Garden Grove, California's Greg Ventura whittled his way through a weekend of not only tough competitors, but some tough weather conditions to kick his 2012 season off in style as he drove his 1966 Chevy Nova all the way to acquire the very first NHRA Super Gas Wally during the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals in Pomona.
Greg Ventura's NHRA Super Gas 1966 Chevy Nova
The Material Lifecycle Analyst for K&N Engineering has been competing with his Nova since 1999 and for the 2012 season its 565ci BBC is once again equipped with all the latest filtration products from K&N Engineering.
"The weekend was kind of unnerving, because every day was so different," confessed Ventura. "The first two days of the event were seventy-five degrees and warm out and then the next two days were just raining on-and-off and terrible. It was all so diverse [weather/track conditions] and you just have to really be on your game and know your car to be able to preserve through a weekend like this."
After making two time run sessions on Thursday and one on Friday, Ventura made his way through round one of eliminations Friday evening, before having to wait until later on Sunday to get back on a very different track. "It's the Winternationals and for this event, the weather kind of has a history of doing this," explained Ventura of the very long delay between rounds. "You just adapt and not let yourself get keyed up when you know you aren't going to be running. Because letting yourself get that way for no reason, just wears you out."
By the time Ventura and the rest of the Super Gas class got back out on the track, he knew to prepare for the second round a little differently than before. "You have to know that running after the pros, the track is going to be different. It's obviously not going to be as good as it is when you go out there on a Thursday morning, there's a bunch of clutch dust out there," he noted.
Ventura put together a beautiful .007 reaction time and a 9.901 to shut down Roger Kato in round two only to have to put her back away for the night and now, wait until Monday to get back into eliminations where the on-and-off mist postponed the action until later in the morning.
Unlike his second round reaction time, Ventura didn't quite get the light he was set up for during his round three matchup with Gary Mignacca. Both driver's off their game, but it would be Ventura turning on the win light again and another dead-on the index pass. "It would rain and stop and rain and stop, so you are a little caught up in your nerves and you were trying to stay up for it," he said. "If you look at that whole round, everyone seemed to kind of be caught up in that."
That wasn't the only thing Ventura "caught" over the weekend, and by Monday he was also battling one heck of a cold, all while trying to do his best to stay focused through the rounds. "It really hit me Monday morning and I was just sick as a dog," he pointed out. "The thing was, I was doing well and I thought 'what's wrong with this'. Maybe my cold and feeling the way I did kept me more grounded through it all."
His fourth round would give him a nice tune-up run as his competitor, Charlie Waggoner Jr. turned it .004 red now sending Ventura on to an extremely pivotal quarter-final round against P.J. Giacalone in his 1955 Chevy. This round would be a "two-for-one" to the winner, as there was a bye into the final up for grabs. "It's really always been the kiss of death for me, if I know that I have a shot at a bye into the final," said Ventura. "I didn't mean to look that far ahead on the ladder and I actually saw it by accident."
The quarter-final was a great example of competition at this level as Ventura cut it to just inches at the stripe for a .005 margin of victory, his .024 package to Giacalone's .029.
After taking his single into the final, and hoping it would be a chance to run the boss, Steve Williams, in an all K&N Final, it would be Jimmy Lewis that Ventura would meet up with for a shot at the very first Super Gas National Event Wally of 2012.
"I went back to my right lane and when I left, when I pulled the button, I know he has a slow sixty foot but it just seemed like he was a little further behind," reflected Ventura of the final round. "So when we got down there, I looked over and thought I got him by about three-quarters of a car. I just snugged it up as much as I could. I was actually on a .90, but ran a .92. It was just an unbelievable feeling when the win light came on."
The numbers from the time slips show it was Ventura's round to win from the hit, having nearly three hundredths of a second starting line advantage with his .026 to Lewis' .054 light.
"The car was just repeating unbelievably, I really can't explain it," he said of being able to keep the car dialed where he wanted it. "I mean, I've had days like this before, but they are so few and far between. I've won two other NHRA National events, but it's just really hard to believe that I'm a Super Gas Winternationals champion."
"It's great to be able to bring it home for K&N," he continued. "I would have really loved to have seen it be me and Steve battling it out for an all K&N final, but I'm not going to complain too much with how it worked out for me. If you look at the podium, there were a lot of K&N racers up there. Both my cars, the one I ran this weekend and my Super Street car, are always totally protected with every type of product that K&N makes for racing applications. K&N high-flow air filters, K&N oil filters and more, plus the K&N composites hood scoops. I also have to say thanks to Lucas Oil, Taylor Freezers, Race Trans and Goodyear Tires."
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