Norwalk highlights will remain in memories a long time
For a sport still in mourning over the death of Scott Kalitta, the NHRA event at Norwalk, Ohio, put the focus back on the track. And what a memorable event it was, writes Bill Stephens.
Updated: July 3, 2008, 4:55 PM ETBy Bill Stephens | Special to ESPN.com
NORWALK, Ohio -- One week following the tragic death of Scott Kalitta during Funny Car qualifying in Englishtown, N.J., the NHRA POWERade drag racing series traveled to Norwalk, Ohio, for the second Summit Racing Equipment Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park. It was hoped that getting back into the flow of the next national event would hasten the healing process and create the kind of competitive distractions that help racers tighten their focus on the job at hand.Norwalk more than delivered. Take these examples:
- Water beneath the racetrack seeped upward onto the racing surface on Friday, causing delays and finally a postponement of the professional qualifying sessions, which had been partially completed.
- Two Funny Car drivers were disqualified from the event on Friday -- an extreme rarity in the NHRA -- after the cars of Gary Scelzi and Melanie Troxel were found to have illegally secured ballast.
- In the 24th K&N Horsepower Challenge for Pro Stock, which was held as part of Saturday's qualifying program, points leader, No. 1 seed and heavy favorite Greg Anderson was beaten by Alan Johnson -- winless in 2008 -- in the $50,000 final round on a holeshot by virtue of Johnson's perfect (.000) reaction time.
- Pro Stock Motorcycle was won by a racer who had never before won an NHRA national event -- after 18 years of trying.
- Following last week's emotionally draining accident that claimed Kalitta's life, Top Fuel's Doug Herbert, whose two young sons were killed in a traffic accident shortly before the 2008 season, won the race on Sunday, beating Brandon Bernstein in the final on a holeshot -- the second consecutive final round Bernstein has lost in that manner.
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