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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (October 21, 2018) – The 2018 California Hot Rod Reunion® presented by Automobile Club of Southern California completed competition at Auto Club Famoso Raceway on Sunday crowning not only event winners but also many champions in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series.

Mendy Fry piloted her High Speed Motorsports dragster to victory with a 5.61-second pass at 259.36 mph in the Nostalgia Top Fuel final taking out Rick McGee. Fry was the top qualifier for the weekend and achieved the low ET for the event in the semi-finals with a 5.550 ET.

In Nostalgia Funny Car, Jason Rupert took home the Wally when he ran a 5.63 pass at 259.51 in his 1969 Camaro bettering Rian Konno’s 5.855 pass at 241.84.

Other winners included Brian Hope in AA / Fuel Altered, Drew Austin in A / Fuel, John Marottek in Junior Fuel, Steve Faller in 7.0 Pro, Bernie Plourd in Nostalgia Eliminator 1, Robert Johnson in Nostalgia Eliminator 2, Lindsey Lister in Nostalgia Eliminator 3, Brian Rogers in A / Gas, Val Miller in B / Gas, Bill Becker in C / Gas, Bill Norton in D / Gas, Scott White in AA / Gas, Roger Holder in Pro Mod, Jack Goodrich in A / FX, and Alex George in Hot Rod.

The 2018 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series champions are Mendy Fry in Top Fuel, Bobby Cottrell in Funny Car, Drew Austin in A / Fuel, John Marottek in Jr. Fuel, Brad Denny in 7.0 Pro, Dustin Lee in Nostalgia Eliminator 1, Robert Johnson in Nostalgia Eliminator 2, Ed DeStaute in Nostalgia Eliminator 3, Frank Merenda in A / Gas, Kevin Riley in B / Gas, Chris Rea in C / Gas, Ed Carey in D / Gas, and Dale Hicks in Hot Rod.

 

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Mendy Fry arrived at the 27th California Hot Rod Reunion with the 2018 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Top Fuel championship already in hand and drove the High-Speed Motorsports AA/Fuel Dragster over the finish line for the event win. Her Top Fuel victory at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield marked a three-peat season clincher for Fry and the team after successive wins the National Hot Rod Reunion and Nightfire Nationals Fry has already clinched her first Top Fuel world championship in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Drag Racing Series, It’s been a banner year for Fry, who has put together impressive performances time and time again, winning two races in 2018. But even with the championship clinched, the team wanted to cap the season with a CHRR win.

“It’s a total celebratory weekend, but we’re not going to the (Hot Rod Reunion®) just to sit on our butts and celebrate,” Fry said. “There are real rivalries that have formed this year and clinching the title early has only intensified that. For me, winning the title makes it even more important to do well at this race. We’ve had a great season and to go and lay an egg at the reunion would really be anticlimactic. I feel like we can go and kick some butt.”

That’s been the theme this season for Fry, who has enjoyed immense success driving the High-Speed Motorsports dragster for Tom Shelar. After racing in Nostalgia Funny Car, Fry went back to the Top Fuel ranks in 2017, joining up with Shelar for a memorable campaign. She won the March Meet in Bakersfield that year, finishing second to Jim Young in a tight points battle. But this season Fry and her team have been a step ahead, consistently running low E.T. and top speed at nearly every event, going to four final rounds. While it’s already been a dream season for Fry, winning the Hot Rod Reunion® would be the ultimate capper to the season.

“This title belongs to the team,” Fry said. “They’ve upped the bar for me as a driver, and thankfully I haven’t screwed it up this year. The thing that’s really helped is getting to know the car. They’re giving me something that repeats and because the team is so consistent and the maintenance on the car is second to none, it’s really upped my confidence level. I love this track and going there. My first Top Fuel win happened at the March Meet and it feels like I’m home there.”

“We lost only one round of racing this year, ran the table on Low ET and Top Speed at every event except for Top Speed at the National Hot Rod Reunion. I’d say Tom Shelar and the crew have it dialed in. My team gave me the car to beat, and I didn’t screw it up. So this win is theirs. I’m just glad they picked me.” said Mendy.

 

 

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Driving for the legendary Bucky Austin for the second season has brought out the best in Cottrell, who enjoyed success in A/Fuel and 7.0 Pro before moving to the Funny Car ranks. Now, he’s on the verge of his first championship, a fact that still hasn’t sunk in yet.

“It’s like a dream come true,” Cottrell said. “If you would have told me I would have a chance to win a championship my second year driving Funny Car I would have laughed in your face. It’s just been a dream season and I’m trying not to screw it up. Everybody just clicks on the team. Everyone has a job to do and they’re very good at it, and having Bucky on my side, his direction and leadership has really made the biggest difference in my driving the last couple years.”

Cottrell jumped at the opportunity to move to Nostalgia Funny Car and drive for Austin a year ago, and he’s come into his own this year alongside the talented team. Cottrell won the March Meet in Bakersfield and has seven overall wins in 2018, including a number of victories in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Drag Racing Series. He still has a tiny bit of work to do to clinch the championship at the Hot Rod Reunion® over Shawn Bowen, but Cottrell is still aiming for a big result.

