One Winner, Many Stories in Norwalk

Yesterday #1 qualifier Matt Smith broke a chain, today he broke hearts with a .014 to .052, .011 MOV holeshot loss to Jimmy Underdahl in E1.
This is what Joey Gladstone’s .000 light looked light against Angelle Sampey’s .051. But Joey’s Suzuki fell flat to 189 mph with a vacuum leak on the big end and Sampey squeaked through for the E1 win.
Skip Gladstone couldn’t help but beam about his boy Joey’s perfect bulb.

Road to the Future candidate Flyin’ Ryan Oehler qualified 15th and slapped a .052 starting line advantage on Hector Arana Jr. before succumbing to Arana power at the stripe.
Scotty Pollacheck ran .001 quicker than Andrew Hines in E1 but lost with a -.006 redlight

With the bike to beat (but maybe thinking of his .082 against Oehler), Hector Arana Jr. redlighted by a whopping -.023 and threw away a 6.88 against LE Tonglet’s .94 in round 2.
On a side note, Matt Smith is awaiting delivery on one of the Arana’s slippery EBR bodies…the Arana’s have the money in hand (reportedly an eye-catching $25K), but how soon will they let one of these bodies get out of their hands?
Tonglet then ran his best pass of the weekend with a 6.89 in the semi but just got plain outrun by Eddie Krawiec’s .86
Angie Smith’s weekend was hunky dory until her Buell broke a crank against Jerry Savoie in the other semi. To add insult to injury, she had to watch as Jerry smoked a motor immediately after her problem.

“I own every clutch ever made for a motorcycle,” said Cory Reed, who noted that his Liberty Racing teammate Angelle’s bike has (for now at least) a different clutch than his. Reed also said that although his team’s engines make plenty of power, the powerband is narrow and they’re still trying to figure out how to keep them in that range, making a lot of gear changes. Angelle qualified with a 6.899, Cory 11th with a 6.954. They’d made some drastic changes to his bike before last night’s Q3 that got rained out. Did he have those changes in the bike for this morning’s eliminations? If so, the result was very similar—6.959 in a losing effort against Eddie Krawiec.
Team Liberty’s Ken “Big” Johnson seemed to be more comfortable with his team’s performance this weekend than the last few.

At the end of the day it was Eddie Krawiec with the win….yawn…whataya gonna do? It was Eddie’s third Norwalk NHRA win.
Jerry Savoie runner-upped to Krawiec in a most graphic .245 reaction time way. “My glove hung up and I double clutched it,” Savoie said immediately following the race. Then later “I don’t know. My fingers got all fumbled up. The graph shows the clutch was pulled in twice. I didn’t really have my head in the game all weekend. I’ve got to do better.” This is the most demanding time of year at Savoie’s alligator farm and sometimes he has to skip the Norwalk event, like he did last year. “People have no clue what all I have to do around here,” Savoie told me from the farm on Monday night after Norwalk. Krawiec was quick to point out that the tree came down way quicker in the final than it had in previous rounds. He’d just put it on the two-step “and then I was like ‘Whoa!'”
Savoie having fun with Andrew Hines, seen eating one of Norwalk’s famous dollar-a-pound ice creams during a rain delay.
Karen Stoffer is having a trying season. “They’ve replaced everything on the bike and can’t find the problem,” said Joey Desantis. “All the wiring, RacePak, MSD box, 5 sets of carburetors. You’d think if you replaced everything you’d solve the problem, but they still don’t know what it is.” Stoffer went on to tell me that she’s even had the chassis demagnetized. 

What’s the best thing about Norwalk? Seeing Nettie!
Rickie Smith
Rickie Smith secured the Wally during the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals Sunday afternoon. Smith ran a 5.804-second pass at 208.01 mph in his ’18 Chevrolet Camaro to defeat Jeremy Ray in the finals. This is Smith’s third victory this season and 14th of his career. “This win just goes to show you the depth on our team,” Smith stated. “We’ve got a really good team if I can just keep on going and not screw up.”
Khalid al-Balooshi shows teammate Stevie Fast his victory dance

Top Fuel final

Blake Alexander’s 4.011-second pass at 297.81 mph in his Pronto Auto Service dragster took down Terry McMillen and secured his first Top Fuel career victory. “It felt really good,” Alexander stated. “I got a little emotional because I’ve tried to do this my whole life. I’ve come close but have lost sponsors, thought I was never going to drive the car again and basically we have gone through everything to climb back to the top.”

