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Demke Locks Up TAD Title, Battle Now is for 2nd Place

By Todd Veney/Pro Sportsman Association

Like 2014 Top Alcohol Funny Car world champ Steve Harker, Top Alcohol Dragster champion Chris Demke was a multi-time championship runner-up who finally won it all with an unbelievable second-half run. Like Harker, he swept Charlotte and Reading in one unforgettable weekend, walking away with three Wallys and turning the 2014 points race into a race for second place.

Demke, who finished second to Bill Reichert in the 2010 standings and to nemesis Jim Whiteley in 2012 and 2013, won a career-high nine races in 2014 – five national events and four regionals. He began the season with a barrage of 5.20s in a Winternationals rout, was gone by the second round at the next five in a row, then raced just once in a three-month span from March to June as rival Joey Severance took control of the class.

Everything changed June 22 at the West regional at Yellowstone Dragstrip in Acton, Mont., when Demke outran Severance, who had lane choice, in the final. Over the next 11 races, Demke's Adam Rhoades-tuned dragster reached nine finals, won eight (including the big one, the U.S. Nationals), and went four-for-four in regional competition, scoring at Acton, Columbus, Seattle, and Topeka to win the West Region championship in a landslide. He won 35 of 38 rounds aboard Jerry Maddern's Peen Rite dragster and... [Read More]
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TAFC Title Decided But Top 10 Still Wide Open

With a Manzo-like late-season charge, Steve Harker clinched the 2014 Top Alcohol Funny Car championship with a month left in the season and became the first driver from outside North American ever to win an NHRA championship in any category.

The Australian veteran, who barely raced last year, didn't race at all the two years before that, and insisted all along that 2014 was just a "test year," got faster and faster as the year wore on and claimed a championship that once seemed destined to go to Dale Brand. A Top 5 driver in each of his last three full seasons (2008-10), and the number 2 driver of 2008 and 2009, Harker reached the final at six of his last seven starts (all but the U.S. Nationals) and won all six – Norwalk, St. Louis, Bowling Green, Dallas, Charlotte, and Reading.

Brand topped the rankings almost all year but dropped crucial head-to-head showdowns with Harker at Reading on the last weekend of his season. Both came in semifinal matchups, and Brand drilled the Tree both times with clutch .022 and .019 reaction times, but both times – in the rescheduled Charlotte race held in conjunction with Reading and in the Reading event itself – he had to fight just to keep his car in his lane while Harker streaked to near-perfect runs. Brand's once insurmountable lead was down to a single point by the time they staged in the Reading semi's, and Harker,... [Read More]
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Demke Sweeps NHRA Nationals Weekend at Maple Grove

MOHNTON, Pa. (October 8, 2014) – 2014 NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster national champion Chris Demke swept the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway last weekend, clinching the championship on Friday, winning the rained-out Carolina Nationals on Saturday and claiming the NHRA Nationals event win on Sunday. The weekend was a fitting end to a whirlwind championship chase that took Demke and the Peen Rite team across the country multiple times since the season started in February.

“This weekend has been indescribable, considering I didn't even want to go to this race. I feel like a fool for arguing with my crew as they certainly had the right idea coming here and had more confidence in our ability to perform than I did,” Demke admitted.

Demke qualified No. 2 for the NHRA Nationals while finishing eliminations from the Carolina Nationals, running a best of 5.281 at 273 MPH during the second round. He fired off a shot heard around the Top Alcohol world in the first round of racing for the NHRA Nationals when the Peen Rite/OSI/Boost Performance Products dragster traveled the Maple Grove quarter mile in 5.217 seconds at a wicked 277.94 miles per hour, the fourth-quickest blown alcohol pass in history and the single fastest blown alcohol run ever.

“After winning the championship on Friday then the Charlotte race early in the day Saturday, the... [Read More]
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Chris Demke, Maddern Racing Secure 2014 Top Alcohol Dragster National Championship

MOHNTON, Pa. (October 5) – When a fan or fellow competitor mentions Chris Demke's name in the same sentence as Top Alcohol Dragster champions like Bill Reichert or Duane Shields, the excited yet humble Californian doesn't always realize he's reached that status. He came close multiple times in the last few years, finishing second in national points after three of the last four seasons. Now a few days after he won the delayed semifinal race from Charlotte, therefore clinching the title, the reality is starting to set in for Demke; he's the 2014 NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster world champion.

