The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on November 26, 1981 · Page 28
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 28

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Thursday, November 26, 1981
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Thursday, November 26,1981 - The Salina Journal Page 29 Rocky's Road Incredible winning streak was young Kansan's debut [ • . By ROCKY ENTRIKEN • Motonporto Writer ; Sometimes a hot new sports star ;really does come "out of no'.where." Most of the time, when some- !qne vaults to stardom from "out of no- twhere," it Just means people weren't 'aware of where he was before. Even Fernando Valenzuela played a lot of ^Mexican baseball before the Dodgers 'Signed him. , Jeff Cunningham, Wichita, is the Na- itional Hot Rod Association's newly- crowned World Champion in the Competition category. He also is NHRA's Division 5 champ. Until this year, he had-done very little competitive driving. : He won thoae titles with an incredible string of victories - six events in Ux weeks; 25 consecutive winning matchups. ; The 1980 champion was Norwin Palmer of Manhattan. The title stays in Kansas, but this time it's The Kid, 21- year-old Cunningham, who has wrested the No. 1 away from the veteran Palmer. Cunningham, like Palmer, drives a D/Econo Dragster, the smallest racer in the Comp category. Palmer's is a radical Datsun-powered racer, Gun- Wngham's only slightly less so with a six-cylinder Pontiac motor — although some race reports had it listed as a Chevrolet. -.."It's the same motor," he said, and a. puckish grin was easy to see in the mind's eye despite 90 miles of telephone wire between Cunningham and his listener. He may list it as Pontiac or Chevy Just to keep his competitors guessing. But as much because Chevy is the prevalent engine, Cunningham chooses the Pontiac. "I Just do it to be different," he said. £ He also enjoys the psychological as- 4>ecV of running a D/ED. Everyone lelse, except another D/ED, has to give Jiim a head start. * S "I have the first chance to make a bdstake," he tells his competitors with wide-eyed innocence. Then be adds, VBut when you're sitting there looking lit my green light..." t» • H ; The other guy in the faster car gets antsy, eager to give chase to the young upstart already heading down the dragstrip. It helps explain why more than half his victims lost because they Jumped the start and drew a redlight. Cunningham, so far, 'has never red- lighted. ' He enjoys that almost as much as he enjoys knowing he can blow off the other guy even if both get a clean start. He is consistently a half-second faster than the D/ED index. In August, he lowered the D/ED elapsed time record to 9.61 seconds and raised the speed mark to 139.49 mph. The old marks both belonged to Palmer: 9.69 and 136.51. Before this year, Cunningham's total experience amounted to a handful of 1979 bracket races, he said. He won the divisional bracket title that year, and that set the mold. "The reason I'm a good driver is the competition I started out against (in Wichita)," he said. "It's the toughest in the country." 