We are more than halfway through the '08 season of Battle of the Imports and the August 2nd event at Sacramento Raceway was a night affair to keep attendees comfortable through the summer heat. Here's how it went down in Sactown:
In the Pro FWD class Jerrold Rhodes made his BOTI debut with his '06 Honda Accord. The good ol' rumor-mill says this car is Stephen Papadakis' old car with an Accord face-lift. After running third in the qualifying and eventually getting eliminated in the second round, Jerrold and his crew were working out some bugs with the car so hopefully we can see more of this car in the near future. In the Pro FWD finals, there was some very exciting racing happening with Ed Bergenholtz taking the lead with a pretty substantial reaction time of .077. But due to a mechanical issue, power on the top end of the Mazda 6 (7.677 @ 178.64mph) couldn't hold up and Marty Ladwig in his Lucas Oil Cobalt squeaked by with the win (7.540 @ 199.33mph). The race was so close neither driver knew who won until getting back in the pits.
The Pro Import finals saw an old-fashioned Texas shootout with Kenny Tran from Garland, TX in his Jotech Scion tC against Houston's Bryan Jimenez in his Everyone's Mortgage Chevy Cobalt. The two Texans have built up a friendly rivalry, as their face-offs have become a regular occurrence this season. In Sactown, Bryan walked away victorious while gaining on Kenny in overall championship points.
In the Pro Stock class finals, it was championship points leader Norris Prayoonto in his Clutch Masters Honda Insight against Leslie Armendariz in her 2006 Horizon Motorsports Scion tC. Leslie tried to best Norris in the final elimination, but engine failure caused her to fall behind a considerable amount, handing the victory over to Prayoonto.
Racers came from all over the country to compete in all of the Sportsmen classes. The amount of sub-ten second street cars on-hand to compete for bragging rights were an inspiring site. Loan Nguyen comes from the Prayoonto camp and she has been dominating from the very first BOTI in Florida.
Round 8 - Portland, OR
In Pro-FWD, Ed Bergenholtz in the Mazdaspeed 6 experienced engine failure in the second round of qualifying which knocked him out of the race. This gave Chris Rado piloting the World Racing Scion tC the automatic win while allowing Rado to make up serious ground on the second place Marty Ladwig in the Lucas Oil Chevy Cobalt who was unable to attend the event.
In Pro-Import, current points leader Kenny Tran was looking to secure his first Battle of the Imports championship, but Bryan Jimenez in his Everyone's Mortgage Chevy Cobalt was not going out without a fight. Bryan managed to out-qualify Tran for the number one spot. Unfortunately, bad fortune overcame Jimenez during the semi-final round, he tossed a rod out the side of the engine block and things were looking pretty grim for Jimenez. The Chevy crew scrambled with 70 minutes elapsing before the final round, but Jimenez managed to replace the entire engine in order to face Tran again in the finals. Jimenez left Tran at the lights but not by much. In the end, it was Tran who took the win (8.230 @ 171.23mph) over Jimenez (8.579 @ 173.04mph). A champion will be crowned in Fontana and with only 78 points separating these two, the action will definitely be hot.
Pro-Stock has the tightest race with Norris Prayoonto nursing a slight lead over Leslie Armendariz. Trailing right behind Armendariz is Scott Kelley in the Toyo Tires Toyota Corolla. Prayoonto came out swinging to qualify for first (9.446 @ 140.62mph). Armendariz (9.531 @ 142.85mph) qualified for second. With only five cars in the field, the top 3-qualifiers had bye runs and Kelley was the only one that had to race in the first round. After getting by the first round, the show was set with Kelley facing off against Prayoonto and Armendariz running number three qualifier Bisi Ezerioha in his Bisimoto Honda Insight. The closest race of the day had to be Kelley against Prayoonto in the semi-final round. Kelley (9.613 @ 145.48mph) cut a sharp .035 reaction time against Prayoonto's .147 and managed to hold on to the win to advance to the finals against Armendariz (9.435 @ 143.01mph) who beat out Ezerioha (10.417 @ 144.64mph. The finals were an all Toyota match up with Armendariz getting lane choice against Kelley who ended up red lighting, so it was an easy win for Armendariz who blistered down the track with a time of 9.408 at 144.34mph.
The 2008 Battle of the Imports World Finals is set for October 18th and 19th at the Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, CA. Will Kenny Tran be able to hold off Bryan Jimenez? Will Norris Prayoonto keep Leslie Armendariz and Scott Kelley down? Check back next month for coverage of the finals.