Fletcher & Collier Chasing Doubles at NHRA Finals
POMONA – After two days of competition at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the sportsman classes will pick up with the quarterfinal rounds on Sunday. Racers still in contention will need just three win lights during the Big Show on Sunday in order to hoist a Wally at the famed Southern California facility. Also on tap tomorrow are the bracket finals for the NHRA Summit Racing Series where the best bracket racers from around the country will compete to determine a national champion.
For more drag race results from each of the sportsman classes, see our race report below.
With three rounds of eliminations completed only David Billingsley, David Rampy, and Doug Lambeck have a shot at the Wally. Rampy will have the semifinal bye insuring one more chance to capture national event win number 100. Billingsley, the winner from the Toyota NHRA Nationals at Vegas two weeks ago, will have his hands full when he meets up with Doug Lambeck in the semifinals. Lambeck comes into the semi’s having avoided the dreaded CIC penalties this weekend while Billingsley took a huge hit (-.014) in his round two win over Jim Greenheck.
Team DragChamp pick Tony Mandella fell in the second round by .002-second to the Volkswagen powered dragster of Brian Hyerstay. To add make matters worst, Mandella’s hood blew off at the finish line.
Super Stock has just eight competitors remaining which includes Cody Lane, Steve Wann, Wayne Taylor, Jim Rau, Brett Brown, Gary Emmons, Len Schneider, and Dan Fletcher. Quarterfinal pairings include Wann vs. Taylor, Brown vs. Rau, Emmons vs. Lane, and Schneider vs. Fletcher. Fletcher is the last member standing for Team DragChamp as both Jimmy DeFrank and Jody Lang fell in the third round.
Fletcher is also still alive in Stock Eliminator and will be looking to double up on Sunday which would be an awesome way to finish the year.
Recently crowned Super Stock world champion Justin Lamb fell in the second round to Larry Scarth.
Only four Stockers remain for the Big Show on Sunday after completing four rounds of eliminations over the last two days. The final four includes four-time world champion Jeff Taylor, 105-time national event winner Dan Fletcher, Team DragChamp member Ryan Mangus, and Jon Irving. For the semifinals it will be Taylor vs. Irving and Fletcher vs. Mangus.
Team DragChamp members Leo Glasbrenner and Brad Burton fell in the early rounds of eliminations. Newly crowned Stock Eliminator world champion Brian McClanahan fell to Tony Mandella in the third round when he left -.005-second too soon.
With the Super Comp championship undecided coming into Pomona and all three championship contenders entered there was the chance for some high stakes drama over the weekend. Steve Williams entered the event with a 20 point lead over Don Nichols and a 53 point lead over Mark Grame. After Nichols fell in round two, the championship battle would come down to Williams and Grame with Grame needing to make the final round in order to win the championship.
As we head into Sunday Grame is still in contention and only a couple of win lights away from earning his first NHRA world championship. Grame will face Tony Helms in the quarterfinals while Steve Collier, who’s also still in competition in Super Gas, will face Thomas Bayer, while Chad Webber will have the bye run.
I know two people who will not get much sleep tonight, Steve Williams and Mark Grame. But it will be entertaining for the rest of us to watch the championship play out tomorrow.
Team DragChamp didn’t fare too well in Pomona as Williams, Aaron Kinard, and Val Torres Jr. all fell in the early rounds of eliminations.
As mentioned in the Super Comp recap, Division 4 competitor Steve Collier is chasing the double tomorrow as he is down to the quarterfinals in both Super Comp and Super Gas. Two weeks ago Steve was a Team DragChamp selection in Super Gas at the Toyota NHRA Nationals and he told me to pick him in Super Comp as he had been struggling in his Vega. I mentioned he’d get it straightened out soon and it looks like I was right as his last two lights were .003 and .000 while his E.T.’s in the first three rounds were 9.918, 9.901, and 9.912. Looks like he figured it out to me.
With seven cars remaining the quarterfinal matchups will include Collier vs. Marko Perivolaris, Michael Miller vs. Team DragChamp member and two-time 2018 national event winner Matt Blodgett, Roger Kato vs. Dean Hall, and Greg Ventura will have the bye run.
While Blodgett is carry the Team DragChamp flag on Sunday, our other two picks, Robert Nabor and Ken Mostowich, fell in earlier rounds.
Also of note was the second round excitement caused by two on-track incidents. First, Randy Fabbro crossed the centerline in his Pinto before getting it under control without hitting anything.
Three pair later Randy Bowers, driving his ’69 Camaro, made a hard left after the finish line hitting the wall before bouncing back across the track and hitting the wall a second time eventually ending up in the sand trap. Along the way Bowers came in contact with the Corvette roadster of competitor Travis Salter. It was my understanding that both racers were ok after the incident although Bowers was transported to the hospital for further evaluation. Salter’s roadster must have sustained considerable damage as he did not make the call for his third round bye run.
Summit Bracket Racing National Championships
After spending the last few days getting familiar with the racetrack, the Summit national championships will kick into high gear on Sunday with three rounds of eliminations. With just eight cars in each class, it will be a quick three-round race for a championship albeit on the biggest stage of each racer’s career. For a full list of the Summit bracket finals competitors, click here.
For more drag race results and NHRA sportsman class racing, click here for the event preview.
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