MARSTONS MILLS, Massachusetts (August 8, 2018)
The Permatex/Follow A Dream Top Alcohol Funny Car team enjoyed its best weekend of the season, capturing a win this past Saturday in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Northeast Division race at Atco Dragway in New Jersey.
“The hot rod’s back!” team owner Jay Blake exuberantly said. “The car did what we wanted to. When we made a change, it responded.”
“The team has worked well, there’s been drama and frustration, but everyone kept their heads down and did their job.”
Driver Phil Burkart had the hot hand – and right foot – throughout the entire event. Burkart qualified the Follow A Dream Chevy Camaro No. 1 (5.715 seconds at 227.11 mph), enjoyed unopposed runs in the quarterfinals and semifinals, and then sealed the deal with a triumph (5.563 seconds at 264.91 mph) over always-tough rival Dan Pomponio in the final round.
“Dan came into the weekend No. 1 in the divisional points and we were No. 3,” Permatex/Follow A Dream team owner Jay Blake said. “Dan’s always a tough competitor, and Atco is his home track.”
“So it was awesome to come away with the win, the No. 1 qualifier and the fastest speed of the weekend. And now we’re only 10 points behind Dan with two divisional races left in the season. We’re going for the championship and we’re real close right now.”
“We didn’t face many cars in eliminations, but it was a great weekend. We ended up racing – and beating – the guy we’re racing for the championship.”
“Now, going forward, we just have to beat Dan to get that championship. It’s going to be a battle, but it’s also going to be fun.”
The two remaining Northeast Division races are in Cecil County Dragway (August 16-19) and the team’s home track, New England Dragway (Sept. 7-9).
Also playing a big part in the win at Atco was the fact the Permatex/Follow A Dream team enjoyed a month off to rest, work on the car and tweak its performance, the results which obviously showed this past weekend.
“The month off did help a lot,” Blake said. “One of the things it did, I feel more than anything, is it gave everybody a break. The car was just kicking everybody’s butt all year.”
“Everybody was frustrated, everybody was tired and I think the month off was very important.”
“How do we keep the momentum going? It’s about confidence. Everybody feels it, we’ve won at Cecil County before, we can win there again, you just go there and win.”
Burkart is also No. 7 in the LODRS national standings, just 128 points behind series leader Sean Bellemeur.
With the Permatex/Follow A Dream still having two national events on its schedule – Maple Grove Raceway (Reading, Pennsylvania; Sept. 13-16) and Charlotte (North Carolina, Oct. 12-14) – there’s still a possibility of two potential championships in the offing if the Permatex/Follow A Dream team keeps its momentum rolling.
“You always want to believe that you can win,” Blake said. “And I know we have the people, the equipment, and all that it takes to win.”
“But this year has just been nothing but a struggle in so many different ways, every corner we turned. The three races before Atco, we had all kinds of problems, including blowing up two motors.”
“We knew we could run well and we hoped we could win, but to go to Atco and have the car respond, and actually win, all I can say is, the car’s happy and we’re happy! It gives everybody back the confidence that we can still do this. The car’s running great! That is just a huge morale and confidence builder.”
“If the car keeps doing what it’s doing, we’ve got our hot rod back and we can win any race we go to.”