This year’s NHRA Sport Compact Drag Racing season was full of surprises, upsets and record setting passes. Every driver and team continued to raise the bar and it was without a surprise that an “all out” mentality would strike at the finals in Pomona Raceway, California. Coming into the finals, several classes had close runs for the championships. While some drives would require miracles to pull a win for the championship Wally, we all know that anything can happen when it comes to racing. The All Motor class had Jeremy Lookofsky at the top of the ladder while teammates Norris Prayoonto and Saul Salceda of the Clutchmasters team were in second and third respectively. In the Hot Rod class, Stephanie Eggum trailed defending champion Ron Lummus by 70 points. Through a strategic move, Eggum attempted to vie herself a better chance at the championship but Lummus and the Bothwell team was determined to win. Third place in the Hot Rod championship run was Stephane Beauregard, but he unfortunately didn’t make the trek out to Pomona. In what is arguably the closest and best racing we have ever seen, the Modified class had four drivers separated by as little as 25 points. Paul Efantis, Justin Humphreys, Jorge Lazcano and Dee Karagiannis held the ladder going into Pomona. Pro FWD defending champion Ed Bergenholtz continued to fight off the GM Cobalts with an 83 point lead over Marty Ladwig with Bryan Jimenez in third. Lastly, Pro RWD held the ladder with Brad Personett in first, Matt Scranton in second and Gary White in third.
Before we get into the action of racing, the first day of qualifying would claim two of the three Pro FWD Cobalts. Jimenez would suffer a crash at the top end, while Gardella would meet the same unfortunate fate as well. Pro FWD qualifying also brought a pleasant surprise as famed drag racer Christian Rado took the first position with a 7.65 @ 191.16mph in his new Scion tC. Defending champion Bergenholtz qualified second. The Hot Rod class had Lummus at the pole position with an 8.34 @ 174.03mph, with Kenny Tran’s new Hot Rod tC in second with a 8.38 @ 169.91mph. Eggum would choose to qualify ninth for the event. Once again, the Modified class was separated by mere tenths of a second. Paul Efantis lead the way with a blistering 7.38 @ 184.60mph with Lazcano closely behind and Humphreys in third. Lastly, Personett continued his dominance of the Pro RWD class by qualifying first yet again with a 6.57 @ 216.13mph.
In a way, the qualifying standing almost resembled the championship standing as we went into competition on Sunday. After claiming two of the Cobalts, Bergenholtz and his Team Audiobahn crew would clinch the championship after round 1. But the team didn’t come out just for the championship, they came for another win to solidify their campaign. Fighting all the way to the finals and running a personal best of 7.56 @ 190.81mph, Bergenholtz met Rado in a battle of the imports in Pro FWD. A close door to door race ensued with Bergenholtz taking the win light at the far end of the track.
All Motor racing saw plenty of 9's this weekend. The finals came down to Clutchmasters driver Saul Salceda and Scion racer Leslie Durst-Armendariz. In what was possibly the fastest side by side all motor race ever, Armendariz would unfortunately hand the win over to Salceda at the tree. A redlight from Armendariz seemed bittersweet as she made her way down the track with a 9.50 pass. We can't wait to see what her team brings to the table next season, as their accomplishments this year with a brand new vehicle and engine program has already put down some of the fastest passes 2006 had seen.
Hot Rod class’s championship was decided when Lummus took the green light in round two. But Eggum was out for bragging rights and the crowd was hungry to see a FWD Honda rip a 7 second pass. Eggum delivered, taking the win over Lummus with a 7.97 @ 180.77mph pass! We can’t wait to see what Eggum and her team delivers in 2007.
The Modified championship was decided at the final race of the day. Efantis and Lazcano raced their way to the finals and they delivered one of the most exciting races of the season. Efantis would take the win and the championship with his 7.39 @ 185.59mph pass, while Lazcano would be a close second with a 7.47 @ 183.89mph. Great racing from the Modified class all season long!
Lastly, Pro RWD had four racers. This was also Scranton’s last campaign in Pro RWD as he plans on moving to the NHRA Pro Stock ranks in 2007. In the first round, White was determined to meet his teammate, Personett, in the finals by taking out Scranton. In a great drag race, White took the win with a 6.55 @ 214.93mph over Scranton’s 6.62 @ 214.79mph. Personett laid down the first 6.4x pass of the weekend against Ibarra, hitting 218.72mph in the process. The finals came down to an all Team Titan battle but it was short lived when Personett redlit by .007 of a second. White would carry another Wally home, but Personett would have the championship!