Radford Gets First National Event Win in Torco Pro Mod; Wild Weekend in Torco Pro Stock Comes to an End When the dust settled from the 10th Annual Amalie Oil North American Nationals at New England Dragway, the world was not turned upside down.
Radford Gets First National Event Win in Torco Pro Mod; Wild Weekend in Torco Pro Stock Comes to an End
When the dust settled from the 10th Annual Amalie Oil North American Nationals at New England Dragway, the world was not turned upside down. But it definitely was a more interesting place in IHRA drag racing as Dennis Radford became a first time winner in Torco Pro Mod, joining Doug Foley (Top Fuel), Jim Sickles (Funny Car), and Frank Gugliotta (Torco Pro Stock) in the professional winner's circle.
The unlikely final in Torco Pro Modified was going to yield a first time winner no matter what, and Dennis Radford (Baker City, Ore.) won the battle against Steve Bareman when Bareman red lighted by one thousandth of a second. Radford ran a 6.321 at 221.92 mph.
It was a somewhat surprising pairing as Bareman (Holland, Mich.), first alternate taking the place of Ed Hoover (who ran out of parts and could not answer the call in first round) faced Radford, who qualified fifteenth.
Bareman took out Quain Stott (Columbus, N.C.), running a 6.167 at 236.46 mph (which set the world speed record) to Stott's 6.208 at 232.23 mph. The early favorites fell by the wayside as Carl Spiering (Jordan Station, Ont.), who qualified number one, fell when Bareman beat him on a holeshot during the second round of eliminations. Bareman then took out Mike Castellana (Westbury, N.Y.) when Castellana shut down halfway through his run. Bareman advanced to his second final of the year.
Radford began the first round of eliminations by beating Scotty Cannon, Jr., who experienced tire shake. Radford then defeated Milt Decker with a run of 6.266 at 223.17 mph as Decker experienced mechanical failure. Radford then took out Shannon Jenkins (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) as Jenkins shook the tires and shut it down early.
Radford, in his first national event final, almost couldn't believe it.
"I didn't even know what happened (with Bareman's red light). I was on the radio and my crew chief said 'shut it down, you've won. He red lighted. And I asked, did I red light or did I win?'"
Coming from seemingly nowhere just made the win that much sweeter.
"We travel almost 3,000 miles to get here, hitting races here and there. We only made one qualifying run and blew the hood scoop off. It builds our confidence. We always say, we're going to .30 them to death."
In Top Fuel, Doug Foley (Sewell, N.J.) won in another match-up of the perennial Top Fuel heavyweights against Clay Millican when Foley ran a 4.835 at 288.89 while going away against Millican's 5.223 at 203.68 mph. It was Foley's second win of the season, and fifth final overall. Both wins have come when Foley qualified number one.
Foley's journey to the final saw him take out Chris Karamesines in the first round of elminations and his Torco teammate Rick Cooper (Boise, Idaho) in an exciting side by side race. Foley ran a 4.798 at 264.39 mph to take out Cooper's 4.970 at 246.44 mph.
Millican ran a solo pass in the first round of eliminations when Paul Athey could not answer the call. Millican's reaction time of .051 proved to be the difference maker in his second round race against Louie Allison, who ran a quicker 4.960 ET.
While Foley has almost conceded the championship, he sees the team coming together.
"I was talking to Evan (Knoll, Torco President), and we were saying if we could go and restart the season, knowing what we know now, and running the way we are now, that it would be a different championship story," Foley said.
Foley's number one qualifying from Friday night gave him all the information he needed for a consistent weekend.
"We wanted to go for consistency. I just wanted to repeat. This car did just what it was supposed to do," Foley said.
In Funny Car, Jim Sickles won against Mark Thomas with a pass of 5.730 at 248.43 mph against Thomas' 5.829 at 241.76 mph.
