While most know K&N's Mike Ferderer for his fantastic success in sportsman drag racing, especially in the index classes of Super Comp and Super Gas, it truly doesn't seem to matter what class the Washington state resident enters. Ferderer proved that during the 24th annual FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals when he grabbed his second NHRA Top Sportsman National Event Wally, in only his second time entering the class.
Mike Ferderer grabbed his second NHRA Top Sportsman National Event Wally
Mike Ferderer and his K&N Pontiac Grand Am
"I guess you could say I'm batting a thousand," chuckled Ferderer, when speaking of his latest accomplishment. "I better quit while I'm ahead. I've only entered two [NHRA Top Sportsman Races] and I've won both of them."
Ferderer hasn't been on the scene as much as usual this season, due to several surgeries since learning of his prostate cancer in January of this year and a recent hernia surgery. "It's taken my eye off the ball, so to speak. We're getting back on track, but I wouldn't say we are one-hundred percent yet," he said of his medical situation.
Obviously, one would have never known of the hurdles Ferderer has overcome, as he did not show one ounce of weakness and was as strong as ever behind the wheel of his K&N Pontiac Grand Am in Sonoma, California all throughout both qualifying and eliminations.
"The car was pretty much flawless," he said of the weekend. "I just switched over to Red Line Oil and that really worked out good. Saturday I did a pretty good driving job, but Sunday I left my driving brain in the trailer or something. But luckily, I was able to make it through."
"You know to get ready to run in this class, there are a ton of changes that have to be made to the car," Ferderer pointed out. "You have to move the four-link, the shocks and this and that. Just a bunch of stuff has to be done. It's not just taking the stop off the car, not in my car."
Unlike many cars in Top Sportsman throughout the country, there are no power adders such as nitrous to be found on Ferderer's K&N Grand Am, just good ol' raw horsepower. "I had a guy come up to me and ask me what did that thing run, like he was almost in disbelief of what he saw. I said, oh 7.35 at almost 186. And he goes, 'With an air filter in the hood scoop?' And I said, 'Well yeah, it's a K&N Air Filter. That's why it goes that fast. Then he told me, 'Wow, I gotta get me one of those.' Yes, the K&N filters and scoops really do their jobs."
Ferderer qualified seventeenth and was paired up with Craig Olson in round one and while Olsen went .001 red, Ferderer would have been pretty tough to beat with his good light and 7.391 on his 7.39 dial. He went on to beat Johnny Matassa in round two but first killing him on the tree with his .004 to Matassa's .036 reaction time. That would set him up for a strange round in the quarter-finals with Curt Geise.
Both competitors started their burnouts and then Geise's turbo GTO got into his own oil and nailed the guard rail with the right front fender, which gave Ferderer a competition single and a chance to easily get his tune up ready for the semi-finals against Dan Borg.
Ferderer had a very uncharacteristic late light and his competition just missed the tree going .005 red and send Ferderer into his second Top Sportsman final.
"As I mentioned before, on Sunday I just got lucky," confessed the multi-time NHRA National Event Champ.
"The final was a calamity in itself," explained Ferderer. "I was feeling very confident going into the final and I had been the slower car all day. So all I had to deal with was the delay on the starting line. I cinched her down a little bit and I figured a fifteen light would be good. And as it would have been, I forgot the guy next to me was dialed slower, so I had to use the cross-talk. I never used the crossover. So he went red by .002 and I went red by .202 because we both left at the same time."
"So that's why I was real-real lucky," he added. "I mean I know how to do it [cross-talk and being the quicker car], I just forgot to do it. I wasn't real proud of my driving but evidently I was making less mistakes than my competitors."
Ferderer was quick to point out the folks who helped him throughout the weekend to win his 23rd NHRA National Event Victory, "Mike Henderson, who runnered-up in Top Dragster. So towards the end there, we were both kinda busy. So he really couldn't help me anymore and I normally help him when I'm not running. Travis Hodges, who works with Steve [Williams] was helping both of us. So Travis pretty much gets all the credit for working on two cars over the weekend and getting both of them into the final."
"Travis worked his butt off. He was really the man of the hour," he continued. "Both K&N cars with Henderson and I, and it was just great."
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