Author: Smith, Jackie
Date published: July 23, 2010
ROUTE 66 RACEWAY, Chicago (June 19) - Scott Flounders, of Homer Glen, Ill., won his first Wally with one shoe.
Flounders won the High School division of the National DRAGSTER Challenge by piloting his '71 Dart to a 15.44 on a 15.42 dial after grabbing an advantage on the starting line with a .078 light to opponent Justin Claiborne's .182. Claiborne drove his '95 Mustang to a 13.32 on a 13.00 dial at 107.20 mph. Flounders drives with one shoe so he can feel the pedal better. Flounders is one of the younger members of a group of racers who've named themselves the Herd.
Another Herd member, Matt O'Connell, or "Matt Fink," took home a Wally. O'Connell, of Monee, Ill., had been chasing his Wally for 20 years. "It felt amazing to have two wins for Team Herd today," said O'Connell, who won the Pro category. "What are the odds of that happening?" O'Connell's nephew drew a caricature of him for the front of his car in the Rat Fink style to "bring back that nostalgic look of Funny Cars," said O'Connell. "Everybody recognizes the car now."
O'Connell drove his '79 Ford to a 10.233 on a 10.23 dial at 129.92 mph. Morton Grove, Ill.'s Dave Meccia was the runner-up. He drove his '69 Chevy to a 10.339 at 10.33 at 131.50 mph.
Jack Larsen won the second Wally of his career in Sportsman by driving his '79 Camaro to a 12.56 on a 12.52 dial at 104.31 mph. The Wally will hold a special place on his mantel. Larsen, who recently relocated from Louisiana to Illinois, said his first Wally was critically damaged by Hurricane Katrina and couldn't be salvaged.
Larsen, who now lives in Cropsey, Ill., should have known earlier in the day that he would walk away the winner. "For some reason, whenever I lose at cards, I win the race," he said. "Today, I lost two hands."
Chris Runowski, of Chicago, was the runner-up in Sportsman with a 13.42 on a 13.32 dial at 102.56 mph. Two teammates faced off in a surprise Bike final round. Valparaiso, Ind.'s Mike Bostic reached the winner's circle with a 9.73 on a 9.67 dial to Bob Foster's 8.58 on an 8.32.
Dave Ancel won the Super Pro Wally for his daughters. He won his first Wally in 2000 for Best Appearing Car, so this one means more, he said. Ancel, of Morris, Ill., nabbed a starting-line advantage with a .010 light to Alan Wagner Sr.'s .044. Ancel drove his '00 Camaro to an 8.35 on an 8.32 dial, and Wagner posted an 8.49 on an 8.47 dial with his '70 Plymouth.
In Top Sportsman, Jim Tacchia, of Essex, Ill., drove his '02 Pontiac to a 10.28 on a 7.43 to win his second career Wally. Runner-up Joe Cleary Jr., of Highland, Ind., finished the day with a 21.23 on a 7.52 dial. - Jackie Smith