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Las Vegas has become the melting pot of world class entertainment, and the Goodguys inaugural "Fuel & Gas Finals" was the feature show at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, October 28th and 29th. The final event of the 2000 season figured prominently in deciding class champions, as well as producing an unprecedented and stellar showing by the Top Fuel contingent.

Given the fact that "The Strip" is situated 2,500' above sea level, not even "Carnac the Magnificent" could have predicted such spectacular performances. "Wild Bill" Alexander ripped off a jaw dropping 5.99/236.05 (his first "5") blast, during the opening session of qualifying, in the John Eirich owned "Ground Zero" entry. His hero status lasted for approximately four hours though, as "Handsome Rance" McDaniel and Jack "The Sheriff" Harris upped the qualifying 

ante during the second session, to the tune of side-by-side 5.955s. Also creeping back to to early season form, was the "Orange Crate" entry of Suhr and Lechtenberg. Lechtenberg qualified in the fourth spot with a fine 6.01/248.89, which would be top speed of the event. (the 248 surpassed the 246 he ran during the opening session! The team would come back in the first round to run a motor grenading/'chute shredding/sand trap stopping 5.870/245! Unreal!) The bump spot for the eight car "A" field was a 6.24(!), held down by Jim Murphy. Other notable highlights included; Rick McGee-qualifying third in the "B" field with a 6.40, and then stepping up to a 6.06 (personal best) in round one; Mike McClennan-qualifying for the "A" field with a 6.22, and then running a 6.11 & 6.07 respectively during eliminations.

Since mother nature threw her royal flush at the finalists, the event winners were decided by the quickest winner of the previous round and they played out like this: Top Fuel "A"-Rance McDaniel (6.02) over Jack Harris(7.29); Top Fuel "B"-Rick McGee (6.08) against Kirk Kuhns(6.27); A/FUEL-Sean Bellemeur (6.67) over Jim Paul (6.70); Jr. Fuel- Mike Chrisman(7.40) to Don Enriquez(7.53); Pro Supercharged-Steve Woods (6.87) over Gary Reinero (7.07); A/GAS- Jim Pace (7.63) to a very close Mark Mahood (7.64).

The many highlights of the event were a fitting conclusion to an outstanding season of nostalgia racing, and serve as a preview of what's to come in 2001. I can't wait until the March Meet! The following will take you on a photo recap of the event, captured by Mark Hovsepian and myself. Enjoy!-Dawn


Hovsepian Photo

Goodguys' Promotional Director, John Drummond, organized a "Cackle Fest" in front of the Race Rock Cafe on Fremont Street Friday night. Las Vegas locals were treated to the sights and sounds of a variety of nostalgia vehicles participating at the inaugural "Fuel & Gas Finals". The "Rat Trap" AA/FA was one of many that gave passing spectators a snootful of nitro-fumes during the evening.
Al "Mousie" Marcellus (left) looks on as Mike Boyd brings up the rpm and header flames in the "Winged Express". Boyd opened and closed the "Cackle Fest", adding a very entertaining twist to the "Fremont Street Experience". The normally unfazed local contingent, scrambled out of area casinos and cheered their approval.

Hovsepian Photo

Mazi Photo

Nostalgia II competitor, Phil Lukens, avoided a run-in with the 'Tree, as his Fiat entry experienced a flat tire during this burnout. Lukens was able to complete the necessary repairs, but failed to make the show.
During the first round of eliminations, Bill Dunlap suffered an unfortunate turn of events. While finishing his burnout procedures and preparing to roll into low gear, the clutch began to malfunction. During a series of efforts to disengage the clutch, either Dunlap or a crew member mistakenly hit the throttle, careening the Mike Fuller entry backwards into the Champion Speed Shop mini van and over the nose of the awaiting CSS entry. Fortunately, no one was injured during the incident.

Hovsepian Photo

Hovsepian Photo

The "Champion Speed Shop" entry suffered a bit of damage to the front wing, but the team was equipped with a spare. Rance McDaniel and crew calmly go about the repair, and were ready to race by the end of the first round session. McDaniel went on to win the round over Lee Jennings, 6.01 to a 6.14, as well as clinch the Top Fuel season title.
Jim Murphy, the three time and defending Goodguys champion, will relinquish his number "1" claim to fame for the first time in three years. Murphy qualified 8th in the "A" field with a 6.24, but was defeated in the opening round by Roger Lechtenberg's stunning 5.87.

