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Shields Looks Back on 2014 Season

By Todd Veney/Pro Sportsman Association

You know you've had a good career when you win four times and it's almost an off year.

Duane Shields went winless over a dozen mid-season races in 2014 – a full season for most people – but still ended up sixth in the Top Alcohol Dragster national standings with what turned out to be another solid season: five final-round appearances and four wins – two at national events and two at regionals.

"The beginning of the year and the end were good, but the middle took me right out of the championship," says Shields, who topped the national standings at times this season and is in title contention year after year. "We ran out of clutch discs, had to replace them with a different kind, and went into smoke-the-tires mode. We kept backing the car down, thinking we were overpowering the track, and in the end, smoking the tires had nothing to do with the tune-up – it was the discs all along. That's why we went to so many extra races this year – to figure out what the problem was."

No TAD or TAFC team ran more races in 2014 than Shields' 20. He doubled up at Gainesville in in March, taking the rain-delayed Houston regional that was completed Saturday during Gainesville qualifying and the Gatornationals on Sunday. He then went seven months and 12 straight races without getting to a final, low-lighted by a... [Read More]
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Meyer Reviews 2014 Season, 5th Lucas Oil Series Central Region Title

Dec. 3rd, 2014 - The Randy Meyer Racing Team had an eventful season this year with driver Chase Copeland joining the team to pilot their new second A/Fuel Dragster in the Top Alcohol Dragster class to claim first and second in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series (LODRS) Central Region points championship.

Randy Meyer, Shayne Lawson, and Chase teamed up and defeated many tough players in NHRA’s Top Alcohol Dragster ranks, to earn the Randy Meyer Racing Team’s fifth LODRS Central Region championship. The team also earned their seventh NHRA National points series top 10 finish, and the Best Appearing Crew award at their second race of the year in Gainesville, Florida with their Smart Chicken team uniforms. The team now has a total of 13 national event wins, and 20 LODRS event wins.

Randy, who finished third in the nation, won national event races in Houston, Texas for the NHRA Spring Nationals, Brainerd, Minnesota for the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals, and a runner-up finish at the NHRA Carolina Nationals in Charlotte, North Carolina. He also was winner of the Jegs AllStars race in Joliet, Illinois, and won the LODRS race at Earlville, Iowa and runner-up at the Central Regional event at his home track in Topeka, Kansas.

Shayne had his share of the victory lane this year, as he won his first NHRA National event at the Kansas... [Read More]
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Hunter Reflects on First Season with Synoil Racing

SHERIDAN, Wyo. (November 26, 2014) – The 2014 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series season was a promising start for Greg Hunter and the Synoil Energy Services/Exact Air Top Alcohol Funny Car team. While both the driver and team had plenty of prior racing experience, the combo hadn't raced together before the start of the season. After developing a friendship over the past two seasons, team owner Geoff Goodwin, a Canadian drag racing icon, and Greg Hunter, driver of multiple blown alcohol machines for more than a decade, paired up in 2014 to make an attempt at winning national and regional events.

“I thought it was overall a successful season. Obviously we wanted to win every race we entered but we had more positives than negatives through the season,” Hunter claimed. “We got a win at the Mission regional race, which was awesome. We had some success on the national level, reaching the semifinals at the spring Las Vegas race. We struggled some during the middle of the season but we got the car back on track at Pomona, running a 5.61. Though that only put us 14th in that show, we were really confident that we were going to be in the fifties by the end of the race if we could've kept going.”

The Synoil Racing team was defeated first round at the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona earlier this month when a series of typical mechanical issues plagued... [Read More]
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Demke Caps Off Championship Season at 50th Auto Club Finals, NHRA Awards Banquets

POMONA, Calif. (November 19, 2014) – While Chris Demke didn't bookend his dream season with a win at the Auto Club NHRA Finals, he did accomplish a few goals set for the season finale. Demke and his Peen Rite Top Alcohol Dragster team celebrated their national championship with family and friends, drummed up interest in their spare 'For Rent' dragster, and enjoyed some success, qualifying No. 3 and reaching the semifinals. It was a fitting end to a monumental season for the fun-loving, hardworking Maddern Racing team.

