Drag Racing Action Online

Images: David Smith,  Diane Kubicke, Geoff Sculley, and Phil Hutchison

It took a little longer than expected, but the D1 Lucas opener at Cecil County Dragway in Maryland was completed on Monday May 13.

When the event schedule was announced, it was apparent that luck and timing would play a major part of completing the race on time. In addition to the NHRA Lucas Sportsman racing, a $50,000 to win Pro Mod race was run in conjunction with the LODRS. Quite a lot on the plate. 

Things didn’t start off as planned with rain hitting the area Friday scrubbing any chances of getting cars down the track. Saturday was nearly perfect except for some late afternoon showers, again, shutting down racing for the day. Sunday, eliminations got underway until rain returned pushing the competition of the event to Monday.

Not all the racers could return on Monday with the finals of Top Alcohol Funny Car and Jr Dragster 11-18 scheduled to be completed at the next Lucas race, the Memorial Day event at Maple Grove.


Nearly a dozen T/AD cars were on hand to attempt to squeeze into the eight car field. After two sessions, New Jersey racer Karen Stalba was sitting on top with a 5.213 in the AA Auto Salvage car with defending 2023 East Region champ Matt Cummings from Pompano Beach Fl. right behind with a 5.220 in the McPhillips team dragster.

The bump was the blown dragster of Mike Hepp at a 5.386. Not making the show were the blown cars of Mark Albert driven by Phil Burkart and the Brandon Greco dragster.

The first round went true to script for the exception of #4 qualifier John Ausherman breaking on the burnout putting third generation racer Megan Smith in round two.

Stalba slowed in the semifinals losing to Smith and Cummings put Jackie Fricke on the trailer setting up a Smith vs Cummings final.

At the green, Megan was off the line first with a 0.053 light but could not hold off Cummings who passed her winning with a 5.222 to Smith’s game 5.417. The win at Cecil was Cummings’ sixth career Lucas win and vaulted him into first place in the East Region Top Alcohol points.

After the victory Cummings said, “The longest weekend of drag racing I’ve had in a long time. What a difference a couple weeks can make. We left Carolina disappointed with a first round mishap and inconsistency with a goal in mind to turn it all around. We knew the dragster was fast, but we couldn’t repeat. The team looked over the data and made some chassis and timing changes. A few other tweaks and adjustments and we made some quick and impressive passes on a great racetrack.”

Cummings continued, “The track pulled the best numbers of any of my tracks I raced on this year. The constant interruptions of the rain and the postponement of eliminations twice made it feel like the movie Groundhog Day.”

“The whole team stayed focused, and we were once again in the finals. I love that feeling of pressure and also the atmosphere of being the last team standing at the end of the race. Last two cars in the lanes. We dialed the car for a low 5.2 and it performed. It turned out to be enough to get around Megan.”

“A very successful weekend all around. Thank you, Team McPhillips, Rich Sr, Richie, Chris, Charlie, Eric, my girlfriend Noelle for her support and backing me up on the track, my family back home and all my people at my business to let me race an extra day and hold the fort down.”

Megan Smith is getting quicker each race and is currently in the #6 spot in the Lucas National Points chase in the Hartman Smith Racing Team A/FD



 Two cars remain in competition for the title, Chip Beverett from Portage IN. will face local Maryland racer and former East Region champ DJ Cox at Maple Grove. Both racers qualified at the top with Cox #1 and Beverett #2. Cox’s 5.432 semifinal run gives him lane choice  as Beverett’s close 5.490 just missed. .

Beverett, near lane, will face Cox at Maple Grove over the Memorial Day weekend



Steve Szupka, the 2022 Division Champ, got his 2024 season off to a great start qualifying the Miskovsky family C/DA in the #1 spot and taking the car to the finals where he met the #2 qualifier Todd Logan’s ’32 Bantam A/EA  from Kingston Mass.

Logan was off the line first with a 0.087 RT but Szupka had the power to pass Logan winning with a 6.970 on a 7.58 index as Logan trailed with a losing 7.384 on his 7.82 index. The win was Szupka’s seventh LODRS Wally.

The Northampton Pa. driver said after his win, “The Miskovsky’s definitely had the car running great this weekend. They could really take advantage of the great track conditions that the Cecil County team gave us!”

