Race RecapThe NSDA made their second stop at the Soboba Casino in 2008 for the fifth point series race of the season. Sunny skies and pleasant temperatures greeted racers and fans for this event. With only two more point series races after this one to decide the 2008 NSDA champions, racers were putting up their best shot in position themselves for a shot at a championship. Read on to see how things transpired at this event.
The rest of the class was gunning for Scott Whipple at Soboba as he had swept the top spot in qualifying all season long, and won three out of four races heading into the fifth event of the 2008 season. Scott and his crew chief “Famous Amos” Saterlee showed they came to Soboba meaning business in qualifying, reeling off four passes between 2.431 and 2.532. All of those passes were quicker than #2 qualifier Dennis Rieck’s 2.572. Jeff Janoe and his JWJ dragster slid into the #3 spot rounding out the top half of the field with a 2.592. Matt Ludlow, Pete Schenk, and Rick Cameron; who all have shown flashes of competitiveness throughout the season struggled with the track in qualifying and ended up as the 4-5-6 qualifiers.
Scott Whipple led off round one with a bye run, and ran another 2.410 at 154mph to continue his amazing consistency throughout the weekend. The second match up saw Pete Schenk step up a ton to his best pass of the weekend at 2.629 at 138mph to defeat Matt Ludlow’s game effort of 2.782 at 140mph. Dennis Rieck ran his bye run next, and destroyed his second set of tires on the weekend tossing the Bigger Diggers off after violently spinning the tires at the hit. The final pair was a great 3-6 race between Jeff Janoe and Rick Cameron with Jeff coming out on the winning side with a 2.690 at 121 to Rick’s 2.789 at 121.
An all-Canidae backed first pair of the semi-final round saw Scott Whipple continue his amazing consistency with a 2.420 to defeat Schenk’s best effort of the weekend, a 2.545 at 129mph. The 2-3 semi-final match up saw the number three qualifier Jeff Janoe match his best effort of the weekend with a 2.594 win over Dennis Rieck, whose tire woes continued and he slowed to a 2.952. The final round would feature Scott Whipple looking for his fourth win in five races in 2008 against a hungry Jeff Janoe in his second final of the season, and looking for his first NSDA TF win. Scott and Jeff left fairly even with Whipple pulling away down track for the win with a 156mph pass while Jeff fell off from his earlier passes to a 2.660 at 125mph. This was Scott’s fourth win of the 2008 season, and puts him 67 points ahead of Dennis Rieck for the season championship.
The 2008 season in the Top Alcohol class has been very unpredictable, with the one exception being that Mike DeNunzio will end up in the final round. Mike had been in all four final rounds heading into Soboba, taking home the race win once. Richard Montiel once again showed his horse power in the “Top Dog” machine in qualifying taking home his third top qualifying spot in 2008 with a 2.616 at 133mph. Point leader DeNunzio followed with a 2.634 with Gary Mink running a 2.648 for the third spot.
With a seven car field at Soboba, Richard Montiel earned the round one bye run and ran 2.633 at 125mph to advance on. 2007 NSDA TA Champion Shane Sanford was in the second pair up against Nick Januik’s front engine TAD. Shane ran his best pass of the weekend with a 2.644 to top Nick, who had his best run of the season with a 2.706. Nick would come back later and run a 2.65 on an exhibition pass, he looks to be a serious contender for race wins once the NSDA season resumes in the fall. DeNunzio made his run next dispatching Dan Allen, driving Lori Ketron’s Lucas Oil TE Dragster, with low E.T. of the round 2.617. “Bad to the Bone” Gary Mink put up a 2.681 to close the round in a victory over Pedro Villa’s “Express” entry.
The semi-final round kicked off with Shane Sanford defeating low qualifier Richard Montiel in a race where both drivers ran identical 2.632’s. Shane had the better RT with a .081 to Richard’s .181 for the win. Mike DeNunzio in the final pair of the round cut a psychic .003 light and held off Gary Mink for a 2.668 to 2.662 victory. This ensured DeNunzio’s spot in the final round, where he has been at every race to this point in 2008, and also set up a rematch of the Primm final. In the final round, Sanford took a .061 to .091 advantage off the line, but Sanford put a couple cylinders out down track and allowed DeNunzio to drive by at the stripe for a 2.631 to 2.673 victory with a MOV of .011. This was DeNunzio’s second win of the 2008 season, and allowed him to increase his point lead to 42 heading into the season’s final two events.
The Top Eliminator class at Soboba saw 18 entries show up to try their best at racing in the 2.95 Index class. DL King was at the top of the heap in qualifying running a 2.954. To show how close the TE class was, Terry Crawford ran a 3.008 in qualifying (.058 off the index), and that was only good for the #8 spot. Despite the tight field, there was another big story in qualifying. 2007 TE point series runner-up and winner of the most recent race in Primm, Jeff Mamer, missed the cut for the race ending up in the #17 spot with his last ditch effort of 3.217. Jeff missed the bump spot held by Larry Snow at 3.213 by four thousandths of a second.
