Near Title Miss for KonRodz Racing Team!

Cassie Simonton and Spiro Kontos’ Canadian-based KonRodz Racing team had their best finish ever in NHRA national event competition — placing runner-up to TAFC class powerhouse Frank Manzo last weekend at Chicago….
“Sassy” as she is affectionately known — became just the fourth female driver to reach a national event final round in NHRA TAFC competition, last weekend at the Route 66 Nationals near Chicago. The journey to the money round was not an easy one.
“Qualifying went well, we had three great passes down the track. Unfortunately we hurt it on the second and third runs, so the crew really had to thrash. Everybody pulled together and made it happen. It was a lot of hard work in the Chicago heat and humidity, but as the day went by on Sunday, it was definitely worth all of the work!” said the former junior dragster driver.

Cassie Simonton took Spiro Kontos' TAFC to it's first ever NHRA national event final last Sunday

Every single round of elimination would prove to be a tight race with some of the strongest cars in the country. A #7 qualifying position meant a first round meeting with #10 qualifier Steve Gasparrelli. Crew chief Randy Anderson’s tune-up gave Cassie the power to send Steve packing, 5.66 to a losing 5.68. In the second round, “Sassy” Cassie eliminated John Lombardo Jr., 5.62 over his 5.63. In Simonton’s first semifinal appearance in NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car competition, she drove the Kon Rodz Monte Carlo to a 5.65, too much for Mickey Ferro’s 5.69.
Fan favorite Simonton was going to the finals in just her third year in the class that is widely considered to be the most challenging, up against 15-time World Champion Frank Manzo, one of the greatest drivers in all of drag racing. Based on the results from previous rounds, the final was expected to be a close race, just like the others. Shortly after leaving the starting line, the car went in to tire shake. “Uncle Frank” experienced shake as well, but went on to take the win light and his 97th career national event title.
Though she couldn’t join first-time Pro Stock winner Erica Enders in the winner’s circle, Cassie is thrilled just to be driving a car that is so competitive.
“I don’t think it’s really hit me yet, what we accomplished this weekend. We’ve taken out three heavy hitters; they were all close races. It was very rewarding for the team to be able to prove that we are on the right track, capable of winning rounds. ”
Half of the crew is working away on new parts all this week so they can make the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio this weekend. After such a promising showing in Chicago, Spiro, Cassie and the guys are even more motivated. They want to keep that momentum rolling, no matter what it takes.
“We’ve proven that we have a consistent car. No matter what is thrown at us, we can get it back together and perform well. I have no worries going into Norwalk. We can keep this going. If I do my job, practicing my lights and perfecting my routine, and Randy and the guys continue to give me a fast, consistent race car, we can keep it rolling,” Cassie said.
Cassie is quick to thank the people who made the successful weekend possible: team owner Spiro Kontos, crew chief Randy Anderson, crew members Patrick, Cory, Londos, Graham, Steve and Stefan. Kon Rodz Racing would like to thank the fans who sent their well wishes and congratulations.
Keep up with Kon Rodz Racing on Facebook ( and Twitter ( Follow Cassie on Twitter at @CassieSimonton (
Posted by: Nate Van Wagnen
Photo by:  Bruce Biegler