1980 was spent mostly putting the dragster together, with the aid of his father, T.J. Cunningham, who was Street Eliminator winner at the first Springnationals in 1965. "Pad is the brains - and he's always right," the youngster said. The season was half gone before Cunningham appeared, putting himself through a killer schedule of 10 events in 12. weeks. He began with a Divisional, the lowest rank of event in the World Championship schedule, at Marion, S.D., on June 21. He won, beating Palmer in the final when Palmer red- lighted. A broken brake linkage in the first round stopped him at the June 27 Sum- mernationals at Bowling Green, Ky., where he was fast qualifier. Then at the ;Mile-High Nationals July 4 at Bandimere Raceway in Denver, he failed to qualify, foiled by the problems of high altitude. Then, after a one-weekend break, the streak began. The Summernationals, July 19, Eng- liahtpwn, N.J. - 4th qualifier and winner. ' A Regional (middle-level event) July 26 at Brainerd, Minn. - low qualifier and winner. A [Divisional Aug. 2 in Houston, Texas — winner. The Grandnational Aug. 9 in St. Pie, Quebec — low qualifier and winner. Back to Bandimere for an Aug. 15 Regional, but now he'd solved the alti- Jeff Cunningham tude puzzle — low qualifier and winner. A Regional at Bowling Green Aug. 22. Cunningham had gotten "too good." NHRA added 100 pounds to his car. No matter. All four of his opponents red- lighted and he won his sixth straight. But finally it ws just too much. He had rocketed into the lead for the World Championship and needed only to qualify for the U.S. Nationals Sept. 7 in Indianapolis, Ind., to put the title away. But there had been almost no time for maintenance. The car was tired. Cunningham failed to qualify. A month passed. Cunningham caught his breath and freshened the racer, took it to Fremont, Calif., for the Golden Gate Nationals Oct. 4, qualified No. 4 and won the first round. And there the streak ended. He dropped a valve on that winning pass and could not show for the next round. But the title was his. The season ended on an ironic note. At the World Finals Oct. 18, he was paired with Palmer in the first round. The two best D/ED cars in the country, the '80 Comp champ vs. the '81 Comp champ. Two Kansans going to Irvine, Calif., to race each other, heads up, no handicap. Palmer won the round ("by about four feet," Cunningham said), and went on to win the event. But Cunningham won the golf tournament. For 1982, he's building a new car, and may experiment with Pontiac's four-cylinder motor, but he doesn't envision a long career behind the wheel. "I want to try to make a good name. Then maybe I can get a Job working in the sport. Maybe if I decide to quit (racing) after next year, I can get a good job." Which sounds like a mature young man working toward solid, career-oriented goals. But then the youngster comes through. He doesn't have to be asked the boring stock questions everyone asks racers. He poses them himself, with answers that might be expected of a 21-year-old. "What do I like best about racing? Miss Winston, Carla Renegar. What was my biggest thrill in racing? Watching Carla walk through the pits!" Jeff Cunningham: boy-king perhaps, but king nevertheless. 