The annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals continues to move itself up the overall pecking order for what can be argued as the most impactful event of each NHRA drag racing season. The 2018 edition held in north central Ohio at the fabulous Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park continued that trend.
Once again, the event featured a massive entry list and participant Chevrolet-brand racers were well in the mix and in victory lane.
Super Stock produced a huge win for Pennsylvania’s John DiBartolomeo. John, who is also a highly respected and reputed drag racing industry photojournalist, set aside his camera and keyboard for a bit to jump back into his SS/BS ’86 Camaro. The move produced great dividends when his final round effort of 9.402 at 141.71 mph sent him back to “Wally World” for the sixth time in his racing career. John ambushed the field after qualifying number 46 of 59 cars entered.
Top Sportsman featured a highly competitive 32-car field, which was mastered by Kansas-based racer Dusty Meyer. Racing his ’05 Chevy S-10, Dusty scored for the second time this season when he held off opponent Mark McDonald in the final round with a winning 6.977 e.t. Dusty’s win comes on the heels of his first-ever career win, which he notched at the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals (at Topeka, Kansas) just last May.
Stock Eliminator racing at Norwalk was a ferocious affair with 65 cars entered. That program was paced by South Carolina’s Jim Marshall who qualified his I/SA ’77 Chevy Nova on the pole with a sensational run that was 1.148 seconds under his national index. However, the best Chevy brand finisher in Stock Eliminator was home state Ohio racer Dick Kincaid, who was runner-up with his super consistent E/SA ’67 Chevy II.
Professional racing at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals did produce a couple of season “hat tricks” for two prominent Chevrolet drivers: Tanner Gray and Rickie Smith.
Gray, a third-generation Gray family driver, took over the 2018 Pro Stock season points lead with a victory, his third of the year. Tanner used a brilliant 0.008 reaction time in the final round to defeat Erica Enders on a holeshot in yet another final round battle of Chevy Camaros: 6.615 to 6.608.
“Tricky” Rickie Smith prevailed over a very spirited E3 Spark Plugs Pro Modified class for his third win of the season. Driving the nitrous-assisted Bahrain 1 Racing ’18 Camaro, Rickie sped past the supercharged ’63 Corvette of Jeremy Ray in the final round winning with a 5.804 at 249.30 mph. Smith’s win came over an extremely quick field, which featured a bump spot of 5.866 seconds. That number is significant given that the Pro Mod racing program was set based on two qualifying sessions only due to persistent rainstorms, which hampered the event this week.
Photography by Bruce Biegler