In 13 previous events the ADRL had failed to produce one repeat Top Sportsman (TS) winner, but Marco Abruzzi broke the streak Sep. 8, with his second race title of the year at the ADRL Memphis Drags III. Abruzzi won the 2012 season opener in March at Royal Purple Raceway, near Houston.
“It’s so hard to win one of these things,” Abruzzi said after this time beating first-time finalist Rick Corn at Memphis International Raceway. “The car’s got to be perfect, the driver’s got to be perfect and there’s so many little things that can go wrong that neither one of those things can affect.”
If not perfect, Abruzzi was either fortunate or good all day long after qualifying with a 4.287 at 170.02 mph to start his Warren, OH-based ’68 Camaro from the 14th position in the second-quickest ADRL Top Sportsman field ever.
He caught a break in round one when Bob Gulitti went -.002 red off the start and Abruzzi broke out with a 4.265 pass against his 4.28 dial. Round two went almost exactly to plan, as Abruzzi ran 4.255 against a 4.25 dial in to beat Aaron Glaser and set up a semi-final match against his good friend and racing partner Glenn Butcher.
“It’s always tough when you race your friends, but especially with Glenn because we even carry our cars together when we come to these races,” Abruzzi admitted. “I mean, we’d be happy no matter who won, but you still want it to be you that keeps going and not him.”
As it turned out, Butcher broke out by one-thousandth of a second, running 4.229 after dialing in at 4.23, while Abruzzi put together a 4.257 at 171.03 package against his 4.24 dial in.
That set up the final against number-nine qualifier Corn, who scored preliminary wins over then-points leader William Brown III (who broke on the starting line), top qualifier and winner of the previous ADRL race Ronnie Davis, and veteran Earl Folse.
After each finalist posted identical .022 lights, Abruzzi ran 4.247 at 166.09 against a 4.24 dial and Corn went 4.340 at 163.26 against a 4.33 dial, giving Abruzzi a three-thousandths of a second margin of victory.
“That was a great race; Rick did a great job,” Abruzzi said. “I’ve been struggling a bit these last two or three races and we worked on the car quite a lot before coming here, so it feels good to see some good results.”
In addition to scoring a significant race title, the win also unofficially vaulted Abruzzi back into the points lead he enjoyed for much of the season.
“We’ll try to build on that when we get to (the ADRL’s next race in) Norwalk (OH), which is our home track, so it would be great to do his again up there.”
And despite the final-round loss, Corn still went home to Benton, IL, a winner, as ADRL officials presented him with a “Best Use of Color” award for his new 2010 Dodge Avenger.
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