Round one didn’t see any huge upsets, but the big story of the round was #1 qualifier DL King suffering weekend ending engine damage in his defeat of Larry Snow. King’s round two opponent, Mike Rasmussen then made a fatal error while staging and rolled through the lights eliminating himself on a single pass. In the next pair, Primm runner-up Billy Morris laid down a .050 RT and ran 3.048 to defeat point leader Steve Hoffman. Leon Januik and Tiffany Januik both advanced to the semi-final round on red lights by both Taylor Brewer and Paul Taylor.
Billy Morris was the benefactor of Rasmussen’s DQ, giving him the single into the final round and running a 2.978 to prepare for the final round. On the other side of the ladder, Leon Januik just missed with a .004 red handing the win to Tiffany Januik, who ran a 2.977. This set up a final round between Morris and Januik, where both had run 2.97’s in the previous round. In the final, Billy took the lead at the hit with a .023 to .058 advantage then hung on for a MOV of .010 in a 3.012 to 2.987 hole shot decision. This was Billy’s first win in his second final round on the season. Steve Hoffman still holds the point lead by 26 points over Jeff Mamer, dropping a race, with Tim Martin and Billy Morris also within striking range.
Pro 1 at Soboba was full of upsets with point leaders Mike Erwin, Mike Gazzeny, and George Amos all not making it past round two. Having the most to gain was fourth place in the standings Tommy Zavala, who was just a handful of points out of second heading into the event. A .012 red light by Zavala in round three put him out and advanced Steve Foster to the semi-final round. Allen Taylor would have a single run next after David Straub blew a tranny line off heading to the starting line. Up next was another single as Paul Price could not get his car started handing Ray Islas a trip to the final, the winner of their match up would get the semi-final bye run. In the semi-final round, Foster gave it up on the tree with a .035 red light giving the win to Taylor, who ran a 3.320 (3.30). The final round was set up with the “Poco Loco” dragster of Ray Islas against “Krazy T” of Allen Taylor. Islas took a .043 to .076 advantage off the line, and forced Taylor into a 3.230 (3.30) breakout. Mike Erwin continues to lead the Pro 1 points, 62 ahead of Tommy Zavala. With the one race drop taken into consideration, it looks to be a two car race for the Pro 1 title between Erwin and Zavala with Erwin currently holding only a 2 point lead.
Wes Johnson and Charlie Johnson came into the race at Soboba tied for the Pro 2 point lead. Charlie lost an extremely close race in round 1 to Clayton Record, while his brother Wes red lighted in the second round against Rocky Randolph. This opened the door for third place in the standings, Phil Soper. Phil coming off of back-to-back final round appearances won a big round three match up against Joe Simeone, which would give him the bye run into the final round. Rocky Randolph had the round three bye run while Clayton Record advanced past a red lighting Wes Gilmore. In the semi-final round, Randolph had luck on his side as Record took a huge starting line advantage .092 to .237, but would break out with a 4.192 (4.20). This set up a Jeep vs. Buggy final round between Randolph and Soper. Randolph would not be caught napping in the final round with a great .024 light to Soper’s .054, and would hold on at the top end of the track with a 4.262 (4.25) for the race win over Soper’s game 4.162 (4.13) for a MOV of .050. Soper’s win catapulted him ahead of the Johnson brothers, and in to the point lead by 11. Dropping a race, Soper’s lead is a little bigger being 26 in front of Wes and 33 ahead of Charlie.
The Pro 3 class has been led by Charlie Johnson since the start of the season with three final round appearances in the four races before Soboba. At this event, Johnson had to overcome adversity after breaking the rear end in his Jeep on a Sunday morning time trial pass. He was fortunate enough to have time to make repairs before round one of eliminations. Johnson would move through the first two rounds to face off with Gary Gebert. The Land Cruiser of Gebert had a .081 RT, however Johnson had a nearly perfect .002 and advanced to the final with a 4.541 (4.40). On the other side of the ladder, the all Jeep match up between Jose Beas and Brendan Root had both drivers leaving with nearly identical RT’s, however it was Root on the top end breaking out less then Beas with a 4.400 (4.44) for the win. The final round was another great race with Root having the better RT .028 to .035, then forcing Johnson into a 4.379 (4.40) break out. This was Root’s first win of the season, and moved him into fourth place in Pro 3 points. Johnson’s runner-up finish pretty much clinched the 2008 Pro 3 championship as long as he at least gains round one points at one of the season’s last two races. Beas, Gebert, and Root all have slight chances at the championship if they sweep the final two events of the season.
