READING, Pa. – Appearing in his 34th NHRA national event final round, former world champion Anthony Bertozzi defeated Anthony Bongiovanni to collect his 20th national event Wally at the Dodge NHRA Nationals. Bertozzi, Ashland, Va., drove his familiar SS/AS ’98 Grand Am with precision all weekend as he averaged a .017 reaction time during eliminations, only once was he worst than .019. Bertozzi only had two close rounds during the race as two opponents red-lighted and two others ran almost a tenth above their dial.
Although Bertozzi is currently number two in the national points standings, the win at Reading did not help his championship effort as he had already maxed out his national event quota prior to Reading. Bertozzi does have two LODRS races left to claim where he will try to improve on two third round loses in his pursuit of points leader Justin Lamb. Bertozzi is no stranger to chasing points as he has collected 17 world championships during his career.
At Reading, Bertozzi kicked off eliminations with a first round victory over a red-lighting Duane Eiskant to set up a second round battle with Michael Iacono. Iacono proved to be a handful as he jumped to the lead with .010 to .019 reaction time advantage. Bertozzi found just enough room on the big end to sneak past Iacono as he took .007 to go dead on with a 4. Iacono looked to have tapped the brakes at the finish posting a .020 over 9.820 in the loss.
In rounds three through five, Bertozzi was never challenged as Gary Richard missed the tree and ran .089 over his dial in round three, Joe Lisa was -.012 red in the fourth round, and Brittany Botlz was .050 on the tree and .091 over her dial in the semifinals. Bertozzi was on kill in each of these rounds as he posted lights of .006, .019, and .014 and was holding a couple in E.T. as well.
Bongiovanni, Hopatcong, N.J., drove his FSS/C ’14 Ford Mustang to his second career final round appearance of the year, he won the New England Nationals earlier this year. Bongiovanni received three red lights and a bye run on his way to the final round on Sunday.
Bongiovanni was on the receiving end of three-straight red-lights to open eliminations as Dan Fletcher was -.022, James Antonette was -.003, and A. Lincoln Morehead was -.005 at the tree. Antonette had to be kicking himself after his run as Bongiovanni was .065 at the tree and ran .05 over out-the-back-door in the second round encounter.
Bongiovanni’s best light of eliminations came in his fourth round matchup with William Kennedy. With a bye to the final at stake, Bongiovanni took a .012 to .039 lead at the tree and finsihed it up on the top end with a .022 over 8.852 to take out Kennedy’s .046 over 10.446.
In the final, Bertozzi continued to drill the tree as he posted a near-perfect .002 to take a huge lead over Bongiovanni’s .048. At the big end, Bertozzi killed .05 to go .022 above for the win. Bertozzi’s 9.062 (9.04 dial) easily handled Bongiovanni’s -.011 under 8.919 (8.93 dial).
Bertozzi once again made it look easy although we all know it’s not. Congratulations Anthony on your 20th Wally.