In a season that dreams are made of, K&N's Peter Biondo secured his sixth NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series National Championship during the very first round Super Gas during the 47th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. The championship in Super Gas was a first for the veteran racer who only began competing in the class in late 2010, after he tested the waters and won a NHRA National Event in only his second outing.
Peter Biondo First NHRA Super Gas Championship Win
Peter Biondo at the 47th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals
Better known to the racing community as a very successful Stock and Super Stock competitor, Biondo made the commitment to a full season behind the wheel of good friend Anthony Bertozzi's 1963 Corvette Roadster in Super Gas after starting his 2011 season in Florida right where he had left off, producing outstanding results. After putting together three victories, between his Super Stock and Super Gas entries, during just his first two events of the year, Biondo now had a different outlook on the season ahead. Whatever plans he may have had about chasing a possible championship or not, were certainly put into a completely different perspective after grabbing an early and large point lead. It was now a go.
Biondo went on to have a very impressive season in both Super Gas and Super Stock, winning two nationals and divisionals in his Super Stock car and four divisionals and one national coming into the final event of the season, the NHRA Finals in Pomona, California.
Prior to the season ending event, Biondo competed in the NHRA National event in Las Vegas with the hopes of hanging on to the possibility of claiming not one, but two national titles. "Vegas certainly had its ups and downs," said the newly minted Super Gas Champ. "I watched fellow Super Stock competitor, Jackie Alley go round after round and go right around me [in points]. Then about an hour after that, I ran Jackie in the final and beat her. So within about an hour, I had a national [Super Stock] trophy yanked from me and yanked back a National event trophy."
Biondo has raced out west in previous seasons, but it is not the norm for him. With the shot at two national titles, it was his single most important reason for making the trek and to try and keep the hopes alive.
While he had been watching Alley come on strong during the late part of the season in Super Stock, he also was keeping tabs on fellow Super Gas racer, Mike Sawyer. "I think between both Vegas races he probably went about nine or ten rounds. That, of course, pit him in contention and he was on a roll. So it was a matter of Mike Sawyer not going a bunch of rounds and getting to the final round again [at Pomona]."
With already five championships to his name, Biondo confesses that there were many ups and downs during the final few races of the season, with not only his shot at double championships, but also the hopes that his brother and fellow K&N racer, Sal Biondo was going to secure the title in Comp Eliminator. "I have to admit that I couldn't sleep some nights," he said. "You just try to deal with the stuff that's in your hands and as hard as it is, you try to worry as little as you can about the stuff that's not in your hands. You just take each day, each decision and try make them the best you can and I mean that for everything you do both on and off the race track."
But try as you may, it's still not as easy as one may think to take rounds into your own hands and pair up with a particular competitor, but Peter Biondo managed to get it done. "I didn't blatantly sit in his pit area of anything, but I saw him go by," he explained of his first round Super Gas match up with Sawyer. "I knew he takes right lane, so I went into the left [in the staging lanes], since I wanted to keep fate in my own hands. I actually missed him by one car, but ironically enough [laughs], his father got pulled for the bye run and because of that, it paired us up."
"Had I not been able to pair up with him, it wasn't the end of the world," he continued. "I was OK with it and we were going to let things play out and then all of a sudden they called out from the tower car number so-in-so has the bye run, [laughs] so I guess that part of it was just meant to be."
In what would become a championship deciding round for Biondo, he quickly went to work with his magic at both ends of the track and quashing any hope for Sawyer by coming out on the better side of a double breakout and therefore clinching the 2011 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Super Gas title in grand style.
For those that may not be aware, there are special driver's win lights at the far end of each race track near or on the top of the wall. During this particular moment and this round, Biondo notes the win light in his lane caught his eye a little more than usual. "I'm not even kidding, it really seemed like it was super-super bright," he admitted. "That came on, and maybe they are a little brighter at Pomona, I don't know. It was like five o'clock and the sun was going down, so maybe that helped."
"When I had to sit at home and watch him [Sawyer] just run through the field and win light after win light, it was a pretty hopeless feeling to have," he pointed out. "You know, just sitting at a work desk and watching him on the internet in Vegas [division race] go rounds. So to turn on that win light and have it be the deciding factor was very-very special."
With the 2011 Championship now in his back pocket, Biondo didn't let it get in the way of the next six rounds that lay ahead of him. Even though the last few rounds of the event had to be held over until the following morning, he went on to put more like gigantic explanation point, rather than a just a little ol' period, on his season. Biondo ended his season the way he started it by adding yet another win and grabbed the final Super Gas National Event victory of 2011 went he prevailed over Dana Keniry, thanks to a nice starting line advantage.
The memories that Biondo took away with him from this year's Pomona event differ from night to day to those from 2010. "What a difference a year makes," he noted. "One year and a day ago from winning this year, I was flipped over upside down and on fire in a Comp car during first round. It was just horrifying. So just a one-hundred eight degree circle from last year."
The newly crowned champion looks to start 2012 right where he left off and his current plans are to make the first few races of the season out west and again, compete in both Super Stock and Super Gas. "We'll see how I do and how we feel after those first few races and take it all from there," he explained. "As hard as it would be to put the Super Gas car away, I do miss my Stock car. At some point next year, I do want to get that out."
In addition to being a multi-time championship racer, Biondo is also becoming quite the race promoter with his good friend and fellow racer, Kyle Seipel. For the third year they have announced that their K&N Spring Fling 20's will be held at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tennessee and the date for the 2012 four day event has been slated for May 17-20.
K&N is not only a major part of Biondo's annual event, he also considers them be a major part of his on track success over the years, as well. "It only takes one weak link and your whole season could crumble," he explained of the importance of the parts used on all of the cars he races. "Just like a good friend of my, Dan Fletcher says, â€˜You're only as good as your equipment.' I envy him in the way he has the best equipment out there and I try to have the maintenance and the good parts like he does. I know how important it is, so I don't spare any expense as far as parts go. I want to give myself the best chance possible chance at winning. Obviously, K&N is a very big part of that equation, along with Goodyear, VP and many other companies I deal with throughout the year."
In addition to the Super Gas National title, Biondo also finished as the NHRA Div 1 Super Gas champion, finished a very strong second in the country in Super Stock as well as an extremely respectable third in his tough home division.
"I am so very grateful to everyone at K&N, for all they do for sportsman drag racing in general," he continued. "The quality in each and every one of their products is absolutely unsurpassed and as I mentioned, you cannot have one weak link and expect to win rounds, races or let alone championships. Install K&N oil filters, air filters or any one of their products and the job they do speaks for itself."
From everyone at K&N Engineering, congratulations to Peter Biondo on your 2011 NHRA Super Gas National Championship!
Find K&N products for your vehicle using the K&N application search then use the K&N dealer search to find a K&N dealer in your part of the world.