Up to the Challenge
After a blistering hot day at Route 66 Raceway, six racers hoisted their prized pewter Wally high in the humid sky, celebrating their 2011 NHRA National Dragster Challenge championships. With fans huddling under the few shaded portions of the grandstands, drag racing’s elite suited up with helmets and fire suits to withstand several rounds of fierce competition in pursuit of the coveted Wally. Driving home with the hardware following the third Rockett Brand Racing Fuel ET Bracket Series of 2011 include “Big” Erik Carlson (Top Sportsman), Walter Pote (Super Pro), John Haut (Pro), Bob Foster Jr (Bike), Michael Opielinski (Sportsman) and Matthew Maciejewski (High School).
“Big” Erik Carlson of Geneseo, Ill. used a string of starting line advantages en route to the final round where Tim Kirman narrowly tripped the red light by -0.015 of a second. Until the final round, Carlson’s worst reaction time was a .028 with a .007 and .027 respectively coming in the earlier rounds. Carlson and his 623 CID 1962 Chevy now sit third in Top Sportsman standings (80 points), behind Mike Murray (120) and Bill Rotz (113).
Walter “Wally” Pote had the fortune of taking home the trophy of his likeness (the Wally). Pote’s tight .017-second package in the final was just enough to nab the finish line over Nathan Ford who also put together an equally impressive .017-second package, with Pote narrowly taking the finish line stripe by the slimmest of margins. Kenny King still holds the season point lead with Nick Cryer, John Savarino, John Schober and Nathan Ford – all managing to make up ground on the two-time track champion.
John Haut of Grant Park, Ill. had to overcome now Pro points leader, John Singleton Sr in a hard fought final round. Haut used a consistent .040 reaction time throughout eliminations to set himself up for the bye-run into the final. Haut’s win has propelled him to third in points, tied with John Coyle, who also has one win this season. Troy Bogner slipped to second in points behind good friend Singleton Sr who, although yet to make his way to the winner’s circle, has managed to capitalize on tremendous consistency to grab a hold of the top spot in series points.
Bob Foster Jr. of Lansing, Ill. rode his Kawasaki to the four round win over Dawn Florey of nearby New Lenox, Ill. Foster Jr. now sits 36 points behind his father, Bob Foster of Lansing, Ill. in the season point standings. By advancing to the second round, Paul Waters passed Bruce Damewood for third place in points with Frank Linders and Dawn Florey both chomping away at Foster’s lead as they duke it out for a top five points position.
Enduring six rounds of racing, twenty-year-old Michael Opielinski piloted his pristine 1968 Nova to the Sportsman title over repeat finalist, Bill Larson. Opielinski used a better reaction time to break Larson out at the finish line and collect the Sportsman Wally. Larson’s second straight final round appearance bolstered him to number one in season point standings over Steve Opielinski. Michael Opielinski’s win propelled him from into the top five in point standings, currently tied with previous race winner Cris Thompson.
In a hard fought High School final round, Matthew Maciejewski of Downers Grove, Ill. defeated David Lyons of Ashkum, Ill. Maciejewski used a stellar .020 reaction time in his 1985 Mustang to overcome Lyons’ .035 light. The win allowed Maciejewski to leap-frog his way to the top of the standings with a 14 point lead over semi-finalist Craig Schober of Orland Park, Ill.
The Rockett Brand Racing Fuel ET Bracket Series returns to Route 66 Raceway on Sunday, July 24 for the forth race in the eight race series.