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Winningest Sportsman drivers

24 Oct 2016
Candida Benson, Jr. Dragster Editor
Fast Five

In Reading, Peter Biondo drove to his 50th career win, outlasting the Stock field to claim the milestone win. Not only did it put Biondo in exclusive company as just the 17th driver to reach the 50-win mark, but it also moved him into the top five in wins in the Sportsman categories. Who else is among the top five in wins?

No. 1: Frank Manzo, 105 wins

Manzo won his first national event in 1980, taking the Pro Comp title at the SPORTSnationals in Bowling Green, Ky., and that opened the proverbial floodgates. Manzo was a dominant force in Top Alcohol Funny Car, winning 104 Wallys in that class to bring his total to 105. Manzo is one of only two drivers to notch more than 100 wins, joining NHRA leader John Force in the category. In addition to his 105 victories, Manzo, who earned the 105th Wally at the 2013 season finale in Pomona, also collected 16 national championships during his career.

No. 2: Dan Fletcher, 98 wins

One of the more versatile drivers in the sport, Fletcher has victories in six different categories: Comp, Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, and Super Street. Fletcher earned his first national event Wally in 1994 when he bested Greg Stanfield in the Super Stock final in Columbus, and he has steadily racked up at least one national event win in every season since then. This season, Fletcher has four wins under his belt, the most recent coming in Chicago. Fletcher is also a three-time national titlist, earning one in Comp and two in Super Stock.

No. 3: David Rampy, 91 wins

A powerhouse in Comp, the bulk of Rampy’s wins (73) have come in that class, but the likeable driver from Alabama also has wins in Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, and Super Gas. In fact, Rampy’s first win did not come in Comp but rather Super Stock, in which he first scored in 1983 at the Cajun Nationals in Baton Rouge, La. Rampy, who has four national championships — two in Comp and one each in Super Comp and Super Gas — earned his most recent win this season in Houston, where he outlasted Dick Maris for the Comp trophy.

No. 4: Pat Austin, 70 wins

Of Austin’s 75 career wins, 75 came in Top Alcohol Funny Car, giving him the No. 4 spot on the Sportsman all-time wins list. Austin, who is most known for his Top Fuel/Top Alcohol Funny Car double at the 1991 Topeka event that made him the first driver in history to win two Wallys at one national, picked up the first of his 70 Top Alcohol Funny Car victories at the 1986 Cajun Nationals, at which he bested Dal Denton in the final. Austin’s final win came in 2002 when he defeated his uncle, Bucky, at the season opener in Pomona. Austin is also a four-time Top Alcohol Funny Car national champ.

No. 5 (tie): Peter Biondo, 50 wins

Biondo’s 50 wins are spread across six different categories: Comp, Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, and Super Street. The majority of the wins have come in Super Stock (26) and Stock (17), though his first was behind the wheel of a Super Comp dragster and came at the biggest race on the schedule. Biondo broke through for that first win at the 1993 U.S. Nationals, where he topped Nathan Martin for his first Wally. After winning Super Stock at the Charlotte event two weeks earlier, Biondo picked up win No. 50 in Reading, where he defeated Michael Iacono in the Stock final. Biondo’s résumé also includes seven national titles, five in Super Stock and one each in Stock and Super Gas.

No. 5 (tie): Bob Newberry, 50 wins

Rounding out the list is two-time Top Alcohol Funny Car national champion Newberry, who collected 50 national event Wallys in his career. Newberry first won in Montreal in 1979, beating Dan Parker for top honors in Comp. After five more wins in that class, Newberry shifted his focus to Top Alcohol Funny Car, winning 44 times in that category. Newberry’s 50th came in 2007 when he outlasted Steve Harker for the trophy in Topeka.