Fletcher likely to pursue championship after third win by ProQuest


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									                              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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