Alexander qualified 12th for the event and defeated Antron Brown, Tony Schumacher and Leah Pritchett before entering his second career final round.

Funny Car final

Matt Hagan powered to the Funny Car win with a run of 4.094 at 288.21 in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T to take down points leader Courtney Force in the finals. The two-time world champion locked-in his second victory of the season, and first since the season-opening event in Pomona. “We just had a good solid car all weekend,” Hagan said. “We qualified well and went down the race track pretty much every lap. It’s been a while since we turned on four win lights but it’s a nitro funny car; you never know what you’re going to get.”

Hagan qualified third for the event and defeated teammates Tommy Johnson Jr. and Jack Beckman along with J.R. Todd en route to victory.

Force secured her first runner-up finish of the season after qualifying in the No. 1 position. She defeated John Smith, Shawn Langdon and her father John Force on her way to the finals. “We were actually out ahead of Hagan on a good run in the final when it lost traction and he drove around me to get the win,” she said. “It was still a great race for the Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro and my team did another phenomenal job.”

Force, the winningest female in NHRA Funny Car history, set the record for women racers with her eighth No. 1 qualifying effort of the season to break the tie with three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champ Angelle Sampey. It was the 25th low qualifier honor of Force’s career and first in Norwalk.

Tanner Gray

Tanner Gray was able to take down two-time world champion Erica Enders in the final round for his eighth career victory and third of the season. He’s the only Pro Stock competitor to reach the winner’s circle three times in 2018.

Gray, the No. 6 qualifier, defeated Enders on a holeshot in their second final-round matchup in the past three weeks. Gray, who cut a .008 light, was clocked in 6.615 seconds at 209.62 mph in the Gray Motorsports Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro SS. Enders, making her fifth final-round appearance of the season, had a pass of 6.608 seconds.

“She obviously just missed it right there,” Gray said about Enders’ .048 light. “I felt like I had not struggled but I was missing it for what I should have been the first three rounds. I was .026, .022 and .022 and I felt like there was more there. I think right there I finally stepped up because I think she and I step up against each other when we race. It’s definitely cool to beat somebody on a holeshot who is known for leaving the starting line, but at the end of the day I know in the back of my mind that she just missed it. The thing I’m most proud of is the race car we have right now.”

“This was definitely a huge accomplishment. We struggled a lot at the beginning of the season. We did a lot of testing and couldn’t really see where that hard work was because the results weren’t showing. It feels good to have finally turned a corner and see where all of the hard work has paid off.”

He took down Chris McGaha, Matt Hartford and Drew Skillman to bring home the win.

Enders now has four runner-up finishes on the year to along with a victory in Charlotte, as her five final rounds are the most in the class in 2018.

Eighth in points after six races, Tanner Gray didn’t envision sitting atop the Pro Stock standings at the halfway mark of the season. “Definitely not the way it started out. All the guys who work on this car dug down deep and have pulled out a very good race car for me. I couldn’t be more proud of them. This is all them. It’s cool knowing you’re leading the points but at the same time you know it’s early. We just have to keep the momentum rolling, and my goal is to be top three going into the Countdown.”

The Three Amigos? Tres Hombres? The Three Stooges? Nitrofish’s Carl Franklin flanked by GT and Gary Tonglet
Wow, Norwalk has everything….they even have Rod Stewart’s twin sister giving neck rubs to staff! Seriously though, this Drag Racing Disneyland employs 400 people—what dragstrip can touch that? And track owner Bill Bader Jr gives out his cellphone number over the PA for customer feedback….hey Steve Earwood, are you listening?

Sunday’s final results from the 12th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park. The race is the 12th of 24 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Pro Stock Motorcycle — Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.923, 195.05 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 7.071, 175.39.

Pro Modified — Rickie Smith, Chevy Camaro, 5.804, 249.30 def. Jeremy Ray, Chevy Corvette, 8.987, 101.12.

