Johnny Gray Tops Norwalk Winners List
Langdon jumped past Tony Schumacher for the Top Fuel points lead, while alBalooshi maintained his sixth position. Kalitta jumped up to fourth with his first finals appearance of 2013. AlBalooshi beat defending world champion Antron Brown, Chris Karamesines and Clay Millican to reach the final round, going as quick as 3.811 and as fast as 320.97.
“From the first week when Shawn won the first race, I’ve been thinking, ‘Oh, I need to be in the Traxxas Shootout. I need to be in the Traxxas Shootout,’ ” said alBalooshi. “I keep seeing, ‘Oh, there’s only one opening for the Traxxas Shootout, only one.’ When I made the final I knew that whoever won, it would be done, and I’m lucky to finish this deal.”
Edwards, the current points leader in Pro Stock, claimed his fourth victory in 2013 and 38th for his career by knocking off defending world champion Allen Johnson. Edwards’ Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Chevy Camaro posted a 6.616 at 209.56 while Johnson slowed to a 15.969 at 52.46 in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger.
“I just could never get a handle on this place, but it sure feels good to finally come here and win a race,” said Edwards, who posted his first win in Norwalk. “Hats off to all my guys for another tremendous job this weekend. We made a really nice run in the final, and we were very proud of that. I just hope we can keep the wheels on this thing and keep the momentum going.”
Edwards, who set the track speed record of 209.92 in qualifying, beat Mark Hogan, Rickie Jones and two-time Norwalk winner Vincent Nobile to advance to the final round and earn lane choice against Johnson. Johnson jumped back to second in points with his sixth finals appearance in 2013.
“Having lane choice was huge, very huge for me,” Edwards said. “I had a car that could really go down the right lane, and when we got lane choice for the final, that really helped.”
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Smith claimed his 14th career win and first since 2011, a span of 34 races. Smith went 6.954 at 192.44 on his Viper Motorcycle Company Racing Buell en route to the victory against Scotty Pollacheck, who had a final round time of 7.008 at 191.16 on his Sovereign-Star Racing Buell.
The day got even sweeter for Smith as his father Rickie Smith won in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
“It’s been a hard road to get back here,” Smith said. “I was off on my tune-up a little bit, but we changed motors this morning and it got a little better each round. We’ve been fast on this bike and it was just awesome again (Sunday).”
Smith, who beat Hector Arana, Michael Ray and teammate John Hall to reach the final round, moved to third in the points standings with the victory. Hector Arana Jr. remained in first and Ray closed the gap in second, while Smith becomes the fourth different winner in the class through Pro Stock Motorcycle’s seven events.
“This is the way the class should be,” Smith said. “Anybody can win at any time right now. We’ve been the most consistent (team) right now, but anybody can win. It’s so easy to lose that final round, but I was good on the tree all weekend.”