Thomas (Louisville, Ohio) returned to the championship round for the first time since the spring Rockingham race, facing Jim Sickles (Caledonia, N.Y.), who had won at Grand Bend and Norwalk this season and is a solid second in the season points chase.
Sickles threw down numbers all weekend, consistently running in the 5.70s, dispatching Thomas Carter (Cuero, Texas) in the first round and Terry McMillen (Elkhart, Ind.) in the second. McMillen had run a career best 5.825 to qualify number five, but Sickles put down his second consecutive 5.742 to win the round and advance to the final.
Thomas dispatched Terry Munroe (Beaver, Penn.) in the first round, running a 5.921 at 210.01 mph to Munroe's 5.979 at 239.19 mph. Thomas then beat Neal Parker on a holeshot, running Parker down with a 5.923 at 237.59 mph to Parker's 5.887 at 226.77 mph. Thomas' reaction time of .003 enabled him to make the final despite blowing the burst panel on three consecutive runs.
Next to Steve Spiess in Torco Pro Stock, Sickles may have the most consistent pro car in IHRA.
"Two wins in a row, we have a bracket car hot rod. You can't beat that," Sickles said.
Whatever technical issues that Sickles and his team have struggled with in the past seem to be gone.
"Tom Anderson (Sickles' crew chief) and the crew did a great job. Our secret was in the blower and we pushed the car to what we felt the track would handle."
With Rob Atchison bowing out, it left the door open just enough for Sickles to consider the points chase.
"Mathematically, we're still in the hunt," Sickles said. "Rob's had a great year, they're unconscious, but we've really gotten so much consistency out of this car and we can go rounds and win races."
The Torco Pro Stock final pitted Rick Jones (Galesburg, Ill.) versus Frank Gugliotta (Mt. Airy, Md.), with Gugliotta taking home his second win of the year when he ran 6.442 at 219.33 mph to Jones' 6.481 at 216.86 mph. Gugliotta's pass started off with a significant advantage at the start line.
Jones took out Elijah Morton (Jacksonville, N.C.) in the first round with a pass of 6.425 at 218. 48 to Morton's 6.440 at 217.70 mph. Jones then dispatched Pete Berner (Crete, Ill.) when Berner shook the tires. Jones then downed Steve Spiess (Manhattan, Ill.) in the semifinals, which happened to be the third time the two have squared off this year. Spiess had set the world Torco Pro Stock ET record with a run of 6.380.
Gugliotta's march to the final included a pass of 6.398 against John Bartunkek (Pearl River N.Y.) who could not match it with a 6.506. That run had Gugliotta capturing the 6.30 that eluded him Friday night, and it also yielded the new Torco Pro Stock world speed record of 220.26. Gugliotta then took out Larry O' Brien (Lakeshore, Ont.) with a pass of 6.405 at 209.65 to O'Brien's 6.484 at 215.20 mph. Gugliotta then beat John Nobile (Dix Hills, N.Y.) in the semi-final.
The battle waged all weekend in Torco Pro Stock between Spiess, Gahm, and Gugliotta, as all three ran 6.30s and set and reset the mph record. The final tally saw Gugliotta and Spiess in the newly unveiled Sonny Leonard 220 MPH Club, and all three in the Lenco 6.30s Club.
After struggling since winning at Edmonton, Gugliotta enthusiastically talked about how his program is back on track.
"We've struggled, but we got it back. The car run great, we were a little disappointed that we didn't get that .30, but we decided to just come back at it. We can't complain. This is fun."
The wild weekend in Torco Pro Stock is a harbinger of things to come for the Torco Pro Stock Showdown in Budds Creek.
"It's going to be the best of the best," Gugliotta said. "There isn't a gimme in the bunch. Anybody is capable of winning it. A lot of guys have found the secret. We'll see a lot more .30s and more guys hitting 220 mph."
The next stop on the Hooters IHRA Drag Racing Series schedule is the Torco Race Fuels President's Cup Nationals, September 22-24 at Maryland International Raceway.