Dan Fletcher's preseason declaration that he would not attempt to defend his 2008 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Comp national title has apparently softened after claiming his third national event title of the season with Rick Braun's C/EA Chevy Cobalt. Following a win over Scott Hedlund in the final, it appears more and more likely that the Sportsman ace will amend his 2009 schedule to include more NHRA Lucas Oil events, and based on his early season success, he is already one of the favorites to win the championship.
COMP — 10th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, April 2-5, Las Vegas Fletcher likely to pursue championship after third win by Kevin McKenna Reigning NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series champ Dan Fletcher (right) took a significant step towards another D an Fletcher’s preseason declaration that he would not attempt to defend his 2008 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Comp national title championship after driving Rick Braun’s C/EA Cobalt (above), near lane, to a final-round victory against Scott Hedlund. Fletcher has now won three of the first four has apparently softened after claiming his third national events that he has attended this season. national event title of the season with Rick Braun’s C/EA Chevy Cobalt. Following a win over Scott hard for his latest victory, especially after taking an Hedlund in the final, it appears more and more eight-hundredths Competition Index Control (CIC) hit likely that the Sportsman ace will amend his 2009 during his round-two win over veteran Ed Sigmon’s schedule to include more NHRA Lucas Oil events, C/Street Roadster. Following another close race against and based on his early season success, he is already former Indy champ Doug Lambeck, Fletcher got a free one of the favorites to win the championship. pass into the final, where he was paired with one of “I guess I look at the championship a bit differently the quickest cars in the field, Hedlund’s A/SM Cobalt. than most people do,” said Fletcher. “My ego doesn’t Fletcher got the jump in the final by five- need to be stroked, and I don’t have this big craving hundredths and needed almost all of it after for attention. I race for a living, so all I want is to have Hedlund, who was already down a tenth due to CIC my credit card paid in full and earn one dollar more penalties, bettered his qualifying time with a 7.89 on than I spend each month. That being said, I think that his adjusted 8.46 index. Fletcher posted an 8.17 on with three wins in the bank, it would be incumbent his 8.70 index to continue his hot streak. upon me to try to put together a plan that would allow “We had some delays on Friday and didn’t get all me to run a few more [Lucas events] than I had origi- of our runs,” said Fletcher. “On top of that, we were nally planned. At this point, obviously, if I just attend a testing a new converter, so I basically rolled into just a few [divisional events], I should be able to get a eliminations with just one good run under my belt. top 10 finish at the very least.” That being said, the car was good, and I managed to Unlike his previous wins in Pomona and Phoenix, do a decent job of driving. When I first looked at my a .10-second CIC penalty that likely prevented him where a rash of red-lights allowed him to maintain a side of the ladder, I wasn’t sure what to expect from beating Fletcher in the final. clean index until the late rounds, Fletcher had to work because there were a lot of fast cars, but as it all unfolded, things worked in my favor.” Fast facts: Peter Adams took a wild ride during the opening round of eliminations when he spun his About the winning car The key race: Fletcher had already lost .08-second C/Altered GXP near the finish line. Adams somehow D an Fletcher’s Rick Braun-owned Cobalt is powered in CIC penalties before his quarterfinal race against managed to avoid making contact with anything, by a 315-cid small-block built by Joe Wheeler and Lambeck’s D/SMA Pontiac, yet he managed to win including opponent Justin Lamb. … DePalma Panella Racing Engines’ Bob Panella Jr. with a Pro the round with a (-.52) 8.19. “Doug cut a good light qualified in the top spot with a (-.689) 8.171 in his Trans transmission. K&N Filters, Mickey Thompson and made a nice run,” said Fletcher. “At the same I/Altered Firebird. … Six of the 11 first-round races Tires, Jegs Mail Order, Schnieder Performance, time, my car spun the tires a little bit, and I thought were decided by red-lights. … Surprisingly, the 22-car Slawko Racing Heads, CP Pistons, GRP Rods, and I was screwed. I took an extra hundredth there [in field included just four dragsters. Sparco provided additional components. CIC penalty] but consider myself very lucky to have Fletcher thanked his wife, Donna; his kids, Thomas, won the round.” Did you know: Five of Fletcher’s 58 career wins Timothy, and Taylor; car owner Braun and the staff of have come in Comp. He has also won in Super R&B Auto Center; crew chief Ricky Barnthouse; Bernie The runner-up: Hedlund, of Anaheim, Calif., Stock, Stock, and Super Gas. Cunningham; Steve Belletto; Bob Elliott; Dave recently debuted his A/SM ’09 Cobalt and had to be Bridgewater; John Pops; and Arnie Martel Racing. impressed by its performance: He qualified No. 3 Quotable: “This race was tough because all but Fletcher also dedicated the win to Division 3 with a 7.90 and reached his first national event final one person had a green light against me, and I had photographer Bob Hesser, who passed away shortly with wins against Dale Giroux, Dean Carter, Adam to race against a bunch of fast cars. In some ways, after the event. Bowdish, and low qualifier Mike DePalma. Hedlund’s I think this was the toughest race I’ve had in win over Bowdish was expensive because he suffered Comp.” — Dan Fletcher ND 32 ✦ National DRAGSTER Comp Qualifying (Top 16 of 22 first-round winners) 1. Mike DePalma, Glendale, Ariz. (I/A ’98 Firebird) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.171 (-0.689) 2. John Edwards, Claremont, Calif. (C/AA ’99 Neon) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.450 (-0.680) 3. Scott Hedlund, Anaheim, Calif. (A/SM ’09 Cobalt) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.900 (-0.660) 4. Lou Ficco, Wheat Ridge, Colo. (B/AP ’09 GXP) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.386 (-0.634) 5. Dan Fletcher, Churchville, N.Y. (C/EA ’09 Cobalt) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.172 (-0.618) 6. Adam Bowdish, Oregon City, Ore. (H/SM ’89 Trans Am) . . . . . . . . . 9.125 (-0.605) 7. Ross Wilson, Upland, Calif. (C/SMA ’05 Sunfire) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.378 (-0.602) 8. Dean Carter, G
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