MARSTONS MILLS, Massachusetts (April 24, 2017) – The Permatex/Follow A Dream Top Alcohol Funny Car team looked very strong at this past weekend’s Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event at Virginia Motorsports Park.
Ultimately – and unfortunately for all the teams and fans that turned out – Mother Nature was stronger in the end.
Driver Phil Burkart laid down a great first qualifying run on Friday, April 21, of 5.614 seconds at a field-best speed of 261.83 mph, giving him the provisional pole position.
However, in the second round of qualifying, the Permatex/Follow A Dream Chevrolet Camaro spun the tires at the starting line, while D.J. Cox and Kris Hool recorded quicker elapsed times, dropping Burkart to still a very stout No. 3 qualifying position.
“We got a little aggressive on the second qualifying run and tried to see what it would take and spun the tires right off the starting line,” team owner Jay Blake said. “We knew we went too far.
And then Mother Nature rolled in with all her might, prompting both Saturday’s and Sunday’s elimination rounds to be rained out.
“Weather issues suck,” Blake said. “Everybody loses. Nobody wins.”
The race has been rescheduled for August 25-26. Burkart will maintain his No. 3 qualifying spot when the race resumes.
There will be a test session on Friday, August 25, for teams to get re-acclimated to the track in what will likely be substantially different conditions than this past weekend.
Teams will then get one timed run on Saturday, August 26, before eliminations begin for the 8-car field at the North Dinwiddie, Virginia track.
The Permatex/Follow A Dream TA/FC team was really looking forward to the Virginia event, as it finished runner-up in last year’s event.
“Was it disappointing? Yes,” Blake said. “It’s a pain and it’s expensive to have to do it again, but it sucks for everybody.”
“You’re learning every run, so that’s the important piece.”
Even though the race was postponed four months, the Permatex/Follow A Dream team actually wound up being a winner of another sorts.
The team learned that not only had it qualified for the eight-car Jegs All-Star TA/FC race at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois in early July, it also grabbed the No. 1 spot from the Eastern Region.
“It’s a big deal to qualify for the All-Star Race,” Blake said. “It means a lot to the team because they work so hard to get there.
“We’ve been there before, have been to the finals a few times, we just haven’t won it yet. Hopefully, we’ll win it this year.”
Speaking of winning, Blake comes into this weekend’s NHRA national event, the 4-Wide Nationals at ZMax Dragway, with victory in mind.
“We can win it,” Blake said. “The team is in a position, Phil (driver Phil Burkart) in a position and Anthony’s (tuner Anthony Terenzio) in a position that we can just go out and win it.
“The car is real fast. We’ve definitely built on where we were last year, and we’re still building, but I definitely think we can go out and win this one.”
Prior to this past weekend’s race at Virginia, Blake was the featured speaker at the Permatex-sponsored kickoff breakfast for the National Automotive Technology Competition, which brings together the top 30 high school teams in the country for an automotive competition.
The event, part of the New York International Auto Show at the Javits Center in Manhattan, was a big success for the student teams that were there, but also for Blake personally.
“It went excellent,” Blake said. “I spoke on Tuesday and then we had a competition between another instructor and me.”
Blake squared off with one of the 30 team instructors in a spark plug changing contest and handily won.
“The key is they do it with somebody and they blindfold themselves,” said Blake, who himself is totally blind. “It was through Subaru University – they provided the engine.
“There were two spark plugs on each side, it was a four-cylinder, so we did two spark plugs. You take them out, put them on a table, put them back in and then torque then.”
Blake’s next speaking engagement will be this Tuesday, April 25, at the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, North Carolina. He will give three separate speeches in front of a total of more than 900 students.
“I’m really looking forward to Tuesday’s speech and then heading to ZMax Dragway for this weekend’s race,” Blake said. “We’re real excited about this whole coming week.”