TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER — 40th annual United Association NHRA SuperNationals, June 11-14, Englishtown
Sans final, Finke wins in bizarre finish
In an unusual turn of events, John Finke was declared the event winner after his semifinal victory over No. 1 qualifier Brittany Force. Finke, near lane, slowed to a 5.44
but won easily when Force dropped a cylinder. Scheduled final-round opponent Mike Kosky had already informed officials he could not compete.
by Steve Waldron starting line to determine the event champion. Finke kicked off his 2009 campaign with a win at
Force’s car launched first but dropped a cylinder the divisional event in Bradenton, Fla., but struggled
I n the five-plus years that he has been competing
in NHRA’s Top Alcohol Dragster category, John
Finke has won has share of races, but never had he
almost immediately, enabling Finke to pull away for
an easy win despite his worst run of the weekend,
5.44 to 5.56.
mightily at his next three races, losing in round one
at the Gainesville divisional and national events and
failing to qualify in Houston.
won one like this. “Brittany’s car had run excellent all weekend,” “We were lucky in Bradenton,” he said. “The
Before Finke’s semifinal victory over No. 1 said Finke. “It had been deadly consistent, and she combination we picked for the 94 percent worked
qualifier Brittany Force, Mike Kosky informed race had just run a 5.32, so we knew that was going to be well on that track, but we shook badly at each of the
officials that he would not be able to come back for a tough one. We fell off and were definitely there for next three. As it turned out, we were chasing the
the final after slaughtering his engine and nearly the taking, but she fell off more.” tune-up in the wrong direction, and we had to stop
crossing the centerline in an uncontested semifinal Finke, who qualified his Wirtgen America/Bobcat- and go back to square one. We began to figure out
win over Bill Evans. Because of time constraints, sponsored dragster in the No. 5 spot with a 5.39 at what our problem was in Richmond, and the car’s
race officials decided there would be no final and 272.28 mph (top speed), ran 5.34 and 5.30 (low e.t.) in run pretty well at last three races. Hopefully, it stays
declared Finke the winner. victories over Ken Winward and former national on track.”
“When I saw Kosky oil the track, I told Grant champion Arthur Gallant, respectively. Kosky qualified After a semifinal finish at the Richmond
[Stoms], my crew chief, that this could very well end his blown alcohol dragster No. 3 with a 5.34 and beat divisional, Finke runner-upped at the Reading
up being the final,” said Finke. “We knew we were defending event champion Diana Harker, Richard divisional and ran well in Chicago, where he
going to be down for a while and that the curfew Bourke, and Evans, who broke before staging. qualified No. 2. Following his win here, Finke leads
was going to enter into it, so we thought that “We thought we would run better,” said Finke, the Division 1 points standings and is tied for fifth
something like that might happen. When Graham whose victory was his third in national event nationally.
[Light, NHRA senior vice president-racing competition. “In the past we’ve run excellent at this “The goal this year is to finish in the top five
operations] told us what they were going to do, it track, but things are different this year with the 94 nationally, and we’d love to win Division 1 again, but
was kind of a relief because win, lose, or draw it was percent [maximum nitro content]. We’ve found the the ultimate goal is to have fun,” said Finke, who
going to be over right then.” car to be a little more finicky. The tuning window is won the Division 1 title in 2007 and has finished
After a nearly 30-minute cleanup, Finke and narrower, but it was warm, and, considering the seventh nationally twice, in 2006 and 2008. “We try
Force finally pulled their A/Fuel Dragsters to the temperature, we were happy with the results.” to keep that in mind even on the bad weekends.
Finke (above left), who set top speed in qualifying at 272.28 mph, set low e.t. with a 5.30 in is second-round victory over former national event champ Arthur Gallant.
32 ✦ National DRAGSTER
When we stop having fun, we’ll stop doing it. But I Runner-up Kosky
don’t see that happening.” barely overcame