillespie 254 6 8 Patrick Downing 245 5 9 Craig Marshall 236 4 10 Ben Wenzel Sr 233 6 Division Three Super Comp Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 Steve Mikus 372 10 2 Edmond Richardson Jr. 351 8 3 Tony Elrod 317 7 4 Troy Coughlin Jr. 307 7 5 Greg Kamplain 288 6 6 TJ Schippling 284 7 7 Rusty Cook 278 8 8 Pat Mc Creery 276 6 9 Leo Zynda III 266 5 10 Michael Shelton 265 6 Division Three Super Gas Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 Rock Haas 363 8 2 Rusty Cook 362 8 3 Larry Bernshausen 350 8 4 Steve Hoyt 340 8 5 Billy Smith 319 6 6 Richard Kurth 317 7 7 Ray Connolly 286 6 8 Alan Bush 276 6 9 Larry Roedel 265 7 10 Brina Splingaire 253 8 Division Three Super Street Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 Joey Shipp 375 8 2 Rudy Matthews 353 8 3 Raymond Miller II 309 7 4 Gary Horstmann 308 5 5 Randi Lyn Shipp 287 7 6 Scotty Rienschield 277 7 7 Craig Meyer 276 8 8 Dan Carter 265 6 9 Joseph Fuesting 255 8 10 Rick Shipp Sr. 246 6
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