Lagana Defends Top Fuel In Epping Creasy Jr., Janis, Thomas and Gugliotta Also Winners at Amalie Oil North American Nationals EPPING, N.H. (August 12, 2007) -- Last season Bobby Lagana Jr. won his second career IHRA Knoll Gas Nitro Jam Top...
Lagana Defends Top Fuel In Epping
Creasy Jr., Janis, Thomas and Gugliotta Also Winners at Amalie Oil North American Nationals
EPPING, N.H. (August 12, 2007) -- Last season Bobby Lagana Jr. won his second career IHRA Knoll Gas Nitro Jam Top Fuel event at New England Dragway, claiming a final round win over his drag racing mentor and idol, Chris Karamesines. This year the opponent was different, but Lagana ended up in the same place Sunday afternoon by visiting the winner's circle after a finals win over T.J. Zizzo during the Amalie Oil North American Nationals presented by New England Dodge Dealers.
Other professional winners include Dale Creasy Jr. (Nitro Funny Car), Mike Janis (Pro Modified), Mark Thomas (Alcohol Funny Car) and Frank Gugliotta (Pro Stock).
Lagana, from Scarsdale, N.Y. carded a 4.980 at 285.23 mph to secure the win over Zizzo, who ran a 5.714 at 171.93. Despite losing, Zizzo leaves the race No. 1 in the points chase over Bruce Litton.
"I really just wanted to qualify so we could come out here and have some fun on Sunday," said Lagana Jr. "My dad, he came down to top end crying. He was so happy. Problem is now he wants to take a lap in the car."
Mike Smith's Knoll Gas Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car debut was a success, but in the end he came up just short. Smith fell to defending world champion Dale Creasy Jr. with the Ironman on the line. Creasy Jr., Beecher, Ill., took a free run down the quarter-mile strip when Smith broke after his burnout and could not get his car into gear.
"Every time we get to the winner's circle it feels like the first," said Creasy Jr. "The whole season is going so well I hate to even bring it up.
"This weekend the car was going down the race track, the driver just couldn't keep it together. I was struggling. And the more I thought about it, the more I struggled. First round I really tried to calm myself down and it worked," added Creasy Jr.
Mark Thomas advanced to his fifth final round of the 2007 IHRA Nitro Jam campaign and built his national points lead by topping Rob Atchison in the final. Atchison did defeat Paul Noakes, who he fell to in the last two national events, in the semifinal but could not get past Thomas in the money run. Atchison is now second in the points, trailing Thomas.
"You always want to race hard and win in close races, and that's what we did here," said Thomas. "Rob and I are good friends, and it was just really cool that we ran so close, 5.80 to 5.80. It's nice to keep that points lead going too."
Mike Janis claimed his 16th career Torco's CompetitionPlus.com Pro Modified Ironman, his first of the season, by stopping defending world champion Quain Stott in the final round. Notably the Pro Modified field proved diversity is back in the class as seven of the 16 car field were nitrous-powered entries.
Janis won by clocking a 6.087 at 235.64 mph after setting the world speed record earlier in the event with a 240.21 pass.
"After the year we've been having struggling, this is great," said Janis. "I made it to the final in Grand Bend but couldn't win. Small things have been biting us all year and today we ran consistent and it finally came together."
Frank Gugliotta continued his march towards the top of the national points standings, winning his second consecutive national event. Gugliotta, who defeated Larry O'Brien in the final round last weekend in Martin, topped current points leader Robert Patrick in the final round in Epping. Gugliotta carded a 6.417 at 220.22 mph to defeat a red-lighting Patrick.
"To win two in a row, in two weekends, this feels really good," said Gugliotta. "But you know how it is in this deal, you gotta ride it while you can. It can end at anytime.
"I'm really proud of my team. We struggled this weekend, had some engine problems, but we prevailed. That shows how good of a team we have and I'm really proud to be racing with them."
The next event on the $19.5 million Knoll Gas Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series is the Suzuki Motor City Nationals presented by Heritage Newspapers and GM Performance Division, August 24-26, at Milan Dragway. For more information, log onto www.ihra.com.