We were elated to be back at Cecil County Dragway for the latest installment of the Finishline Performance Outlaw Street Car Shootout, a day full of ups and downs for everyone, which we will try to highlight. We had nothing in the negative department, as we were excited to be at Cecil for the first time this season, on a day with such perfect weather. We are truly lucky to have such awesome race programs so close to our homes, without fans or racers having to get on an airplane or spend the night driving. This was also the first time we had the chance to see the new racing surface at Cecil in person, and the pictures of progress we were following on YellowBullet.com did the track no justice – it is an amazing upgrade and has proven to be up there with the top notch racing surfaces in the country.
**Run Sheets / Qualifying Sheets are at the end of the Photo Gallery**
Outlaw 10.5 had 20 – that’s right, 20 – quality cars on the property, battling for a 16 car field. The top 8 in the field all ran 4.352 or quicker – crazy if you compare this to qualifying ladders from only a year ago.
Lou Sciortino (Pat Musi powered) has been steadily improving since late last season, seems to have figured out his setup and is now really pouring on the power, taking the #7 qualifier spot with a personal best 4.301 pass. Mo Hall (Fulton powered) was the other nitrous entry in the top 8, taking the number 5 spot with a 4.282 @175.84mph pass. The rest of the drivers at the top are all running different varieties of twin turbo power. Craig Pio, fresh off his track record setting weekend last month, took the #8 spot with a email@example.com. Billy Gordon, one of the smaller but hardest working 10.5 teams, came in at #6 with a 4.287@188mph pass. Shawn Zubler’s KOS Motorsports Trans Am made the #4 spot with a firstname.lastname@example.org. Larry Wood (K&K Built, Proline Powered) took the #3 spot with a email@example.com in his beautiful Corvette. At the top of the field, it was all Mustang. TJ Kasper (DiSomma Powered) wheeled himself to a 4.251@186mph pass, for the #2 qualifier spot. Stealing the show was Steve Gorman (Precision Transmissions), who has been receiving some expert guidance from tuner Jamie Miller lately, went A to B like it was on rails and took the #1 qualifier spot with a 4.230 @ 190.38 pass. Steve said he’s been very pleased with the progress he has been making with Miller and looks forward to future improvements.
The story of the day goes to Billy Gordon, who was on his game all day and took out some tough competitors on his way to the winner’s circle. In round 2, Billy faced Larry Wood, who was running well all day. Billy nailed the tree with a .009 light and motored to a 4.229 pass to take the win. In the semi-finals, Billy faced yet another near impossible competitor, TJ Kasper. TJ cut a great light and had a big head start against Billy, but got out of shape and tagged the left side wall and Billy was able to get by with the win with a 4.239 @ 189mph pass. In the finals Billy faced Charlie Dolbin (Caldwell Motorsports). Charlie was fresh off a win at last month’s Atco Raceway Super Saturday event, and has been very consistent so far this year. Billy Gordon was .029 behind Charlie at the tree, but put in quite a tuneup and was able to drive around Dolbin for a career best firstname.lastname@example.org to take the win for the day. Gordon was all smiles in the winner’s circle happy with his “quickest pass he’s ever had.”
Outlaw Drag Radial
Many Outlaw Drag Radial teams are thrashing on their cars still, we were elated to see some old faces back at the track to bring us a full 8 car field. Scott Bitzer was back in action in his freshly (and we mean about 3 weeks fresh) painted Malibu, and snatched the #1 qualifier spot with a 4.613@162mph pass, with the help of John Balinsky of OAB Racing taking care of the tuning duties. Right behind him was ‘Wild’ Bill Dutka (J&E Power), another Malibu, running a 4.736 @166mph pass for the #2 spot. Dutka also had OAB Racing on board to help with the tuning. Both Dutka and Bitzer were doing better than ever with John at the laptop, we look forward to their continued improvement throughout the season. Frank Soldridge (PSI Speed Solutions) was not far behind with a 4.833 @169, a time he would certainly be working to improve on. Chris Evans, trying his hand at Outlaw Drag Radial today instead of X275, made the top half of the field in the #4 spot with a 4.918 @ 146mph. Off the pace but not counted out were Paul Curry, Alex Vrettos (Team CoRuPt), Paul Major, and Sal Patel (Drummond Race Cars).
