Holley Hot Rod Reunion at Bowling Green, KY

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This year’s 12th annual Holley Hot Rod Reunion saw Top Fuel return in strength with 10 cars on the Beech Bend grounds vying for a spot in the eight-car show.


Dave Hirata was back in Dale Suhr’s “Orange Crate” and he led the field following Thursday’s initial qualifying session with a 5.843 at a stout 254.71 mph followed by Tony Bartone with an early shut off 5.95. After two sessions on Friday, June 13, Bartone was on top of the list with a 5.830, again slowing on the top end. Hirata’s earlier run held up for second and Jimmy Young was third with a 6.013 in Steve and Ernie McClain’s car, just ahead of Jim Murphy’s 6.057 and Randy Bridges’ 6.084. Dave Miller, Lincoln Hassell and Roger Letchenberg filled out the field with Jerry Kumre and Jason Greenwood missing the cut.


Round one began with Bartone making a solid 5.754 solo when Letchenberg was unable to fire as the throwout bearing hung up on the candlestick, engaging the clutch as the crew tried to fire the car. Hirata one-upped Bartone with a 5.743/241.54 as Hassell had problems and idled down the track. Young put the Mill Road Chevy into the fives with a 5.991 at only 212.83 mph to eliminate Miller while Murphy picked up his pace with a 5.823/248.43 to take out Kumre, who was subbing for a broken Randy Bridges.


Bartone, from New York, was again on the pace in round two with a 5.765/243.50 to eliminate Murphy’s 5.857/231.75 effort. Hirata was obviously favored against Young but the driveshaft shield came loose during the burnout allowing Jimmy to solo with an early shut off 7.035.


In the final round Young left on Bartone, .061 to .099 but the March Meet winner drove around him with a 5.773 at 254.81 to the Chevy’s 6.046/229.20. Bartone missed sweeping the event as Hirata had low ET with his first round effort but the New York car was in the 5.7 range in every round on race day.


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