Words/Photos Phil Hutchison
Ocala, FL racer Josh Hart drove his dragster to a convincing victory in the finals of Top Alcohol Dragster at the Atco Dragway Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series divisional running low ET of the event with a win over the John Finke owned A/FD driven by New Jersey’s Jackie Fricke. Fricke was first off the line but severe tire shake ended her chances for a win as Hart’s Advance Auto Parts A/FD flew down the Atco quarter mile with a 5.224 273.94 to Fricke’s slowing mid nine second run.
Fricke and Hart came into the Atco event in second and third place respectively in the Eastern Region with points leader Duane Shields from Nevada in first. Shields put his PEAK-sponsored A/FD on the pole with a 5.238 278.40 but spun the tires against Fricke in the semifinals ending his day.
In the other semifinal race Hart was up against the blown car of Wayne Morris. Morris, who won his first round against a tire smoking Dan Page in Art Gallant’s A/FD, didn’t have the power to turn back Hart’s 5.337 running a 5.560 in the loss.
Earlier in round one, Fricke got by the JEGS-sponsored dragster of Rich McPhillips with Troy Coughlin Jr. driving in one of the best races of the day. Fricke took out the Ohio racer with a 5.33 to Coughlin’s close 5.34.
The win by Hart and Fricke’s runner up tightened up the Eastern Region points battle with only two races left in the region.
Alcohol Funny Car champ Phil Burkart Jr. won the race from the pole setting low qualifying time at a 5.566 driving Jay Blake’s Follow a Dream Camaro. Burkart’s final round opponent, the Monte Carlo of local racer Dan Pomponio from Berlin, NJ, rolled the lights staging the car and Burkart won the race before leaving the starting line. Burkart still legged it out resetting Low ET in the process at a 5.563.
Pomponio was leading the Eastern Region over DJ Cox by 20 points coming into the Atco race with Burkart in third a little more than 30 points back. Cox had a bad crash at Lebanon Valley and is rebuilding his car and is rumored to be back before the last event at Epping in September.
The local New Jersey racers had their way in the sportsman classes with Walter Olt from Medford taking Super Comp over Bill Krug from Albany, NY. Olt got the better light forcing Krug to push it a little too much and ended up running too quick with an 8.895 to Olt’s winning 8.915.
Atco regular Steve Sisko continued his mastery of the New Jersey track winning the Super Gas title over former Lucas World Champ Ray Sawyer from Acton, MA. Sisko had a 0.013 RT to Sawyer’s good but later 0.031 and the light made the difference as Sawyer broke out with a 9.897 to Sisko’s 9.922.
Former Lucas Champ Doug Doll wheeled Al Ackerman’s F/DA over Michele Costa driving the G/EA of Frank Aragona as Costa knew she had to cut a light over the low qualifier Doll and cut it a little too much with a -.004 red-light.
James Antonette from Wantagh, NY drove the family’s SS/CS Pontiac Grand Am to a Super Stock win over the GT/MA Pontiac of William Kennedy as Kennedy left too soon handing Antonette the win.
Stock Eliminator went to another local as Anthony Fetch from Colonia, NJ put the PC Richard and Son-sponsored AA/SA Camaro over the A/S Nova of Ed Bednaz. Bednaz was first off the line with a 0.013 light but ran too quick on his 10.22 dial with a 10.201 as Fetch was nearly perfect with a 10.013 on a 10.01 dial.
Kyle Robb from Denver, PA was awarded Best Appearing Car at the Maple Grove event in May but Robb driving the A-1 Mulch Nova showed the car is not just a looker as Robb took the Chevy to a Super Street win beating the Pontiac Firebird Jason Lawrence as Lawrence with too quick with a 10.891 to Robb’s 10.907.
Magnaflux Top Sportsman went to Canadian racer Luc Angers driving his Pontiac GTO to a win over the Henry J of Jeff Brooks as Brooks broke out by .001 on his 6.82 dial as Angers went a perfect 6.78 on a 6.78 dial.
Mark Payne in the House of Payne dragster beat a no show Ken LeBlanc in the finals of the MXI Magnaflux Top Dragster as LeBlanc was unable to fix his car after his semifinal round.
In the Junior Dragster class presented by Direct Cabinet Sales the champions were Jenial Ramos, in the 13-17-year-old; Garett Sprague, Sellersville, PA, in the 10-12-year-old and Joey Torchia, Galloway, NJ, in the 6-9 old class.
Next event in the NHRA Division One is Cecil County MD August 17-19.