During the second round of Qualifying, Alex Vrettos was on a pass in the left lane and got out of shape, getting into the fresh concrete in the middle of the track and sending him into the left hand wall head on. The Mustang came around at the last second, but he still crashed hard into the wall, the entire driver’s side of the car hitting twice. Alex took an ambulance ride to the local hospital to be checked out, he’s banged up but in good spirits. The car, on the other hand, is quite damaged. Watch the video here While Alex was insured, as usual, the racing community is banding together to help a friend in need. Read this thread on YellowBullet.com if you are interested in helping out a great team get back on their feet.
Scott Bitzer took his #1 qualifier spot all the way to the Winner’s circle, squeaking by Paul Curry in the semi-finals who cut a great .007 light, but Scott drove around him. Scott faced a powerhouse in the finals, Paul Major, who brings a ton of power to the line. Paul did some skating and eventually had to get out of it, but Bitzer was consistent all day and his 4.613 @ 161mph pass gave him the win. Bitzer was happy to be back at the track and received compliments on the new paint job all day…be sure to have a look at it in our photo galleries. Bitzer had John Balinsky of OAB racing on board to assist with the tuning duties, looks like a great combination in Bitzer’s first appearance at Cecil this year!
X275 Drag Radial
We have enjoyed watching the creation and progression of X275 Drag Radial over the years, with the race teams that were in it from the start continuing to raise the performance bar in the class, as well as raise eyebrows from all of the fans. These teams are getting faster and faster, while the tire they run on hasn’t changed size one bit.
While the top of the field in X275 is now in the 4.x range, many teams are still working to cross that barrier. Mike Cerminaro qualified #7 with a 5.099, but during eliminations, was able to put his first pair of runs in the 4’s with 4.965 and 4.941 passes. Dave Valora on his third time out was well into the 4s, making it to the finals and also putting up 4.896 in round #2. Dave Cappolina had his wheels up in the air again, taking the #12 spot on the day. Rich Bruder (Procharger), who ran 160mph during Atco Raceway’s Super Saturday, did it again, taking the #6 spot with a 5.098 @ 160mph pass. Taking the #1 qualifier honors for the day was Dean Marinis, with a 4.751 @ 154mph run. His beautiful orange Mustang looks like it is on rails as it shoots down the track consistently on every pass.
The big story in eliminations was all Rich Bruder and team. The Twins and Mustang Mike have this combo figured out and put up some insane numbers, resetting the track and national X275 records in the semi-finals against Ron Rhodes, running a 4.598 @ 160.14mph pass. Bruder would go on to face David Valora in the finals and back that record up with a 4.610 @ 160.71mph to take the win for the day. Dean Marinis made it to the semi-finals, where he had David Valora covered, but had a big nitrous backfire when the tree dropped and was unable to get down the track.
Outlaw Big Tire
Outlaw Big Tire had a great showing, 14 cars on the property looking to fill an 8 car field. Tom Tarsia went straight to the top of the field, taking the #1 qualifier spot with a 4.488 @151.97mph pass in his big blown Camaro. Right behind him was Charlie Boy Micallaf, with a 4.646. Adam Cohen and Mitch George tied for the 7 and 8 spots with 4.910 passes. Surprisingly missing the field was Smokin’ Joe Schroeder, we are sure to see him back at the top of the field next month.
Tarsia did not make it past the first round, as he left on the green and lost to Rick Righter, Tarsia’s 4.802 pass meant little with a .432 light, to Righter’s 4.984. Righter would then fall to James Houston, who took out Righter with a 4.842 @150.53mph pass in the semi-finals. Houston faced Jeff Castaldo in the final round, Castaldo was dead late while Houston took off and never looked back – his email@example.com gave him the win.
8.50 Index, one of our favorite classes – fast street cars that can win a race and just as easily win a car show. At the top of the pack in qualifying was no stranger to that spot – Harry Gerb, who ran a 8.501 to earn the #1 qualifier spot. Right behind him was Zach Obert, leaving with the wheels high on each pass (and a brand new hood this time around), with an 8.504 pass. The entire top half of the field was impressive, running 8.54 or better. #3 through #8 were (in order) Mike Good, Brian Ferrari, Franky Santos, Luis Martinez, Al Fonse Jr (Fonse Performancfe), and Dan Purdy. Unfortunately for Mike Romeo, Mike Pyott, and Rob Poochigian, they were outside looking in and did not qualify for the 16 car field.
