NSDA Yuma Mar '08 Race Recap
The Cocopah Casino in Yuma, AZ hosted the third event of NSDA’s 2008 Season March 14-16. This event was highly anticipated as records had been eclipsed at the January race, and the question was would March be the same. The forecast was for warm temperatures and sun on Friday with increasing clouds and cooler weather rolling into the Yuma area as the weekend wore on. The meteorologists were actually right for once as the forecast was correct and cooler conditions throughout the weekend brought for some fast elimination action on Sunday. Continue on to see how the race played out class by class.
After NSDA’s first trip to Yuma, it was highly anticipated that a new TF World Record could occur in the series’ return trip in March. The current record of 2.327 by Dennis Rieck was set in October ’07 in Primm, NV. After the opening round of qualifying, it looked like the record would be shattered for certain by the end of the weekend. Scott Whipple and his Canidae dragster lead things off in qualifying with a great 2.324 @ 171.14mph with a great .993 60’ time. Scott would fall short of the record in the night session as he ran a 2.430. After day 1; Scott was atop of the field with Dennis Rieck’s 2.593 second place effort, Shane Switzer with a 2.607 in third, and Pete Schenk with a 3.533. Shane Switzer would be out for the weekend after hurting his chassis during an excursion at the end of the track. Schenk would withdraw for the weekend after the third qualifying session after a troubled first weekend behind the wheel of the “Turtle’s Toy” dragster. After 2.5 passes for Whipple and Rieck in the third session, everyone was looking forward to the final qualifying session as an opportunity for a record to be backed up by Whipple or set by Rieck. This would not happen, however, as the weather blew in a huge dust storm in the shut down area causing the session to be canceled.
Round one would be interesting as both racers would have single passes. Whipple started off the round on a great pass before having to backpedal due to a monster wheel stand netting a 2.571 @ 152mph pass. Up next would be Dennis Rieck in his “Hammer Down” dragster. Dennis returned to his 2007 form on this pass as he laid down a 2.313 @ 133mph with a .925 60’ time. So, heading into the final round, both Scott and Dennis had the opportunity to back up prior runs to set a new record. In the final both racers were on their game at the starting line as Dennis took a slight .072 to .075 starting line advantage and would hold the lead despite spitting off a blower belt at around 250’ for a 2.450 to 2.466 decision. Dennis’ margin of victory was .019. This was Dennis’ first win of the season, and third overall NSDA TF class win. Scott still has the Top Fuel point lead currently with 350 currently to second place Rieck’s 316.
The Top Alcohol class has turned into one of the most amazing categories in sand drag racing today with tight racing and racers pushing their equipment to personal best at nearly every event. This race in Yuma was no exception. Richard Montiel put his “Top Dog” dragster in the top qualifying spot for the second race in a row with an off the trailer 2.435 @ 141mph. Gary Mink cracked the 2.4 barrier with a 2.448 in the final qualifying session with a great 1.019 60’ time on that pass for the number two spot. Current record holder Dan Allen sat third with a 2.463 with Shane Sanford (2.534) and Mike DeNunzio (2.549) rounding out the qualifying order.
A wacky eliminations ladder set up one side-by-side match up and three bye runs in round one of eliminations. The first round was led off with a great side by side race between Shane Sanford’s Frederosa Racing dragster and Mike DeNunzio’s Canidae dragster. DeNunzio took a .048-.078 starting line advantage and kept it to the finish line in a 2.589 to 2.562 race with a Margin of Victory being .013. Low E.T. of the round was held by Richard Montiel with a 2.457.
Round two started off with a match up between Montiel and DeNunzio. Mike was once again on his game at the starting line taking a .085 to .184 advantage and kept the lead the rest of the way for a 2.518 to 2.467 victory. On the other side of the ladder, the match up was between Gary Mink and Dan Allen. Mink had a great reaction time and won with a 2.525 to Allen’s 2.565. This set up a rematch of the final round of the last race at Soboba. DeNunzio won that race, however the results would be different this time as Mink was first off the line .049-.125 and held on for a 2.553-2.530 win. This was Gary’s second overall NSDA TA win, his last coming at Soboba in November ’06. DeNunzio leads a tight point battle by 5 points over Dan Allen, and another 5 points back to Gary Mink in third place.
