Former Division champ Karen Stalba got her season back on track after a convincing win at the third  Lucas Oil East Regional of 2024. For Stalba who qualified #1  at Cecil County two weeks ago only to go out sooner than the Hammonton N.J. racer and her team would have preferred, the win at the Grove is exactly what the doctor ordered.

At Maple Grove, Stalba put her AA Auto Salvage/Stalba Motorsports A/FD into the tough eight car field with a 5.321 @ 269.03 which was good enough for the fifth spot. As usual, the Alcohol Dragster field was full of some of the best racers in the country with third generation driver Madison Payne leading the field with a 5.279 @ 278 MPH and recent Cecil County winner Matt Cummings second with an identical 5.279 in the Rich McPhillips Racing/Cummings Leasing dragster. Payne’s speed was the tiebreaker for low qualifier.

Stalba,near lane, took her first win in 2024 over a tire smoking Cummings

Canadian Jeff Veale held down the bump with a 5.423. Not making the quick show were the blown cars of Dan Dietrich and Mike Hepp along with former winners Rich Bourke and Phil Burkart.

The first round did not go to script for the quicker cars as only Cummings advanced to round two with Stalba beating Brandon Greco, James Noonan taking out Jackie Fricke, and Veale, who beat low qualifier Payne, joining  Cummings in the  semifinals.

The track used the Saturday night Alcohol show along with jet cars and fireworks to stage a “Night of Chaos” that included reduced admission prices for a carload of fans. But like the season opener at Cecil, Mother Nature had other plans washing the remainder of the show out after round one forcing the completion of the Alcohol show to Sunday.

Sunny skies greeted all the remaining competitors on Sunday with Stalba defeating an up in smoke Jeff Veale. Cummings beat Noonan in a lopsided win as Noonan had a reaction time of a 0.118 to Cummings’ 0.030 and ran a losing 5.343 to Cummings’ 5.231 giving the Florida driver lane choice in the finals over Stalba.

At the green both drivers had nearly identical lights but Cummings boiled the tires slowing to a 20 second time as Stalba took her dragster to her seventh career Lucas Oil win with a 5.401.

“I’m excited to get the win,” Stalba said after her first victory in 2024. “It’s been a super emotional weekend as Bob Smullin’s wife Francine passed away a few weeks ago after a battle with cancer and we lost Lenny Bucher, who has been a friend of mine all my life. We dedicated the win to them.”

“I was crying when my win light came on, pulling the chutes through tears! Grateful to my crew and my family and friends and the sponsors who keep me out there! A.A. Auto Salvage. VP racing Fuels and lubricants, and Jeff Stricker at Roadrunner Race Fuels for his support!

The win at Maple, put Stalba in second place in the East Region and 5th in national Lucas Oil points.


Chip Beverett from Portage Indiana took the Beverett Racing ‘18 Camaro to a second victory in three days taking the win over a broken DJ Cox in the final. Beverett legged it to a 5.636 @ 260.11 in the win.

Earlier during Friday’s qualifying the finals of the rained out Cecil event were run with Beverett beating Cox for the first time during the weekend with a 5.648 as Cox had problems and clicked it early to a mid seven second run.

“When we decided to run Div 1 this year, we knew the competition would be tough. Really anywhere you go today the field is tough,” Beverett said after his win. “We had a really great track in Cecil but the weather let us down.”

“The Maple Grove track was tricky but Aryan Rochon, my partner and crew chief, did a really good job of getting the car down the track. It was definitely a dream weekend winning both races in one weekend. Now I hope to carry our momentum into the Norwalk National Event.”

“I want to thank my crew and family, Mike, Amanda, Luke, Olivia, Tom, Eddie, Kristin, and Josh and my wife Elaine for all they do to help me be successful.”  

With his second Regional win and 6th career, Beverett has a commanding lead over Cox and currently sits in the #3 spot in National points.

The finals from the rained out Cecil race were run during Friday’s qualifying sessions with Beverett taking the easy win over a troubled run of Cox


D’Agnolo, near lane, got antsy and left too soon handing Szupka the win

Winning his second Lucas Oil race in a span of two weeks, Stephen Szupka from Northampton, Pa. drove the Pam and Mike Miskovsky C/DA to the win over a red lighting Pete D’Agnolo’s E/SMA.

Szupka, who qualified the dragster in the #4 spot, defeated Don Eckel, Frank Affronti, and Joe Carnasciale in earlier rounds to get to the finals. On his side of the ladder, D’Agnolo beat Todd Logan, Chris Piston, Mark Hopkins and Kevin Houghtaling.

“It was great to win at Maple Grove again. We’ve had an incredible run there so far. This is our 3rd year in a row winning the divisional as well as the national last September,” Szupka said.

“And to have my wife Dranae with us at the track on Sunday and in the winner’s circle was icing on the cake.”  The win at Maple Grove puts Szupka in the enviable position of leading the division by 70 points over D’Agnolo.


Wilkes Barre Pa. racer William Kennedy won his second career Lucas Wally beating Rhode Island’s Justin Picillo in the finals at Maple Grove. Kennedy was deadly on the tree cutting a 0.004 light in his ’85 Trans Am GT/MA to Picillo’s 0.026 in his ’85 Trans Am, SS/BS. Kennedy ran a 10.48 on his 10.46 dial as Picillo slowed to a 9.605 on a 9.36 dial.

Earlier in eliminations, Kennedy beat multi time winner Joe Lisa and former NHRA champs Pete D’Agnolo and Bryan Worner as Picillo defeated the Hemi Cuda of Bucky Hess and GT/TB S-10 of Mark Labrecque to get to the finals.