Mike Good, a seasoned racer who has been in the 8.50 Program at Cecil for a few seasons now, took his #3 qualifier spot and ran through Brent Beachley, Luis Martinez, Al Fonse Jr., and Dan Purdy to take home the win for the day. His race in the Semis against Al Fonse was exciting, both left almost at the same time and were fender to fender the entire way until Fonse gave Good the stripe. Dan Purdy, runner-up, also did well throughout the day, taking out Robb Puller, #1 Qualifier Harry Gerb, and Mike Doak.
It’s too close to call which class has tougher competition – 8.50 or 10.0 Index.. but if you ask us, it’s probably 10.0 Index at this point. In the 16 car qualified field, the top 10 ran 10.0x or better, which is quite an accomplishment. Mark Plucinski took the top honors, running a near perfect 10.001 pass (Mark Plucinski took the GDR Bonus Money home at the 2011 YellowBullet.com Nationals for best package of the weekend). Keith Reis Jr was right behind him in the #2 spot with a 10.009, followed by Steve Porter (10.019) and Carey Cable (10.022). Brian Grinnell took the wheel behind his father Lee’s Wagon and continues to do well, taking the #5 spot with a 10.045.
Plucinski, like Scott Bitzer in Outlaw Drag Radial, took his #1 spot and carried it all the way in to the winner’s circle. It wasn’t an easy ride, though, as Mark had to get through Giles Cannon, Mo Bolduc, Matt Jewell, and Michael Copenhaver to take the win. In the finals against Copenhaver, Plucinski went .008 to Copenhaver’s .017 reaction time, and both racers broke out with Plucinski closer to the 10.0 Index. Plucinski also put up a 10.003 pass against Mo Bolduc in the quarter finals. Copenhaver had a nice pass in round 1, a 10.020 with a .018 light against Rob Ward, as well as Carey Cable running a 10.014 in round 1.
11.50 Index, like the other Index classes, had half of the field qualified within 1 tenth of a second to the Index. Bringing up the #1 spot was Barb Lutz, running a great 11.504 pass. Right on her tail was Wayne Roatche, with an 11.509. Steve Gurnick took the #3 spot with an 11.521, while Dan Moore rounded out the top 4 with a 11.549. Keith Huffman, a frequent winner in this class, sat at the bottom of the field as his passes were too quick – but everyone would be looking out for him coming eliminations time.
Jim Schmidt, qualified in the number 5 position, put up some great numbers on his way to taking the runner-up spot in 11.50 Index. In the first round, Schmidt took a holeshot win with a 11.561 against Jackie Steinke’s 11.523. Round 2 brought Schmidt’s best pass of the day, an 11.506. He met Steve Gurnick, #3 qualifier, in the finals. Steve also had some nice runs so far, putting up 11.561 and 11.548 passes. In the finals, Jim Schmidt nailed the tree with a .001 light, but kept on going and broke out with an 11.466, to Steve Gurnick’s near perfect 11.506 elapsed time. Congratulations to Steve on the win.
Ultra Street is a fun new class to Cecil this year – similar to X275 but a much more affordable class for those looking to break the ice in the 275 Drag Radial world. Marc McCloud was at the top of the qualifying pack, his 5.243 @ 136mph good enough for the top qualifier honors. Todd Geisher took #2 with a 5.328, while Mike Barry went #3 with a 5.350 and Michael Gross #4 with a 5.478. Good to see Jeff Moyer and Jeff Kinsler crossing over from similar classes to complete in Ultra Street, Moyer taking the #5 spot and Kinsler #6 in his wheelstanding Pontiac.
Another class, another #1 qualifier turned winner – Marc McCloud’s #1 spot held up and he took home the win for the day in an exciting final against Mike Barry. Barry went .010 red, while McCloud also went red, but .005. Mike Barry had McCloud covered but the race was done before it even started. McCloud took the fastest pass of the day in Ultra Street during the semi-finals, a firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pro Street: Walt Miller (#25 Qualifier) over Steve Beaston (#1 Qualifier)
Super Street: Michael Copenhaver (#3 Qualifier) over Steve McMillian (#26 Qualifier)
Pro Dial: Tony Polletta (#7 Qualifier) over Peter Huff (#13 Qualifier)