The big story heading into the third race of the season in TE was whether or not Steve Hoffman could be beaten. After taking victories at the first two races of the season, Hoffman had a huge point lead and lots of momentum heading into this race. Hoffman had a strong qualifying effort with a 3.000 seeding him in the fourth position. Leading the pack was Tim Martin with a 2.960 followed closely by Tiffany Januik’s 2.963. Round one only saw one big upset as the #12 qualifier Mark Punos defeated the #5 qualifier Paul Taylor 3.071-2.946.
The big match up in round two saw point leader Steve Hoffman face off with upset minded Mark Punos. Punos once again cut a great light with a .034, but Hoffman one upped him with a .013 and took the win 3.010-3.029. In another huge match up, Jeff Mamer caught a lucky break when Leon Januik committed a staging foul. Mamer got sideways on that pass and was forced to lift to a 3.66.
In the first pair of the semi-final round, top qualifier Tim Martin faced off with point leader Hoffman. Hoffman outran Martin 3.046-3.176. The final pair of the round was between Tiffany Januik and Jeff Mamer. NSDA’s timing system has a 7 second time out once three of the four bulbs are lit in the staging process. Mamer did not stage within the allotted time frame which is considered a staging foul, which advanced Januik to the final round. The final round was decided on the starting line as Hoffman made his first mistake of the year redlighting away a 3.041 by .013. Januik was no slouch on the final pass as she had a .036 RT with a 3.078. This was Tiffany’s first Top Eliminator class win. Hoffman hangs on to a 46 point lead over a tie for second place between Jeff Mamer and Tim Martin.
The Pro 1 class in 2008 has been as wide open as ever. The trend continued in Yuma as there still has not been a repeat finalist in 2008. Top qualifier Daline Januik in the Jinxster dragster led off the quarter-final round against George Amos and his dragster. George took a large starting line advantage and went 3.805 (3.66) for the win. The next pair saw Mike Dora come out victorious in a double red light race with Tommy Zavala. Mike Erwin rounded out the round with a bye run. Erwin then took a starting line advantage .026-.046 over Amos and forced Amos into a breakout. Dora had the bye run to face Erwin in the final round. In the final, Erwin took a .027-.035 lead and held on to it as Dora broke shortly off the line. Erwin’s win moved him into a 35 point lead over Mike Gazzeny and another 2 points back to George Amos in third place.
Phil Soper was unstoppable on this weekend in Yuma. Soper started out the weekend with a Sportsman 1 win on Saturday, then wreaked havoc on Pro 2 on Sunday. Soper forced Pro 2 point leader Wes Johnson in to a round 2 breakout. In the semi-final round, Soper then continued to force the Jeep’s under as Clayton Record went 3.984 (4.00) to take himself out of the action. On the other side of the ladder, Gary Williams advanced to the final round when Justin Adamson went .033 red in an all-Jeep battle. In the final, Soper took a .026 to .060 lead and ran 4.041 (4.01) for the victory. Soper moved into third place in points, 47 points behind leader Wes Johnson. Nick Schulzman sits second in points, only five points ahead of Soper.
Charlie Johnson and Nick Young sat atop the Pro 3 point standings heading into Yuma. Young would not make the trip, however Johnson was ready for action after a win in Friday’s Pro Bonus race. Johnson advanced through eliminations to a semi-final round match up with Gary Williams. The all-Jeep battle saw Johnson take a .033 to .082 lead and take the win 4.317 (4.30). Johnson would face off with Steve Bertram in the final, who had a semi-final round bye. In the final, Charlie went .001 red giving Bertram his first victory of the 2008 season. Charlie holds a 40 point lead heading into Primm over Jose Beas.
