With victories at the Lucas Oil Series event at Virginia Motorsports Park, Randy Meyer got back in the Top Alcohol Dragster winner’s circle after a year of final-round futility and Dan Pomponio continued his amazing success in Top Alcohol Funny Car to take over the national points lead.
Meyer nipped Canadian Dan Mercier in the Top Alcohol Dragster final in the best race of the weekend, 5.321 to 5.330. “If this was last year, I would have lost,” said Meyer, who dropped all six of his final-round appearances in 2012 – three at regional events, two at national events, and one at the Jegs Allstars race. “Maybe this year, we’ll win the close ones.”
Meyer set top speed in the final at 271.57 mph, eclipsing the 270.86 he had run in a semifinal win over No. 1 qualifier Dan Page. “I didn’t get after it as hard for the final because I was afraid of smoking the tires and beating myself like I did last year,” he said. “I really didn’t expect him to pick up a tenth and make it that close.”
Meyer won by nine-thousandths of a second – the difference between his and Mercier’s e.t.s – after they left with identical .084 reaction times. “I saw the front of his wing at the 60-foot mark, and it was right there at 330 feet, half-track, and all the way through the lights,” said Mercier, who took over the East Region points lead when Gainesville regional winner Richard Bourke and runner-up Rich McPhillips both surprisingly missed the cut. Fifteen drivers attempted to qualify, and the bump was a 5.58 by Trinidad’s Rishi Kanick, who made his Top Alcohol Dragster debut this weekend in Sidnei Frigo’s old car.
Mercier got around John Finke in a tire-smoking first-round match, 6.17 to 15.58, and beat former Top Alcohol Funny Car racer Wayne Morris, who is getting accustomed to driving with a clutch and reacquainted with driving a dragster, on a semifinal holeshot, 5.429 to 5.425. Meyer eliminated Jackie Fricke in round one, 5.88 to an up-in-smoke 9.21, and set low e.t. by a tenth with a 5.303 in the semifinals against Page, who had low e.t. until that point with a 5.403 in qualifying.
Pomponio, who had won once in his Top Alcohol Funny Car career before this season, at the Maple Grove Division 1 race in 2005, still hasn’t lost a round all year. After taking both the regional and national events at Gainesville, he defeated John Anderika in the final for his third victory of the season. “I was already ecstatic after the first one,” he said. “Then we won a national event. Now, I don’t know what to say. It’s like, ‘Where did this come from?’ “
Crew chief Dan Pomponio Jr. delivered low e.t. and top speed (5.570, 260.06) in the final against Anderika, and Pomponio did his job in the first round in a 5.651 to 5.619 holeshot win over Todd Veney that earned him a spot on the Jegs Allstars team.
Anderika qualified No. 1 with an off-the-trailer 5.637 and set low e.t. at the time with a 5.589 first-round win over D.J. Cox, who was runner-up at this event last year. He shut off early on a semifinal single and was on his way to a mid-5.50 in the final when an air line came off the transmission, which sent a valve through a piston and damaged the body severely enough to prevent the team from running the 4-Wide Nationals.
[David Smith photos]