Maple Grove Raceway- Reading, Pa – The 4th Annual .90 Nationals rumbled into Maple Grove Raceway this past weekend after a 3-year hiatus. The event that had jumped around to a few different venues seemed to finally find its home at the Reading, PA facility. A total of 160 cars made the trip to Pennsylvania on what would have been the annual NHRA Keystone Nationals weekend. This event featured all the NHRA sportsman classes minus Stock & Super Stock as they had a separate event up at Numidia Dragway.
Mid Atlantic .90 President and brain-child of the .90 Nationals Rob Keister said, “Rumors were circulating that the Keystone Nationals were going to be cancelled for this year. When that happened I contacted Maple Grove’s Assistant GM Betsy Witmer about throwing together a big sportsman race where the .90 Cars and Top Sportsman & Dragster racers were the main focus. I already had heard about the Super Stock/Stock group were doing something at Numidia and didn’t want to step on their toes by setting something up. Betsy had told me the track was planning on being closed for that weekend because of the cancelation and it was a no-brainer to try to put something together for the racers to have fun and test for the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event on September 25th to 27th. With only four weeks to prepare, lots of sleepless nights, phone calls with the track every day, we were able to pull it off with flying colors.”
On Saturday, the drivers were given two time runs before a special High Roller race was opened to all drivers who wanted to enter. In Super Comp, 42 drivers took their shot at the $2,800 top prize and as the fields were cut down one by one, the JKR Lucas Oil Dragster of Jeff Kundratic (Fallston, MD) and the Napa Auto Parts Dragster of Joe Gallucci Jr. (South Amboy, NJ) were left standing. At the hit Gallucci was extremely tardy with a .145 light and Kundratic took advantage of it with an off the throttle 8.977 to claim the victory.
In Super Gas, 27 cars took their shot at the $2,100 prize and in the final it featured Bill Phillips (Bordentown, NJ) against Rich Price (Royersford, PA), both drivers were hungry for a win but Price pushed the envelope a little too close turning it red by -0.010. Phillips would have been tough to beat as he laid down a ten-thousandths package with a .006 light and 9.904.
In Super Street, 23 cars took their shot at the $1,600 top prize. In the end it was 2018 Mid Atlantic Super Street Champion Dom Burgese (Williamstown, NJ) and Ed McCleaft (Shinglehouse, PA) matching up. At the green, both cars were practically even (.016 to .019) in favor of McCleaft but, at the 300-foot mark McCleaft had a mechanical failure leading to him having to give up on the run and send Burgese to a 10.908 victory.
Rounding out the action on Saturday was a special Top Sportsman vs Top Dragster Shootout put together by Ken and Debbie Moses. With 21 cars entered, Bobby Vojtila put up an additional $500 to the winner in the class. With a mixture of dragsters and door cars it came down to two dragsters in the final, Phil Mollichella (West Chester, PA) and Greg Kelly (Hainesport, PA). Mollichella would take the victory on a hole-shot (.003 to .060) as Kelly was closer to his dial in of a 6.698 on his 6.69 dial, but Mollichella took the victory with a 7.133 on a 7.120 dial.
Sunday kicked off the main event. A jammed packed field of past world champs, divisional champs and racers representing 12 different states took a shot at being crowned champion at the end of the day.
In Top Sportsman, Bill Janke (Newburgh, NY) took the No. 1 spot with a 6.569 at 217.14 in his brand-new Camaro. In the final though it was Dave Muller (Pennington, NJ) took his 2000 Camaro to the final to match-up with Dave Miller (Canterbury, CT) and his sharp 2000 S-10 pick-up. Muller mowed down the tree with a .004 reaction time to Millers .051 and legged it out to a 7.614 on the 7.58 dial to Miller’s 6.968 on the 6.94 dial.
Turning our attention to Top Dragster, Al Kenny (Kutztown, PA) took the top spot with a 6.136 at a whopping 222.55mph. Kenny wasn’t done with claiming the top spot through as he found himself in the finals against Maple Grove regular David Batchelor (Lebanon, PA). At the flash of green Kenny took a big advantage (.015 to .056) and parlayed that into a 6.215 on the 6.20 dial to Batchelor’s 7.034 on the 7.02 dial.
As we turn our attention to the .90 classes, in Super Street local Maple Grove bracket racer Dan Walleigh (Reading, PA) took his 1970 AMX into the final round against past Division 1 Champ Chris Depascale (Parlin, NJ) in his 1974 Vega Wagon. Chris had been in a .90 National final before in 2012, in Super Comp losing the Franklin DiBartolomeo. Depascale though would have to settle for bridesmaid again as he turned it red by -0.002 in the final, handing the win to Walleigh who had no throttle stop and was foot braking the car in a class filled with high-mph, big horsepower cars. Walleigh still would have been tough to beat as he was .004 and ran it out to a 10.877 at 101mph.
In Super Gas Tom Stalba (Hammonton, NJ) had been so close in the past at winning one of the .90 Races that promotor Rob Keister holds but, had always come up short in the finals. This time though he was not going to be denied as he matched up with Kevin Maupin (Stuarts Draft, VA) in the final for the big check and trophy. Stalba would drive his 1963 Corvette to victory on a hole shot (.011 to .066) as Maulpin was closer to the 9.90 dial but, the dead was done on the starting line. Stalba claimed victory with a 9.944 to a losing 9.904 for Maulpin.
Finally, rounding out the winners was Super Comp. Once again Jeff Kundratic found himself where he was 24 hours earlier with a final round appearance, this time against young gun Chase Fahnestock (Elizabethtown, PA) who was coming off a win last weekend at Atco Raceway. Fahnestock who has always done good at his home track with a MASCA victory, divisional win and national event runner-up pushed the ‘Tree a little took hard in the final and turned it red by -0.002 handing the win to Kundratic on a dream weekend for the JKR / Lucas Oil driver.
In closing, Keister would like to say, “Thanks to all the racers who attended, came out and supported this dream and we cannot wait to do it all again next year….so stay tuned!”