Reading’s Record Setting Rumble   

NHRA’s Pro racing was at a record pace during the Auto Plus Nationals as they delivered some of the quickest and fastest runs in history during last weekend’s rain-delayed event held at Pennsylvania’s scenic Maple Grove Raceway….

Funny Car racer Mike Neff kept his championship hopes alive while Khalid alBalooshi (Top Fuel) and V. Gaines (Pro Stock) also were winners at the fourth of six playoff events in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.

Neff defeated veteran driver Johnny Gray with a time of 4.030 seconds at 317.94 mph in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to earn his fourth win of the season, and his first of the year in the playoffs. With the win, Neff closed in on new series leader Jack Beckman, who set a national record and advanced to the semifinals over the weekend in his Schumacher Electric Dodge Charger. Neff trails Beckman by 54 points and Ron Capps is in second place, 23 back of Beckman with only two races remaining in the season.

Mike Neff crept back into FC World title contention with a timely win in the Castrol GTX Mustang.

“You have to have it all right to get a win any more,” said Neff, who defeated Tony Pedregon, Jim Head and John Force to advance to the final. “The biggest thing is it will be exciting. I want to be able to head out west with a chance. It would be a downer if we were out of it at this point. It is nice to be alive for the championship.”

In Top Fuel, rookie driver alBalooshi earned his first career victory with a winning performance of 3.910 at 312.42 in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster, defeating current points leader Antron Brown in the final round.  alBalooshi defeated Spencer Massey, Ike Maier and teammate Shawn Langdon en route to the victory. He becomes the first Middle Eastern driver and only the third driver from outside North America to win a Full Throttle Series race, joining Australian David Grubnic and Kenji Okazaki from Japan.

Kahlid alBalooshi made history by becoming the first NHRA Full Throttle Series Pro winner from the middle east.

“I give my team owner, the crew guys and all the people who work with us thanks for making this win,” alBalooshi said. “I try my best, and I know that everybody on the team is trying their best, and finally, I won my first race.”

 Brown increased his series lead to 104 points over second place Massey by setting a national record time of 3.701 seconds in his pink Matco Tools dragster during his semifinal victory over Brandon Bernstein.

Antron Brown, driving this special edition Matco Tools car, increased his points lead and set a new national ET record with an all time quickest – 3.701 secs

Mopar Brand Wins again In Pro Stock

In Pro Stock, V. Gaines powered his Kendall Oil Dodge Avenger to victory for the first time since 2008 with a performance of 6.515 at 212.26, while final round opponent Dave Connolly fouled with a red-light start. The fourth win of Gaines’ career moves him up to sixth in the Countdown to Championship points standings. Gaines beat Warren Johnson, Greg Anderson and Jason Line before taking out Connolly in the final.

V. Gaines wheeled his Colorado-based Hemi Dodge Avenger to a very convincing victory in Pro Stock

“We didn’t qualify for five of the first of seven races, but then we started making improvements and began to run better and better,” Gaines said. “We were a bit worried about running in cold weather conditions because you know that we’re fromDenverwhere it is 5,000 feet high. We were really uncertain. But we showed this weekend that we can compete in the cold weather, and we’re just ecstatic.”

Pro Stock points leader Allen Johnson and his Team Mopar/ J&J Racing Dodge Avenger was eliminated in the second round with a red-light start, but the Tennessee driver left the event with an 82-point lead over defending world champ Line.

Due to more rain showers moving into the Reading area on Monday afternoon, the Pro Stock Motorcycle final round between the Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson duo of Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec was postponed until the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals inLas Vegas, Oct. 25-28. Prior to the final round, Hines set the national record for elapsed time in this class at 6.720, which earned him a 20-point bonus towards the championship.  

“That 6.72 was the best run of my career,” Hines said. “I had my best 60-foot time, but if I had run the back half like Eddie, it would have been a 6.70. I’m glad to get the record because this is probably the last time we’ll see it set this year. It’s not going to happen inLas Vegasand it would take some extraordinary conditions for it to happen inPomona. Those 20 points could come in handy at the last two races.” 

Even More Records! 

NHRA’s record book did take a brutal beating at the even,  Those highlights including new NHRA national records set by Antron Brown in TF (3.701 secs) – the all time quickest run to 1000’ so far, Jack Beckman’s 320.58 mph speed in FC and Jason Line’s titanic 214.35 mph national record speed in Pro Stock.  

