FLOUNDERS WINS WITH ONE SHOE AS WALLYS GO HOME AT NATIONAL DRAGSTER CHALLENGE

JOLIET, Ill. – Scott Flounders, of Homer Glen, Ill. won his first Wally with one shoe.

Flounders won the High School division of the National Dragster Challenge when he piloted his 1971 Dart to a 15.445-second finish on a 15.42 dial-in after grabbing an advantage on the starting line with a .078 light to opponent Justin Claiborne’s .182. Claiborne drove his 1995 Mustang to a 13.320 on a 13.00 dial at 107.20 mph.

Flounders drives with one shoe so he can feel the pedal better, he said.

Flounders is one of the younger members of a group of racers who’ve named themselves “The Herd.” Another Herd member brought home a Wally – Matt O’Connell, or “Matt Fink.”

O’Connell, of Monee, Ill. has been chasing his Wally for 20 years.

“It felt amazing to have two wins for Team Herd today,” said O’Connell, who won the Pro category. “What are the odds of that happening?”

O’Connell’s nephew drew a caricature of him for the front of his car in the Rat Fink style to “bring back that nostalgic look of Funny Cars.”

“Everybody recognizes the car now,” he said.

O’Connell drove his 1979 Ford to a 10.233 on a 10.23 dial at 129.92 mph. Morton Grove, Ill.’s Dave Meccia was the runner-up. He drove his 1969 Chevy to a 10.339 at 10.33 at 131.50 mph.

Jack Larsen won the second Wally of his career in Sportsman when he drove his 1979 Camaro to a 12.562 on a 12.52 dial at 104.31 mph.

This Wally will hold a special place on his mantel, he said. Larsen, who recently relocated from Louisiana to Illinois, said his first Wally was critically injured in Hurricane Katrina.

It couldn’t be salvaged, he said.

Larsen, now of Cropsey, Ill. should have known earlier in the day he would walk away the winner.

“For some reason, whenever I lose at cards I win (the race),” he said. “Today I lost two hands.”

Chris Runowski, of Chicago was the runner-up in Sportsman, with a 13.420 on a 13.32 dial at 102.56 mph.

Two teammates faced off in a surprise final round in Bike. Valparaiso, Ind. Mike Bostic made it to the Winners’ Circle when he won his first Wally with a 9.733 on a 9.67 (126.23 mph) to Lansing, Ill.’s Bob Foster’s 8.580 on an 8.32 (141.03 mph).

Dave Ancel won the Wally in Super Pro for his daughters. He won his first Wally in 2000 for Best Appearing entry – so this one means more, he said. Ancel, of Morris, Ill. nabbed a starting line advantage with a .010 light to Alan Wagner Sr.’s .044. Ancel drove his 2000 Camaro to an 8.356-finish on an 8.32 dial (158.45 mph).  Wagner drove his 1970 Plymouth to an 8.492 on an 8.47 dial (158.54 mph).

In Top Sportsman, Jim Tacchia, of Essex, Ill. drove his 2002 Pontiac to a 10.288 on a 7.43 dial (82.91 mph) to win his second career Wally. Runner-up Joe Cleary Jr., of Highland, Ind. finished the day with a 21.239 on a 7.52 dial.

Tacchia also walked away with the Midwest Top Sportsman “Nail” – something awarded from winner to winner at each race in the Series.

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