Author: McKenna, Kevin
Date published: November 12, 2010
Slate Cummings turned in an impressive performance at the South Central Division NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event in Noble, Okla., that included a pair of runner-up finishes in Super Stock and Stock, but his performance was trumped by Jeff Lopez, who went one better by winning the Super Comp and Super Gas finals.
Lopez, of Bedford, Texas, grabbed the win in Super Gas by driving his Corvette to a 9.94 victory over West Coast racer Aaron Tatum, who broke out by two-hundredths. Moments later, Lopez hopped in his dragster and turned on the win light for a second time in Super Comp with an 8.95 to 8.92 holeshot win over Steve Swenson.
In Super Comp, Lopez stayed busy with a double-breakout win over Dylan Lee in the quarterfinals to earn a bye in the semi's. Swenson was strong when he needed to be, scoring an 8.906 pass in the quarterfinals against multitime champ Edmond Richardson and an 8.93 against Frank Nichols in the semi's.
Coming off a bye in the Super Gas quarterfinals, Lopez topped Kohlby Sasich in the semi's, and Tatum earned late-round wins against Jim Cappiello and Mike Bonfield. Lopez is now leading the Division 4 standings in Super Comp and is tied for the top spot in Super Gas.
In addition to Lopez, other champions at the event, which was delayed by rain until Monday, included Chris Demke (Top Alcohol Dragster), Bruno Massel Jr. (Comp), Joe Tysinger (Super Stock), Keith Lynch (Stock), Michael Britt (Super Street), Heidi Robison (Sunset Racecraft Top Sportsman), Larry Piper (Top Dragster), and Brenda Kay (Sportsman Motorcycle presented by Harley-Davidson).
Demke kept alive his hopes to win the national championship in Top Alcohol Dragster after taking a final-round win over Forrest Fair, 5.39 to 5.55. Demke qualified No. 1 in the Jerry Maddern-owned entry and took out Edwin Schmeeckle and David Brounkowski on his way to the final. Demke still trails four-time champ Bill Reichert in the standings but can still make up ground at the final divisional event in Las Vegas and one more national event.
Fair, whose only other appearance of the season was a round-one loss in Belle Rose, La., defeated Brad Pierce with a 5.56 and then moved into the final with an upset win over Chase Copeland in the semi's, 5.57 to 5.67.
Top Alcohol Funny Car champ Williams finished with a perfect five-win season at Lucas Oil Series events following his final-round win over Division 7 racer Sean O'Bannon. Williams qualified No. 1 with a 5.70 and then reached the final with wins against Lance Van Hauen and former national champ and fuel racer Tony Bartone. Against Bartone, Williams won on a holeshot, 5.65 to 5.64. In the final, Williams was consistent with a 5.66 that covered O'Bannon's game 5.70. On his way to the final, O'Bannon defeated Bryan Brown and Chris Foster, recording a best of 5.69 in the process.
A year after winning the national championship in Comp, Massel finished strong with his third Lucas Oil Series victory of the season. Although he did not make a good run during the lone qualifying pass, Massel was solid in eliminations behind the wheel of his DD/AT Chevy Cobalt. After stopping Chris McGaha and Division 5's Matt Harris, Massel got the best of Shaun Vincent's C/TA Chevy S-10 in the final. Massel left first and posted a 7.20 on his 7.70 index while Vincent was hard on his heels with a (-.50) 8.62.
Vincent earned his way to the final against some tough competition, including Keith Hall and Will Hatcher, who broke.
Tysinger, who is making the cross-country trek from his home in North Carolina to the seasonending events in Las Vegas and Pomona, got off to a great start with a final-round victory over Cummings in Super Stock. Tysinger, behind the wheel of his GT/JA Firebird, topped David Latino and Dave Thomas in the late rounds before facing Cummings, who is currently ranked third in Division 4 with his Moser Engineering Pontiac.
Cummings reached the first of his two finals after beating national championship contender Sal Biondo in the quarterfinals and veteran Abe Loewen in the semi's.
Lynch's Stock victory was emotional because it came behind the wheel of the Challenger Drag Pak originally built and driven by the late Chris "Drooze" Wertman, who passed away in a house fire this summer. Wertman's father, David, elected to continue racing the car and put two-time NHRA champ Lynch behind the wheel. It proved to be a wise decision; Lynch put an exclamation point on the victory with a nearly perfect run in the final against Cummings that included a .001 reaction time and a 10.280 on his 10.28 dial. Cummings got to the finish line first but broke out by fivehundredths.
Lynch also had a role in the points battle when he defeated championship contender Ryan McClanahan in the quarterfinals and then downed Jim Marshall in the semi's. Cummings, who topped touring pro Brad Plourd in the quarterfinals, still trails Division 4 points leader Jody Simoneaux in spite of his runner-up finish.
Coming off a semifinal finish at the Belle Rose event, Michael Britt went two steps further in Noble when he claimed the Super Street title in his '62 Nova. Paired with Division 5 racer Ted Ash in the final, Britt won with a 10.94 after Ash broke out by two-hundredths.
Britt got through a tough round in the quarterfinals when he stopped Division 5 ace Steve Domingues, 10.910 to 10.918, and then defeated Ray Dew in the semi's after Dew broke out. Ash, who is ranked second in the Division 5 standings, topped Larry Carter in the quarters to earn a bye into his second final of the year.
Robison claimed the Top Sportsman title with her '63 Corvette after a final-round victory over Division 5 racer Doug Woody. After wins against Thad Martin and Bill Rotz, Robison won the final with an .11-over 7.45 after Woody slowed by nearly two-tenths.
Woody may have lost the final but he appears to have won the war because he is the leader in the Division 5 Top Sportsman standings. Driving his '67 Camaro, Woods topped Greg Tucker and Michael Cobb to reach his second final of 2010. Woody also won the title at the Great Bend, Kan., event earlier this season.
Piper's win in the Top Dragster final was clutch because it gave him a slim one-point lead over Phil Unruh in the battle for the Division 5 championship. Piper stayed cool under pressure as he defeated Unruh in a crucial semifinal race and then returned to stop final-round opponent Ron Gibson with a .01- over 7.31. Gibson, the champion at the Tulsa, Okla., Lucas Oil Series event earlier this season, drove past Robert LeJeune and Craig Olson to reach his second final of the season.
Kay ran just two of the Division 4 Sportsman Motorcycle events and won them both. Following her victory earlier this season in Houston, Kay rode her '85 Suzuki to a final-round win against Jason Clampitt's Kawasaki. In the final, Kay rode to a 9.23 on her 9.10 dial while Clampitt trailed despite a .07- over 9.67. At the finish, the margin of victory was just .007-second.
Kay reached the final after Robert Sanders fouled in the quarterfinals, and Clampitt topped Lisa Bennett in the semi's. James McCullah lost in the quarterfinals yet maintains the points lead, although it's possible that Ben Brown could catch him with a strong showing at the season's final event in Las Vegas.