Backed into a corner after losing early in his first two regional starts, Bill Reichert won his third straight to complete a perfect regional season and put himself in position to challenge runaway points leader Jim Whiteley for the Alcohol Dragster championship. Mickey Ferro had a much tougher time negotiating the National Trail Raceway surface but managed to eke out the win in Top Alcohol Funny Car for the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event just outside Columbus.
Reichert, upset in the first round at both Indianapolis and Norwalk, followed up his Maple Grove and Chicago wins by stopping Robin Samsel in the Columbus final, 5.40 to 5.84. "You try not to think about the pressure of having to win three races in a row for a perfect three-win regional season, but in the back of your mind, it's always there," said Reichert, who won every national championship from 2006 to 2010 and settled for second last year. "I just tried to concentrate on winning each round and dealing with the conditions."
An iffy track and oppressive heat kept drivers in all classes fighting for traction all weekend. "The track was hot, and the air was, too," Reichert said. "A lot of cars smoked the tires ahead of us in the first round, and it seemed like every time another one did, we'd take a little more timing out of it. We didn't want to, but we had to for the car to be able to get a hold of the track."
Running in the last pair of the round, Reichert pounded alternate Dave Heitzman in a rematch of the Chicago final with a 5.35 (low e.t.) that surprised even him. "I definitely didn't think the car would run that good, and we weren't even trying to, but that's the number that came up," he said. After a 5.41 against fellow title contender Randy Meyer in the semifinals, Reichert ran a consistent 5.40 in the final to deny the veteran Samsel.
Ferro struggled with the conditions all weekend but persevered to win his third race this season and second in a row in the North Central Region. "That was ugly," he admitted. "We lucked out. The track got hot and we couldn't get a handle on it. The car would leave hard every time, but it would get out there and start moving around on me and I'd have to short-shift it or just shut it off. "
Ferro qualified No. 2 behind Norwalk winner Chris Foster, who had everybody covered in qualifying with a 5.64, but in the first round, Foster went up in smoke and lost to many-time IHRA event winner Tony Bogolo, 6.12 to a shutoff 13.26. One pair later, Ferro defeated Brian Harvanek in the best race of the event, 5.74 to 5.79. "We had everything – clutch, transmission ratio, timing – backed way down," Ferro said, "and I made it." In round two against Paul Noakes, he didn't.
"The car started getting sideways, I saw the cones coming, and I stepped off of it," Ferro said. "We were just too aggressive down track. This was the kind of race where you probably could just run off the main jet and the barrel valve and count on the track to give you the wheel speed you need."
Ferro strapped a holeshot on Bogolo in the final, .099 to .257, and still won despite having his car shut itself off in the mid-range, coasting to a 6.35 at 187 mph. Bogolo chased him down but fell three-hundredths of a second short with a 6.23, 227.
"They say a win's a win, and I can think of times I've run 5.50s and got sent home, but this isn't the kind of thing I'm going to feel too good about," Ferro said. "When I look at this trophy, I'm not going to feel the same as I will when I look at other ones that I feel we really earned. I guess the important thing is that this weekend helped us keep pace with the other cars going for the championship, but we can't have another one like this and expect to win."
Greg Kamplain held on to take one from Robert Bailey in Comp Eliminator out of Brownsburg, Ind., running 6.927 seconds at 192 mph while John Scali grabbed his second win of the year in the Brodix/Steve Schmidt Top Sportsman class. The Chicago racer went 199 mph to defeat Mike Sowards in 7.107 seconds.
James Monroe advanced to his second final round grabbing his first win of the year in the Spitzer Race Cars Top Dragster when Jenifer White fouled at the start and Rob Moser put his Moser Engineering '10 Corvette in the winner's circle in Super Gas taking out Steve Mikus.
Other winners at National Trail Raceway included Dan Olding in Super Stock over Jeremy Duncan; Tom Rambo beating Jeff Taylor in Stock; Michael Shelton defeated Rob Goins in Super Comp; and Scotty Rienschield knocking out Marsha McFall in Super Street.
North Central Division racers head to Mid-Michigan this coming weekend for the next NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event, July 28-29.