“It certainly went well but it didn't end like we hoped it would,” Demke said of the Finals. “We received numerous inquiries about driving this car next year, which was our goal. While we haven't signed any deals, we talked with numerous players. Performance-wise, the car ran a few twenties. I think there's more left in it, we're just creeping up on it. The chassis is still plenty competitive, as competitive as the championship car.”

Demke was driving a car the team retired in 2012 and recently refurbished for possible use next season. A 5.277 lap in the opening qualifying session put Demke in the third spot going into eliminations. The Peen Rite/OSI/Boost Performance Products dragster ran a pair of 5.29s to defeat fellow blown alcohol drivers Ross Stickler and Mark Taliaferro. Chris encountered trouble on... [Read More]
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Shields Scores 20th National Event Win at 50th Auto Club Finals

Pomona - Duane Shields won the 50th Annual NHRA Auto Club Finals which closed the book on a great season for the PEAK A/Fuel Dragster team. The win marked Duane's fourth victory of the season, landing him in sixth place overall in the final Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series national point standings.

The Finals win stacks up as a career highlight and Duane's 20th national event victory. Prior to Sunday, Duane had never won the Finals as it was always an elusive race so the team was happy to finally win the event. “This is awesome to go into the off season with a win at the 50th anniversary Finals. This win is for PEAK, NGK Spark Plugs, GRP Connecting Rods and Brad Anderson Enterprises along with all my guys including Ralph Freeman who passed away last year," Duane acknowledged.

Duane qualified 9th with a 5.33 @ 266 MPH and faced red hot Joey Severance who swept the last two races in Las Vegas. At the starting line Severance went red by .004 and then shut off after rattling the tires. Meanwhile, the PEAK Dragster shook hard but Duane still found a way to get it done with a 5.41 @ 260 MPH to advance into the second round.

In round two, Duane got by Chase Copeland with a 5.59 at 256 MPH. Duane dropped a cylinder on the run but it didn’t matter as Copeland lost traction off the starting line and aborted the run.

... [Read More]
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Permatex/Follow A Dream Team Back at Pomona for 1st Time in 5 Years

Marstons Mills, MA -November 13, 2014-Jay Blake's Permatex/Follow A Dream team heads to the birthplace of drag racing, the Los Angeles area, for the final race of the 2014 season, the NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., where the team was runner-up in 2005 and won it all in 2006. It's the first appearance in six weeks for the team, whose season was highlighted by victory at Lebanon Valley Dragway, where they scored for the second year in a row and the third time in five years.

"We've had some great moments at Pomona," said Blake, who spoke at the Veteran's Hospital in Long Beach, Calif., and at the Universal Technical Institute in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., earlier this week. "Permatex's sponsorship made it possible for us to bring Follow A Dream's message of the power of positive thinking and self-determination to veterans and to the students at UTI. I was part of a ribbon-cutting ceremony at UTI for their new veteran's building, and none of that would have been possible without Permatex's involvement with our team."

It also made possible a lifelong dream for driver Todd Veney, a Southern California native who's competing at the historic Pomona track for the first time ever. "The first national event I ever went to was right here at the Winternationals in 1972," he said. "I was born out here, lived here until I was 10, and moved right back... [Read More]
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Racepak Data Systems Backing Ferre for 50th Annual Auto Club NHRA Finals

Rancho Santa Margarita, CA based company Racepak Data Systems has signed on to back one of their own, Cameron Ferre, as Ferre and Miersch Racing set out to march through a stout field of Top Alcohol Dragsters running at this year's 50th Annual Auto Club NHRA World Finals.

The multi-licensed driver Ferre began piloting Larry Miersch's A/Fuel dragster over the summer at the O'Reilly Auto Parts Northwest Nationals in Seattle and has since made four appearances driving for Miersch Racing in 2014. When Cameron is not in the seat of a racecar, he is working in the sales and marketing department for Racepak.

2015 begins the campaign of Racepak Data Systems' 30th anniversary. "What better way to kick off our 30th anniversary and 30 years of business than flying the Racepak name at 275 MPH with one of our Racepak employees behind the wheel? We are thankful Miersch Racing and Cameron helped put this opportunity together for us," said Tim Anderson, President of Racepak.

