Author: Benson, Candida
Date published: May 18, 2012
Britt Cummings has had a lot of good weekends at the racetrack during his career. He has won races and championships in IHRA competition, and he earned his first NHRA national event title at the 2007 JEGS NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals. Cummings' outing at this year's O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries certainly fits in the category of good, if not great, race weekends.
"It's up there with the best of them," said Cummings. "We won the [Darrell Russell Memorial] Golf Tournament on Thursday, got Best Appearing Car, went to two finals, and my brother, Slate, was there in Stock at seven. It was almost a dream weekend. It was real close to being a dream weekend."
Cummings' two finals were in Stock and Super Comp, and though he came up on the losing end in Stock, Cummings was able to turn on the win light in the 8.90 category to capture his second national event Wally in solid fashion. Cummings was strong on the Tree - his worst light in double-green matches was .023 - and his car was "flawless. It definitely repeated itself."
Cummings began with wins against Jay Costales, Byron Turner, Jason Lynch, and Paul Kimble. In the quarterfinals, Cummings nailed the 8.90 index to edge out Douglas Miller, who was better on the Tree by .008-second but ran an 8.91 to finish .006- second behind Cummings. Cummings caught a lucky break in the semifinals when Bart Nelson went red by .001- second. Cummings' dragster broke a rocker arm when he was preparing to stage, making him only capable of staging the car and hoping for a foul start in the other lane.
With the assistance of several friends in the pits, Cummings' team was able to repair his car for the final, and that work paid offwhen he defeated Shannon Brinkley, 8.92 to 8.89.
"We pulled the car up there, which I usually don't do. We pulled it up there as kind of a little deception tactic to make him wonder if I was broke or did we get it fixed. I talked to Shannon on Monday, and he said he really didn't know if it was fixed or not, so that part of it worked, I guess," said Cummings. "Shannon's always good on the Tree, and he's always real close to 8.90, and it just worked out in my favor, and my win light came on. I didn't do anything special.
"I really call this my first national event win. The first one, John Force wasn't there. Going up on the stage with the crowd there, that makes it even better."
The key race: "I guess the semifinal had to be the key," said Cummings. "[The car] broke a rocker arm when I was staging up. I was running Bart Nelson, and he has his staging process, and I have mine. We were having a little bit of fun up there, and when I heard mine break, when we were pre-staged, I reached over and cleared out the throttle-stop timer to where it would be on full power instead of on the throttle stop. I was bumping it in, and I was saying, 'Man, I can't even turn it loose. It's going to cost 15-grand.' I just waited for him to leave and hoped he went red, and luckily, he did."
The runner-up: This was the second national event final for Brinkley, who was the Super Gas runner-up at the 2004 Dallas event. Brinkley defeated Jimmy Lewis, Charles Swindoll, Rodney Frazier, Billy Torrence, and Steve Williams before running a bye in the semifinals.
Fast facts: Prior to this event, Cummings had not won a single round in his dragster since his runner-up finish last September in Indy. ... Terry Sullivan had a perfect .000 reaction in the third round. ... 2011 event champ Tommy Phillips' hopes of a repeat ended in the second round against Daryl Patton.
Did you know: Cummings' '00 Corvette that he wheeled to a runner-up finish in Stock was named Best Appearing Car, and that turned out to be a bit of good fortune for him. "We went up for Best Appearing Car pictures Sunday morning, and it broke the starter," he said. "If we hadn't got Best Appearing, I would have lost a bye run yet again [because my first round Sunday was a bye in the quarterfinals]. I lost a bye run in Atlanta last year in the burnout; I couldn't stage the car in the semi's. If we hadn't won Best Appearing Car, I would have lost the bye run again on Sunday."
Quotable: "Driving two cars just makes you more focused. If I have too much time on my hands, I get to thinking too much." - Cummings
Best packages: 1. Miller (Porter, Texas), .006/8.903 (round one); 2. Cummings (Hammond, La.), .014/8.900 (round five); 3. Frazier (Sand Springs, Okla.), .009/8.906 (round one). ND