2009 Summit Racing Series Gets Underway at Auto Club Dragway


January 31st and February 1st marked the beginning of the 2009 Summit Racing Series for competitors at Auto Club Dragway at Auto Club Speedway.  Despite being Super Bowl weekend, 300 plus entries were on hand vying for increased purses and vital points toward the season championship and the E.T. Finals in September.

Great weather paved the way for some fierce and fast competition on Saturday as several national, divisional, and track champions from all over the division took to the track in what would be record fields for all four categories contested.  Several regular standouts in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series were also in attendance testing combinations for the Winternationals adding to the already tough fields that normally frequent the Dragway.

Taking the only win on Saturday was high school competitor Krystal Book.  Book, a former Jr. Drag Racing standout used a .003 reaction time and a 17.229 on her 17.14 dial to hold of Daniel Sweitzer in the only final round of the day.  Craig Hoefer was the lone semi-finalist.  Due to the huge car count, Saturday’s eliminations ran out of daylight and the final rounds of competition were moved to Sunday morning where former Auto Club Dragway track champion and Sportsman class expert C.W. Hoefer took the big win over an uncharacteristically late Don Lutz.  Hoefer used .031 light coupled with a .022 over 12.702 to hang on for the important first win of the season.  In Pro, it was 2008 Auto Club Dragway Super Pro Track Champion John Brooks besting the 108 car field.  Brooks, deciding to return to his non-electronics roots, used .024 to .03 reaction time advantage and a stellar 10.267 on his 10.25 dial-in to take the win over regular late round finisher Courtney Glover.  Semi finalists were Kevin Houmard and Robert Ratcliffe.  Super Pro honors went to multiple time winner Rhobert Strong in his awesome Chevelle.  Strong used a perfect reaction time and a 10.50 on his 10.46 dial-in to take down Joe Glenwinkel in his quick dragster.  Glenwinkel was no slouch on the tree with a .013 light but was no match for Strong's .000 performance.  Rick Gunther and Don Gatlin were the semi-finalists.  Word has apparently spread that the best motorcycle racers in the division race at Auto Club Dragway as a record field of 30 bikes came to take on the reigning Division 7 Champion John Gidcumb and the other tough riders that frequent the Fontana 1320.  This time it was regular race winner Gary Moreno taking his beautiful V-Rod Harley Davidson to winner’s circle over Gidcumb fouled out by-.003.  Tony Pellettera and Kenny Russell were semi-finalists.

Sunday saw slightly smaller car counts in all classes but the racing was just as tough.  At the conclusion of Saturday’s eliminations Sunday morning, the famous Fontana winds started blowing forcing track manager, Beth Rice, to shorten Sunday’s action to 1/8th mile.  Starting things off was the High School class where Daniel Sweitzer bested his runner-up performance from the day before with a final round win over Craig Hoefer who broke out by .009.  Patrick Fielder was the lone semi-finalist.  Earning the top spot in Sportsman was girlfriend of Saturday’s winner, Sacha Nettles.  Sacha was dominate on the tree all day and her .011 light in the final against reigning Auto Club Dragway Sportsman Track Champ John “The Mustache” Joines proved to be too much to overcome.  In a very close race, Sacha coupled her great reaction time with an .031 over her dial in to take the win over a .015 breakout for Joines.  Joy Linehan was the lone semi-finalist who tried to make it an all-female final round in Sportsman.  Pro honors went to crowd and racer favorite, “Captain” Jack Swanson who cam from behind to run right on his 7.64 dial-in for the win.  Mike Haddad had a slight reaction time advantage but couldn’t run his number by .052 sending the Captain to the winner’s circle once again.  Saturday winner John Brooks and Brad Cannon were the semi-finalists.  In the hotly-contested Super Pro final, Jay Shelton took the win over Bill Takanabe by .014 over his dial to overcome a slight starting line advantage in favor of Bill.  Takanabe was great on the tree with an .015 light but couldn’t run his 5.01 dial ending his day in the runner-up spot.  In Motorcycle, Tony Pellettera made his way through another large field using a tight .001 over his dial to take the win over the Division 7 Champion, John Gidcumb.  Gidcumb had the better reaction time but was no match for Tony’s tough finish line riding.

Auto Club Dragway will be dark for the month of February as NASCAR takes over the facility but the racing action will resume in early March with events nearly every weekend through September.  Come on out and join in the fun at the “Track of Champions,” Auto Club Dragway!

Written by John Joines


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