Epping: Series spotlight - Frank Gugliotta

Gugliotta hopes this is finally his year With only three races remaining, a comfortable points lead and a car that has shown it is capable of dominating the field, one would think Frank Gugliotta would be thrilled with his currently ...

Gugliotta hopes this is finally his year

With only three races remaining, a comfortable points lead and a car that has shown it is capable of dominating the field, one would think Frank Gugliotta would be thrilled with his currently position.

However that just isn't the case.

Gugliotta has been in this position before, sitting inside the top five at this point in the season for the past seven consecutive years, but he has been unable to seal the deal and come away a champion.

Hopefully he can change that this season.

"I have been in this position every year since 2003 and have never been able to clinch a title. I have come as close as second, but it seems like it always slips away," Gugliotta said. "I have to make sure that this year we keep doing what we are doing and hopefully it pays off."

Gugliotta, who hasn't finished outside the top five since 2004, is surprisingly still searching for his first championship despite being considered one of the best in the business today. In his career Gugliotta holds records for fastest pass, longest qualifying streak and highest final round winning percentage.

Gugliotta is also in the top 10 all-time in victories (12) and when he reaches the finals he is almost unbeatable, holding a remarkable 12-3 record. Despite that success, however, none of it has added up to a world title.

And after accomplishing so much, Gugliotta admits that a championship would finally give him some peace of mind.

"It would give me closure. It is a very tough class and even though I have the lead now, I don't count anyone out," Gugliotta said. "There are still 12 rounds and 240 points up for grabs not counting qualifying. That is a lot of points, so it is not over yet."

Gugliotta enters the Amalie Oil North American Nationals at New England Dragway next weekend with a 41 point lead over another man who has never clinched a championship, IHRA legend John Montecalvo.

Also in the mix are defending world champion Pete Berner, Gugliotta's team owner Richard Freeman and Cary Goforth.

With several teams within striking distance, Gugliotta admits that he couldn't be happier going to a track like New England, a place where he was won twice before.

"New England can be real fast and we like tracks that go fast," Gugliotta said.

And Gugliotta has made a career out of doing just that.

Among the top five all-time in Pro Stock "pole" positions, he will be looking to get as many points as he can through qualifying and bonus points. Still, despite his track record, Gugliotta takes nothing for granted.

"We have a really good race car and if I can do my job as a driver I think we will be fine," Gugliotta said. "Still, there are a lot of good cars out there so I have to be on my toes."

Gugliotta also brings with him the momentum of an absolutely dominating weekend in Martin, Mich. back in July. Claiming the Last Man Standing award both nights, qualifying No. 1 and mowing through the field on Sunday, Gugliotta absolutely dominated the Northern Nationals on his way to the weekend sweep.

Now he heads to a track where he has seen similar success as he closes in on his first career world championship.

"What can I say, it would mean a lot to me to finally get it done for once," Gugliotta said.

A championship would also be quite a feat for Gugliotta's new team.

Signing with Elite Motorsports late last season, it hasn't been your typical first year for the Elite bunch as Gugliotta tops the charts and team owner Freeman and rookie J.R. Carr sit in fifth and sixth respectively.

If Gugliotta can hold on and give Freeman and the bunch a title in their very first season, it would be something that very few teams have been able to accomplish in motorsports history.

"What can I say about the year everyone has had? How many times is that going to happen in the first year out for a brand new team," Gugliotta said. "It speaks for itself and I just hope we can close the deal and bring home a championship."

-credit: ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers John Montecalvo , J.R. Carr , Richard Freeman , Frank Gugliotta