Epping: Final elminations summary

Tim Boychuk Claims First Career Top Fuel Win; Defeats Terry McMillen in Final at Amalie Oil North American Nationals Andy Kelley (Nitro Funny Car), Jim Halsey (Pro Modified), Paul Noakes (Alcohol Funny Car) and Pete Berner (Pro Stock) also claim...

Tim Boychuk Claims First Career Top Fuel Win; Defeats Terry McMillen in Final at Amalie Oil North American Nationals

Andy Kelley (Nitro Funny Car), Jim Halsey (Pro Modified), Paul Noakes (Alcohol Funny Car) and Pete Berner (Pro Stock) also claim Ironmen at New England Dragway

Epping, N.H. (Sept. 7, 2008) -- Tim Boychuk has only been behind the wheel of a Top Fuel Dragster for a very short time. Prior to the July Mopar Canadian Nationals in Grand Bend, Todd and Barry Paton tapped Boychuk to drive their 2004 McKinney for the remainder of the 2008 season.

The big payoff probably came a little sooner than they expected.

Boychuk (Edmonton, Alb.) drove past Terry McMillen in the final round at New England Dragway to claim his first career win at the Amalie Oil North American Nationals. Boychuk had a rough road to travel, but he was able to drive through Mike Strasburg (who set the track speed record) in the first round and points leader Spencer Massey in the semifinals to get to the run for the money.

There he posted a 4.758 at 306.19 mph to knock off a tire-smoking McMillen.

"This is the best feeling in the world...it's just awesome," Boychuk said from the New England Dragway winner's circle. "I have to thank the Patons for letting me drive the car; they really helped me out and have a great crew. It was a wonderful weekend."

It didn't take long for Boychuk to get the hang of Top Fuel racing.

"I'm still learning to drive it," he said. "This was my fourth race and it's spectacular. At the end of the track I had to get on the radio and ask how we made out because I really didn't know. I wanted to make sure I didn't mess up and Barry came on the radio and told me we'd won. It was really cool."

Andy Kelley (Piedmont, S.C.) is finishing the 2008 with a fury. In New England he advanced to his third consecutive Nitro Funny Car final and, after defeating Terry Haddock, visited the winner's circle for the second time this season.

Kelley ran a 5.160 at 264.96 mph to take the victory over a tire-shaking Haddock, proving that sometimes the crew chief is the smartest guy in the pits.

"I'm really impatient, I always want to run 4.70's or 4.80's," Kelley said. "But Richard Hartman, who makes the calls on this car, usually talks some sense into me. We're running this thing with no money and Richard really knows how to tune for a team with no budget. We run 5.00 or 5.10, get down the track, and that's what wins races. So I really have to thank him for being the voice of reason."

Kelley defeated Corey Lee in the first round and Matt Hagan in the semifinals. Though he lost in the final round, Haddock holds a commanding points lead heading into the season finale in Rockingham.

"I told Terry at the end of the track I'm sorry for getting in the way of him and Matt (Hagan) in this points chase," Kelley said. "But I'm out here to win. I'm not going to lay down for anyone and they understand that. We're all out here for one reason...to win races."

Chalk another one up for the nitrous Pro Modifieds as for the third race in a row nitrous cars finished 1-2 on the qualifying sheet. Jim Halsey (Street, Md.), behind the wheel of his nitrous-assisted 1968 Camaro, won his third national event of the season when he stopped Mike Castellana in an all-nitrous final round. Three of the four cars in the semifinals, Halsey, Castellana and Pat Stoken, were nitrous-assisted.

"I've never done very well at this track, but today it's my second-favorite track in the world," Halsey, the owner of Cecil County Dragway, said. "Nitrous cars are great right now, they're fast. We've done our homework and it's paying off."

Paul Noakes' Alcohol Funny Car victory over Dale Brand meant a little bit more than the other wins he has been able to garner in his career. Noakes, a London, Ont. resident, drives for Amalie Oil-sponsored Terry McMillen. Since the North American Nationals were sponsored by Amalie Oil, Noakes was thrilled he was able to do well for his sponsor.

"This feel wonderful," Noakes said. "We really wanted to come here and represent well for Amalie. Our goal was to come here and thank everyone for taking a chance on us and putting us in this car this year. The sponsors spend so much money and they spent money to put their name on this race, it meant a lot we could represent well for them here this weekend."

Noakes almost had a bye run in the semifinal. Dale Brand was thrashing in the pits to be able to make the call, but was probably going to fall short. Noakes was given the option to run last, after all the other professional classes, to give Brand more time. He jumped at that offer.

"No one wants to win that way, no one wants to be the only car on the track in the final," he said. "Anyone else out here would have done the same thing. IHRA gave me the option and, of course, I wanted to race for it."

Pete Berner's Pro Stock win in the final over Jeff Dobbins set up the biggest race weekend of his life one month from now in Rockingham. Berner took the points lead with his finals victory, moving 25 points ahead of Dobbins. Rain also washed away the final round of the $100,000 Torco Pro Stock Showdown in Epping, where Berner will face John Montecalvo. So in Rockingham Berner will be running for a world championship as well as trying to cash in on the $50,000 first prize in the Showdown.

"This is great, it's a lot of fun," Berner said. "When you think about it, in Rockingham I will have quite a bit on the line. $50,000 is a lot of money whether its IHRA, NHRA, NASCAR or whatever. We're looking forward to it."

Berner clocked a 6.333 pass at 222.88 mph in the final to nip Dobbins, who ran a 6.370/222.00.

"That final was tough, but it was a tough race weekend," Berner said. "I had to go against Frank (Gugliotta) and Cary (Goforth) just to get to J.D. I had a good lap against him, now it's time to start thinking about Rockingham."

-credit: ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers Mike Strasburg , Dale Brand , Richard Hartman , Terry Haddock , Jim Halsey , Matt Hagan , Spencer Massey , Terry McMillen