In Noble, Okla., at the second-to-last regional event anywhere this season, David Brounkowski collected his first Top Alcohol Dragster victory in two years in a thrilling final against Mark Taliaferro, and John Lombardo Jr. earned his second win of the season in Top Alcohol Funny Car for this weekend’s NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Thunder in the Heartland event at Thunder Valley Raceway Park.
With an excellent .038 reaction time, Brounkowski got the jump on Taliaferro, who had a not-bad .062, and won by a few feet, 5.409 to 5.402. "I never saw him the whole way, but then I never look," said Brounkowski. "The sides of the car are so high that you can't see anybody unless they're way out there ahead of you." He never noticed his win-light, either. "I'm too busy driving the car to look," he said.
Brounkowski's semifinal match with Randy Meyer was nearly as close. Meyer was off the mark first in that race, Brounkowski came around him to win by two-hundredths of a second, 5.37 to 5.42, and both drivers got out of their cars not knowing if they'd won or lost. Even Brounkowski's first-round match was a tight one; he edged two-time 2012 Lucas Oil regional event winner and incoming Central Region points leader Gord Gingles, 5.40 to 5.45.
Taliaferro was just as consistent, with a 5.39 in a first-round win over Alan Bradshaw and a 5.34 (low e.t.) in the semifinals against No. 1 qualifier James Thompson. The field was so competitive that both finalists came from the bottom half; Brounkowski ran a 5.415 for the No. 5 spot and Taliaferro a 5.418 for No. 6.
Lombardo, who won the Pacific Division championship last year, overtook Steve Gasparrelli for second place in the Western Region Top Alcohol Funny Car standings behind Annie Whiteley with the win, his second of the season and fifth overall. Lombardo set low e.t. of both qualifying sessions and all three rounds of eliminations, including the final, where he topped Lance Van Hauen in a close race, 5.72 to 5.79. It was Van Hauen's third late-round appearance in a row, including semifinal showings in Topeka and Earlville.
Lombardo's 5.72 in the final round was his only run outside the 5.60s, following a 5.68 in qualifying that held up for the top spot, a 5.67 on his first-round single, and a 5.66 (low e.t.) over current Central Region points leader Kirk Williams in the semifinals.
"The car was like a bracket car all weekend," said Lombardo, who also won the Phoenix regional early this season. "It just went right down the track run after run, and I really have to thank Jeff Lirones and our team for having everything set up just right all weekend. I think it's too late to catch Annie for the Western Region points, but this really helps us in both the regional and national standings."
David Billingsley and Jimmy DeFrank both had near perfect reaction times to take the wins in Comp Eliminator and Super Stock while Shawn Carter had a .002 reaction with a dead-on run for the win in Super Gas. Billingsley was .006 off the line and held on for the win against Adam White with a lap of 8.839 seconds at 149 mph. California racer DeFrank, was .003 on the line in defeating Slate Cummings in 8.894 seconds at 150 mph to Cummings’ 8.911, 142. Carter was even better in his final round with Jeff Lopez. The Park Hill, Okla., resident combined his .002 second reaction time with a 9.900 run on the 9.90 index for the win and the trophy.
In the division’s Suburban Chevrolet Top Sportsman Series, it was Tom Schmidt and his ’63 Corvette running down Matt Crisp in his ’09 Mustang. Schmidt went 6.936 at 201 mph to Crisp’s 7.631 at 178.
Other winner’s this weekend at Thunder Valley were David Oenes in the Sunset Racecraft Top Dragster class over Jerry Holt, Jody Simoneaux beat Jared Swinehart, Piedmont, Okla., in Stock Eliminator; Austin Williams knocked out Bill Dennis in Super Comp; Val Harmon put Gary Stinnett on the trailer in Super Street; and Rob Bennett ousted Mike McCullah in the Sportsman Motorcycle Series presented by Harley Davidson.