“After winning the championship on Friday night, I still had to think about winning the Charlotte race and now I'm still thinking about the Maple Grove race. While we did celebrate the championship on Friday night, I haven't had time to relax and think about the accomplishment. It could've been a larger celebration, but we knew we still had two races left to win,” Demke noted.

The road to the 2014 national championship started at Maddern Racing's home track, Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, where Demke won the season-opening Circle K Winternationals. National event wins followed at the O'Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 Nationals in Chicago, the historic Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, and most recently the Carolina Nationals... [Read More]
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Demke Within Two Round Wins of First National Championship at NHRA Nationals

MOHNTON, Pa. (October 2, 2014) Top Alcohol Dragster national championship contender Chris Demke didn't anticipate a stop at the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway until he fell a couple rounds short of clinching the title at the last race in Dallas. Demke, who would've locked up the championship with a win at Dallas, lost to title rival Joey Severance in the semifinals due to a broken blower belt. This weekend, the California native is competing in two races – the remainder of eliminations from the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals and the NHRA Nationals.

“The Charlotte make-up race counts as my tenth race and the last race I can claim for points. While I'm here at Maple Grove, I'm really only thinking about Charlotte. Although we brought enough oil and parts to run both races, our first focus is winning the Charlotte race,” Demke claimed.

This weekend will be a test for the recently successful Demke and his Maddern Racing teammates, who won several races during the hot summer months. With cool temperatures expected throughout the NHRA Nationals, the Peen Rite team will be faced with conditions they haven't seen in months.

“Finishing the Charlotte race at Maple Grove doesn't fall into our strategy at all. We wanted to hit as many hot, higher altitude races as possible. Maple Grove is one of the quickest, if... [Read More]
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Lawson Dominates NHRA Texas Fall Nationals with Smart Chicken and Randy Meyer Racing

September 22nd, 2014 – Top Alcohol Dragster drivers Shayne Lawson and Chase Copeland piloted the Randy Meyer Racing Team’s Smart Chicken Dragsters at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, 29th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals this past weekend at Texas Motorplex in Dallas, Texas.

The Randy Meyer Racing Team began their eventful weekend by displaying Randy’s A/Fuel Dragster at the first annual pre-race PreStage Fan Fest celebration in downtown Ennis, Texas. Randy and the team enjoyed the celebration by signing autographs with NHRA Top Fuel drivers, letting fans get an up-close look at the race car and playing corn hole with support from Smart Chicken, Brookshire’s, Hormel Rev Wraps, and Bar-S Foods.

With Shayne Lawson driving for Randy at the Texas FallNationals, he clinched the fourth qualifying spot running a consistent 5.30 Elapsed Time (E.T.) at 270 mph. Teammate Chase Copeland struggled in qualifying, but was able to improve his time on the third and final session, claiming the 13th position with a 5.40 E.T. at 267 mph to set the field.

A bittersweet opening round of eliminations saw teammates Shayne and Chase compete against each other. Shayne powered ahead for the round win with a 5.26 E.T. at 270 mph, while Chase smoked the tires and had to abandon the run.

Shayne went on to... [Read More]
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Demke Could Clinch National Championship at Fall Nationals

ENNIS, Texas (September 18, 2014) – Three-time Top Alcohol Dragster national championship runner-up Chris Demke is within striking distance of his first national title. A win at this weekend's Texas AAA NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex is all it would take for Demke to clinch the championship. The Californian driver won five of his recent races, as well as the first round of the delayed Carolina Nationals at Charlotte. The Peen Rite/OSI/Boost Performance Products driver has Charlotte in the mirror and has switched his focus to winning a championship.

“I thought I had to go to Charlotte and Dallas to have a chance at wrapping up the championship. I figured since Charlotte was delayed there was no way I could lock it up at Dallas, but that's not the case. So now I'm excited. I can just taste it. It's certainly not a guarantee; it's a tall order. I'm just thrilled to be in this position,” said the excitable Demke.

