If it’s possible for a points leader to fly under the radar, ADRL Extreme Pro Stock points leader Cary Goforth might have found a way to do it.
Amidst a number of recent firsts and recent records in the class, Goforth has quietly crept up into the points lead, putting him in prime position to repeat as world champion in arguably the ADRL’s closest class.
Since Goforth’s lone win at Bristol in April, his father, Dean, has won, Todd Hoerner picked up an historic first with a victory in an EFI-powered car, Richie Stevens Jr. won his first ADRL race (and then got engaged to NHRA Pro Stock star Erica Enders), and John DeFlorian re-set the world E.T. record (that Goforth previously held) and won his very first ADRL race as well.
But between all the firsts, Cary Goforth still finds himself in first in a tightly-packed class heading into the stretch run that starts this weekend at Dragstock IX at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte.
“I guess we are flying under the radar a little bit, but there’s so many guys in this class that are deserving of attention,” Goforth said. “We’ve gotten about as much as we deserve. We need to get with it a little bit and continue to get better.”
There’s not a whole lot Goforth has to do to get better, but Goforth is comparing his performance to that of 2011 when the stars aligned perfectly and Goforth won three races, a world championship and was named the ADRL Driver of the Year.
That set a difficult precedent to repeat, and even Goforth is aware of that.
“It’s hard to compare last season to this season because seasons like last year don’t come around very often,” Goforth said.
“Within the team perspective, we’ve done pretty well. I feel like my car should have been to a couple more finals, but that’s being a greedy racer and thinking whatever we’ve done is not good enough. But we’ve been blessed to have a good year.”
There’s no denying that and after a brief rough stretch that sent Stevens into the points lead, Goforth turned it on in Martin.
He qualified No. 1 with a 4.06, which came off an uncharacteristic No. 1 1 qualifying spot in Virginia and was Goforth’s first No. 1 qualifier since the season-opening race, advancing to the semifinals.
Goforth lost on a rare and uncharacteristic red light to DeFlorian, but he still had plenty of positives to reflect on, including jumping back into the points lead.
“We had some issues that put us off course for a little while. After Martin, we felt like we got back on course with those issues and the power we’ve been looking for in the car,” Goforth said. “We’re still leading the points, and that just shows how strong this team is.”
But as well as Goforth has been performing – even if it has been under the radar – he isn’t satisfied.
He only leads Stevens by 126 points and seven total drivers (Stevens, Dean Goforth, Gahm, Hoerner, DeFlorian, Pete Berner, and John Pluchino) are within five rounds.
“We need to step on the gas harder. We want to pull away, but I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be close the rest of the way. That’s Pro Stock for you,” Goforth said. “I’m predicting at this event we’ll have our first repeat winner.”
Goforth didn’t necessarily say that repeat winner would be him, but six different drivers have found the winner’s circle in Extreme Pro Stock in 2012.
That’s a tribute, Goforth said, to a class that continues to get better and more competitive.
“I’m proud of that. The class has absolutely taken a step forward. I think it’s the best class out there,” Goforth said. “There’s a lot of guys out there who are capable of winning. It’s always going to be close.”
Goforth’s father, Dean, is right in the mix as well, which brings a smile to Cary’s face, especially after the trials and tribulations Dean and the Goforth family went through over the winter.
Dean had a near-fatal staph infection that he eventually overcame, but it made for several tense moments. Dean, though, is back and driving as well as he ever has.
He trails Cary by just more than three rounds and it’s helped push Cary in the process.
“He’s driving so much better and it seems like he’s taken a different mindset to how he approaches it. It’s been 30 years since I’ve seen him drive like this. Having him out here motivates me and we motivate each other,” Goforth said.
“If I have to take this No. 1 (sticker) off my car for any reason, I want it to be him, but I really don’t want to take it off at all. We have to step up and race like a champion.”
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