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The latest update as of November 11, 2010

"The 2010 Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona"

3:00 PM Update

Until I post this update, I'm not sure if there's enough room in most people's browsers to display the entire title of the final event on NHRA's calendar. And when did the Pomona Fairplex become another Auto Club Raceway? Where was I? Not paying attention, as usual, I guess. Be that as it may, the race is underway at Pomona and today's first qualifying session results have come in for Competition Eliminator, and Top Alcohol Funny Car and Dragster.

In Comp, the Canadian cars didn't have too much impact, as only two (both from the lower mainland of BC) are in attendance among the 35 entrants: Bob Marshall from Langley with his B/AA and Delta's Terry Spargo in his B/A. Marshall laid down his first six-second pass in quite a while, possibly ever (?) to take the 18th spot in the 32-car field. Spargo slotted in near the bottom of the pack with a strong 6.69 at 209 mph, but it was "only" .048 second under his index, and to be a real player in this category, a racer's got to be able to run at least six-tenths under the index.

With one more qualifying session on tap later today, and a third, and final, session scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, both Marshall and Spargo have got to be looking for better (elapsed) times ahead or their weekend(s) could be over early on Saturday. But with the top half of the field all in at .060 under already, they've got quite an uphill battle to move into contention for a late round finish at this event.

Turning to Top Alcohol, the Funny Cars came out first and it became clear very quickly that 5.60 e.t.'s were going to be seen in abundance. Of the first 17 cars down the track, eight of them entered that zone, until Sean O'Bannon and Tony Bartone moved the bar that much higher with side-by-side 5.50's. Following them were the final pair of the first qualifying session, Jay Payne and Mickey Ferro, and Ferro one-upped the entire field with a very quick 5.489 at nearly 260 mph to easily take the top spot after the first of three sessions.

Nearly lost in the aura surrounding Ferro's 5.40 pass, was Bartone's career-best speed of 264 mph. It was quite an impressive run, but not even Top Ten material with Frank Manzo holding all the cards in that game. The lone Canuck entry in the field, Red Deer, Alberta's Ken Webster in the Wally Protz car, laid down another in a seemingly endless string of low 5.70 passes, carding a 5.72 at 252 mph to slot not too comfortably into the #13 spot on the board.

In Top Alcohol Dragster, the Canadian contingent comprised three out of the 21 entrants, and in a very surprising, and very welcome turnaround, young Ms. Bart laid down one of her best passes of the season to open the Gilmour Motorsports team's weekend, a solid 5.47 at 253 mph in the opening session. She went side-by-side with fellow Albertan, Don St. Arnaud's A/Fueler which ran a decent 5.60 at 255 mph, only to see it wiped off the ledger in a post-race decision. Probably fuel check, but that's just a guess at this point.

The other Canadian dragster, Delta's Shawn Cowie, picked up the pace from his great, but not outstanding performances at Las Vegas, and laid down a very strong 5.307 at 268.54 mph to take the #3 spot in the field. Of note is that he only trails Chase Copeland's A/FD and Jim Whiteley's B/AD. Following Cowie on the ladder, so far, are Chris Demke and Bill Reichert, among many others. This could be a very interesting weekend for all these hard-working alky and nitro racers, and with the pressure off the Cowie team, they could throw some interesting roadblocks in the way of the championship contenders.

With the pro cars assembling in the staging lanes, and the Pro Stock Bike and Car crowds having completed their first sessions, the fuel cars are getting ready to rumble for their last weekend of 2010. We'll be back with more results from this great race later, maybe even as late as tomorrow, but stay tuned for all the news behind the numbers from Pomona.

To see previous updates go to the What's Old page