Biondo kicks off 2008 Campaign with Multiple Victories
It’s certainly no surprise to see Maspeth, NY resident Pete Biondo in the winner’s circle of any sportsman drag racing event. The 5-time NHRA World Champion has proven worthy of his legendary reputation behind the wheel over the last two decades; winning NHRA & IHRA events and titles in addition to some of the biggest bracket races in the country. In fact, Biondo has enjoyed so much success that most racers and fans have grown accustomed to seeing his name in the lights--so much so that many don’t even notice that Biondo has fired out of the gate again in 2008, enjoying what may be the best early season run of his storied career.
Biondo started the 2008 campaign in early February with a rare trip to the IHRA season-opener at Immokalee Regional Raceway in Immokalee, FL. Despite the fact that Biondo has been a constant threat for the NHRA World Championship in Stock and Super Stock for over a decade, he has run only select IHRA events throughout his career (in just a handful of appearances, Biondo had previously earned three IHRA “Iron Men“ for winning performances). The Immokalee event brought the opportunity to not only escape from the harsh New York February weather, but also the unique chance to compete in three separate events: a pair of IHRA Pro-Am Series races and a Sportsman National event.
There, Biondo enjoyed a stellar weekend. In Friday’s opening event, he drove his familiar Biondo Racing Products, Jeg’s, and K&N Filters backed ’69 Camaro to a runner-up finish. In the final round, a rare mechanical failure kept Biondo from what promised to be a great duel of former world champions, as he watched Michael Beard cruise to an easy victory.
In the second Pro-Am event, Biondo drove Phil Monteith’s Hatari Firebird to the Super Stock title, knocking off fellow Division 1 competitor Jeff Tripp in the final round. Biondo used a string of stellar reaction times (which varied from .007 to .022 in the five round event) to knock off notable competitors Glenn Mace, Jim Harrington, and Dennis Steward on his way to the final round.
With two final round appearances already under his belt, Biondo had already enjoyed a great opening weekend in South Florida when he went one step further, winning Stock Eliminator in the weekend closing Sportsman National Event. There, he knocked off a “Who’s Who” of Stock eliminator competitors, starting with the previous day’s winner Ricky Clark. Next, he defeated multi-time world champions Edmond Richardson and Anthony Bertozzi in the second and third rounds, respectively. He dispatched Dick Kincaid in the semi-final round, only to meet another former world champion, Craig Marshall, in the final stanza. There, Biondo was able to overcome his worst reaction of the day (a very competitive, albeit human .026) to win a double-breakout contest with a 6.539 on his 6.55 eighth-mile dial-in.
“The Immokalee weekend was a lot of fun,” said Biondo. “Three races in one weekend is a really great deal for the racers, and we had a good time. The competition was tough--you can look at the caliber of racers I had to go up against--the pits were littered with the best racers in all the classes. I was just very fortunate to come out on top. I feel like I drove pretty well, and both cars are unbelievably prepared and maintained--I think that gives me a huge edge. For that, I have to credit Phil Monteith, my longtime Super Stock car owner, as well as Tom Kurucz who built the Camaro Stocker. Tom’s perfectionism and maintenance keeps the car flawless, and it’s so much easier to focus as a driver when you have that much confidence in your equipment.”
Following the Immokalee weekend, Biondo returned home to New York and his family’s business, Biondo Racing Products for the next month. When he made a return trip to Florida for the annual NHRA Mac Tools Gator Nationals in Gainesville, the results were eerily familiar.
Without Super Stock on the docket at Gainesville, Biondo made a rare appearance in Competition Eliminator at the wheel of one of Arnie Martel’s machines. In that class, Biondo fell to eventual winner Roger Brogdon in the second round. In Stock, however, Biondo picked up his second national event victory of the season in as many attempts, turning in another stellar performance behind the wheel of his Biondo Racing Products, Jeg’s Mail Order, and K&N Air Filters backed ’69 Camaro.
After knocking off a red-hot Anthony Fetch (who had claimed the Stock win in Orlando a week earlier) in round one, Biondo survived a mathematical dead-heat with friend James Perrone in round two. In a rare occurrence, both drivers left the starting line with identical .026 reaction times, and both ran .006 quicker than their respective dial-ins. Biondo, however, got the nod by the slimmest of margins to advance in eliminations. He then used a telepathic .002 reaction time to knock out Sean Witherwax, and watched Dick Kincaid red-light to move into the quarterfinal round. There, he added perennial threat Ron Morehead to his 2008 hit list, before defeating Anthony Puleo in the semi-final round. That victory set the stage for an epic final round tilt with multi-time NHRA and bracket winner Jeff Strickland. The final, however, was over before it started, as Strickland fouled with a -.012 reaction, handing the Gator Nationals hardware to Biondo.
“It’s been a great start to the season,” exclaimed Biondo. “I can’t say enough about Tom Kurucz, Phil Monteith, Arnie Martel, and Larry Allen--I couldn’t do this without them. I also want to thank the guys at Biondo Racing Products, as well as Jeg’s and K&N. Their support keeps the wheels rolling. It seems I say this every season, but I’m not chasing points this year--I’ve got a schedule filled with national events, some big dollar bracket races, and a lot of time at home with our family business, Biondo Racing Products. I’m really looking forward to making the events that I do attend count, and thankfully we’ve been able to do that thus far.”
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After another long break, Biondo will return to NHRA competition at the Southern Nationals in Commerce, GA. That event will kickoff a whirlwind tour for him that will include the NHRA stops at Gateway International Raceway (Madison, IL), Bristol Dragway (Bristol, TN), Route 66 Raceway (Chicago, IL), and Old Bridge Township Raceway Park (Englishtown, NJ). For more information on the Biondo racing team and Biondo Racing Products, visit www.BiondoRacing.com