Top Fuel — Blake Alexander, 4.011 seconds, 297.81 mph def. Terry McMillen, 4.155 seconds, 289.20 mph.

Funny Car — Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.094, 288.21 def. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.220, 227.54.

Pro Stock — Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.615, 209.62 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.608, 208.30.

Top Alcohol Dragster — Megan Meyer, 5.320, 277.94 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., 5.369, 275.67.

Top Alcohol Funny Car — Ray Drew, Ford Mustang, 10.160, 84.56 def. Ulf Leanders, Chevy Camaro, Foul – Red Light.

Competition Eliminator — David Rampy, Bantam, 7.260, 172.32 def. Jim Primozic Jr., Cobalt, 7.377, 182.16.

Super Stock — John DiBartolomeo, Chevy Camaro, 9.402, 141.71 def. Bob Marshall, Dodge Coronet, 9.432, 136.76.

Stock Eliminator — Todd Hoven, Dodge Coronet, 10.085, 124.59 def. Dick Kincaid, Chevy II, 11.288, 114.28.

Super Comp — Dan Fletcher, Dragster, 9.440, 119.39 def. Brian Folk, Dragster, Foul – Red Light.

Super Gas — Tom Dimond, ’27-T Ford, 9.882, 159.32 def. Joey Shipp, Olds Cutlass, 9.876, 160.84.

Top Dragster presented by — John Biagi, Dragster, 6.383, 208.01 def. Bobby Ray McMahan, Dragster, 6.198, 223.88.

Top Sportsman presented by — Dusty Meyer, Chevy S-10, 6.977, 194.16 def. Mark McDonald, Ford Mustang, 6.630, 206.80.

Factory Stock Showdown — Joseph Welch, Dodge Challenger, 8.107, 168.07 def. Mark Pawuk, Challenger, 8.115, 168.58.

Final round-by-round results from the 12th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park, the 12th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:


ROUND ONE — Angie Smith, Buell, 6.932, 192.17 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.993, 190.19; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.907, 195.56 def. Mark Paquette, Buell, 6.932, 189.60; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.906, 193.85 def. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.959, 192.11; Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.896,194.60 def. Hector Arana, Buell, Foul – Red Light; Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.903, 193.29 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 7.066, 189.71; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.866, 195.39 def. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.964, 193.71; Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.926, 193.32 def. Matt Smith, 6.899, 195.48; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.953, 192.69 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, Foul – Red Light;

QUARTERFINALS — A. Smith, 6.972, 191.10 def. Underdahl, 7.080, 188.73; Krawiec, 6.889, 193.46 def. Sampey, 6.922, 193.35; Savoie, 6.916, 193.13 def. Hines, 6.991, 192.25; Tonglet, 6.940, 194.58 def. Arana Jr, Foul – Red Light;

SEMIFINALS — Savoie, 7.187, 155.10 def. A. Smith, 7.627, 128.07; Krawiec, 6.865, 194.24 def. Tonglet, 6.898, 195.11;

FINAL — Krawiec, 6.923, 195.05 def. Savoie, 7.071, 175.39.

ROUND ONE — Chad Green, Chevy Camaro, 5.789, 247.02 def. Harry Hruska, Camaro, 7.695, 136.11; Jeremy Ray, Chevy Corvette, 5.776, 247.70 def. Eric Dillard, Pontiac Firebird, 5.774, 256.21; Todd Tutterow, Camaro, 6.519, 240.21 def. Steven Whiteley, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Mike Janis, Camaro, 5.784, 246.71 def. Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 5.837, 252.52; Rick Hord, Corvette, 5.839, 219.36 def. Troy Coughlin, Ford Mustang, 11.290, 104.10; Mike Castellana, Camaro, 5.699, 254.71 def. Danny Rowe, Camaro, 5.844, 251.81; Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, 5.815, 245.94 def. Jose Gonzalez, Camaro, 6.269, 235.10; Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.763, 251.30 def. Dan Stevenson, Camaro, Foul – Red Light;
QUARTERFINALS — Ray, 5.774, 248.20 def. Castellana, 5.792, 251.72; Hord, 5.768, 253.42 def. Green, 6.004, 197.83; Smith, 5.833, 249.07 def. Janis, 6.814, 149.81; Farber, 6.065, 209.88 def. Tutterow, 7.874, 120.91;
SEMIFINALS — Ray, 6.433, 234.37 def. Farber, 6.571, 222.51; Smith, 5.830, 249.35 def. Hord, 9.135, 98.54;
FINAL — Smith, 5.804, 249.30 def. Ray, 8.987, 101.12.


