Allen, Perin, and Hale SuperBowl winners
By Rob Geiger, NHRA.com
It's not a national event and there were no championship points on the line, but the intensity on the racetrack sure made it seem like the season was already underway as the world's best Pro Stockers raced for the title of the eighth annual Pontiac Excitement Pro Stock Super Bowl.
By the time the packed fields were pared down to solo winners in each class, some spectacular laps had been run down the quarter-mile length of Houston Raceway Park. As expected, the strongest teams rose to the occasion and collected the hardware and the bragging rights associated with this annual preseason testing event.
Transplanted Texan Bruce Allen unsaddled "Cowboy" Mark Pawuk in the Pro Stock finals, running an impressive 6.856 at 200.47 mph to take the win. Pennsylvanian Scott Perin earned the hardware in Pro Stock Truck, beating Brian "Lump" Self in the finals with a 7.481 at 179.71 mph. And the world's quickest and fastest Kawasaki rider, Blaine Hale, downed newcomer Peggy Llewellyn with a 7.328-second pass at 179.14 mph to win Pro Stock Bike.
Behind the wheel of his new Reher-Morrison Grand Am, Allen used an average reaction time of .446 seconds in eliminations to secure the win. In the finals he posted a .430-second launch to Pawuk's .469 start to get an early jump and then drove away for the easy win when Pawuk shut-off just past mid-track. The numbers showed Allen tripping the timers in 6.856 seconds at 200.47 mph. Pawuk drifted over in 8.292 at 114.19 mph.
"Other than Warren and Kurt (Johnson) most of the top teams are here so it's very satisfying to win," Allen said. "Now I feel like we have a real chance to win any event we go to. It's been awhile since we've been in this position.
"This new Rick Jones chassis is awesome and the guy's at the shop have done a great job of making some more horsepower over the break. We were a little unfamiliar with the car when we got here earlier this week and it took some time to dial it in but everything came together today."
After powering by John Nobile in Round 1, Allen dismissed three-time Winston champ Darrell Alderman and current champ Jeg Coughlin en route to the finals. Allen posted a .417 second launch against Alderman's Dodge R/T and had a .440 start versus Coughlin's Jeg's Mail Order Oldsmobile.
Pawuk, who earlier this week had run several laps in the 6.7-second range, looked extremely impressive in round wins over new Dodge Boy Mark Osborne, George Marnell of the National Performance Center camp, and Eagle One pro Ron Krisher. Pawuk's best lap of the day was a 6.861, which he posted in the quarterfinals.
Surprisingly, Richie "The Kid" Stevens, Tom Martino, and Brad Jeter all failed to qualify their new Pontiac Grand Ams. Stevens is still in the initial stages of testing and has less than 10 full laps under his belt with this new car. Martino was light after the first qualifying session and suffered a mechanical breakdown before his second attempt. Jeter, like Stevens, is taking his Southern Rods and Parts machine through its first series of passes and is still looking for a race combination.
Starting from the No. 1 qualifying position, Perin was the man to beat all day long in Pro Stock Truck. His best lap came in qualifying when he posted a 7.478 at 179.92 mph. He was then the quickest driver of the session in the last three elimination rounds, riding lane choice all the way to the Winner's Circle.
In the finals, Perin left the starting line first with a .418 to .432-second advantage and crossed the finish line first, posting a 7.481 at 179.71 mph to Self's 7.515 at 178.68 mph, to take the win.
After winning this event a year ago, Houston native Self came oh-so-close to a repeat but just didn't have enough steam to derail Perin. He was happy with a runner-up finish all the same, as were his huge legion of supporters.
"I'm tickled for Scott," Self said. "In the end, lane choice was the difference. He had it and I didn't and he won the race. It was good for all of us to run in realistic conditions today. It wasn't a mineshaft out there it was more like what we'll see in Pomona. I'm happy to runner-up. I don't have a sponsor so any attention I can get is good."
On the way to the finals, Perin piloted his Napa Development Chevy S-10 to wins over independent driver Bob Yonke, Dodge driver Todd Patterson, and Jeg's Mail Order pro Mike Coughlin.
Self, meanwhile, drove his unsponsored Chevy by Texas Harley's Don Smith, the other Jeg's Mail Order Truck driven by John Coughlin, and his teammate Jeff Naiser.
The only Pro Stock Truck driver that failed to qualify for this event was Jose Maldonado.
Only two Pro Stock Motorcycles attempted passes today. Hale was the top qualifier on his Bucks County Kawasaki with a 7.470 at 174.54 mph. It was the only qualifying lap he attempted because he is nursing a bruised back, which he suffered in a recent snowmobile accident. The other rider, rookie Llewellyn, stepped up considerably on Harry Lartigue's Suzuki and posted a 7.476 at 177.58 mph, her best lap of the week until the finals.
When the race was on the line, Hale's experience paid off and he won easily, leaving in .462 seconds to Llewellyn's .538 start and crossing the timers in 7.328 seconds at 179.14 mph to Llewellyn's 7.432-second, 175.64-mph pass.
"I'm happy to get the win and earn some gas money to get back home," Hale said. "They've been calling me the local boy all weekend because I'm from Texas but I'm from Midland. That's 500 miles from here.
"It helped having lane choice in the finals because I think they wanted that side. Peggy was probably a little nervous but she'll be good. She's adapted real well to the speeds and I think she'll be ready to go by the time we get to Gainesville."
Rider Dennis Maranti, who fell off his Suzuki yesterday just past the scoreboards, was in attendance but did not compete in today's race. He is recovering from abrasions on both of his hands suffered when he slid down the track.
The story is copyright 2001 National Hot Rod Association. It may not be reprinted or retransmitted in any form without the express written permission of NHRA.com.
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