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The latest update as of July 22, 2018

NHRA Heritage Series Funny Car race eliminations

We arrived at the track in the early afternoon since Funny Car eliminations weren't scheduled to begin until 5:00 pm. As we pulled in the gate, we noticed a distinct lull in the action as nothing, other than the safety/cleanup crew working on the top end, was happening. It's never a good sign to see them at work down on the top end, as it usually means serious carnage - thankfully only mechanical usually - of some sort.

This time it was the Nostalgia Top Fuel dragster of Victoria's Phil Ruskowksi who was on a very good pass until #1 cylinder went far too lean, burnt the exhaust valve, took the crown off the piston, and started eating the intake valve until the combustion process backed up into the blower manifold. Then BOOM! and $10K worth of Littlefield blower shattered, starting a pretty healthy fire that kept burning past the finish line.

Thankfully, Phil was unhurt, but the hard-working crew - who seemed to be constantly thrashing on the car since they arrived yesterday - went back to work once more. This time to do a post-mortem on the damaged parts, and in the end, start prepping for the next scheduled event - Boise and the Nightfire Nationals in three weeks time.

Just down the road in the Funny Car pits, Tim Nemeth had his qualifying damage repaired in the "Iceman" (it was down to the bare block late Friday night), and was ready to meet low qualifer Bobby Cottrell in his first round matchup. Not so good news came from the Rocky Mountain Funny Car group, as their five race cars was down to four. Despite their best efforts, the White Trash team, with Troy Sitko driving, was done for the weekend. Utilizing a somewhat unique Bruno-drive (a torque convertor replaces the standard pedal clutch) they found the convertor hub completely thrashed, seals that wouldn't seal, and no one in the pits had parts to lend them to effect repairs. As Troy said, "never have I worked so hard to accomplish so little" and that summed up that team's weekend.

With the Rocky Mountain gang down to four cars, and the Northwest funny cars sitting with nine entrants, it was decided to run both groups "Chicago-style". Each car runs twice - in random pairings - and the two quickest cars in their respective groups meet in the final round. In a departure from normal fashion, the Rocky Mountain group decided to make their 6.75 index a "loose" one - as the Northwest group does with their 6.70 index - allowing racers to go under the index, and giving the nod to the racers closest (over or under) to their respective indexes. Simple to understand, isn't it?

With the start of funny car eliminations imminent as 5:00 approached, the grandstands, which had remained very sparsely populated on Friday night, began to fill up as final track prep got underway. Following the anthems, the first pair of Nitro Funny Cars sprang to life and the main event began with a pair of ground-pounding, eardrum assaulting burnouts.

Nitro Nostalgia Funny Car Eliminations - Quarter-finals


In the first pairing, Shawn Bowen (left) in the Bartone & Lebor entry, took on Tim Boychuk in the "Happy Hour" car, shown leaving with the wheels up (right), and took the win with a very strong 5.77 - 249.16 over Boychuk's close, but losing, 5.84 - 242.45 effort. The round win kept Bowen in the championship lead by nine points.


In what was the closest race of the night, Mark Sanders in the "Mr. Explosive" Mustang, (left) lost a very close match with Dan Horan (right, far lane), 5.67 - 257.28 (Low E.T. and Top Speed of the Meet) to a great, but losing, 5.69 - 253.02 count for Sanders.


In the final pairing of the opening stanza, championship contender Bobby Cottrell (left) took on the local favourite Tim Nemeth in his popular "Iceman" entry (right) and pounded out a solid 5.71 - 256.11 win, over Nemeth's trailing - but best of the season - 5.83 - 243.83 effort.

Nitro Nostalgia Funny Car Eliminations - Semi-finals


Opening the second round, Shawn Bowen (left) was under pressure to get past Dan Horan (right) to advance to the final round, and maintain his slim points lead. He gave it his best shot, leaving first and cranking out his best e.t. of the weekend, with a very solid 5.75 - 247.46 to give Horan all he could handle. However, the "Patriot" entry was up to the challenge and held on for a very narrow (.0032 sec) win with an even better 5.73 - 249.16 clocking. It wasn't as quick or fast as his first round numbers, but enough for Horan to take the round win and keep himself in the championship hunt.


The only other car left in eliminations was that of Bobby Cottrell (above - left and right) in the "Bardahl Special" and he didn't take it easy on his bye run, putting down the low elapsed time of the event, a 5.67 at 254.38 mph to hold lane choice for his final round match against Dan Horan.

Nitro Nostalgia Funny Car Eliminations - Final


And then we were down to two, as the last pair standing: Cottrell and Horan, pulled into the burnout box a little after 9:30. With the sun long gone, and the lights on, everyone was waiting for the nitro flames to light up the night. With not much light to work with, and not enough flash to reach the far lane, we've only got shots of Bobby Cottrell burning out, and staging under the direction of car owner/crew chief Bucky "The Northwest Hitter" Austin prior to winning the final with a another great pass, 5.71 - 252.58 over a very worthy challenger, Dan Horan, who faded on the top end with a 5.97 - 207.37 clocking.