Another successful year of the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series with the Northeast Division 1, visiting Maple Grove Raceway is in the history books. The sun was shining, the temperatures were scorching and the competition was intense.
Saturday, May 28th:
The Showdown at Sundown was a success as expected. Fans witnessed a thrilling show under the lights, which decided the winners in Top Alcohol Dragster, Top Alcohol Funny Car, Pro Stock Sleds and the Top 8.
Top Alcohol Dragster:
In Top Alcohol Dragster, the semi-finals consisted of four very talented racers, each with their sights set on the finals. Rich McPhillips of Phoenixville, PA defeated Rich Bourke of Old Tappan, NJ with a .049 reaction time and a 5.371 E.T. That advanced him into the finals where he faced Duane Shields of Boulder City, NV. Shields defeated Jeff Veale of Stoney Creek, ON with a .070 reaction time and a 5.308 E.T. It was ultimately McPhillips who got the win over Shields with a .044 reaction time and a 5.410 E.T.
Rich McPhillips, Top Alcohol Dragster
Going into the third session of qualifying Shields was on the outside looking for that space in the Top 8. After speaking with the #1 qualifier, McPhillips prior to the third session, he was adamant about not counting Shield out because he is one strong competitor. That strength and determination was clearly visible when Shields fought his way into the Top 8 and all the way to the final round of competition.
Top Alcohol Funny Car:
In Top Alcohol Funny Car, the semi-finals were between Tony Bartone of Long Island City, NY and DJ Cox of Whiteford, MD. Along with Phil Burkart of Yorkville, NY and Matt Gill of West Bridgewater, MA. The first match up left Bartone to advance into the finals with a .054 reaction time and a 5.606 E.T. The second match up showed Gill with the win over Burkart after a .074 reaction time and a 5.616 E.T. Both Bartone and Gill looked strong going into the finals. Bartone was consistent all weekend, especially being the #1 qualifier for the second and third sessions. Gill on the other hand is no stranger to winning here at Maple Grove. Gill won back to back in 2014 and 2015, with his eye on making it three in a row. However, it was Bartone who won with a quicker reaction time of .019 and a 5.545 E.T.
Tony Bartone, Top Alcohol Funny Car
Pro Stock Sleds:
Three sleds entered the semi-final round, which left Tyler Small of South Berwick to have a single run. That automatically secured his place in the finals, where he faced Frank Berard Jr. of Troy, NY. Berard went against Heath Smith of Westmoreland, NY in the semi-finals and won with a .108 reaction time and a 10.519 E.T. In the final, Small claimed the win over Berard with a .170 reaction time and an 8.277 E.T.
Tyler Small, Pro Stock Sleds
When asked in Victory Lane, how he felt about his first ever career win, Small replied, “It feels great! It could not have happened at a better time, the weather was perfect.” He commended his crew for all their hard work over the weekend. Small finished up by saying, “I couldn’t picture it [the win] any other way, there are certain moments that happen and this is one I will certainly remember for a long, long time.”
Racers had the opportunity to pay to enter the Top 8 race for their respective classes, which was run Saturday night. The eight chosen from each class were based on either their E.T. or reaction time from the first two qualifier sessions.
Super Gas Top 8 was based on the racers’ E.T. Kari Sawyer, (Leominster, MA), .009 reaction time, 9.888 E.T., 163.67 MPH defeated Delaney Richardson (Lakewood, NJ), .004 reaction time, 9.884 E.T., 158.45 MPH. Super Comp Top 8 was based on the racers’ E.T. Kent Hanley, (Newtown, CT), .065 reaction time, 8.858 E.T., 175.16 MPH defeated Eric Stroud, (Douglas, ON), -.002 reaction time, 8.857 E.T., 175.05 MPH. Super Street Top 8 was based on the racers’ E.T. Anthony Fetch, (Colonia, NJ), .025 reaction time, 10.952 E.T., 122.12 MPH defeated Ben Amadeo, (Wantagh, NY), .102 reaction time, 10.938 E.T., 135.22 MPH. Super Stock Top 8 was based on the racers’ reaction time. Kent Hanley, (Newtown, CT) .052 reaction time, 9.53 E.T., 127.97 MPH defeated James Fontana, (Oceanside, NY), .020 reaction time, 11.485 E.T., 112.62 MPH. Stock Top 8 was based on the racers’ reaction time. Allison Smyth, (Uxbridge, MA), .036 reaction time, 10.285 E.T., 128.85 MPH defeated Anthony Fetch, (Colonia, NJ), -.003 reaction time, 11.084 E.T., 108.52 MPH.