198Vt Chomploni Wlntlon World Chomplonthlpt (NHRA Top Fuel): 1-JEB ALLEN, K-B, 7146 polntt; 2-Gary Beck, K-B, 7115; 3-Johnny Abbott, K-B. 6537; 4- Marvin Graham, K-B, 5531; 5-Shlrley Muldowney, Plymouth, 5317; 6-Jody Smart, K-B, 5028; 7-Terry Capp, Canada, K-B, 4814; 8-Rlchard Tharp, K-B/ Chrysler, 4570; 9-Davld Pace, K-B, 4051; 10-Con- CAN ADI AN CONQUEST The Grandnational in Canada nle Kalltta, K-B, 3737. Wlntton World Champlonlhlpt (NHRA Funny Car): 1-RAYMOND BEADLE, DODGE OMNI/ PLYMOUTH HORIZON, 7486; 2-Don Prudhomme, Dodge Omni, 6202; 3-Kenny Bernstein, Dodge Omni, 6070; 4-Fuzz Miller, Dodge Challenger, 4514; 5-Gary Burgln, Mustang, 4244: 6-Cralg Epperly, Plymouth Horizon, 3934; 7-Dale Armstrong, Dodge Challenger/Dodg* Omni, 3824; B-Dale Pulde, Dodge Challenger, 3805; 9-Billy Meyer, Chevrolet Citation, 3594; 10-Jlm Dunn, Plymouth Horizon, 3583. Wliwton World Chomplonthlpt (NHRA Pro Stock): 1-LEE SHEPHERD, CAMARO, 10486; 2-Bob Glldden, Ford Fairmont, 9099; 3-Frank laconic, Comoro, 8155; 4-Pat Musi, Comoro, 5542; 5-Dave Hutchens, Comoro, 5382; 6-Andy Mannorlno, Ron- tloc Trans-Am, 5147; 7-John Hagen, Plymouth Arrow, 5062; 8-Mark Yuill, Comoro, 4991; 9-Bob Ingles, Comoro, 4732; 10-Don Coonce, Comoro, 4419. Winston World Championship* (NHRA Alcohol Dragster): 1-BRIAN RAYMER, DONOVAN, 6044; 2- Joe Amato, K-B, 5547; 3-Bill Mulllns, Chevrolet, 5233; 4-Al DaPozzo, Rodeck, 4839; 5-Jerry Darlen, Donovan, 4645; 6-Don Woosley, K-B, 4536; 7-Chet Rlckard, K-B, 4445; 8-Dave Hage, Donovan/K-B, 42B3; 9-Darrell Gwynn, K-B, 4038; 10-Wlllard Bulf Jr., K-B, 3721. Winston World Championships (NHRA Alcohol Funny Car): 1-FRANK ' r ACE" MANZO, MONZA, 5837; 2-Gary Southern, Dodge Omni, 5643; 3-Bob Gottscholk, Chevrolet Citation, 5143; 4-Jerry Gwynn, Dodge Omni, 4543; 5-Gary Clark, Dodge Challenger/Doge Omni, 4329; 6-Jack Holsey, Plymouth Satellite, 4141; 7-Ken Veney, Dodge Omni/Corvette, 4024; 8-Chuck Beol, Plymouth Arrow, 3942; 9-Don HayWood, Dodge Challenger, 3802; 10-Arnle Karp, Dodge Challenger, 3442. Wlntton World Championships (NHRA Competition): I-JEFF CUNNINGHAM, WICHITA, D/ECONO DRAGSTER PONTIAC, 6117; 2-Bob Newberry, A/ Econo Altered '23 T-roadster, 5734; 3-Pat Watson, was the fourth of Cunningham's seven victories. ». Opel GT, 4520: 5-Randy Pumphrey, A/ED Chevrolet, 4269; 6-Kevand Cross, C/ED Chevrolet, 4231; 7- Tom Snyder, A/Altered '27 T-roodster, 4139: 8- Joe Williamson, E/A '23 T-roadster, 4038: 9-Rlcky Klarr, A/EA '23 T-roadster, 3884; 10-Fronk Mazi. BB/Altered Opel GT, 3818. Winston World Championships (NHRA Modi- lied): 1-MIKE EDWARDS, B/SUPER MODIFIED FORD MAVERICK, 6812; 2-Paul Mercure, D/Modl- fied Production Comoro, 6745; 3-Larry Kopp, C/ Gas Opel GT, 6117: 4-Eddie Conrad, F/G Corvette, 5392; 5-Cotton Perry, H/MP Chevy II, 5216; 6 Joe Wlnblad, E/MP Corvette. 4924; 7-Crawford Benhom, G/MP Comoro, 4919; B-Dovid Nlckens, G/MP Comoro, 4791; 9-Ron Anderson, B/SM Ford Maverick, 4736; 10-Bill Duncan, A/Modified Compact Volkswagen, 4735. Winston World Championships (NHRA Super Stock): 1-CHARLIE TAYLOR, SUPER STOCK/J AUTOMATIC CAMARO, 6240; 2-Vol Hedworth, SS/IA Chevy II, 5929; 3-Sonny Ray, SS/DA Plymouth Barracuda, 5906; 4-Chuck Gallagher, SS/JA Camaro, 4905; 5-Dovld Rampy, SS/JA Pontiac, 4808; 6-Phll Webb, SS/OA Chevrolet, 4654; 7-Kelth Lynch, SS/KA Chevy II, 4591; 8-Jerry Caro, SS/BA Dodge Coronet, 4560; 9-Joe Scott, SS/KA Camaro, 4527; 10-Wally Clark, SS/HA Camaro, 4514. Winston World Championships (NHRA Stock): 1- JEFF TAYLOR, J/STOCK AUTOMATIC CAMARO, 5612; 2-Doug Cardwell, G/SA Chevrolet, 5322; 3- Jlm Marshall, F/SA Camaro, 5106; 4-W.A. Lee, O/SA Chevrolet, 5022; 5-Dave LeBrun, A/SA Camaro, 5015; 6-Don McElroy, K/SA Plymouth Vol- ore, 4590; 7-Alon Peters, J/Stock Camaro, 4575: 8-Robert Slater, I/SA Plymouth Duster, 4510; 9- Rock Running, E/SA Pontioc, 4500; 10-AI Provoast, O/SA Oldsmoblle, 4378. Division 5 Championships (NHRA Alcohol Dragster): 1-BRIAN RAYMER, DONOVAN, 4000; 2-Ken Murray, 2400; 3-Mike Troxel, Chevrolet, 1300; 4- Dave Beoty Donovan, 1000; 5-(tie) Porter Donn 8 Roy Motes, 900 each; 7-(tie) lorry Lay 8 Dallas Schneider, 800 each; 9-jtle) Bruce Abbott, Tim Bettale 8 Robert Volkmuth, 700 each. Division 5 Championships (NHRA Alcohol Funny Cars): 1-DON HAYWOOD, DODGE CHAUEN6ER, 3600; 2 Dick Rotter, Dodge Challenger, 2200; 3- Jlm Eberley, Monza. 