Fletcher wins again, extends round-win streak to 29 by ProQuest


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									                             COMP — 25th annual Lucas Oil Slick Mist NHRA Nationals, Feb. 20-22, Phoenix
                             Fletcher wins again, extends round-win streak to 29

by Phil Burgess                                                                                                   (Left Dan Fletcher, center, car owner Rick Braun, left, and
                                                                                                                  Ricky Barnthouse scored their second straight national

G    ood racers are hard to beat when things go
     right for them, and great racers are all but
unstoppable no matter what happens, but when one
                                                                                                                  event win of the season and an unprecedented fourth in
                                                                                                                  a row dating back to last season after Lou Ficco Jr. red-
                                                                                                                  lighted in the final (above). The foul was fortunate for
of drag racing’s winningest drivers does his magical                                                              Fletcher and his team because their C/EA Cobalt broke a
thing and gets win lights handed to him in an almost                                                              valve spring on the run.
nonstop procession, you get the kind of year that
Dan Fletcher and car owner Rick Braun are having.                                                                 point, and the race is going to be won at the Tree. I
   For the second straight event, Fletcher, the                                                                   can’t explain it. I didn’t mean to stand here and say,
reigning NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Comp                                                                   ‘Aw shucks,’ but that’s just been the way it is. A lot
national champ, who began his title defense with a                                                                of things are going our way, and I’m sure the ride is
victory at the season-opening Kragen O’Reilly NHRA                                                                going to end soon and we won’t be able to hit our
Winternationals, rode a bye run and red-lights by                                                                 ass with a board, but for right now it’s all going
three of his four opponents right into the winner’s                                                               really well.”
circle. Counting his back-to-back wins at last year’s                                                                After announcing earlier this year that they would
final two national events in Las Vegas and Pomona       red with a .030 foul, and Fletcher’s engine broke a       not travel far and wide to pursue a title defense,
and the Division 7 event in Vegas, Fletcher now has     valve spring.                                             given their early success, Braun and Fletcher are
an impressive 29-round winning streak to his credit.       “If he turns it green, I’m done,” Fletcher             now in a bit a of a quandary.
   “I can’t ever remember when I’ve had a run like      admitted. “When I shut it off, I didn’t know he had          “It’s definitely making us go, ‘Hmmmmmm …’ I
this; we’ve been pretty fortunate,” said a typically    red-lighted. I don’t look at the scoreboard until I hit   know that it’s still not a financially wise thing to do,
humble Fletcher. “But when you’ve got a .60-under       high gear, and it broke before then.”                     but if I get another win, we’ve probably got a
car and a driver who’s going to generally be .030 or       Fletcher had ridden a first-round bye and then got     problem,” said Fletcher. “I don’t want to start
better on the Tree, it probably does exert a little     two key wins against Mike DePalma Jr. and Brian           forgoing better financial opportunities to go chase
pressure on the guy in the other lane, but it’s still   Browell in the middle frames (see The key race,           points. It’s certainly a good problem to have,
been crazy to watch. In any class, it’s generally not   right) before facing off with Doug Lambeck in the         though.”
what you do, it’s what your opponent does. We have      semifinals for a race that was a rematch of their
a pretty good car, and I can drive a little bit on      Winternationals final, but Lambeck also turned on         The key race: “It was actually two of them that
occasion, and we’ve always got a good chance, but       the red-light.                                            worked into one another,” said Fletcher. “I had [No. 2
when your opponents keep stubbing their toes, it           “Lambeck is a good driver and was driving well,
certainly helps you.”                                   and I certainly wasn’t expecting one out of him,”
   The final round, against former national event       added Fletcher. “We were both .50-under cars at that
                                                                                                                   About the winning car
winner Lou Ficco Jr.,                                                                                              T he Chevy Cobalt that Dan Fletcher drives in Comp is
was just another                                                                                                   owned by Rick Braun and was built by Don Ness Race
example of Fletchburg                                                                                              Cars. In its current configuration as a C/Econo
Inc. living life right.                                                                                            Altered, the car is powered by a 315-cid small-block
Ficco turned the Tree                                                                                              that was built by Panella Racing Engines’ Joe Wheeler
                                                                                                                   and Bob Panella Jr. Additional support comes from
  A semifinal rematch of                                                                                           K&N Filters, Mickey Thompson, Jegs Mail Order,
      Doug Lambeck and                                                                                             Schnieder Performance, CP Pistons, Pro Trans, GRP
                Fletcher’s                                                                                         Rods, and Sparco.
    Winternationals final                                                                                              In addition to his wife, Donna, and children
  round went to Fletcher                                                                                           Thomas, Timothy, and Taylor, Fletcher thanked Rick
    again, this time on a                                                                                          Braun and the R&B Auto Center crew, Ricky
    red-light start by the                                                                                         Barnthouse, Bernie Cunningham, Steve Belletto, Bob
 two-time U.S. Nationals                                                                                           Elliott, Dave Bridgewater, and Arnie Martel Racing.
     Super Stock winner.
54 ✦ National DRAGSTER
                                                                                                                                              Comp Qualifying
                                                                                                                                                         (Top 16 of 31 first-round winners)
                                                                                                                           1. Todd Patterson, Augusta, Kan. (E/A ’08 Cobalt) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                                    7.649 (-0.711)
                                                                                                                           2. Mike DePalma, Glendale, Ariz. (I/A ’98 Firebird) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                                    8.072 (-0.698)
                                                                                                                           3. Clint Neff, Arvada, Colo. (K/A ’23-T Ford). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                               7.859 (-0.691)
                                                                                                                           4. Scott Hedlund, Anaheim, Calif. (A/SM ’09 Cobalt) . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                                      7.776 (-0.634)
                                                                                                                           5. Tom Mettler, Bakersfield, Calif. (PST ’01 Dakota) . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                                     7.381 (-0.629)
                                                                                                                           6. Jim Cowan, Dewey, Ariz. (I/AA ’08 Cobalt). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                                  8.162 (-0.628)
                                                                                                                           7. John Edwards, Claremont, Calif. (C/AA ’99 Neon) . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                                       7.366 (-0.624)
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