ROUND ONE — Richie Crampton, 3.802, 321.81 def. Pat Dakin, 3.834, 318.24; Mike Salinas, 3.884,

268.38 def. Luigi Novelli, 14.101, 30.94; Terry McMillen, 3.816, 324.98 def. Brittany Force, 9.389, 79.86; Clay Millican, 3.759, 332.26 def. Dom Lagana, 3.837, 323.89; Steve Torrence, 3.800, 329.99 def. Chris Karamesines, 4.052, 300.06; Tony Schumacher, 3.807, 327.66 def. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.902, 306.74; Blake Alexander, 3.802, 319.75 def. Antron Brown, 3.808, 326.71; Leah Pritchett, 3.794, 328.94 def. Doug Kalitta, 3.805, 321.73;

QUARTERFINALS — Alexander, 3.798, 330.15 def. Schumacher, 3.779, 330.31; McMillen, 3.793, 327.11 def. Crampton, 3.810, 320.51; Pritchett, 3.788, 327.74 def. Millican, 3.817, 327.03; Torrence, 4.027, 269.89 def. Salinas, 4.001, 232.07;

SEMIFINALS — McMillen, 3.854, 317.57 def. Torrence, 3.929, 302.96; Alexander, 3.799, 329.91 def. Pritchett, 4.185, 254.28;

FINAL — Alexander, 4.011, 297.81 def. McMillen, 4.155, 289.20.


ROUND ONE — Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.998, 322.58 def. Dale Creasy Jr., Dodge Stratus, 4.338, 224.21; Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.994, 327.19 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.990, 323.27; Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.994, 324.51 def. John Smith, Toyota Camry, 4.373, 248.52; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.034, 315.05 def. Jeff Diehl, Camry, Foul – Red Light; John Force, Camaro, 4.066, 320.13 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.140, 311.49; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.047, 319.07 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 9.812, 93.13; J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.016, 316.01 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 5.438, 142.39; Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.045, 318.77 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.847, 202.00;

QUARTERFINALS — Todd, 4.004, 321.27 def. Capps, 9.588, 81.56; J. Force, 4.085, 319.75 def. Hight, 4.116, 308.07; Hagan, 4.010, 322.27 def. Beckman, 4.022, 321.73; C. Force, 3.971, 325.37 def. Langdon, 4.025, 315.19;

SEMIFINALS — Hagan, 3.981, 320.58 def. Todd, 4.031, 321.50; C. Force, 4.007, 323.58 def. J. Force, 4.053, 321.27;

FINAL — Hagan, 4.094, 288.21 def. C. Force, 4.220, 227.54.


ROUND ONE — Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.632, 208.26 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.614, 208.78; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.607, 209.65 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.603, 209.07; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.608, 209.04 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.648, 208.55; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.616,

208.23 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.632, 208.23; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.626, 208.42 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 6.765, 205.66; Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.751, 207.40 def. Wally Stroupe, Camaro, 6.802, 203.52; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.599, 208.94 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.588, 208.88 def. Charlie Westcott Jr., Ford Mustang, 6.848, 201.85; QUARTERFINALS — Butner, 6.671, 207.85 def. Nobile, 7.216, 141.86; Gray, 6.600, 209.04 def.

Hartford, 15.697, 42.27; Skillman, 6.614, 209.14 def. Line, 6.625, 208.59; Enders, 6.634, 207.56 def. Coughlin, 6.737, 207.50; SEMIFINALS — Enders, 6.636, 207.59 def. Butner, 6.651, 208.42; Gray, 6.610, 209.30 def. Skillman, Foul – Red Light; FINAL — Gray, 6.615, 209.62 def. Enders, 6.608, 208.30.

story and photos by Tim Hailey with help from NHRA and team reports

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