Shawn Langdon was credited with the fastest speed in NHRA history to 1000’ at 334.15 mph – but was unable to back up that mark for the official record.

Jason Line ran the fastest speed in NHRA 500 CID Pro Stock history at Maple Grove — hitting a thrilling 214.35 mph in his ’12 Camaro.

Pro Racing Summary Courtesy of NHRA Communications 

Event Essentials:  NHRA Auto Plus Nationals  (Oct. 4-7th, 2012) Reading, PA. 

TOP FUEL Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Khalid alBalooshi 3.910 312.42 1st
R/UP: Antron Brown 9.818   75.99  
Low ET: Antron Brown 3.701    
Top Speed: Shawn Langdon   334.15  
Bump Spot:   4.100    
FUNNY CAR       Career Win
Winner: Mike Neff 4.030 317.94 10th
R/UP: Johnny Gray 9.305   77.88  
Low ET: Jack Beckman 3.986    
Top Speed: Robert Hight   321.81  
Bump Spot:   4.203    
PRO STOCK       Career Win
Winner: V. Gaines 6.515 212.26 4th
R/UP: Dave Connolly 6.563 213.03  
Low ET: Jason Line 6.482    
Top Speed: Jason Line   214.35  
Bump Spot:   6.623    
PRO STOCK BIKE       Career Win
Winner: TBA      
R/UP: TBA      
Low ET: Andrew Hines 6.728    
Top Speed: Andrew Hines   198.38  
Bump Spot:   7.269    
LUCAS OIL        
Sportsman Winners:        
TA Dragster Bill Reichert 5.286 268.12  
TA Funny Car Frank Manzo 5.508 263.20  
Super Stock Bryan Worner 10.02 107.66  
Competition Calvin Hill 8.667 120.54  
Stock Craig Marshall 10.95 115.02  
Super Comp Jack Sepanek 8.934 169.78  
Super Gas Al Kenny 9.906 158.56  

100th Win for Manzo!

Top Alcohol racing’s all time most dominate driver Frank Manzo collected his milestone 100th NHRA national event win!

Frank Manzo raced to his 100th NHRA National Event win and clinched his 16th NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Top Alcohol Funny Car National Championship in doing so.

Manzo, who increased his final round win streak to 39, qualified No. 1 and ran strong all weekend including an event low 5.486 second pass in round 2 to beat Paul Gill.  The Morganville, N.J., racer faced off with Canadian Paul Noakes in the final posting a 5.508 second lap at 263.20 for the win.  Noakes was out first with a great .005 second reaction time and a nice 5.611 second lap but it was not enough for Manzo.

Canada’s Al Kenny scored in Super Gas

 In Top Alcohol Dragster it was a pair of class heavyweights going to battle as Bill Reichert met up with Chris Demke with the 5-time national champion Reichert posting a 5.286 second run at 286 mph for the win.  Reichert ran 5.20’s and .30’s all day coming out of the No. 1 qualifying spot.  Demke had troubles right from the start and slowed to a 6.292 in the final.

 Calvin Hill beat a pair of national champions in his final two rounds to take the trophy in Comp Eliminator.  Hill first went up against Al Alkerman in his semifinal round, winning with an 8.075 second lap to advance to the final with Sal Biondo.  Both drivers left early with red-lights giving Hill the win.

 Father and son went to battle in the Super Gas final with Dad coming out on top as Al Kenney beat his son Jason for his 5th national event win.  Al went 9.906 at 158 mph as Jason jumped the start by .009 seconds with a foul start.

 Jack Sepanek used a near perfect reaction time of .008 seconds to grab his first NHRA national event win in Super Comp.  Sepanek beat out Chase Fahnestock with a time of 8.934, 169.78.

The final two trophies went to Craig Marshall and Bryan Worner in Stock and Super Stock respectively. Marshalldrove his Dodge Dart to a 10.952 second lap to defeat Kelly MacKay by three feet and Worner knocked out Anthony Bertozzi in his Camaro running 10.021 at 107.66 mph.

Sportsman Summary posted by:  Eric Lotz  

Photos by: Bruce Biegler, Steve Embling & Dave DeAngelis 

To view DragRaceCanada’s Maple Groveevent photo gallery click:  HERE