"I could not have asked for a better rookie campaign in Top Alcohol Dragster," said Ferre about the opportunity. "And now to have my employer stand behind me and support my dreams is a testament to what a great company I work for. It's amazing being supported by awesome companies and people throughout the year who are helping me on the tough journey to Top... [Read More]
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SoCal's Demke, Maddern Racing Return to Pomona as 2014 TAD Champs

POMONA, Calif. (November 12, 2014) – Chris Demke enters the 50th Annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona with a recently refined, once-retired race car. After a series of upgrades, Demke and his Peen Rite team brought an old car to the Las Vegas regional with the goal of finding a quick, consistent tune-up for future competition. The Uyehara-built Top Alcohol Dragster, retired in 2012 and replaced by the 2014 national championship-winning car, performed as anticipated. Demke ran a pair of low five-thirty elapsed times in qualifying, but slowed to lose first round.

“As for getting the bugs ironed out of the car, I would say everything went according to the plan. We tested on Thursday and that was valuable as it gave me some seat time to readjust to this car. The car ran well in qualifying. We just missed on the tune-up going into eliminations. While we got all of the bugs ironed out, we were tuning this car the way we tuned the championship car. I hate losing first round. It was the first time we've lost first round in a long time this year, but other than that we accomplished everything we set out to accomplish. Now the car is ready for Pomona this weekend,” Demke claimed.

The season-ending Auto Club Finals isn't just a season finale to Demke, it's a homecoming of sorts, as both driver and team are based in Southern California.
... [Read More]
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Hunter Wrapping up First Season with Synoil Racing at Auto Club Finals

POMONA, Calif. (November 12, 2014) – Despite a pair of DNQs at the back-to-back Las Vegas races, Greg Hunter and the Synoil Energy Services Top Alcohol Funny Car team have a stride in their step as the NHRA Mello Yello Series wraps up its 2014 season in Pomona this weekend. The Canadian team struggled to adjust to new tires, resulting in a failure to qualify at the Toyota Nationals and the final Lucas Oil Series regional event of 2014. The lessons learned in Vegas, though, should help Hunter and Team Synoil at the 50th Annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway.

“We're really disappointed in our performance at both Vegas races. They were both tough fields, but we came in fully expecting to qualify and run well. We changed tires recently so we just don't have a handle on the tune-up for the Hoosiers yet. I'm confident that the team will get it figured out and we'll have a good showing at Pomona,” said Hunter.

The Synoil Racing team, led by team owner Geoff Goodwin and crew chief Ryan Protz, switched to Hoosier tires going into the Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas. Hunter made several passes with the new tires between the national event, Monday testing and the regional event.

“I think we're getting a good handle on the tires now. We thought we had it figured out until it threw us a curve ball on that last run.... [Read More]
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Ahten Returns Home to Defend Pomona Finals Crown

Pomona, CA. – This week Johnny Ahten pulled into the gates of the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona not as just any racer, he made his entrance as the defending champion in the Top Alcohol Dragster class. At last year’s final, Ahten Racing captured their first event win when Johnny defeated Jim Whitley in the final round. A year has passed and Ahten remains determined to repeat.

“There is a strong contingent of racers here for the finals,” said Ahten. “We ran well at the Vegas National event and qualified number one. Then we qualified for the eight car field out of twenty-five entries for the Regional event. We are going to build upon our strong runs and learn from our issues. I am very happy to be home. This is the busiest three weeks of our season. I am looking forward to working on the car, visiting with friends, and racing at my favorite track,” added Ahten.

The World Finals at Pomona is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, and winning this race has special meaning to all the competitors. Johnny’s crew chief, Al Ahten and racing partner Howard Katano, have poured over the run data and are preparing the Stump Puller for its last race of the year. Bob Ahten, Kevin Colvell, Chuck Costabile, and John Rogers will make sure the job gets done. The Island Renovations / Combust Filters sponsored team is ready, willing, and able.

“I grew up at... [Read More]
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