Tigges, Cummings, and Logan Lead List of Winners at Lebanon Valley. Smith Takes Emotional Win in Top Dragster
Drag Racing Action Online Images: John Charbonneau/David Smith
The NHRA Northeast Division held their third Lucas Oil Divisional over the June 9-11 weekend in upstate New York. Winners included veteran racers and first time Lucas winners after a weekend of good weather.
TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR
Holbrook MA. racer Fred Tigges drove his ’14 Monte Carlo to a win in Alcohol Funny Car defeating recent Maple Grove LODRS winner Matt Gill in the finals.
Gill, near lane, had nothing but problems in the finals as an oil line came off the car slowing it to a 6 second run
Gill from West Bridgewater MA. got his ‘16 Camaro off the line second with a 0.078 RT to Tigges’ better 0.032 but Gill’s problems were just starting as an oil line came off the potent blown Hemi in his Moduline sponsored ’16 Camaro, slowing Gill to a six flat as Tigges ran his best ET of the weekend winning with a 5.654 @ 257.39 MPH to take his third career Wally and his second at Lebanon Valley. Even with the loss Gill remains in first place in the East Regional.
TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER
Matt Cummings from Del Ray Beach FL. continued his winning ways behind the wheel of the McPhillip’s Racing A/FD taking Top Alcohol Dragster over reigning East Region Champ Jackie Fricke. It was a battle of the #1 and #2 qualifier as Cummings put the green dragster in the #1 spot with a 5.295 with Fricke a tick behind with a 5.319.
“That was a fun weekend. Never raced at Lebanon Valley before. Senior (McPhillips) said to take a look around when I got there. All the big names from my childhood raced there. He said that I might be disappointed because we won’t be going 280 mph like I’m used to, but he knew what it takes to go quick at this track. The biggest difference maker for me at this race was when he said to me 15 minutes before the finals ‘You know about the Sun at this track, you better put your smoked visor on, you will be looking right into the sun staging the car.’ I told him I didn’t have a smoked visor. Rich Jr gave me his. When I got into the burnout box, Rich Sr taped my visor even more to block out the sun.
Cummings, near lane, took his second Lucas Oil race of the 2023 season at Lebanon Valley
In the finals, Fricke, driving the Finke Equipment dragster was second off the line with a 0.052 light to Cummings better 0.041 and it cost the Flemington NJ. racer as her better but later 5.309 lost to Cummings’ 5.310.
The win at Lebanon Valley was Cummings’ second 2023 win and a career 4th Wally. The win also puts Cummings solidly in the #2 spot in the East points chase.
“It definitely helped to win the race”, Cummings adds, “We shook hands before the race and said’ let’s give them a good show. I had no idea who won the race at the end and then a track official leaned into the car and said, ‘you won by 8 thousands, that was close.”
Todd Logan from Kingston Mass. put his A/EA ’32 Bantam in the Competition Eliminator winner’s circle beating the I/SM Cavalier of Joe Carnasciale in the finals. Carnasciale, who qualified his Chevy #1 with a 0.651 under 8.869 with Logan in the #3 spot with a 0.557 under 7.353. Logan was off the line first with a 0.022 RT to Carnasciale’s later 0.084 and ran a 7.393 to catch Carnasciale’s slowing 9.134 for his second career Lucas Oil win.
After the victory at LV, Logan said, “After many years of racing, this is my second divisional win. It was very special to be able to share this one with my wife Wendy, sons Todd and Steve, and my best friend Don Main. Special thanks to Tom Martino Race Engines, Dave Steven’s Race Cars, Dave Connolly Competitive Suspension and Frank Aragona Sr for his assistance along the way.”
It was a pair of third generation Camaros in the finals of Super Stock with two heavy hitters on the starting line. Former NHRA Lucas Oil World Champ Bryan Worner out of Duncannon PA was up against multi time winner Anthony Fetch. Worner, in his GT/JA Chevy, got a slight jump off the line with a 0.021 RT to Fetch’s close 0.024 in his GT/KA Camaro. On the top end Fetch pushed it too far breaking out with a 10.278 on a 10.31 dial as Worner was dead on with a 9.93 for the win.
It wasn’t all roses on the way to the winner’s circle as Worner said, “On the way up to the staging lanes for our final qualifying run on Saturday my car shut off and wouldn’t start. Luckily this happened when it did and not when I was pulling out for first round!”
Worner continues, “We replaced the ignition box in the lanes with our spare and the car fired up. The car didn’t skip a beat and the driver did his job. I took my 4th round bye last so I could watch Byron’s race. When I saw his win light come on, I knew one of us would be in the final. That’s a good feeling.” The win at Lebanon Valley puts Worner in the points lead in the NED.
Stock winner Tim Barrett is living the dream. Retired and now traveling with his wife Linda, the Port Ann NY resident enjoys attending as many NHRA events as his budget and time allows. At Lebanon Valley Barrett took his ’69 Camaro G/SA to a win over the C/SA Chevelle of Nic Barsamian from Holden MA.
Barrett was way out in front of Barsamian due to a slower dial and a 0.015 reaction time and Barsamian basically had no chance with a sleepy 0.174 and was out of the race breaking out with a 10.724 on a 10.75 dial. Barrett took the win with a 11.258 on a 11.22 dial.