“We also got some lucky breaks along the way with the way the ladder fell. It was great to win on Mother’s Day weekend and have my mom there to be a part of it. It meant a lot.”

After his runner up finish Cecil, Logan sits in the #3 spot in the NED Competition Eliminator chase


Multi time champ Byron Worner from Duncannon Pa. drove his ’94 Camaro GT/HA to a win at Cecil defeating Shane Oakes from Ottsville, Pa. in the finals.

Both racers had identical 0.016 reaction times, so it went down to who was closer to their dial without breaking out to take the win. Worner put up a 9.562 on a 9.55 dial as Oakes ran a 9.94 on a 9.90 dial in his SS/IA Pontiac. Worner’s win was his seventh career LODRS win and puts the Pennsylvania driver in the top spot in the division.

“It was my first win since Lebanon Valley in 2020, Worner said. “I was beginning to wonder if I would ever win a race again. This season I was losing races because I was making mistakes. My strategy at Cecil was to simplify my gameplan, concentrate and make my decisions based on how the race was playing out. It helped tremendously that my 1000’ times varied .009 the whole event. The car was extremely consistent.”

After the Cecil event, Oakes sits in the #2 spot in his high flying Pontiac just a few points behind Worner


North Carolina racer Victor Cagnazzi from Mooresville, drove his beautiful ’22 COPO Camaro to a much-deserved win beating Matt Lisa’s ’68 D/SA Camaro in the finals.

At the green, Cagnazzi had a near perfect 0.002 light and it counted on the top end beating Lisa’s better but later 10.677 on a 10.67 dial to Cagnazzi’s 9.492 on a 9.46 dial in. Cagnazzi, who has won before in Lucas Oil competition, grabbed his third career Wally.

With his first start of the season, Matt Lisa moved into the Top Ten in the NED Lucas Oil Stock standings


Kevin Scholl from Eagleville Pa. drove the family S&W built dragster to a satisfying win over a red lighting Steve Logan from Weymouth Mass. Scholl in taking his first ever LODRS win, didn’t have an easy trip to the finals as he had to get around NHRA hitters Amanda Boicesco, Vincent Nobile, and Mike Handras to get his chance for stardom.

Logan on the other side of the ladder, defeated Bob Hardifer, Robert Hyatt and Jeff Kundratic to get to the finals.

“Winning my 1st Divisional at Cecil County Dragway on Mother’s Day Weekend with Mom here was an amazing feeling,” Scholl said. “When the win light came on I thought about pulling the chute to celebrate but decided it was too much work to pack up before driving up for the winners circle. Our Dorman Products HookDaddy Motorsports S&W dragster was set up where we wanted it to be all day long.”

“We caught some luck along the way, but we were ready every round. I’d like to thank the NHRA D1 staff and the staff of Cecil County for fighting Mother nature’s best attempts to ruin this race. The did an amazing job proving a great racetrack. I want to thank my parents, Don and Mary, along with my girlfriend Kristyn for all their support day in and day out. I also want thank Dorman Products, my employer, for coming on board this season with sponsoring our car. Thank you also to everyone else who has helped myself or Don over the years.”


John Juliano from Flushing, N.Y. jumped behind the wheel of the Juliano Racing ‘53 Commander for the first time in nearly a half decade and made the best of it beating Craig Porter’s ’04 Mustang in the finals at Cecil. Porter, from Silver Spring, Md. had a great 0.011 light to Juliano’s 0.029 but at the stripe Juliano’s nearly right on 9.904 to Porter’s 9.929 put the New York driver in his first ever Lucas Oil Winners Circle by a little over a foot at the finish line.

“It was a long challenging weekend but well worth the wait,” Juliano said after the win. “The Stude was running great and that allowed me to concentrate on my lights and top end driving.  It was an emotional win for me. I have not been behind the wheel in over five years, and it was my first divisional win. I would like to dedicate this win to my mom in heaven as I felt her presence over Mother’s Day weekend.”

“I want to thank my brother Carl for keeping me close to the number and my father Carl Sr. for his never-ending advice and support. I want to thank my wife Meridith for dealing with this crazy hobby over Mother’s Day weekend. I would like to give a special thanks to Select Performance Transmission’s and Merkel Racing Engines for their support.” 