MC Pro 1
Brad Olson led the MC Pro 1 class heading into Yuma with a win at the last event in Soboba. Olson made it to the semi-final round in Yuma before a .011 red light put him out giving Tom Hanrahan the trip to the final-round against Ryan Winkle. In the final, Hanrahan had the hole shot .047-.125 then ran 4.405 (4.34) to take the win. With his semi-final round finish, Brad Olson holds a 10 point lead over Ryan Winkle heading into the fourth race of the year.
MC Pro 2
The MC Pro 2 class has been dominated by Rob Winkle, who won both events that started the 2008 season. Winkle advanced on to the semi-final round in Yuma to face off with second place in points George Amos. Winkle took a .062 to .118 lead, but took too much stripe and lost a double breakout decision. Waiting for Amos in the final round was 2007 class champion Randy Mings, who had a semi-final bye. Mings took a .096 to .141 starting line advantage, but broke out with a 5.315 (5.35) giving Amos the win. Winkle still leads the points with Amos close behind him.
Clayton Record and Mike Erwin both showed up to battle it out in the Pro Mod class in Yuma. Clayton was the quicker qualifier with a 3.465. A repeat of the Soboba final round saw Erwin red light away his best run of the day, a 3.464 with a .115 red light to Clayton’s 3.619. Erwin holds a 110 point lead after three races.
The Pro Index class leader was Wes Johnson heading into this race with his brother, Charlie, sitting in second place. Wes advanced to the semi-final round in Yuma to face off with Mike Erwin. Erwin would advance when Charlie went .004 red. On the other side of the ladder, Charlie advanced past 2007 Pro Index champ Justin Adamson to make it to the final round. In the final round, Charlie took a .070 to .139 advantage and forced Erwin into a 3.857 (3.95) breakout. Charlie’s win moved him 5 points ahead of Wes with 2007 champ Adamson only 34 points behind the leader.
The always competitive Sportsman 1 had an extremely tight points battle heading into Yuma with Clayton Record, Hunter Buettner, and Phil Soper all within just a few points. Clayton was the first to bow out as Steve Bertram defeated him in round one. Buettner would fair slightly better before a .013 red light would put him out in round two. Soper kept on advancing and eventually met up with Brian Root in the semi-final round. Soper forced Root into a 4.278 (4.30) breakout advancing him to the final round. Doug Smith would face Soper in the final, after a semi-final round bye. Smith would throw it away in the final with a .027 red light giving Soper the win. Soper left Yuma with a 68 point advantage over second place Clayton Record.
Aaron Smith sat atop the Sportsman 2 points heading into Yuma. However, Aaron would have some bad luck in round one in Yuma, after cutting a .014 light he fell off to a 5.914 (5.20) allowing Justin Taylor to take the round win. Taylor would move on all the way through a semi-final round bye to the final round. Facing off with Taylor in the final round would be Jim Clark, who defeated 2007 champ Carl Jennings who broke out. In the final, Clark went .030 red giving Taylor his first ever Sportsman 2 win. After 3 races, Nick Young has a one point lead over Justin Taylor.
MC Sportsman 1
Rob Winkle ended up taking home the MC Sport 1 victory over point leader Ryan Winkle. Ryan currently holds a 148 point lead over 2007 champ Ian Brown.
MC Sportsman 2Rob Winkle was the man to beat in the MC Sport 2 class heading into Yuma. Rob moved through eliminations and ended up with a final round match up with Shea Marlow. In the final round, Shea took a .105 to .155 advantage and used that to force Rob into a 4.812 (4.85) break out. Rob holds on to a slim 3 point lead over Marlow with Randy Mings sitting third.
Alan Mamer took the victory in the tough Junior Dragster class with a 5.784 (5.61) over Brandon Wright. Aaron Mamer sits 6 points ahead of his brother Alan with Jacob Thomas sitting third.
*Photos courtesy C3 Productions – www.c3productions.net*