“It got to a point where just showing up at a drag race with my wife Linda was enough win for us,” Barrett said, “But now we’ve accomplished more than we could have ever imagined!! Our win at our home track Lebanon Valley Dragway is our 3rd in 3 finals in 3 different Divisions in less than 2 years along with 4 class wins.
“Lebanon Valley Dragway was always a dream track to run at way back in the early 70’s when I first started, now we accomplished not only competing there in Stock Eliminator but also winning.” Barrett’s win put him in the #5 spot in the NED Stock points chase.
Jason Kenny took the family dragster to a win in Super Comp when his competition, David Rowe went red in the finals. Kenny still ran an 8.992 in the win.
“Racing with friends is great, “Jason said, “Racing with friends and no breakage is better. Racing with friends, no breakage AND winning … is awesome! It was a fun day with dad going to the TD finals too. Looking forward to Numidia.”
Canadian racer Rick Stroud from Douglas ON. drove his ’27 roadster to a Super Gas win beating Al Owens in his Camaro roadster. Stroud got the James Bond 0.007 light forcing Owens, who had a decent 0.037 RT to break out running a 9.892 to Stroud’s winning 9.930. the win at Lebanon was Stroud’s first career Lucas win.
“I don’t know what to say. It was an awesome day,” Stroud said after the win. “It was gratifying to finally win as I’ve been close so many times and could never seal the deal, so I guess it was also a bit of a relief as well.”
Former NHRA Super Gas champ Mike Sawyer from Leominster MA.took his brother Brian’s ’67 Camaro to a win in Super Street taking out the ’70 Dodge Challenger of Mike Falcone from Wolcott CT. Falcone had the slightly better light with a 0.010 to Sawyer’s 0.013 but broke out with a 10.896 as Sawyer was dead on with a 10.90 for the victory.
The Camaro, a proven winner that has powered both Mike and Brian to numerous NHRA wins was Sawyer’s second choice to drive for the weekend as Sawyer said, “I brought the S/ST car out to the Valley to get a grade point, but that car just knows its way to the winner’s circle.”
Johnny Smith, who won his first Top Dragster race at Atco at the Micro Strategies NHRA Open in May showed everyone it wasn’t a fluke, taking the Wally at Lebanon Valley.
In the finals against heavyweight Alan Kenny’s blown dragster, Smith tattooed Kenny with a 0.009 RT to Kenny’s 0.020 and ran a 6.431 on his 6.41 dial while Kenny lost with a 6.289 on a 6.27 dial in. The difference at the stripe was 0.009!
“After winning in my first time driving the car at Atco, following it up with another win was great,” Smith said, “This is only the second time I have driven the dragster. This one was special for me as it was at my home track with a lot of my friends and family there. Some had never been to a drag race before.
“To make it even more special, I got a Facebook memory post early Saturday morning from my mom from a few years ago wishing me love, safety, and of course, to win.
Smith adds, “When I saw that I knew she was with me, and it was going to be a special day! We lost her about two months ago & it still is very fresh and stings a lot, so this one was for her!
“The car was fantastic which helped a lot. I had a lot of confidence in the car, and I felt like I was driving very well. By the time we got to the final we knew that we were running Al Kenny and it was going to be a tough matchup. But I had complete confidence in the car and myself that we would be very tough to beat in the final!
“Also of course I have to thank Jeff Roell who tunes the car and keeps me focused! Johnny Taylor, the crew chief, for all his hard work and car owner Jim Beckman. It’s an unbelievable opportunity and I’m so glad our paths have crossed and we were all able to win and celebrate together.”
Frank Berard from Johnsonville NY didn’t have the quickest car at Lebanon Valley. In fact, Berard put his ’06 Cavalier in the 15th spot with a 7.594. But Top Sportsman is a quick dial your own class and Berard used his years of experience in bracket racing to his advantage taking his first ever NHRA Lucas Oil win. In the final, Berard, who hand built the ’06 Cavalier along with the 582 cubic inch BB Chevy, had a perfect 0.000 light to his opponent Doug Bussa’s 0.014. On the top end Berard took the stripe with a 7.647 on his 7.60 dial as Bussa’s ’02 Camaro lost with a slowing 6.971 on his 6.88 dial.
Berard said after the win, “After years of bracket racing this car that I built in 2006 I decided to run it in Top Sportsman. Lebanon Valley was only the third time I ran the car in T/S.” “In the finals I had a great light and down at the top end I didn’t see Bussa and was on the brakes before the stripe. It was great winning at an NHRA event. I want to thank my wife Chris and son Frank for all they do and my daughter and son in law Laura and Billy LeQue for helping with the car. But my favorite memory of the win was having my granddaughter, Emily there. Having her in the winner’s circle is priceless.”
Emma Stodulski won JR Dragster 10-12 over Hudson Bleakley. Emma had a great 0.037 light to Hudson’s later 0.165 and held on with a dead on 9.01 on her 9.01 dial. Hudson ran a breaking out 9.041 on his 9.05 dial.
Zach Grignon took the Jr Dragster 13-17 title beating Dayton Cocchiaro in the finals. After nearly identical reaction times Zach ran a winning 7.916 on a 7.90 as Cocchiaro lost with a 7.995 on a 7.92 dial.
The next event on the NHRA Northeast Division calendar is the dual Open/Lucas Oil race at Numidia July 6-9