AIMING FOR TITLE - Just one year removed from being among the first pair of Top Sportsman drivers ever to make a pass on an ADRL eighth mile, Marco Abruzzi heads into this weekend’s Gateway Drags IV presented by CarSafe leading the way in points toward the inaugural ADRL Summit Racing Equipment Top Sportsman championship.
Abruzzi and his Summit-backed ’68 Camaro opened 2012 with a win at the ADRL season opener at Baytown, Texas, in March, then followed up with a quarter-final finish a month later at Bristol, Tennessee, and a semi-final run early in May at Pennsylvania’s Maple Grove Raceway, where the Top Sportsman experiment began last year.
“(ADRL President) Tim McAmis had called me and said he was looking to put something together for Top Sportsman and he knew I was pretty much dialed in to the whole Top Sportsman deal, so he asked if I could help get a few cars together to do some exhibition runs just to get it going,” Abruzzi recalled of the initial show that included him, close friend and racing partner Glenn Butcher, Tyler Hard and Ronnie Procter.
“It just happened that Glenn (Butcher) and I were already looking. Glenn and I were full-time IHRA Top Sportsman racers, but we were looking for somewhere to run our cars because IHRA was just not what it once was,” Abruzzi continued. “Back in the day, the place to race Top Sportsman was definitely the IHRA, but now it’s become ADRL. I tell everyone now that this is the place to race. It’s a good time, fun, you have to have a fast car because it’s got that element of qualifying, it’s well run and they treat us well, like professionals. There’s great track prep, great tech, everything about it is good. I honestly don’t have anything bad to say; it’s top notch.”
Abruzzi will be looking to extend his 241-point advantage over second-place Chuck Mohn this weekend at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, IL, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, where he’s enjoyed success in the past.
“I really, really wanted to win an NHRA national event and the first year they ran Top Sportsman I lost in the final at Charlotte and then a couple of races later I won here,” he said of his 2010 victory over Rich Smith after qualifying 12th at Gateway. “That still stands as one of the bigger wins in my life.”
That said, Abruzzi admitted adding the first ADRL Top Sportsman title to his two IHRA world championships and three divisional championships would be “a big deal.”
“I didn’t know at first if I would go to all 10 events this year. My initial plan was to go to the first three events and see if I represented myself well enough to warrant running the rest of the races, so it looks like I’ve committed myself to run all 10 of them now,” he said. “It looks like it could be a close points battle—but I really don’t pay attention to the points, especially not at this point in the season—I just do my best and let the points add up and however it ends, it ends.”
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