Goodguys 7th Fuel & Gas Finals -- Sportsman Preview Bakersfield, CA - As the 7th Fuel & Gas Finals approach, it's clear that the competition in the Goodguys/VRA Index and Sportsman classes is as diverse as the classes themselves. Some, like...
Goodguys 7th Fuel & Gas Finals -- Sportsman Preview
Bakersfield, CA - As the 7th Fuel & Gas Finals approach, it's clear that the competition in the Goodguys/VRA Index and Sportsman classes is as diverse as the classes themselves. Some, like B/GAS are a virtual crap shoot as to who will hold the year-end trophy. With so many close races let's take a look at how these scenarios might play out on the Famoso Raceway 1320 during the 7th Fuel & Gas Finals October 28-30.
Three sportsman/index classes are pretty much signed sealed and delivered as we head into the Finals. "Papa Joe" Furiani has the Hot Rod Eliminator title nailed down after a runner-up finish in Sonoma and a big win in Seattle. With three out of four final round appearances and two event wins, LaJolla, California's Ed Carey and his 1971 Camaro have dominated D/GAS this year. It's all over but the singing Ed so get that acceptance speech going! The third and final category that looks sewn up is Nostalgia II with Robert Lander firmly in charge of the proceedings. With a win at the Nitro Nationals at Infineon Raceway and consistent middle round finishes -- he's done enough to stave off a charge from any followers.
After 20-plus years campaigning his bright yellow 1941 "Hot Rod Willys" -- Windsor's Steve Castelli is poised to win his third A/GAS Championship. Castelli took down the class title in both 1995 and 1996 but has been in a dry spell for the last decade. What's the secret to his success this year? Maybe it's the increased blood flow in his system. This past December he felt some slight tightness in his chest so he went for a routine checkup. Upon further examination it was determined he had 95% blockage in three out of four main arteries in his heart. The doctor put in three stints with the result being a fresher, sharper Steve Castelli which obviously improved his driving ability. His arch rival Mark Mahood is lurking in second place but finds himself 95 points behind the leader and will have to rely on nothing short of a miracle to overhaul Castelli.
The points chase in B/GAS is absolutely wild. Kevin Riley (270 points) is holding a tenuous one round or less advantage over three rivals including defending Champion James Schwartz, Randy Armstrong and Bob Patten. With this being a 32-car field, both qualifying and eliminations will be equally dramatic. 32 points are awarded to the top qualifier and on down the line so whoever qualifies at or near the top will get a leg up heading into eliminations. With just one round separating these four combatants, you can bet they will need plenty of Tums throughout Finals weekend.
Craig Wallace and his little orange Model A sedan from Nevada City lead the fight for the Nostalgia III title for the second consecutive year. Wallace must hold off John Cassie's Sacramento based dragster but enjoys a 54 point lead on that rival. With a small eight car field it will be hard for Cassie to catch the defending champion but it must be noted that Wallace did not qualify here at Famoso Raceway for the season opening March Meet.
Pat McDonald's March Meet qualifying effort (a 9.603 on a 9.60 index) and his Pomona Nitro Nationals C/GAS win have him leading Steve Galileo and Seattle class winner Jesse Wooten. Again -- with C/GAS running 32 cars in final eliminations, McDonald's 32-point lead over Galileo is no sure thing. Wooten checks in third in the championship chase, 54 points behind McDonald which gives him hope. If these two can get above McDonald during Friday and Saturday's qualifying sessions, it should make for a very interesting Sunday at the Finals in C/GAS.
And finally, it's the Nostalgia Eliminator division which will offer up plenty of drama come finals weekend. The bright red 1947 Crosley -- yes the one that smokes the tires so hard smoke pours out the windows is your current points leader. Driver Ronnie Lennon and teammate Johnny Cofer (an ex USAC midget star) are clinging, we mean really clinging to a small lead over reigning champion Don Taros with "Dinosaur" Dave Ward, fresh off his 2005 US Tour, checking in third right behind Taros. So we've got two blown alcohol-guzzling altered wheelbase cars surrounding the ultra-consistent injected dragster of Taros.
The index and sportsman classes will hit the track Friday October 28th at 12:30 for the first of three scheduled qualifying passes. Final eliminations commence Sunday, October 30th.