TOP DRAGSTER and TOP SPORTSMAN – Rikki Molnar was the best of the Top Dragster and Top Sportsman racers from Division 3 who raced at the PDRA Mid-Atlantic Showdown on July 24-25 at Virginia Motorsports Park. The event was sponsored by Pro Line Racing and presented by Line-X.
Molnar, of Seville, Ohio, won her first PDRA race while competing in the T/D 32 category sponsored by Lucas Oil. She was driving a dragster built by American Race Cars and powered by a 632-inch Chevy engine.
In the final Molnar defeated Jack Trussell of Virginia in a 2006 M&M dragster, also with a 632. She took a .020-.043 reaction-time advantage and turned it into a win by running 4.486 on a 4.46 dial while Trussell was 4.492 on a 4.48.
Molnar qualified No. 16 in the 32-car field at 4.479 at 153.91. Forty racers made attempts, with Josh Duggins of South Carolina claiming the top spot at 4.163 at 167.22. Other D3 racers in the field were Tom Reese in the 10th spot with a 4.413 and Gavin Stanley as No. 26 at 4.604. They were eliminated in rounds one and two, respectively.
After a first-round win, Molnar continued with another one on a .002 red light by Aaron Roberts of Tennessee. She hit a perfect light in the third round and put up a .003 over 4.463 to dominate Virginian Kendall Payne’s .014 light and 4.683 on a 4.64 dial.
Another foul, this time by Blake Denton of North Carolina, occurred in the semifinals. Denton missed by .005, while Molnar was .011 and ran a 4.471 on her 4.45 dial. Denton was just .001 over his 4.53.
Stanley Races to the Semis But Loses to Event Winner Benoit
Cheyenne Stanley, of Cynthiana, Ky., won the first PDRA race of the season in T/S Elite in his 2007 Mustang, and he appeared in the semifinals at Virginia. In that round he met eventual event champion John Benoit.
Stanley had a .031 light, and Benoit of Vermont was not far behind at .038, but Stanley’s ‘stang ran a 4.103, well off his 3.97 dial. Benoit was the victor by hitting a 3.890 on his 3.85 dial. A week earlier Benoit won the Jeg’s Sportsnationals in his 2015 Corvette, but at Virginia he was driving his 2017 Camaro.
Had Stanley duplicated his round-two ET of 4.009 on a 4.00 dial, he would have had a shot at his second season win. In that round he cut a .031 light, but his ET saved him by .003 when opponent Henry Underwood of Virginia cut a .011 and ran 3.952 on his 3.92 dial.
Bruce Thrift had trouble against Stanley in round one and slowed to a 5.913 on his 4.03, enabling Stanley to back off to a 4.221 on his 4.03 dial. They only were off by .004 in the difference between their lights.
Tim Molnar was the only other D3 racer in the field, clocking 3.967 at 188.70 for ninth in his 1968 Camaro. He went red by .001 in the first round against Benoit.
Keller at Top of T/D Elite Qualifying and Advances to Semis
In Top Dragster Elite, Bryan Keller of Macedonia, Ohio, put his 2012 Spitzer on the pole with 3.763 at 199.02. Also in the field were three other Ohio racers: Kathy Fisher of Lima at No. 9, Nick Hamilton of Dresden at No. 10, and Brian McHattie of Youngstown at No. 13.
Keller faced Fisher in the first round. The race was over at the line when Fisher went .020 red. Keller made a statement by leaving with a .025 light and running .007 over his 3.79 dial. In the same round Hamilton went red by .004 against No. 2 qualifier Mike White.
McHattie also fouled against Keller in the second round by leaving at -.016. Keller was .026 on the tree and .022 over his 3.75 dial.
Keller’s streak ended in the semis against eventual event winner Steve Furr. Keller’s light was .012, and his dragster turned a 3.801 on a 3.75 dial. Furr won with a .010 light and 3.937 on a 3.90 dial.
In the final Furr raced Kellan Farmer. Furr won on Farmer’s .032 foul.
Five racers from D3 states were in the T/S 32 field – Don Klooster of Michigan, Aaron Glaser of Kentucky, and from Ohio were Brian Werner, Chris Nyerges, and Ron Biondo. Don Swindell of Ohio did not make the show.
Only Biondo advanced to round two. He and David Weedon of Virginia had .031 lights, but Biondo was .20 over his 4.35 dial to lose to Weedon’s .007 over his 4.58 dial.
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