MC Pro 1
The MC Pro 1 class saw their eliminations come down to a titanic semi-final match up between 2008 point leader Ryan Winkle and 2007 champion Ian Brown. Brown regained his 2007 form with a .042 RT and 4.256 (4.25) to advance past Winkle. Brooks Ryan advanced to his first final of the year on a bye run in the semi-final round. In the final, Brown was first off the line with a .064 RT, however he would take too much stripe with a 4.222 (4.25) to give the win to Ryan. Winkle’s semi-final finish kept him in first place over Brad Olson, who did not race at this event. With the one drop race taken into account, Winkle holds an 11 point lead over Olson heading into the final two races of the season.
MC Pro 2
2007 MC Pro 2 champ Randy Mings is starting his late season charge. He started off the year missing the race in Yuma; however he hasn’t finished worse than the semi-final round in his three races before heading to Soboba. At this race, Mings would face off in a huge round three match up with current point leader Ryan Winkle. Mings took a .089 to .110 starting line lead and won a double breakout decision at the stripe with a 5.336 (5.36). This was a crucial round since the winner of this match up would automatically head to the final round after a semi-final round bye run. In the semi-final round match up, Mike Brock drilled the tree with a .036 and ran 5.451 (5.37) for the win. In the final round, both riders were on their game with Mings being first off the line .022 to .063 and running 5.424 (5.36) for the victory. This was Mings’ second straight win in his third consecutive final round appearance. Winkle currently leads Shea Marlow by 49 points; however things look very different when a dropped race is factored in. Mings would lead the standings by 11 with George Amos sitting in third place, only 37 points out of first.
The Pro Mod class saw 5 cars compete for the victory at Soboba. Low qualifier in Pro Mod was Steve Foster with a 3.506. The semi-final round saw Foster face off with point leader Mike Erwin. Foster led this race wire to wire winning with a 3.531 to 3.601. Steve would advance to race Clayton Record in the final round. Both drivers chopped the tree down with Foster’s .015 topping Record’s .023, and Foster hung on for a 3.556 to 3.683 win. Erwin leads Record by merely 12 points taking into account a dropped race, heading into the final two races of the 2008 season.
The battle for the point lead in the Pro Index class heated up at Soboba. Point leader Charlie Johnson, second place Wes Johnson, and third place Mike Erwin all went out in round one opening the door for 2007 champ Justin Adamson and Jose Beas to gain on the leaders. Both Justin and Jose failed to capitalize falling in round two of eliminations. The bye run in the semi-final round went to Steve Foster, who ran a great 3.951 on the 3.95 Index. #1 qualifier Todd Kinney faced off with Mike Bolton in the other match up, where Bolton ran a 4.01 with a .073 RT for the win. In the final round, Foster went .005 red giving Bolton the race win. Pro Index may have the tightest NSDA point race heading down the stretch the top five all in contention for the championship trailing current leader Charlie Johnson.
Sport 1 at Soboba was full of surprises throughout the day. The first was point leader Phil Soper going out in round one to Fred Russo; however most of the other contenders could not make the most of the opportunity and reach the late rounds. In the semi-final round, Davin Gothard reached the final round when Todd Kinney could not make the call. Gothard would face off with Steve Anthony, who had the semi-final bye run. Anthony, in a rare Sportsman class appearance, would take the win with a 4.027 (4.00) after Gothard turned on the first red light. Taking into consideration the dropped race in the points, Soper holds a slim 6 point lead over Brian Root with Hunter Buettner only 10 more points back in third place. Six racers are all within 50 points of the lead with only two races to go.
The Sportsman 2 category was lead by Aaron Smith heading into Soboba with Arend Schouten sitting second in the point standings and Justin Taylor sitting in third. All three competitors made it to the third round with Schouten being the only one of the group to fall to defeat to Steve Perkio. In the first semi-final, point leader Smith turned on the red bulb handing Perkio a trip to the final round against Taylor, who had the semi-final round bye run. In the final, it was Perkio giving it away on the line and handing Justin Taylor the win on a 4.681 (4.60) pass. Justin’s second win of the season moved him into a 10 point lead in the point standings (dropping one race) over Aaron Smith.
MC Sportsman 1
Ryan Winkle came into Soboba with nearly a perfect season consisting of three wins and one runner-up finish. At Soboba, Winkle advanced through to the semi-final round where he dispatched of Brooks Ryan to advance on to the final against Mike Brock. In the final round, Winkle turned on the first red light handing the win to Brock who ran a 3.903 (3.83). Winkle’s runner-up finish locked up the MC Sport 1 class championship for him in the 2008 season.
MC Sportsman 2
Alan Mamer won his second race of the year, and moved closer to his brother, Aaron, for the point lead in the Junior Dragster class. Alan ran a 5.841 (5.83) in the final round to take the win over a red lighting Jacob Thomas.
*Photos courtesy C3 Productions – www.c3productions.net*