Sunday, May 29th: Competition Eliminator:
Local, Doug Doll of Lancaster, PA beat Jay Schonberger of Philadelphia, PA in the semi-finals with a .075 reaction time and a 7.543 E.T. He went on to face Peter Luciano of Malvern, PA in the finals after Luciano defeated Dave Hughes from Nazareth, PA in the semi-finals. It was Doll with the win over Luciano with a .065 reaction time and a 7.455 E.T.
John Armstrong of Kingston, NS faced Kent Hanley from Newtown, CT in the semi-finals. It was Armstrong with a .028 reaction time and an 8.920 E.T. who advanced to the finals where he faced Charlie Bubka of Manorville, NY. Armstrong defeated Bubka with a .031 reaction time and an 8.873 E.T.
John Armstrong, Super Stock
Brian Martel from Fredericksburg, VA drove his ’69 Camaro straight into the finals with a .052 reaction time and a 10.233 E.T. over Stephen Smyth from Uxbridge, MA. He was met by Allison Smyth from Uxbridge, MA in the finals, after she defeated Joseph Santangelo of Marlborough, CT. Ultimately, it was Allison in her ’98 Firebird, who beat Martel with a .003 reaction time and a 10.206 E.T.
Allison was beyond thrilled to accept her well-earned Wally for the second time in Victory Lane. Her first win was eight years ago here at Maple Grove. She said, “I have been working very hard for eight years to win another one [Wally].”
Allison Smyth, Stock Eliminator
Walter Olt from Medford, NJ was matched up against Bill Krug from Albany, NY in the semi-finals. Olt advanced to the finals with a .014 reaction time and an 8.923 E.T. to face John Bruzzo from Oceanside, NY. It was Bruzzo with the win by a .009 reaction time and an 8.906 E.T.
John Bruzzo, Super Comp
Mike Sawyer from Leominster, MA drove his ’03 Cavalier straight into the finals after defeating Charles Yannetti of Alpine, NJ with a .016 reaction time and a 9.889 E.T. Sawyer was matched against Francis Ross of Milford, NH in the finals. However, it was Ross who took the win in his ’67 Camaro with a .023 reaction time and a 9.905 E.T.
This was a very special moment for Ross because it was his first Wally in Super Gas. He was humbled that he was surrounded by friends and family to help him share in the celebrations.
Francis Ross, Super Gas
Casey Cole of Lexington Park, MD defeated Dan Scardelli of Bridgewater, NJ in the semi-finals with a .009 reaction time and a 10.874 E.T. Rick Mattioli frim Middlesex, NJ defeated Neal Vaccaro from Fresh Meadows, NY with a .028 reaction time and a 10.897 E.T. Mattioli advanced to the finals where he won against Cole with a .018 reaction time and a 10.880 E.T. in his ’67 Camaro. Mattioli graciously accepted his Wally and immersed himself in experiencing all the perks of reaching Victory Lane. Especially since this was his first win, which was a long time in the making.
Rick Mattioli, Super Street
Ronnie Proctor from Harpers Ferry, WV, won his semi-final match up against Ronald Riegel from Fairless Hills, PA with a .016 reaction time and a 6.799 E.T. Glen Puluse of Woodland Park, NJ also won the semi-final match up against Edward Foley from Warminster, PA with a .015 reaction time and a 7.032 E.T. Proctor faced Puluse in the finals and won in his ’09 Mustang with a .047 reaction time and a 6.834 E.T.
This win for Proctor was an emotional dedication to his father-in-law who passed away this weekend last year. He was surrounded by his friends and family in Victory Lane to help him celebrate.
Ronnie Proctor, Top Sportsman
Alan O’Brien of Ronceverte, WV defeated Paul Neal of Everett, MA with a .048 reaction time and a 6.295 E.T. in the semi-final round. Frank Zeffiro from Torrington, CT won against Tomas Witman of Honey Brook, PA with a .012 reaction time and a 6.101 E.T. It was Zeffiro who defeated O’Brien in the finals with a .010 reaction time and 6.092 E.T.
Zeffiro’s team is a two person operation, just him and his wife. She said, “It helps to have friends as a support system.” When Frank was asked how it felt to win he responded, “The car was running good and I was running good. Which doesn’t always happen, but it is nice when it does.”