LAS VEGAS -
Jim Whiteley, who beat Chris Demke last season in a final that had to be rerun after something blew through the lights in Demke's lane as they approached the finish line the first time, was a winner before he passed the Tree this time on Don St. Arnaud's red-light. Arnaud, who had killed the Tree in the first two rounds, left too soon with a -.131 reaction time, but with a 5.343 (low e.t.), Whiteley would have been hard to get around regardless.
Whiteley qualified his Norm Grimes-tuned YNot dragster on top with an almost identical run, 5.344, eliminated Megan McKernan in a much-closer-than-expected first-round match, 5.40 to 5.43, and took out Joey Severance in the semifinals, 5.35 to an early-shutoff 5.59. Severance had a realistic shot at unseating him after running slightly quicker in his first-round win over Demke (5.401) than Whiteley had in his win over McKernan (5.408)
St. Arnaud put away Ray Martin, driving Canadian Hugh Ridley's car, in the other semifinal match, 5.40 to 5.46. Martin, who won the West Region opener at Firebird Int'l Raceway in Phoenix, still holds a commanding lead in the Jegs Allstars standings.
Three-time Division 7 champ Gordon was consistent all weekend with three runs in eliminations within 19-thousandths of a second, from 5.659 to 5.678. He ousted former Division 7 champ Terry Ruckman, who's making his return to Alcohol Funny Car this season with Alexis DeJoria's old equipment, in round one and 2011-2012 championship runner-up Tony Bartone in the semi's. Bartone red-lighted by just four-thousandths of a second, voiding low e.t. at the time (5.620) and preventing a Whiteley-Bartone rematch of last year's final.
Whiteley won the other semifinal bout when Houston Regional winner Shane Westerfield had an even closer red-light than Bartone's, a -.003. Westerfield shut down to a 6.32 while Whiteley drove her Roger Bateman-tuned YNot Funny Car to a second straight 5.67. She also ran 5.67 in the first round to eliminate perennial Top 10 player Steve Gasparrelli. With both drivers coming off 5.67s and Gordon's reputation as one of the best leavers in the country, he seemed to have an excellent shot at his first divisional/regional win since 2010, but despite a solid .066 light and another 5.67, Whiteley had it all the way with a 5.59. She now has three wins in three career regional starts in Las Vegas after sweeping this race and the fall race there last year.
A pair of local racers went the distance as Robert Cruzen and Al Alguire both of Las Vegas took the wins in Super Stock and Super Street respectively. Cruzen raced his '06 Cobalt past John Stock in 9.54 seconds as Stock left early with a red-light foul. Cruzen recorded a perfect 0.000 second reaction time in round four to beat series hitter Dan Fletcher on his way to the final. Alguire and Steve Lowe were identical off the line with Alguire better at the finish running 11.053 on the 11.50 index in his '68 Barracuda.
Dean Carter lead the rest of the winners defeating Scott McClay in Comp Eliminator; Tony DeFrank defeated Las Vegas resident Dwight Machael in Stock; Matt Constant nipped Val Torres at the line in Super Comp; Luke Bogacki won on a double breakout in Super Gas over Tanner Haitt; and John Widmann, Garberville, Calif., ran better on both ends of the track to take the trophy in Sportsman Motorcycle presented by Harley Davidson.
Pacific Division racers return to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this coming weekend, April 5-7 for the Summitracing.com NHRA Nationals where they will be joined by the NHRA Mello-Yello Drag Racing Series.
The following are the final results from the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:
TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER: Round 1 3) Ray Martin, Anchorage, Alaska, 5.534, 264.18 def. 6) Greg Hunter, Sheridan, Wyo., 5.601, 257.43 2) Don St. Arnaud, Edmonton, Alb., 5.455, 261.22 def. 7) Garrett Bateman, Albany, Ore., foul 5) Joey Severance, Woodburn, Ore., 5.401, 262.90 def. 4) Chris Demke, Tujunga, Calif., 5.418, 264.65 1) Jim Whiteley, Grand Junction, Colo., 5.408, 266.58 def. 8) Megan McKernan, Sierra Madre, Calif., 5.430, 255.39 Semifinals Whiteley, 5.357, 267.06 def. Severance, 5.592, 211.56 St. Arnaud, 5.405, 262.03 def. Martin, 5.465, 264.03 Final Whiteley, 5.343, 267.00 def. St. Arnaud, foul TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR: Round 1 5) Doug Gordon, Paso Robles, Calif., '11 Mustang, 5.659, 253.95 def. 4) Terry Ruckman, Grand Junction, Colo., '06 Monte Carlo, foul 3) Shane Westerfield, Lake Forest, Calif., '06 Monte Carlo, 5.707, 254.66 def. 6) Jason Rupert, Yorba Linda, Calif., '06 Monte Carlo, 9.156, 95.67 2) Annie Whiteley, Grand Junction, Colo., '10 Mustang, 5.677, 255.39 def. 7) Steve Gasparrelli, West Covina, Calif., '06 Monte Carlo, 11.976, 119.34 1) Tony Bartone, Long Island City, N.Y., '09 Mustang, 5.711, 257.92 def. 8) Jirka Kaplan, Calgary, Alb., '09 Mustang, 6.890, 170.02 Semifinals Whiteley, 5.674, 254.71 def. Westerfield, foul Gordon, 5.678, 252.99 def. Bartone, foul Final Whiteley, 5.590, 256.16 def. Gordon, 5.673, 253.14 COMP ELIMINATOR Dean Carter, Glendale, Ariz., dragster, B/ND, 7.212, 159.23 def. Scott McClay, Tehachapi, Calif., dragster, C/ED, foul. SUPER STOCK Robert Cruzen, Las Vegas, '06 Cobalt, GT/AA, 9.542, 125.37 def. John Stock, Sandusky, Ohio, '92 Cutlass, GT/MA, foul. STOCK ELIMINATOR Tony DeFrank, Chatsworth, Calif., '68 Camaro, B/SA, 10.389, 118.29 def. Dwight Machael, Las Vegas, '62 Fury, B/SA, 10.608, 124.08. SUPER COMP Matt Constant, Stockton, Calif., dragster, 9.061, 170.41 def. Val Torres, Valinda, Calif., dragster, 9.075, 166.19. SUPER GAS Luke Bogacki, Carterville, Ill., '63 Corvette, 10.042, 155.99 def. Tanner Hiatt, Sparks, Nev., '02 Corvette, 10.031, 152.43. SUPER STREET Al Alguire, Las Vegas, '68 Barracuda, 11.053, 152.02 def. Steve Lowe, Langley, B.C., '68 Camaro, 11.072, 135.86. TOP DRAGSTER Geneva Nash, Visalia, Calif., dragster, 7.001, 192.28 def. Dave Slatten, Ft. Collins, Colo., dragster, foul. TOP SPORTSMAN Richard Okerman, Torrance, Calif., '89 Beretta, 7.413, 173.78 def. Chris Newman, Lancaster, Calif., '08 Cobalt, 7.009, 198.79. SPORTSMAN MOTORCYCLE PRESENTED BY HARLEY DAVIDSON John Widmann, Garberville, Calif., '97 Kawasaki, 8.778, 132.97 def. Jay Thompson, Whitman, Ariz., '73 Kawasaki, 9.991, 129.10.
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