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Racers Enjoy Good Vibrations At Competitive March Meet
Tony Bartone, left lane, took the Top Fuel class win over the weekend, as Adam Sorokin, right, had an engine malfunction erupt into a fireball in the final round. Photo By Jeff Burghardt

The 56th annual Good Vibrations March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway kicked off the first race of the year for the NHRA Heritage Series. Popular Nostalgia funny cars and front motored top fuel dragsters highlighted an excited weekend of racing.

Second generation funny car driver Steven Densham stole the show in his teachers pet 1969 Camaro. Densham qualified in the number two position behind Dan Horan, but laid down the gauntlet with a series of 5.7 second runs (5.78, 5.73, and 5.71). He would save the best pass of the weekend for last as he drove away from defending event winner James Day. Densham put up a 5.694 at 249 mph to Day’s 5.874 at 242 mph. This is Densham’s first career win.

In the front motor top fuel dragster class it was pretty one sided as Tony Bartone picked up right where he left off at the end of the 2014 season. Bartone went undefeated in the 2014 season winning every heritage series race. He rolled out on elimination day determined to defend his event title. Running 5.58, 5.59, and 5.66 second runs to advance him into the final round where he would face Adam Sorokin and the Champion Speed Shops team. Sorokin ran a pair of 5.7 second runs (5.705, and 5.7440 to advance himself to the final round. In the final Sorokin left the starting line first but his engine malfunctioned and caused a huge fireball which allowed Bartone to fly by with the best run of the weekend, 5.531 at 270 mph.

Local racer and fan favorite Richard Townsend and his Nitroholic funny car team led by crew chief Kevin Poynter had an outstanding weekend of racing. With 31 funny cars vying for 16 positions Townsend took the third spot with a 5.798 at 231 mph. He would match up with John Hale and his new look One Bad Texan 1969 Camaro. Townsend conquered his first round win of his career as he took out Hale with a 5.799 at 233 mph. This would then pair him against Kris Krabill in the second round of eliminations. He would fall short to Krabill as his nitro burning engine broke a push rod ultimately resulting in a loss of 500 horsepower. This allowed Krabill to capture the round win.

Over the course of the weekend there were several on track incidents and many drivers walked away with a few bumps, bruises, and damaged race cars. Dale Van Gundy in his new 77 Monza funny car got out of the racing groove which caused the car to make a sharp turn and hit the retaining wall thus sending him sliding off the end of the race track into the sand trap. Ronnie August in his Forever Young dragster had an engine problem which put oil under the rear tires sending him caroming off the retaining wall. During the semifinal round of eliminations Bill Dunlop in his High Speed Motorsports dragster got out by the centerline that divides the two lane race track and over corrected and tilted the car onto two wheels heading toward the guard rail, driving it up on the side of the wall and back onto four wheels before bringing the car to a safe stop and climbing out.