Words/Photos Phil Hutchison
The NHRA Northeast Division closed out the 2020 season at Virginia Motorsports Park last weekend with a mix of first time and veteran winners. The event, a double header to make up for the canceled Numidia Lucas race had racers from all over the East Coast to get their last chance to earn valuable Lucas Oil points.
Don Eckel drove his C/DA to the Competition Eliminator win over Friday’s winner, the D/A of Art Hodges driven by Taylor Chomiski. Eckel from Piscataway NJ qualified his dragster in the #7 spot and defeated the D/SMA Cobalt of division points leader Peter D’Agnolo along with D2 racer Randy Daniels to get to the finals. Chomiski had the task of getting around Lucas World champ Frank Aragona Jr’s J/AA and Aragona teammate Michele Costa’s G/EA to meet Eckel for the title.
Chomiski, who had his index chopped down from a 8.31 to a 8.15 after his win over Aragona, left on Eckel in the finals with a better 0.092 light to Eckel’s 0.126 but could not hold the dragster off losing with a 7.721 to Eckel’s 6.921 on his 7.43 index. The victory was Eckel’s fifth NED win.
Even with his early exit during Sunday’s eliminations, Pete D’Agnolo left VMP with the points lead. Most of his competition for the division win have used up their allotted seven events except for Lee Zane, Michele Costa, and Joe Carnasciale who have two races left to claim but will have to travel out of division if they want to catch D’Agnolo.
Winning his first ever Lucas Super Stock title was Martinsburg WV racer Victor Guilmino. Driving his ’84 GT/LA Ford Thunderbird, Guilmino beat Bryan Worner’s GT/JA Camaro in the finals with a psychic 0.002 light running a 10.32 on a 10.29 dial for the win. Worner, who won the first Super Stock title of the weekend on Friday, broke out trying to catch the fleeting Ford with a 9.909 on his 9.92 dial.
Stock Eliminator featured another first time winner as Steve Foley from Clinton NC drove his Warren Engines powered C/SA Pontiac Firehawk to the win over the B/SA Camaro of Bubba Linke. Foley didn’t get the better light as Linke was off with a 0.018 light to Foley’s later 0.044 but Linke couldn’t run the number losing with a 10.444 on a 10.40 dial to Foley’s near dead on 10.701 on a 10.70.
Joining the list of first time winners was Super Comp champ Christopher Cepelka from Ranson WV. Cepelka defeated the dragster of Jason Kenny with a dead on 8.90 to Kenny’s close 8.908 as both drivers had nearly identical reaction times.
Division Two racer Scott Lawton from Sanford NC drove his'57 Corvette to his first ever Lucas win in Super Gas. Lawton got the better light over his competition, the Chevy Nova of Thomas Smith 0.019 to a 0.025 and it made the difference. Smith who was runner up Friday night ran a losing 9.927 to Lawton’s winning 9.91.
Brian Sawyer, who won the rained out JEGS SPORTSnationals S/ST final on Thursday, did it again on Sunday beating the ’69 Camaro Dave Bergfeldt in the finals. Sawyer driving the family Sudden Impact ’67 Camaro got the win as Bergfeldt cut the tree a little too close, red lighting with a -0.003 light. The victory was Sawyer’s fifth divisional win and put him in the thick of things in the NED Lucas chase just eight points out of first place.
Tommy Tape Top Sportsman presented by Select Performance went to the ’10 GXP of Alan Davidowski from Columbus NJ. Davidowski drove the Sonny’s powered Pontiac to his first ever win beating the Ford Mustang of Ronnie Proctor in a double breakout final. Davidowski’s 6.782 on his 6.79 was less egregious than Proctor’s 6.689 on a 6.70 dial.
Tommy Tape Top Dragster presented by Select Performance winner Brooke Foley put a great package together in the finals with a 0.012 light coupled with a 7.132 on a 7.13 dial to take the win. Runner up Brandon Miller had a 0.042 RT and ran a 6.881 on a 6.86 dial in the loss. The win at VMP was Foley’s second Lucas Oil title.
Anthony Suppers defeated third generation racer Emma Aragona in the finals of Junior Dragster 13-18 on the strength of a 0.006 light in the finals.
Louis Crockett beat a breaking out Paul Stalba in the finals of Junior Dragster 10-12.
It was brother against brother in the finals of Juniors 6-9 with Kaden Paone getting the better of sibling Kole Paone.