Craig Porter left Cecil County with the NED Lucas Oil lead in Super Gas


Former NED champ Shawn Fricke racing out of Flemington, N.J. put his ’02 Firebird, in the winner’s circle beating second generation racer Kelli Barbato from West Chester Pa. in the finals.

Fricke had the jump off the line with a 0.029 light to Barbato’s 0.097 and took the win with a 10.921 on the 10.90 index as Barbato’s reaction time killed her chances at the finish line as she ran nearly right on with a 10.902 but the race was lost back at the starting line.

Shawn’s win was his 12th LODRS win and his eighth in Super Street and put him in the #3 spot in the 2024 NED Lucas Oil series.

“It was a great day racing with family and my first win since we lost our friend Frankie Aragona,” Fricke said after his win. “It felt good to honor him in our winners circle celebration.”

With her first race of the 2024 season, Barbato moved into fourth spot in the NED Lucas Oil points chase


It was a battle of two crowd favorites in the finals of Top Sportsman with former NHRA Lucas World Champ Ronnie Proctor from Hedgesville, W.V. driving his ’09 Cobra up against “Fast” Freddy Perkins from Higganum Conn. in his Chevy Nova

Both drivers had similar reaction times and both drivers ran below their dials but it was Proctor’s 6.627 on his 6.64 dial less egregious than Freddy’s 7.547 on a 7.57 dial. The win was Proctor’s eighth career Lucas Wally.

“It was a really long weekend but well worth it!!,” Proctor said. “We’ve been due to win one this year!! Thanks to of course my girl Karen and my nephew Trey!!

“Also, thanks to my daughter Stefanie and Sofie, Greenley, and Braxton for all their help today!!! Believe it or not it’s still a great feeling to win one of those little men!!!”


Port Charlotte Fla. racer Jerry Thomas had been sitting on the sidelines for over a decade when he decided to get back to his favorite sport. Thomas chose the Cecil County event to be his second debut in the class which he had success with in the past.

Not the quickest car in the class, Thomas had been posting high six second runs all weekend and was cutting some super lights on his way to the finals against multi time NHRA winner Kevin Robb from Denver Pa driving his A1-Mulch dragster.

Thomas dialed his dragster in with an 8.85 and ran dead on with a 0.005 light to make Robb’s job nearly impossible even with a 6.882 on a 6.88 dial! The win was Thomas’ fifth LODRS Wally

“I got the bug again after a 12 year retirement,” Thomas said after his Cecil win. “I bought a unused 22 M&M dragster over the winter complete with a Wilson 582″ Baby Blower engine.

“I made my license passes the Wednesday of the event. It felt great to be back in the seat. A win was something I was shooting for some time this year, but really not expecting it my 1st race with all the great racers in D1. Thanks to my wife Peggy for her 100% support of overcoming this disease of drag racing.”

Kevin Robb was shut out of a win by Thomas’s near perfect pass in the finals


Olivia Torchia from Galloway N.J. beat Patrick Conway Jr.for the win running a 12.051 on a 11.95 dial to Conway’s breaking out 11.985 on his 12.08 dial.


Best Appearing Car went to the Alcohol Funny Car of Melinda Green King.

New bride Melissa Cox’s Top Dragster took Best Engineered.

After the event was complete and having time to reflect on the weekend, NHRA Division One Coordinator Steve Rhoads had this to say. “Where to even begin? This weekend was one of the toughest, most stressful I have ever had. Hats off to the Cecil County Dragway, the staff, Jim Halsey, Kathy, Chad, and every single staff member THANK YOU. We got our butts kicked. Top notch crew and top-notch track, the surface was killer all weekend.

“To the NHRA Division One staff, you men, and women, are the best team around. Everyone worked together and we managed to get everything done except two finals that had to be moved because of school and driver obligations. It was truly a pleasure working with such dedicated team members.

“Dave and Jodi Mohn, my floaties for the weekend, your help, knowledge and willingness to teach kept us on a path forward and kept the ship afloat, I will forever be in debt to both of you.”

“This event was bad ass even with the rain, Alcohol dragsters running 5.16, Pro mods in the 3.50’s!”

Next up. The Lucas Oil Divisional at Maple Grove Dragway May 24-26

For more images from the Cecil Lucas race, go to: