Tommy D’Aprile was already out of his Mel Bush Motorsports ’05 Corvette and shouting with excitement before it rolled to a stop on the turnoff road from the Texas Motorplex eighth mile. He had just beaten Von Smith in the Pro Extreme (PX) final of the ADRL World Finals VIII presented by CarSafe for his first ADRL event win.
“Oh my God; I can’t believe this!” D’Aprile repeated over and over as tears of joy and relief streaked his cheeks. “It’s amazing; I can’t even describe what I’m feeling right now.
“All I want to do is thank Mel and Joanne Bush for everything they do. I am so grateful to them and to my guys and of course, to God. Everyone knows how important my faith is to me and I’ve been in a couple of finals before, but this is the first time we’ve won and I thank Him for that.”
D’Aprile ran strong all weekend, qualifying with a 3.580-seconds effort at 209.85 mph—his first in the 3.50s—that briefly was the quickest pass ever recorded in the series before Frankie Taylor stole away the top spot a couple of pairs later with a stunning 3.577.
Regardless, D’Aprile remained imposing in eliminations, setting low ET of the opening round with a 3.655 at 206.16 against Art McMahan. In round two he again set low ET with a 3.628 at 206.20 win over Alex Hossler, winner of the previous event in Ohio a few weeks earlier.
In the semis, D’Aprile faced newly crowned PX World Champion Mick Snyder, who clinched the title the previous round when Jason Scruggs, his only remaining challenger, redlighted away his chances of adding a third championship against eventual finalist Von Smith. D’Aprile left on Snyder with a .012 advantage and once more set low ET of the round at 3.623 and 206.61, while Snyder put up a game 3.648 at 207.11, his best pass of eliminations.
Meanwhile, Smith started from the number-13 slot and ran 3.711, 3.662 and 3.668 seconds in consistent wins over past series champions Bubba Stanton, Scruggs and Taylor, respectively.
In the final, D’Aprile cut a stellar .009 light to Smith’s .061, then stormed to the win in 3.633 seconds at 206.51 mph, while Smith had traction problems and slowed to 4.314 at just 118.58 mph.
“I was so nervous; I just wanted to go up there and cut a good light and do my job. I knew the car was gonna’ go down there because my guys worked so hard all weekend and it was about as perfect as it could be,” D’Aprile said. “All I knew was that I wasn’t gonna’ lift unless it was on its roof and maybe not even then; I promise you that.”
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