2100; 4-Bret Goethe. Plymouth, 900; 5-(tle) Maurice Bruenger. Dodge Challenger. 8 Glenn Peormain. Dodge Challenger, 300 each. Division 5 Championships (NHRA Competition): 1-JEFF CUNNINGHAM, WICHITA. D/ED PONTIAC, 4075; 2-Greg Perella. A/ED Chevrolet, 2900; 3- Tom Snyder, A/A '23-T Roadster. 2400; 4 Ron Ne», C/ED CHevrolet, 2000; 5-Tom Webber, B/ Econo Dragster, 1800; 6-Mlke Johnson, C/ED Chevrolet. 1700; 7-Norwin Palmer, Manhattan, D/ ED Datsun, 1675; 8-(tie) Tim Cole, C/ED Chevrolet, 8 Ron Hoover, C/ED Chevrolet. 1500 each: 10-Dorrell Amberson. C/Econo Dragster, 1300. Division 5 Championships (NHRA Modified): 1- GARY CHOMISKI, CANADA, E/MP CORVETTE. 3400; 2-Jlm Ehlen, B/SM Mustang, 2900; 3-Gory Friar, C/SM Chevy Nova. 2800; 4-Jerry Hemmingson, A/G Pinto, 2450; 5-Stonley Morton, B/MP Mercury Zephyr, 2100; 6-John Lyons, E/MP Camaro, 2000; 7-(tie) Frank Estes. B/Street Roadster, 8 Steve Wolnwrlght. F/MP Corvette, 1900 each; 9-Bill Morse, E/Modilied Production, 1700; 10-Dennls Maurer, A/SM Plymouth Duster. 1500. Division 5 Championships (NHRA Super Stock): 1-RICH JOHNSON, SS/AA BARRACUDA, 3100: 2- Monty Jones, SS/KA Chevy II. 3000; 3-Dwayne Scheltlin. SS/FA Barracuda, 2850; 4-Keith Lynch, SS/KA Chevy II, 2775; 5-Dan Dalrymple. SS/LA Chevy II 2700; 6-Kenl Tate, SS/IA Chevy Nova, 2500; 7-Jim Weakland, SS/HA Camaro, 2400; fl(tie) Rod Kister, SS/EA Dodge. 8 Dick Sounders, SS/JA Camaro, 2200 each; 10-Ed Wise, SS/MA, 2175. Division 5 Championships (NHRA Stock): 1-TOM CASSEN, N/SA CHEVROLET. 3300. 2-(tle) Jim Hughes, F/S Comoro, 8 Frank Policky. Q/SA Chevrolet, 2800 each; 4-Larry Henderson, H/S Camaro, 2700; 5-Terry Litwiller. G/S Camaro, 2650; 6-(tle) Denny Reed. C/SA Mustang, 8 Brian Schultz, E/SA Plymouth Duster, 2400 each; 8-AI Nullmon, I/SA Dodge. 2200; 9-Verlyn Fast, F/SA Dodge Dart. 2175; lO-(tie) Marlin Bogner. I/SA Dodge Demon, 8 Bob Koppien, J/SA Comoro, 2000 each. Division 5 Championships (NHRA Super Gas): 1- TIM HODGES, CAMARO, 2900; 2-Mike Musso. Plymouth Arrow, 2100; 3-Lucky Snyder, '37 Chevy, 1800; 4-(tie) Greg Holm, '55 Chevy; Don Mclntosh, '49 Austin, 8 Skip Peters, Corvette, 1200 each: 7(tie) Larry Hotchklss, Dodge Challenger, 8 Bob Tongen, Chevrolet. 1100 each; 9-Denny Johnson, '41 Willys, 1000; 10-Corky Howse. Camaro, 900. Winner's Circle Winston Western 500 (NASCAR), Riverside, Calif., Nov. 22: Bobby Allison. Buick. SINKMASTER DISPOSERS 4fi 95 M.\J 5995 5395 •• Good Better Model 7756 DeWalt Deluxe UPPERCUT™ 250mm (10") Table Saw lOO Reg. 483.77 4x8 Sheets PEGBOARD Ends Clutter In Garages, Utility Rooms And Even Kitchens. Saves You Time. Reg. Special 1/8" 8.64 5,i/a 1/4" ii.2o7.aa ROMEX 12-2 WIRE WITH GROUND 2495 41.95 Value 250' Coil 2 Per Customer Heavy duty, plastic jacketed in-wall household wire, with ground. EXTERIOR DOORS 3-Light Panel 32"x80" 95 F318 i99 Reg. 119.95 PAINT SPRAYERS •UL Listed •Sprays 10.75 Oz. 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