He's still looking for that elusive first Top Alcohol Funny Car national championship, but Mickey Ferro is number 1 in one of the toughest regions in the country, the North Central, where there are enough 5.50 cars to fill up entire eight-car fields. In five regional starts this year, Ferro reached the final every time, winning two – both on holeshots – and taking runner-up at the other three.
The Stamford, Conn., veteran opened the season with a final-round loss to Kris Hool in February at Gainesville, then won Chicago over yearlong rival Chris Foster and Columbus over upstart Tony Bogolo and wrapped up the title with back-to-back runner-ups on consecutive weekends in August.
"Don't ask me how we did it because the car didn't run as well as it should have a couple of times," Ferro said. "Plus, I had to miss a two races – one because my daughter graduated from college and one because it conflicted with a sponsor's race in Houston – but in the end, we got the job done. Chris is a fierce competitor, and we were fortunate to win it. It came right down to the end, to the last race in Bowling Green, where he qualified first and we qualified last. We had to run each other first round, and if we won it we'd win the championship, and if he won, he probably would have won the championship."
The highlight of Ferro's regional season had to be Chicago, if only because of the strength of the field. The bump was a 5.66, making it one of the fastest fields in regional/divisional history. In addition to the usual Murderer's Row of North Central talent – Foster, Fred Hagen Jr., Andy Bohl, Cassie Simonton, and Ray Drew – Frank Manzo himself was in town. Ferro outran Hagen in the opening round but had to resort to holeshots to win the semifinals over Drew and the final over Foster.
"I was lucky to have good lights that day because both Drew and Foster were running better than we were," said Ferro, whose Columbus win also was a direct result of his great driving – that time after the clutch came out. "Foster overpowered the track in the first round," Ferro said. "He had everybody covered in qualifying. We struggled all weekend, and I was shaking, short-shifting, and way over by the wall a few times." He coasted to a 6.35 at just 187 mph in the final but still got the win on a holeshot when Bogolo, who had upset Foster in the first round, outran him with a 6.23.
Now Ferro, who also has a pair of Division 2 championships on his résumé, turns his attention to the national title. "We still have a shot," he said. "I haven't been thinking about it too much, to be honest, because Frank's going to be awfully hard to catch. I'm more focused on passing Tony Bartone for second, but, mathematically, we still have a chance to do it. Frank has to really screw up, and Bartone does, too, but at least we have a shot."
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