NHRA’s annual visit to super-scenic Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania once again featured some impressive winning performances by Chevrolet-branded racers.
In particular, racing within the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series was highlight-filled with Chevys winning multiple event titles, including Competition, Stock, Super Gas, and Top Alcohol Funny Car.
For the second consecutive year, it was a former Pro Stock racer that emerged as the winner in Competition Eliminator: New Jersey’s Tom Martino, who has five career NHRA Pro Stock class wins to his credit, continued his stint as driver of the impressive Voight Racing 2008 Chevy Cobalt. Martino guided that team’s show-quality H/Altered car past the field after he qualified Number One with a (-.674) sub index run. In the final round he defeated the Oldsmobile raced by Jay Schonberger, with a winning 8.652 at 147.13-mph timeslip.
Stock Eliminator featured a first-time national event winner when home state racer Shane Oakes prevailed racing his “Ruff n Ready” 1983 Camaro. Oakes ran right on his dial-in at 11.14 in the final to win the event title over Anthony Fetch’s 1969 Camaro AA/SA.
Oakes had qualified his G/SA Camaro in the second spot with a -1.020 sub index run. His Camaro was one of two Chevy team cars raced at Maple Grove, joining the 1966 Malibu J/SA campaigned by his father, Pete.
The event’s hard-fought Super Gas 9.90 index tournament went to wily veteran and former NHRA World Champion Ray Sawyer (from Acton, Massachusetts). Ray drove his always-formidable “Sudden Impact” 2002 Camaro past first-time NHRA national event finalist Dale Koncen in the championship round. Ray clocked a winning 9.932 while Koncen, racing a 1963 Corvette, had a red-light foul. For Sawyer, who was runner-up in Super Gas here last year – this was his sixth-career NHRA national event score.
The event featured another telling win in the Lucas Oil TAFC class category by the Steve Boggs-tuned Camaro owned by the Bartone Brothers, when their driver Sean Bellemeur (Placentia, California) prevailed at this race for the third-straight season. Bellemeur, who had won the marquee NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Indy just two weeks prior in the Hussey Performance car, was again a tower of power throughout the event, winning in dominant fashion with a steady string of 5.4-second elapsed times.
Bellemeur set both low e.t. and top speed (5.444, 270.10 mph) qualifying Number One and he defeated the Camaro driven by Phil Burkart Jr. in the final round.
NHRA’s Pro Stock class showcased and continued the absolute domination of Chevy Camaros as that amazing model’s undefeated season continued. This time it was Vincent Nobile (New York state) who scored when he won a rather titanic final round clash versus Drew Skillman’s Camaro (6.586 e.t. to 6.580 e.t.). The win was Vincent’s third of the 2018 season and the 13th of his career.
Nobile’s victory in the Mountain View Tires Chevy was also a great way for him to open up the now six-race playoff chase Countdown to the Championship for NHRA, as it vaulted him all the way up into Second place in points behind current leader Tanner Gray.
Photos by Bruce Biegler