The following are Sunday's final results from the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, North Central Division Buckeye Fuel Wars Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event presented by Denny's:
TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER:
1) Jared Dreher, Clinton, Ind., 13.735, 78.85 def.
8) Denny Hummel, Clinton Twnshp, Mich., broke;
4) Robin Samsel, Marion, Ind., 5.602, 262.08 def.
5) Marty Thacker, Robinson, Ill., 5.634, 252.38;
3) Randy Meyer, Spring Hill, Kan., 6.227, 250.37 def.
6) Mike Kosky, Cuddy, Pa., 8.391, 101.91;
2) Bill Reichert, Owosso, Mich., 5.359, 268.01 def.
9) Dave Heitzman, Grand Rapids, Ohio, 5.869, 247.79;
Samsel, 5.975, 239.31 def. Dreher, 9.257, 103.14;
Reichert, 5.411, 267.43 def. Meyer, 5.528, 255.68;
Reichert, 5.406, 266.11 def. Samsel, 5.849, 234.00.
TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR:
6) Tony Bogolo, Hamilton, Ohio, '99 Mustang, 6.129, 227.77 def.
1) Chris Foster, Davenport, Iowa, '11 Mustang, 13.268, 66.14;
2) Mickey Ferro, Stamford, Conn., '12 Monte Carlo, 5.747, 252.90 def.
5) Brian Harvanek, Cheswick, Pa., '02 Camaro, 5.790, 245.54;
4) Paul Noakes, London, Ont., '02 Mustang, 14.337, 81.00 def.
3) Cassie Simonton, Brooklyn Park, Minn., '09 Monte Carlo, broke;
Ferro, 6.546, 176.63 def. Noakes, foul;
Bogolo, 23.188, 45.44 was unopposed;
Ferro, 6.354, 187.29 def. Bogolo, 6.231, 227.08.
Greg Kamplain, Brownsburg, Ind., dragster, B/ED, 6.927, 192.58 def. Robert Bailey, Wabash, Ind., dragster, A/ED, 6.698,
Dan Olding, Hartland, Mich., '99 Monte Carlo, GT/KA, 11.138, 120.80 def. Jeremy Duncan, Charlestown, Ind., '69 Camaro,
Tom Rambo, Washington C.H., Ohio, '68 Camaro, G/SA, 11.369, 115.50 def. Jeff Taylor, Sellersburg, Ind., '69 Camaro,
C/SA, 11.116, 115.46.
Michael Shelton, Independence, Ky., dragster, 8.896, 174.28 def. Rob Goins, Plymouth, Mich., dragster, 8.888, 162.67.
Rob Moser, Portland, Ind., '10 Corvette, 9.899, 162.16 def. Steve Mikus, Ashley, Mich., '72 Nova, 9.888, 133.43.
Scotty Rienschield, Sunman, Ind., '69 Corvette, 10.862, 148.67 def. Marsha McFall, Tipp City, Ohio, '67 Camaro, 10.861,
John Scali, Chicago, Ill., '67 Camaro, 7.107, 199.02 def. Mike Sowards, Clarkston, Mich., '90 Beretta, 7.817, 171.49.
James Monroe, Bloomington, Ind., dragster, 6.991, 146.93 def. Jenifer White, Conroe, Texas, dragster, foul.
SUPER GAS SHOOTOUT PRESENTED BY MOSER ENGINEERING
Gary Linkhorn, Cumberland, Ohio, '27 roadster, 9.907, 146.46 def. Rock Haas, White Lake, Mich., '05 Corvette, 9.913,
SUPER STREET SHOOTOUT PRESENTED BY MOSER ENGINEERING
Joey Shipp, Whiteland, Ind., '68 Camaro, 10.906, 136.33 def. John Parsons, Blacklick, Ohio, '84 Camaro, 10.912, 139.34.
SUPER COMP SHOOTOUT PRESENTED BY MOSER ENGINEERING
Ron Finney, Greenwood, Ind., '32 Bantam, 8.927, 143.31 def. Pat Martin, London, Ohio, dragster, 9.045, 176.84.