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NHRA Arizona Nationals Sportsman Highlights

Winning a championship in any NHRA class is tough, but Dean Carter and Brad Burton have each done it twice, and now, they’ve also added victories at the 2020 NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.
05 Mar 2020
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
News
Dean Carter

Winning a championship in any NHRA class is tough, but Dean Carter and Brad Burton have each done it twice, and now, they’ve also added victories at the 2020 NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. Carter won in Comp, and Burton claimed the Stock title. They were joined in the winner’s circle by Kyle Rizzoli (Super Stock), Val Torres (Super Comp), Ed Olpin Jr. (Super Gas), Art Hoover (Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers), and Paul Mitsos (Top Sportsman presented by Superchargers Chargers). 

After winning a pair of championships, Carter spent some time racing in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series, but he’s back this season and backed up his quarterfinal finish in Pomona with career win No. 8 in Phoenix in Comp. Carter was able to get to the final with his index intact after some good fortune early in eliminations, but Pomona winner Doug Lambeck made him earn the victory in the final. Carter drove to a (-.646) 6.904 for the win against Lambeck’s (-.575) 8.335. Lambeck had won nine straight rounds to start the season and has the early lead in the Comp battle with his D/SMA Pontiac. [video]

Rizzoli, who barely missed winning the Super Stock championship last year, rallied for his ninth career win when he defeated five-time world champ Justin Lamb in the final. Rizzoli, in his SS/CA ’69 Camaro, sealed the deal with an almost unbeatable package that included a .001 light and a 9.479 on his 9.47 dial.  [video]

Burton, the 2010 and 2012 NHRA Stock champ, also outlasted a deep and talented field to claim his ninth career win. Burton, in his D/SA ’72 Firebird, won the final with a 10.75 on his 10.74 dial after opponent Jon Irving broke out in his I/SA ’73 Satellite. The deeper into eliminations he ventured, the more difficult Burton’s task became. He stopped Jody Lang in a tight quarterfinal race and then battled Comp finalist Lambeck in the semifinals in another tight battle. [video]

Two weeks after winning Super Gas in Pomona, Torres scored again by claiming the Super Comp title in Phoenix. Torres, who now has eight national event wins in his career, turned on the win light in the final after Cal Belden fouled by five-thousandths of a second. Torres was able to coast to the win but was more than ready with a perfect .000 light at the start. Torres was also extremely competitive in the semifinals with a .010 light and an 8.907 in his win over perennial top-10 finisher Trevor Larson, who broke out with an 8.875. Belden had a perfect light of his own in round three and followed with an 8.901 in his quarterfinal win over Thomas Bayer. [video]

Olpin Jr. won the Super Comp title in Phoenix in 2002 and has since watched his father, Ed Sr., score six wins in Super Gas and Top Sportsman. Ed Jr. got back on the board when he stopped Matthew Larson in the Super Gas final at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. Olpin drove his Corvette to a 9.94 for the win after a near-perfect .001 light, and Larson trailed despite a quicker 9.932. Olpin had a bye run in the quarterfinals and came back in Sunday’s semifinal with a strong .011 and a 9.905 to beat Bernie Polvadore in the semifinals. Larson had his own string of impressive performances, including a 9.905 to beat Evan Kowalski in the quarterfinals. [video]

Hoover, who previously won the 2012 JEGS Pacific SPORTSnationals, claimed a second win in Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers when he defeated Phil Unruh in the final round. Hoover left almost no room with a .012 light and a 6.603 on his 6.60 dial, and Unruh broke out by four-thousandths. Hoover, who kicked off his season with a round-two finish in Pomona, locked up with Moe Trujillo in a tough battle in the quarterfinals, where both drivers had .003 reaction times. Hoover won the bout, thanks to a 6.577 on his 6.56 dial. [video]

Two years after bagging his first national event title in Pomona, Mitsos scored again in Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers by driving to a final-round win over Ed Olpin Sr., who was looking to join his son in the winner’s circle. Mitsos, in his Mountain View Dodge, was rock-solid in the final with a .003 start and a 6.68 on his 6.66 dial to seal the win over Olpin’s competitive .03-over 6.93 effort. Mitsos also matched his dial in his round-three bye run and defeated low qualifier Jeff Connelly in the semifinals. [video]