The second year of NHRA’s return to Virginia Motorsports Part was a boon for first-time winners with new champions crowned in Stock, Super Comp, and Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs.com. Wallace Dent Jr. (Stock), Chris Garrettson (Super Comp), and Chad Traylor (Top Dragster) each collected their first national event Wallys in Richmond while Super Stock winner Joe Santangelo broke a three-year winless drought and Super Gas champ Tom Goldman collected his first win since 2013.
Coming off a runner-up finish in Charlotte last month, Joe Santangelo finally claimed national event No. 15 when he defeated Steve Comella’s Hemi Dart in the Super Stock final round. Santangelo, the 2011 Stock national champ, left first and drove to a 10.250 on his 10.21 dial for the win after Comella broke out by a hundredth of a second. The win was Santangelo’s first since claiming back-to-back victories in Epping and Norwalk in 2016. Santangelo just missed a rare double in Richmond after driving Anthony Bertozzi’s wheelstanding ’69 Camaro to the semifinals in Stock. [video]
A first-time winner was crowned in Stock when Wallace Dent Jr. crossed the finish line ahead of Joe Lisa in the final round. Dent, wheeling his C/SA Camaro, began his season at the Division 2 Lucas Oil Series event in Gainesville in March and hadn’t run another NHRA event until Richmond. He quickly made up for lost time with a strong performance that included wins against Phil Lankford, Raymond Skipper, Jeff Longhany, and Super Stock champ Santangelo, who came up just two rounds short of a double. Dent’s most impressive performance came in round three where he used a .009 light to help get past Longhany. In the final, Dent gave up a slight lead at the start against Lisa’s E/SA Camaro but managed to inch ahead at the finish line to win by .002-second. [video]
Following a season where he finished No. 6 in the national standings in Super Comp, Chris Garrettson achieved another milestone in his career by winning his first national event title. Garrettson races in an unconventional manner by running the 8.90 index at a deceptively slow speed. While many of his competitors are topping 175-mph, Garrettson’s dragster typically hovers in the low 130-mph range, making it difficult to judge at the finish line. His strategy worked to perfection in Richmond where he stopped Colby Fuller in the final, 8.905 to 8.914. Garrettson’s top speed was just 133 while Fuller chased him at 175. Throughout eliminations, Fuller never ran faster than 134-mph in his wins against national champ John Labbous, Randy Midgett, past Gatornationals winner Frank Altilio, Daniel Bisbano, and Jacob Otto. In order for Garrettson’s strategy to work, he must be sharp on the Tree, and he was with a string of consistent lights between .019 and .025. [video]
Super Gas champ Tom Goldman’s second-career victory evoked memories of Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., where he won his first national event title in 2013. After he defeated Michelle Furr in the final round with a nearly perfect 9.909, Goldman didn’t’ need to be reminded that the Virginia Motorsports Park event replaced Englishtown on the NHRA calendar two years ago. No matter the venue, Goldman was tough to beat with his ’58 Corvette roadster. Highlights from eliminations included a pair of great .008 and .007 lights as well as a 9.906 to 9.892 win against six-time Division 1 champion in the semifinals. Furr nearly claimed her fourth national event title before a breakout in the final round. She used a 9.915 in the quarterfinals to earn a bye into her seventh national event final. [video]
There was another first-time champion crowned in Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs.com after Chad Traylor turned on the win light in the final against Junior Houston. That was no easy feat after Houston cut a perfect .000 light, but Traylor was able to win with a 7.209 on his 7.19 dial after Houston broke out by five-thousandths. On his way to the final, Houston made several notable runs including a .013-second package that helped defeat Barry Brown in the second round and an even better run in the quarterfinals with a .010-second total that was impossible for Chad Brown to overcome in spite of a competitive .011 reaction time. With the 2019 season barely started in the Northeast Division, Traylor’s Richmond win came in his season-debut in the Top Dragster class. [video]