- Thursday 30 May, 2013
At the Eastern Regional at Maple Grove Raceway, chassis builder Dan Page collected his second career Top Alcohol Dragster victory and Frank Manzo earned what surprisingly was his first win all year in Top Alcohol Funny Car.
Page, driving Art Gallant's A/Fueler, took the Top Alcohol Dragster final easily when defending champ Bill Reichert, who had won this event four times in the past five years, went up in smoke not far off the line. With a strong 5.34, Page, who had run low e.t. of eliminations (5.32) in the semi's, scored for the first time since July 2011.
"That was harder than it looked," Page said. "We were supposed to be in the lanes at 7:15, and at 10 to 7 we were taking a head off the car. One cylinder didn't leak that great the round before, and we checked it again before the final, thinking it was going to be the same, and found that it had gotten a lot worse. Who does a valve job between rounds?"
"I do," Gallant said.
Reichert, who didn't qualify until the last-shot session at Norwalk a week earlier, did it the hard way again this time. His 5.35 was good for No. 2 behind Trinidad's Rishi Kanick, who made the only run all weekend in the 5.20s, a 5.28. Sixteen drivers attempted to qualify, and the bump was Frank Schuster's 5.44 in Tom Jones' blown-alcohol entry. Among the surprise non-qualifiers were John Finke, Mike Kosky, and 2011 world champ Duane Shields.
Page edged Gainesville regional winner Richard Bourke on a slight holeshot in round one, 5.522 to 5.521, and Kanick in the semi's, 5.32 to 5.48. Reichert's Rislone dragster ran a 5.38 in the opening round against early season points leader Rich McPhillips, who went up in smoke, and a consistent 5.37 in the semifinals against resurgent Karen Stalba.
Down six-hundredths going into the final, Reichert hopped it up and went just 100 feet before losing traction. "I had to," he said. "I thought I saw a few places where we could improve, but the car said, 'No way.' They gave me the lane I wanted – the one I'd been in all day – but it didn't make it."
Manzo dominated Top Alcohol Funny Car, qualifying No. 1 with a 5.49 and running quicker on his worst run of eliminations (5.52) than any other driver did on his best. He singled to a 5.51 in the first round when Marie Ferriolo was unable to return after hurting a fuel pump in qualifying. A 5.52 in the semifinals covered Eric Lourie's 5.69, and a 5.50 in the final was more than enough against Todd Veney, who smoked the tires off the line.
"It almost didn't make it," said Manzo, famous for never being satisfied. "It was right on the edge, and I was lucky to make it down the track every time. I really thought I was in trouble."
Veney, driving Jay Blake's Permatex/Follow A Dream car, got around Matt Gill with a 5.58 in round one and alternate John Anderika with a 5.56 in the semifinals. Gill, making his first run ever with someone in the next lane, shut off to a 6.05 at 204 mph. Anderika got in as an alternate for John Headley and won the first round over D.J. Cox, who qualified No. 2 with a career-best 5.56 at more than 260 mph.