[...] after his classleading third national event win at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, the only driver ahead of Demke in points is four-time defending national champion Bill Reichert. Demke, who before his victory at the season opener in Pomona hadn't won a national event in seven seasons driving his stepfather Jerry Maddern's Peen-Rite dragster, moved ahead of last year's second-ranked driver, Jim Whiteley, and into second place with his second straight national event victory.
TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER — 29th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Aug. 12-15, Brainerd Demke continues to defy odds with third win by Steve Waldron Chris Demke (left) won his class-leading third national event of the season with a final-round victory over Duane Shields (above). Demke made the quickest run of the W hen the season began, no one figured Chris Demke for a national championship contender, least of all himself. But after his class- weekend and needed it to catch his quicker-leaving opponent, 5.28 to 5.32. that go-as-fast-as-you- can mentality, but we’re learning. I think No. 1, setting low e.t. and top speed, and winning the race, I think we answered any questions that anybody may have had about the leading third national event win at we learned some Seattle victory.” the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, the things here that we’ll After qualifying No. 1 for the second straight only driver ahead of Demke in be able to apply to race and fourth time this season with a 5.36, points is four-time defending the divisional events. Demke made four quicker runs in eliminations, all national champion Bill Reichert. But time will tell. within four-hundredths of a second. He soloed to a “If you told me at the beginning We’ll just have to wait 5.32 in round one and ran a 5.30 at 271.24 mph of the year that I’d be in this and see.” (top speed) in round two, which would have position, I would have laughed at Coming off a beaten Mike Austin’s 5.41 even if Austin hadn’t you,” said Demke. “It’s just hard to bittersweet victory in red-lighted. Demke then advanced to his 11th believe that I’m a contender for a Seattle, marred by career national event final with a 5.31 to 5.34 national championship. There’s still the death of fellow victory over Marty Thacker. a lot of racing to go and a lot of competitor Mark “When the car runs quick like that, it’s really things can change, but I’m going to Niver, and a second- easy to drive,” said Demke. “It makes me look enjoy it while I can.” round loss at the Division 7 race in Sonoma, good, and it’s really not my doing. It’s Jerry Demke, who before his victory at the season Demke responded with a resounding win in Maddern and the crew — those are the guys who opener in Pomona hadn’t won a national event Brainerd. make the performance happen.” in seven seasons driving his stepfather Jerry “In Seattle, I won the race, but because I only Runner-up Duane Shields, a winner in Maddern’s Peen-Rite dragster, moved ahead of had to beat one guy, that victory was kind of Gainesville and Topeka, qualified his A/Fueler No. last year’s second-ranked driver, Jim Whiteley, called into question,” said Demke, who would 5 with a 5.40 and ran 5.35 and 5.29 in respective and into second place with his second straight have raced Niver in the final. “We came here and victories against Darren Nicholson and Scott national event victory. wanted to make a statement, and by qualifying Palmer before soloing to a 5.38 in the semi’s. “The team and I realize that we’re in contention for something big, and it’s time to start thinking strategically,” said Demke, who has never finished higher than seventh nationally. “We’re going to [the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil], and we’re looking around to see what else is available. I really need to go to some divisional races and pick up points, and that’s what we’re looking to do.” In contrast to his three wins in six national events, Demke has just one win and a runner-up in five divisional races. “Our tune-up just works better on good tracks, and when we go to a bad track, it’s really hard to back things down,” said Demke, a three- time Division 7 champion. “It just goes against
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