TOP SPORTSMAN – Chad Pekrul cruised through the Top Sportsman rounds at the U.S. Nationals on Sunday, Sept. 8 until he reached the one that counted the most – the final. His aspirations to win the biggest race of his career were deflated by a .005 red light.
The foul made Dusty Meyer of Division 5 in his 2010 Chevy S-10 truck the Indy champion for the first time and a national-event winner for the third time. After qualifying No. 28 with a 6.779 at 203.46, he defeated Billy Thoman of D3 in the first round and then won over David Tatum III of D2, Jeff Brooks of D1, and Darian Boesch of D4 before the final.
Pekrul, who lives in Eagle, Wis., raced for the third time this season at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. He competed at the special national event in early July, which was run under a national-open format for T/S and T/D, and the LODRS race in early August, which was run in conjunction with another special national event.
Pekrul, driving a 1968 Camaro, qualified No. 15 with a 6.615 at 206.80. He received a freebie in round one when Glenn Wright of D4 fouled by .007 in his 2012 Camaro. Kyle Firestone, another D4 competitor, also fouled against Pekrul in round two, going red by .012.
In round three, Pekrul held a .018 to .057 advantage at the hit over 2019 Indy runner-up Badeye Brinegar of D3 in his 2003 Mustang and was better at the stripe for the win. Pekrul’s Camaro ran 6.651 at 204.51 on a 6.63 dial to the 6.585 at 210.47 of Brinegar on a 6.55 dial.
Against D3 racer Glenn Butcher and his 1969 Camaro in the semifinals, Pekrul was behind off the line with a .039 to Butcher’s .027, but Pekrul was only .006 over his 6.62 dial at 205.72. Butcher’s time slip read .038 over his 6.45 at 212.86. In the first three rounds, Butcher trailered Bob Mandell Jr. and Tommy Turner, both of D3, before outrunning Allen Firestone of D4 who is second national points.
Lester Johnson of D3 qualified No.1 in his ’55 Chevy at 6.176 at 237.96. Kynon Dinkel of D3 placed third with his 6.288 at 223.10. Eric Burnett was sixth, Bob Mandell III seventh, and Butcher ninth.
Other D3 racers in the field were Mark McDonald, Steve Brinegar, Jon Steldt, Curt Fredrich, Jerry Albert, and Jonathan Smiddy. Steve Lehmann did not qualify.