Over the last two NHRA National events in Reading and Phoenix, Maspeth, New York's Peter Biondo has racked up three final rounds and immensely added to his 2011 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series National point totals. Biondo continues to sit number one in both Super Stock and Super Gas and with only two Nationals left, all eyes are on the east coast racer to take home double championships.
Peter Biondo's Super Stock GT/DA 2000 Pontiac Firebird
The first two of Biondo's finals came for him during the 27th annual Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pennsylvania, which for four of the sportsman classes was delayed by a week because of very soggy pit area conditions. Biondo points out that the feel of Maple Grove Raceway event was a little different than a normal National. "It did feel a little more like a divisional and it was run very quickly," he said. "There really wasn't much time to think between rounds. It was very much hot lapping all day long."
Peter Biondo's Super Gas 1963 Chevy Corvette Roadster
Biondo, who was again competing at this event in both his Super Stock GT/DA 2000 Firebird and his Super Gas 1963 Corvette Roadster, prefers racing at events that run quickly like the one did at Reading. "As a driver, it definitely makes it easier when you are running round-robin," he explained. "The weather's not changing, the cars are more dialed, so you can just focus on executing the starting line. You don't have to pay as much attention to the wind, track and weather because it's the same every time. You're not waiting three hours or three days even to make your next run. So as a driver, it's also a little easier to keep your game face on all day, too."
"At Reading, there was zero time to think about anything between rounds," he said. "Especially with those two classes, Super Stock and Super Gas run back-to-back."
In Super Stock, Biondo drove his K&N Firebird through five tough rounds where he sent home, Brinkman, Fetch, Smith, Welker and Miller before finding himself in his first final of the weekend with Joe Santangelo.
"I try not to focus more on any one round or car any different than the next. I try to go up there and do my very best every time," Biondo confessed. "For some reason, I'm sure it was thinking about the points in the back of my head, I was more focused and driving better in Super Gas."
Going into his Super Stock final, Biondo continued to try to combat some of the issues that the carburetor had been giving them in the Firebird. "The car was running anywhere from a sixty-two to a seventy," he said of his ET's during eliminations. "So for the final, we kinda dialed on the high side and hoped that I could hit the tree and do my job. Santangelo did a much better job there and forced me to break out."
Also making his way to the final in Super Gas, Biondo made his way past Paden Sr., Goldman, Sawyer and Barbato in rounds one through four. This set him up for an all-important bye into the championship round. "There's no better feeling, at three cars, than to be sitting there with the bye," he said. "Especially since the race was my last [National] claim for points and I knew deep down, that I needed to improve. I didn't think my score was good enough to hold up. So, having that bye and being able to go to the final, plus adding points was very important to me."
Biondo took his semi-final round bye in Super Gas and met up with fellow Div. 1 racer, Dale Koncen in the final. He gave up a .005 at the tree, but did an outstanding job of driving the stripe in his K&N Corvette to push Koncen way under the 9.90 index and take his first Super Gas National event win of the season. Championship points for Biondo, which added very nicely to his four NHRA Super Gas division titles from earlier this year to keep him in the number one spot in the country.
With no time to celebrate, Biondo loaded up and headed west for the 27th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals, just outside of Phoenix at Firebird Raceway.
"I really think it is something that everyone on this side of the country needs to experience once," he said of his hefty trip out west. "It's so nice and dry. It's just a totally different deal out there. I would highly recommend everyone go out there to race just once."
"I was able to make it to the quarter-finals in Super Gas," he explained of his Arizona event. "I actually lost a really good round there. I was .009 and 9.906 and lost. It was a good run against Gerald Turczyn Jr."
Where Biondo didn't fare well enough to make it into another final in his Corvette that was a different story in his Super Stock Firebird. For the second NHRA National event in a row, Biondo was in the Super Stock final and looking to make it a more favorable outcome than the week before.
"In the Super Stock final, I actually found a new way to lose," he laughed. "My lights the last three rounds before that weren't great, so I decided to take the top off the button, you know we don't have delay boxes in that class, so we adjusted with the transbrake button. I put shims on it to shorten up the travel a little bit to hopefully get back to a .012 light or something. In the rush, I guess I didn't tighten up on the top of the button and that was the end of that."
The try at a better light caused Biondo to have a terribly uncharacteristic .144 red and send reigning NHRA National champ Ryan McClanahan to the winner's circle. "When I pushed down on the button, the car started rocking back and forth. I bumped the top of the button and the car just took off," he added.
"The experience of running out west with some guys I don't normally get to race with was a really cool experience and to be there to see them win, well that was even better," he continued. "My buddy Steve Casner winning in Super Gas and Steve Williams from K&N winning in Super Comp. That was great to be there for that."
Biondo not only currently sits number one nationally in Super Gas and number three in Super Stock, but he is also looking to secure both NHRA Div. 1 class championships, as well.
"I couldn't do what I do as a driver and stay focused on the tasks at hand if I didn't use parts on any of my cars that I didn't fully trust one-hundred percent," he pointed out. "My K&N oil and air filters more than do the job I need for them to do, especially when I am at a race like Reading was, where we are making hot laps. The cars have to be there for me and with K&N protecting them in so many ways, it's just something I never have to even give a second thought to."
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