“I say that I'm not going to think about it (the national championship) but of course I'm going to think about it. At the same time I know I'm just going to Dallas to have a good time. If we keep our heads down, our shoulders squared and we keep executing like we have been at the last few races then there's a chance we can come out of there in good standing.

“But certainly going to Dallas and expecting to win,... [Read More]
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Recent Regional Winner Greg Hunter Carrying Momentum to Fall Nationals

ENNIS, Texas (September 18, 2014) – Top Alcohol Funny Car driver Greg Hunter is riding a wave of momentum into the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals this weekend after winning the recent Mission regional. Driving for Canadian Geoff Goodwin, Hunter earned the first NHRA event win of his alcohol racing career at the Mission, B.C. NHRA West Region event two weeks ago. Now he's ready to go after his first national event win at Dallas.

“It was kind of surreal,” Hunter said of the Mission win. “Even though there was a low car count we felt that it didn't really take away from the accomplishment. The cars we raced against were good cars and the new track surface at Mission was tricky. Once that place has some more runs on it it's going to be a great track like it was.

“It was tough for everyone to get down the track last weekend. I'm just proud of how our team was able to overcome a little adversity. We hadn't made it down the track going into the last qualifying session. It was stressful because we really wanted to do well there. With the track not being the greatest we decided to be extra careful. Ryan (Protz, tuner) did a great job and the whole team worked well to prepare the car for the conditions,” Hunter noted.

Greg Hunter and his Synoil Energy Services/Geoff Goodwin Racing teammates look to add a second win to their... [Read More]
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Demke Taking Hot Streak to Pep Boys Carolina Nationals

CONCORD, N.C. (September 11, 2014) – Top Alcohol Dragster's Chris Demke is taking his hot streak to the southeast for the Pep Boys Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway this weekend. The 2014 NHRA U.S. Nationals champion and his Maddern Racing teammates are continuing a season-long road trip in search of their first national championship. With a healthy points lead and only a handful of events left in the season, Demke wants to stay hot.

“Momentum is important,” he said. “The thrill of winning a national event certainly lasts a lot longer with Indy, but it's time to get back to business, put that win behind us and focus on Charlotte. I only have two claimable races left so I need to make the most of my opportunities.”

The crew member-turned driver has already earned three 2014 nationals event wins, including the prestigious Labor Day tradition, the U.S. Nationals. Demke also won the last four NHRA Lucas Oil Series regional events he attended.

“We've learned a lot in these last few races. We have the best handle on the tune-up that I've seen in a long time so it's just a matter of keeping the crew, the tune-up and my driving synchronized so we can continue winning rounds like we know best,” Demke claimed.

The decision to continue east for the Carolina Nationals came down last minute. Blown alcohol cars like the Peen... [Read More]
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TAD Racer Dubbin Can't Get a Break

By: Todd Veney/Pro Sportsman Association

If it isn't one thing it's another this year for Alcohol Dragster racer Dean Dubbin. He's reached the semifinals somewhere at least once in each of his first three seasons in Top Alcohol Dragster, but 2014 has only grown more frustrating as it's dragged on, topped (he hopes) by a first-round foul last weekend at the Central Regional at Tri-State Raceway in Earlville, Iowa.

Opponent Randy Meyer had dominated all weekend and eventually won, but in the first round against Dubbin, he was, for once, vulnerable. "I knew I was going to smoke the tires," he told Dubbin later. "You know what's sad?" Dubbin said. "I did too."

Meyer did went up in smoke right off the line – right after Dubbin left before the Tree came on. It's not like Dubbin, up against the No. 1 qualifier, got the yips, completely lost his concentration, and took off – a solenoid failed, and as soon as he went up against the converter, the car left. "I was probably 50 feet out before I even knew what was going on," he said. "The solenoid shook itself loose. You have to use it for the burnout, and to back up from the burnout, and to go up to the starting line, and it activated all three times, but for whatever reason, when I went to bring the motor up to leave, it didn't, and the car just left."

Dubbin's frustration was further... [Read More]
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