Most of these racers will head south to Texas Raceway, Ennis, Texas, and join the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series for this weekend’s AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals before heading to Royal Purple Raceway for the final stop on the South Central Division Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, Oct. 12-14.
The following are the final results from the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Thunder in the Heartland event at Thunder Valley Raceway Park:
TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER:
1) Randy Meyer, Spring Hill, Kan., 5.374, 264.86 def. 7) Monroe Guest, Tulsa, Okla., 10.699, 104.34
5) Mark Taliaferro, Odessa, Texas, 5.398, 264.31 def. 4) Alan Bradshaw, Odessa, Texas, 5.471, 264.16
6) David Brounkowski, Cypress, Texas, 5.407, 255.46 def. 3) Gord Gingles, Winnipeg, Manit., 5.457, 265.80
1) James Thompson, Vernon, Texas, 5.403, 269.38 def. 8) Aaron Tatum, Oklahoma City, 5.602, 251.11
Taliaferro, 5.349, 271.16 def. Thompson, 5.553, 259.51
Brounkowski, 5.374, 261.39 def. Meyer, 5.423, 259.89
Brounkowski, 5.409, 264.31 def. Taliaferro, 5.402, 267.93
TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR:
4) Kirk Williams, Glenwood, Iowa, '02 Camaro, 5.919, 245.36 def. 5) Bryan Brown, Gainesville, Texas, '06 Monte Carlo, 6.919, 146.96
1) John Lombardo Jr., Brea, Calif., '06 Monte Carlo, 5.670, 255.31 was unopposed
6) Lance Van Hauen, Reinbeck, Iowa, '12 Camaro, 5.762, 248.13 def. 3) Kris Hool, Casper, Wyo., '06 Monte Carlo, 5.859, 248.68
7) Billy Davis, Rogers, Ark., '06 Avenger, 7.553, 175.30 def. 2) Scott McVey, Winnipeg, Manit., '06 Monte Carlo, 7.847, 244.69
Van Hauen, 5.764, 247.18 def. Davis, 7.757, 122.53
Lombardo Jr., 5.666, 255.39 def. Williams, 13.203, 117.93
Lombardo Jr., 5.727, 250.20 def. Van Hauen, 5.796, 246.50
David Billingsley, Decatur, Ill., '93 Cutlass, L/AA, 8.839, 149.55 def. Adam White, Houston, dragster, A/ND, 6.932, 192.43
Jimmy DeFrank, Thousand Oaks, Calif., '10 Cobalt, SS/CM, 8.894, 150.20 def. Slate Cummings, Ponchatoula, La., '05 Cavalier, SS/BS, 8.911, 142.49
Jody Simoneaux, Napoleonville, La., '99 Firebird, A/SA, 10.402, 120.75 def. Jared Swinehart, Piedmont, Okla., '97 Firebird, D/SA, 11.297, 116.48
Austin Williams, Burleson, Texas, dragster, 8.906, 150.45 def. Bill Dennis, Roswell, Minn., dragster, 8.918, 174.68
Shawn Carter, Park Hill, Okla., '05 Cavalier, 9.900, 167.53 def. Jeff Lopez, Bedford, Texas, '63 Corvette, 9.879, 158.28
Val Harmon, Luling, La., '67 Chevy II, 10.909, 142.51 def. Gary Stinnett, Emporia, Kan., '67 Camaro, 10.897, 144.23
David Oenes, Henderson, Colo., dragster, 6.460, 213.47 def. Jerry Holt, Collinsville, Okla., dragster, 6.489, 212.46
Tom Schmidt, Lindstrom, Minn., '63 Corvette, 6.936, 201.20 def. Matt Crisp, Castroville, Texas, '09 Mustang, 7.631, 178.21
SPORTSMAN MOTORCYCLE PRESENTED BY HARLEY DAVIDSON
Rob Bennett, Mead, Texas, '85 Suzuki, 8.277, 155.68 def. Mike McCullah, Houston, '00 Suzuki, foul
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