Hovsepian Photo

Mazi Photo

Rick Facciano qualified his gorgeous '32 Ford seventh in the tough B/GAS field, with an 8.78. Facciano, who finished second in season points, was defeated in the opening round by eventual event winner, Dave Nugent.
Brendan Murry flashes his infamous "V" sign for the photographers, during Saturday's final qualifying session of Nostalgia I. Murry qualified 14th, but failed to advance beyond round one against season champ, Scott Christlieb. Christlieb combined a .446 r/t and a 7.706 e.t. to dispose of Murry's .505 r/t-7.676 package. Look for Murry to make a full-on assault of the Top Fuel class in 2001.

Mazi Photo

Mazi Photo

Ronnie Nunes, winner of the last Goodguys event in Sonoma, California, had the only shot at knocking off Steve Woods for the Pro Supercharged Championship. Nunes qualified sixth with a 7.19, but red-lighted away his championship bid in the semi final round.
Don Enriquez entered the "Fuel & Gas Finals" undefeated in competition of Jr. Fuel for the 2000 season. Enriquez clinched the season title by merely showing up for the event, and also held on to his undefeated status, since the rain prevented the final round to be properly contested.

Mazi Photo

Mazi Photo

MaryAnn Harmon (near lane) and Bob Clayton launch their respective rides during the first session of A/GAS qualifying. Lady luck would escape both drivers, as they experienced serious mechanical problems and were unable to return for Sunday's eliminations.
With the butterflies snapped wide open, Jason Howell launches his ARE powered fueler to a 6.24 first round win over Butch Blair. Howell stepped up in the second round to a nice 6.15, but another round win was denied by Rick McGee's equally impressive 6.08.

Hovsepian Photo

Hovsepian Photo

Jim Data launches his '57 Pontiac into the eighth spot of the A/GAS field, with an 8.16. Unfortunately for Data, he would meet eventual season champ Mark Mahood in the opening round, and exited early as a result of a redlight.
"Wild Bill" Alexander garnered his first "nickel", during this first session of Top Fuel qualifying. Despite clicking it early, Alexander was able to give the hard working "Ground Zero" team a 5.99. Alexander lasted until the second round, where he lost a close pedal-fest to Jack "The Sheriff" Harris.

Hovsepian Photo

Mazi Photo

Steve Wood (near lane) and Steve Woods, squared off during the second session of Pro Supercharged qualifying. Steve Wood qualified his '53 Studebaker fifth with a 7.10, while Woods qualified his '48 Prefect in the number one spot with a blistering 6.94. The two met again in the opening round, where Woods stepped up with a 6.89 to defeat Wood's 7.07. Woods went on to claim the event title, and claimed his second consecutive Pro Supercharged season championship.
Steve San Paolo, who finished second in the season points chase, qualified in the number one spot of the A/FUEL program with a great 6.79/203.12 effort.  San Paolo lasted until the semi final round, where he was defeated by Sean Bellemeur, 6.676 to 6.797.

Hovsepian Photo

Hovsepian Photo

Brent Harris brought his sharp looking '33 Willys coupe all the way down from Edmonton, Alberta Cananda, to compete in the A/GAS program. Harris qualified sixth with a 7.89 and lasted until the second round, where he was defeated by Chris Abbey.
Mike Chrisman qualified his gorgeous Jr. Fuel entry in the second spot with a great 7.45/177.00 blast.  Chrisman went on to claim the event title over season Champ, Don Enriquez, with an even better 7.40!

Mazi Photo

Hovsepian Photo

Butch Blair was the number one seed in the Top Fuel "B" field, after his 6.320/219.83 qualifying effort.  Unfortunately, Blair would meet Top Fuel Rookie sensation, Jason Howell, in the opening round.  Howell used a 6.24 to dispose of Blair's consistent 6.32 effort.
Steve Castelli qualified his ultra clean "Hot Rod Willys" entry fifth in the A/GAS field with a 7.74. Castelli lasted until the second round, where he was defeated by eventual season champ, Mark Mahood.

Mazi Photo

Hovsepian Photo

Jack "The Sheriff" Harris qualified his "Nitro Thunder" entry in the number one spot of the Top Fuel "A" field, with a 5.955/244. Harris came back in the first round of eliminations and ran a 5.97/241 and would go on to the finals, only to be declared the event runner-up to Rance McDaniel, by virtue of their semi final round e.t.s...McDaniel's round winning 6.02 was enough on paper over Harris' multi-pedaled 7.29 effort.
Chris Abbey entered the "Fuel & Gas Finals" with a slim lead in the A/GAS category, just 12 points ahead of fellow competitor, Mark Mahood. Abbey and Mahood met in the semi final round, where the exciting season championship would be decided. It was all Mahood from the start, as he defeated Abbey for the title using a 7.64, to Abbey's very close 7.68.

Hovsepian Photo

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