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NHRA Import Nationals - Texas Motorplex

Houston Offers Up Import Drag Racing At Its Best

Jan 1, 2002
Turp_0201_01_z+nhra_import_nationals+ford_focus Photo 1/1   |   NHRA Import Nationals - Texas Motorplex

The NHRA Import Nationals at Texas Motorplex was weather-challenged but not defeated. Saturday was clear and qualifying went off without a hitch. On Sunday, showers spoiled the elimination rounds. Around 1 p.m., a driver's meeting was held and the racers voted on whether to postpone until the following weekend or continue the race on Monday. The following weekend was the NOPI Nationals car show in Atlanta and a number of the teams had sponsorship commitments to be at the show so the landslide winner was to race on Monday. This move had some adverse effects; the Venom team dropped out in order to prepare for the Show and the Street Tire Class was decimated because many of its competitors are not full-time racers and had day jobs to get to on Monday. The Modified Class also suffered many casualties.

The Hot Rod Class was once again an action-filled class with a lot of big-name drivers staying to compete. Texan Kenny Tran and his Jotech Motorsports '93 Honda grabbed the top qualifying spot with a 9.671 at 149.25. Lisa Kubo was second with her Nitto Tires Civic with a 9.884. Tran had low e.t. in every round, running 10.27 to beat Brent Leivestad, 10.34 to beat Phong Tran, and 10.41 to trailer J.J. Olson and set up a date with hard-charging Kubo. Kubo got into the finals, running a 10.61 against Viren Singh and getting a Bye run. In the finals Tran was once again on the short end of the rope as his Civic broke on the line. Lisa ran an uncontested 10.18 for the win.

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In the Pro Class, Abel Ibarra was back in action after crashing his Toyo Tires-backed RX-7 two months previous. With the RX-7 fresh from the shop, he nabbed the third spot in the field with a 8.27. Atop the ladder was R.J. Simrock at 7.945 and Jimmy O'Connor's Venom Performance Toyota at 8.158.

Simrock bested Marcos Acosta with an awe-inspiring 7.68 and Adam Saruwartari with a 7.99 to match up against Ibarra, who had beaten Brendon Alvarez in round one and a troubled O'Connor in the semifinals with an 8.10. In the final, Ibarra got a slight jump out of the hole, but his 8.14 was no match for Simrock's blazing 7.84.

In the All-Motor division it was a Honda vs. Honda final. Joel Mandl was the number one qualifier and waltzed through the field and into the finals. However, excessive tire spin opened the door to upset Adam Franzetti. Franzetti was on his game and ran an 11.90 to Mandl's 12.56 for the money.

The Street Tire Class had a familiar ring to it when Ari Yallon and Steven Kan put on the gloves and duked it out in the final with their Rotary Performance Mazda RX-7s after qualifying 1-2 and working their way through the field. Yallon's Mazda took the win light with a 10.976 to Kan's 11.401.

In Modified Craig Paisley and Christian Rado were the only two combatants to emerge from the storm. The final was decided quickly; Rado's Toyo Tires/World Racing Integra ran into mechanical troubles and Rado was left to watch Paisley's Supra energize the win light with an 8.62.

The NHRA season is coming down the stretch and the battle for national championships is close with the exception of Street Tire where Ari Yallon has won every race. Can he run the table on the whole season? Who else will become an import hero? We will be there every step of the way as the story unfolds.

Hot Rod Lisa Kubo
Modified Craig Paisley
Pro R.J. Simrock
Street Tire Ari Yallon
All Motor Adam Franzetti



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