Topeka win all but clinches back-to-back NHRA Division 5 titles for Doc's Holiday team TOPEKA, Kan. -- The little Canadian crew that could . . . just did. Again. The Doc's Holiday top alcohol funny car (TAFC) team of Winnipeg, piloted by ...
Topeka win all but clinches back-to-back NHRA Division 5 titles for Doc's Holiday team
TOPEKA, Kan. -- The little Canadian crew that could . . . just did. Again.
The Doc's Holiday top alcohol funny car (TAFC) team of Winnipeg, piloted by Calgary's Roger Bateman, won its third home-division event in four tries on the National Hot Rod Association's Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series trail late Saturday night at Heartland Park Topeka.
And with the victory, the Friesen Motorsports crew has all but clinched its second consecutive NHRA West Central Division, or Division 5, championship.
The team's nearest competitor, Vern Moats of Des Moines, Iowa, was ousted in Saturday's first round of eliminations, and now has only a mathematical chance at the divisional crown. Moats, who entered the weekend 94 points back of Bateman for the Division 5 lead, would have to win at least three NHRA divisional events over the next 10 weeks -- and chase out-of-division points through early November -- in order to erase Bateman's commanding advantage.
The way Bateman has dominated the West Central Division's TAFC field in 2009, with three wins and four turns as the No. 1 qualifier, you'd never know that Doc's Holiday was an unsponsored team looking to get the most out of every dollar.
"It feels awesome," said team owner Dr. Brian Friesen of Winnipeg late Saturday night. "The guys put a lot of work into the car, and the fact that we don't really have paid crew members just tells you a little bit about what we're doing here.
"We lost a tire on the trailer on the way down, and had to buy new tires -- that was an unbudgeted expense. (Crew chief) Ken (Murray) and I are going back to work on Monday, but we've got a 12-hour drive back to Winnipeg ahead of us first," added Friesen. "So this is very satisfying. We don't want to be smug about it, but (the chase for the Division 5 title) is as much as done.
"It's good to go up against high-dollar teams, and be able to beat them with skill and hard work, rather than money. Luck's not a factor. We're just beating them head-on. That's what we're really proud of."
Bateman had qualified No. 1 on Friday night in the Friesen Motorsports team's 2009 Ford Mustang with a 5.647-second qualifying pass. During Saturday's eliminations, he knocked off Kebin Kinsley of Kennedale, Texas, in the first round, and then sidelined Tony Bartone of Long Island City, N.Y., a fellow NHRA overall top-five competitor, with the low ET of the weekend (5.596 seconds) to advance to the final.
Bateman emerged as top eliminator in TAFC by taking the green light in the final after Lance Van Hauen of Reinbeck, Iowa, couldn't make the call to the line.
"It was a great weekend," said Bateman. "We had a car that we had control of, and as we went faster, we weren't having to gamble -- we were just making small adjustments."
With the Topeka victory, Bateman is expected to overtake Jay Payne of Claremont, Calif., who was unhurt Saturday during a first-round crash at Heartland Park Topeka, for the NHRA's third place overall among TAFC competitors.
He also heads into next weekend's NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, from Sept. 2 to 7 at Indianapolis, on a roll, and determined to wipe out the memory of a first-round 0.402 light during the Doc's Holiday team's last national event Aug. 16 at Brainerd, Minn.
"We've got a few tricks up our sleeve, and they seem to be working out for us," said Friesen.
The Division 5 schedule wraps up at Tri-State Raceway in Earlville, Iowa., from Sept. 11 to 13. The Friesen Motorsports team will be there.
"You know what? As long as we keep winning, we'll keep going," said Friesen. "We have a chance at becoming No. 2 in North America, which would improve our stature (the team was fourth overall in 2008), so we might consider chasing that."