“This one was extremely special because it was my father‘s birthday,” Kennedy said after his win. “Honestly, it was probably some of the best driving that I’ve had in a long time. There were four races that were less than .002.!!!!”

Kennedy adds, “The car was running great!!! ran against some great competitors along with Justin Picillo coming off a great year. Pete D is tough and Joe Lisa  is always going rounds. And finally, it was nice sharing a winner’s circle with my buddy Steve Szupka.”


Hynson, near lane, had a better light than Preiser and it resulted in a win at Maple Grove

Nearly 120 cars showed up at Maple Grove in Stock and it took seven rounds to crown a champion. In the finals it was the ’19 COPO FS/B Camaro of Cliff Hynson up against the ’68 Mustang C/SA of Lynda Preiser from Jackson N.J. Hynson from Fredericksburg VA. was off the line with a 0.023 and ran a 9.445 on a 9.42 dial and took his first ever Lucas Oil win over the close 10.879 on a 10.85 dial of Preiser.


In a race that was decided on the starting line, Handras, far lane, left first and stayed out front for the win

In a final of two of Division One’s best racers, Mike Handras from Brooklyn N.Y. beat Warminster Pa. racer Amanda Boicesco in a close race. Handras was off the line first with a 0.021 light to Amanda’s 0.054 and ran a winning 8.908 to Boicesco’s better but later 8.904.

Handras got around Bill Krug, Don Bangs, and transmission guru Ken Moses to get to the finals. Boicesco put Phil Lankford, Bill Pitz, and Kevin Gotie on the trailer earlier in eliminations.

After winning his third career Lucas Oil Wally, Handras said, “Seven rounds of competition to win on Sunday, all rounds in one day!”

“I had a good day on the starting line,” Handras adds. “I was good on the tree. My worse light was a 0.021. Runner Up in Charlotte National few weeks ago and off to what feels like a great start of the season as we head to Epping, NH.”

“Racing Amanda Boicesco in the finals. She’s always a tough racer.I’d like to thank Right Trailers, VP, Mickey Thompson, Maple Grove Raceway, Muscle Milk, Shortline Express Market, Hoopes Fire Prevention, Sepanek Race Transmissions and Davis Race Engines for the win.”


The race is over already as Smith,far lane, left too soon handing Olt his first career Wally

Joining Stock winner Hynson as a first timer, Oscar Olt from Medford, N.J. , drove his  ’03 Davis built Vette to a win beating a red lighting Thomas Smith from Hughestown Pa.  Smith, behind the wheel of his ’63 Corvette roadster, had been cutting great lights all throughout eliminations, picked a bad time to go red as Olt’s 0.020 aided 9.944 would have tough to beat.  

Earlier in eliminations Olt beat Craig Porter, Dale Koncen, and former D1 champ Tom Stalba on his way to his first ever win. Smith put out Pete Luciano and Canadian Charlie Kenopic to reach the finals.


Fricke, near lane, used a nearly perfect reaction time to take the Super Street title for the second time in two weeks

Shawn Fricke, who won Super Street two weeks earlier at Cecil, took the win at Maple Grove defeating Greg Kelley in the finals. Fricke from Flemington N.J. didn’t cut Kelley any slack at the green leaving on the Hainesport N.J. driver with a 0.002 reaction time in his ’02 Firebird. At the stripe it was Fricke’s winning 10.943 to Kelley’s better 10.936 in his ’80 Monza. The win was Fricke’s 13th Lucas Oil Wally and adds to his points tally for the 2024 season where he sits atop the class with 200 points.

“It was a fun weekend of racing with family and friends at Maple Grove Raceway,” Fricke said. “Everything was working, driver, car and my wife Jackie had my delay box set perfectly every run.”

“This win is dedicated to the Bucher family who recently lost Lenny Bucher, a longtime friend and fellow racer.”


It was a pair of Dan Page built dragsters in the finals with Al Staffieri from Tewksbury MA up against Rebeca Miller from Canterbury Conn.Miller running off a 6.79 dial had the better light with a 0.019 to Staffieri’s 0.031 but at the top end Staffieri’s 6.92 on his 6.90 dial beating the off pace 6.823

The win was Staffieri’s third career Lucas Oil Wally.


2023 D1 and Lucas World Champ Brandon Miller started off where he left off last year, with a win in Top Sportsman. Miller, from Canterbury Conn. had an easy pass in the finals as his competition, the Corvette of Gerard Milette from Quebec broke on his semifinal win over Ron Riegel and was a no show.

Brandon just had to stage his ’00 S-10 to take the win.

Miller said, “Milette unfortunately broke the engine before the final round so all I had to do was take the tree.”

“I don’t like to have to win that way, but it definitely feels good to start off the season with a win. Hopefully we can keep the momentum going from last season.”The win was Miller’s 8th career Lucas Oil win and puts the Connecticut driver in the Top 5 in the NHRA Northeast Division.


Schmidt, near lane, used a hole shot in the finals to beat Spotts better but later run

In an extremely close final, Ryan Schmidt from Berlin, N.J. drove his dragster to a win over  Daniel Spotts from nearby Douglassville Pa. Schmidt got off the line first with a 0.011 light and although he was off his dial by over a tenth running a 8.014 on a 7.90 dial, beat Spotts by a few inches as Spotts ran closer to his dial with a 7.934 on a 7.90 dial, his reaction time cost him the race.


Kole Paone, far lane, from Galloway N.J. beat New York racer  Giulia Held, in the finals with a 9.018 on his 8.99 dial as Held ran out with a 8.878 on a 8.90 dial.

 For more of Diane and David’s images from the event, go to