With the Outlaw 10.5 world eagerly awaiting the first three-second pass in the eighth-mile, Shakedown legend Tim Lynch teased with a still-sparkling class- and Shakedown-record 4.02-second elapsed time at 192.96 mph. With that, he rocketed to the provisional No. 1 position in the opening session for the class Saturday. It marked his triumphant return to Raceway Park after a year's absence.
The 4.02-second time lasted through the second session. But the biggest surprise of the class was veteran Craig Pio's leap from No. 24 in the order to No. 2 with a 4.079-second blast.
Anthony DiSomma, from nearby Bound Brook, N.J., impressed in the opening session with the top speed of 193.88 mph.
Lynch missed the 2011 Shakedown because of an accident at a previous event, opening the door for Larry Wood, who had taken a back seat while Lynch and the "Gil Mobley Militia" of Richie Sexton and Chuck Ulsch drew perennial raves with their gaudy numbers. Wood, who isn't entered this season, won that race.
"It definitely wasn't nearly as exciting watching last year," Lynch said, although he did admit, "I always liked to watch it, even when I was racing in it."
He promised to bring his turbocharged magic back to The Shakedown, certainly for this 10th anniversary edition of the race but also simply because it is The Shakedown.
"That's a milestone," he said. "I missed the very first one because I didn't know about it. And I made every one, except last year's. It'd be great to win at the 10th anniversary. The Shakedown is always our favorite race. It's a great racetrack. And Dave is a heck of a promoter." He was referring to New York Motorsports owner Dave Hance, founder and promoter of The Shakedown Nationals. "He always treats you right. As long as we have a car, we'll be there."
Lynch already had the reputation as the toughest driver to beat in all of outlaw drag racing, but his reputation boomed when he set performance records at The Shakedown at E-Town. He made his mark in 2004, as the first to cover the Raceway Park quarter-mile in less than seven seconds. Each year he added to his Shakedown legacy.
In 2007, he ignited a pre-race buzz with a Saturday afternoon warm-up pass of 6.57 seconds at 232 miles an hour. The following year he rewrote the E.T. record at 6.49 seconds. The 2009 Shakedown dealt Lynch a second straight semifinal finish as his car broke against eventual winner Tommy Deez Fernick -- particularly surprising, for he was the Outlaw 10.5 class' No. 1 qualifier with a 6.400-second blast that no one touched for the rest of the weekend.
Then in 2010, the engine-builder from Woodstock, Ga., established himself as the undisputed Superman of outlaw-style doorslammer drag racing, winning his third Shakedown trophy in four final-round appearances. was quickest and fastest of the meet with a 6.263-second elapsed time and 232.51-mph speed.
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