Dan Northrop accomplished a feat even more rare than a national event double when he won his third straight NHRA Summernationals Super Gas Wally. Northrop, the 2000 national champion, wasn’t the only former champ to score an NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series victory in Englishtown. Frank Aragona Jr. won in Comp, and seven-time champ Peter Biondo scored in Stock, winning his 52nd career title. Other winners from the event were Timothy Fletcher (Super Stock), Kevin Robb (Super Comp), and Jeff Brooks (Top Sportsman presented by Racing RVs).
Northrop headed into the Summernationals riding a 12-round unbeaten streak in Englishtown. He extended that to 17 rounds before taking on red-hot John Labbous Jr. in a rematch of last year’s Super Gas final. Labbous, the runaway points leader in Super Gas and a winner a week earlier in Epping, was slightly quicker off the starting line, but Northrop held him off for a 9.921 to 9.927 victory in his ISC Racer’s Tape Vega. Despite a 20-mph speed differential, Northrop was able to take the stripe by just .009-second. All told, Northrop has four wins at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park and a runner-up finish thrown in for good measure. [Watch video]
For Labbous, the news wasn’t all bad. With 648 points following the Englishtown event, he has a great shot to win the 2017 Super Gas championship. The current points leader in both Super Comp and Super Gas, Labbous isn’t done collecting points, either; he can still improve his total in both classes.
Last winter, former Comp champ Aragona made a deal with team owner Charlie Greco and bought the E/DA dragster with which Doug Doll Jr. drove to the 2016 Comp championship. The purchase immediately paid dividends for Aragona, who won his eighth career national event and first Comp title since 2013 when he defeated Pete Hanratty’s A/DA in the final. Aragona lost .11-second to Competition Index Control penalties before the final round but needn’t have worried because Hanratty, who was down .09-second in CIC penalties, red-lighted. For Aragona, the win was extra special because he lives in Freehold, N.J., just minutes away from Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, and he had never won his home event. [Watch video]
Second-generation racer Fletcher drove to his second national event win when he claimed the Super Stock title over Herbie Null. Fletcher was almost unstoppable in the final with a .009 light and a 10.165 on his 10.15 dial against Null’s .027-over 9.997. Fletcher’s first win came in Stock, and this one came behind the wheel of a family heirloom: the ’69 Camaro that his late grandfather, Tom, bought new in 1969. That car has carried his father, Dan, to the lion’s share of his 99-career wins, and it is recognized as the winningest race car in NHRA’s 66-year history. [Watch video]
The incomparable Biondo, who made his first trip down the Old Bridge Township Raceway Park dragstrip on a big wheel when he was a young child, picked up career win No. 52 when he drove his ’69 Camaro past fellow Englishtown regular Russ Linke in the final round of Stock. Biondo won with a 10.372 on his 10.37 dial after Linke broke out by three-hundredths. Biondo’s path to the final featured several tough opponents, including fellow national champ Lee Zane, Ed Bednaz, and Joe Lisa. The seven-time national champion has now won his home event five times since 2002. [Watch video]
After winning the 1993 Englishtown event in Super Gas and the Comp class in Reading in 1997, Robb returned to the winner’s circle by winning Super Comp in Englishtown. Robb made it to the final round, where he squared off against Shawn Fricke. Robb won on a holeshot, 8.920 to 8.911, after taking a .027 to .054 lead at the Tree. In the quarterfinals, Robb stopped recent Epping winner Rich Dorr, and he also trailered low qualifier Steve Martel. [Watch video]
Northrop wasn’t the only driver to repeat last year’s Englishtown victory. Brooks also made a return appearance to the Old Bridge Township Raceway Park winner’s circle after wheeling his unique six-second ’51 Henry J to the win in Top Sportsman presented by Racing RVs. Brooks was solid at both ends of the track, including a .05-over 6.840 in the final against Ronald Riegel, who slowed to a 7.236 from his 7.07 dial. In addition to his back-to-back Englishtown wins in Top Sportsman, Brooks has three runner-up finishes in Super Comp and Super Gas to his credit. [Watch video]