Reichert looking to clinch championship in Reading
READING, Pa. - At this time of year, baseball teams are talking about 'magic numbers' to clinch playoff berths. During this weekend's Toyo Tire Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., the 'magic round' for NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster racer Bill Reichert will be the semifinals, as he and his Rislone Engine Treatment/ Bar's Leaks team will clinch their first World Championship if they can reach that round.
Reichert, from Owosso, Mich., has been close to the championship before. In 2004, he was locked into a title dual with Mitch Myers that went down to the final event of the tour in Pomona. He finished second that year and fourth last season. However at the end of last season, Reichert became one of the hottest cars in the country, winning his last three national events.
This season has been more of the same. Reichert enters Reading this weekend with a solid points lead and on the heels of five straight wins. His only challenger, Sean O'Bannon has two more races left to claim towards his points and would need to win both to finish two points ahead of Reichert. Despite the title hype, Reichert plans to use the same recipe for success that put him in this position.
"We just want to do everything exactly the way we've been doing it; there's no reason to change," said Reichert. "The part I'm going to have to work on is not letting the pressure and attention get to me. You just have to stay relaxed and calm."
That's where the 'monkey' comes into play. After an early season redlight, where Reichert stated, "Driving one of these cars is easy enough a trained monkey could do it," Bar's Leaks President Bob Mermuys gave Reichert a toy monkey. He told him if the monkey could do it, he could do it. Reichert relaxed and won the next three races with "Bars Leaks the Monkey" on board.
"When the pressure comes on, that's when I look at the monkey," laughed Reichert. "It helps remind you how easy it is. You just have to be yourself and act normal."
The fact Reichert has an extra race to clinch helps with the pressure as well.
"It definitely helps knowing we have another race we can go to," stated Reichert. "It gives us a bit of a cushion. We've had an incredible amount of luck this year. We just haven't had any of the silly problems. Everyone else seems to be having them. We've had them before, we just haven't had them lately. Hopefully we can continue to keep away from them."
"We have a real good maintenance program," Reichert continued. "We've been running this car long enough to know what to expect and what to change to prevent those kinds of problems. We've won the last five races, and we haven't lost a round since we put the Rislone colors on in Indy, so hopefully we can keep that going."
Qualifying begins on Friday for the alcohol cars with two sessions, followed by one final session Saturday morning. Round one will start eliminations Saturday afternoon followed by final eliminations on Sunday.