“Bucky is just very aggressive and he just gets me intense, gets me fired up,” Cottrell said. “Like I tell the crew, this (opponent) is trying to take what’s mine and I’m not going to let it happen. I’m glad he gave me the opportunity and I’m just excited about it. Just the way he’s explained stuff, he’s really easy to understand. I build cars for a living, so we connected in that aspect and it’s worked out so far. Everyone on this team is passionate and I don’t want to let them down.”

 

 

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In Nostalgia Funny Car, Jason Rupert took home the Wally when he ran a 5.63 pass at 259.51 in his 1969 Camaro bettering Rian Konno’s 5.855 pass at 241.84.

"The car ran so good last night (in the first round of eliminations), I was hoping this would happen," said Rupert. "I go to every race with the intention of winning but everyone else does too. We had a lot of weird stuff happen in the pits but my guys persevered. They do a great job."

 

 

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Funny Car Qualifying Session One

Friday, midday. Let the oil downs begin.

 

First pair, first session. Brad Thompson from close by Visalia, CA, in his Jail Break/System 1 '69 Camaro and Billy Morris from La Quinta, CA, in his "Problem Child" '69 Camaro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thompson started to run on aluminum and clicked it to a 5.850 at just 208.04. Morris carded a 6.05 at 173.

 

 

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Pair two matched Matt Bynum from Ypsilanti, MI, driving the "Nitro Nick" '70 Camaro and Dan Horan Jr. who hales from Rancho Cascades, CA, in his '69 Camaro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pair three featured Jon Capps from Las Vegas, NV, in the "Dark Side" '79 Challenger and soon to be FC Champion Bobby Cottrell from Whittier, CA, driving the Austin and O'Brien '69 Camaro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capps carded a 6.282 at 225.26 while Cottrell went low with a 5.738 at 246.93 .

 

 

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Up next was Geoff Monise from Buena, Park CA, in the "Quarter Pounder" '77 Monza and Bill Windham who resides in El Dorado Hills, CA, driving his "Shakedown" '69 Camaro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Had this been a race it couldn't have been closer. Windham stopped the clocks with a 6.05 at 240.51 while Monise also carded a 6.05 at 241.02. Would have been won on the starting line.

 

 

 

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Next pair matched Tim Nemeth down from Chilliwack, BC, in his "Iceman" '77 Firebird and second generation driver Justin Taylor from Anaheim, Ca, in the Mean Wicked Nasty & Mean '73 Mustang.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nemeth stopped the clocks with a solid 5.853 at 244.12 while Taylor fell short with a 6.012 at 233.16. On to session two.

 

 

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Out of the water box came Tony Jurado in his brand new “Capital Punishment” ‘69 Camaro, and Ryan Konno who was about to embark on the best weekend of his career.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Konno carded a flawless 5.82 at 250.74. Jurado made an intentional shut off for the first run on the car.

 

 

 

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Up next for their first shot at the Famoso quarter mile was Cory Lee from Oceanside CA, in Gary Turner's "Pedaler" '79 Challenger. In the other lane was Jeff Utterback from Santa Monica CA, driving the Pisano & Matsubara '74 Vega.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lee got a 5.825 at 250.74 time slip while Utterback slowed to a 6.314 at 218.55.

 

 

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Reigning FC champion Ryan Hodgson from Sturgeon County, AB, Canada in the Pacemaker '69 Camaro and Mike Halstead from Sonora, CA, driving the "Code Red" '78 Camaro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hodgson carded a solid 5.787 at 245.00 as Halstead coasted through with a 9.025.

 

 

 

 

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With the flopper qualifying nearing an end, it was John Hale up from Addison, TX, in his "One Bad Texan" '69 Camaro and Steve Densham in the famlies "Teacher’s Pet".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Densham stepped right up and went low with a 5.679 at 252.90 while Hale jumped into the field with a 5.736 at 255.92.

 

 

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This pair featured Matt Melendez from Glen Ellen, CA, in his "Cacklin’ Critter" '70 Challenger. New to the circuit, its a former Shawn Bowen car now tuned by Jake Sanders. In the other lane was Marc Meadors from Alamo, CA, 'driving his Fuel Curve '70 Camaro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The next to last pair was Jeff Arend from La Verne, CA, in the California Huster '78 Firebird and Jason Rupert out of Yorba Linda, CA, driving his Littlefield & Rupert '69 Camaro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rupert went into tire shake and scrapped the run.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arend went straight to the #2 hole with a 5.714 at 252.90.

 

 

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The last car in a long session that included 2 oil downs was Kris Krabill from Tacoma, WA, driving the Cascade Automotive '79 Omni owned by Rick and Sharise Akers with tuning help from Del & Chuck Worsham who were there at the Reunion, The body is the former Will Martin “Speed Racer” ’79 Omni

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Krabill slowed to a 6.219 at 219.76.

 

 

 

NEXT: Top Fuel Qualifying Session 1

 

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1: Funny Car Qualifying, Session 1

2: Top Fuel Qualifying Session 1

3: Funny Car Qualifying, Session 2

4: Top Fuel Session 2

5: Funny Car Qualifying, Session 3

6: Top Fuel Session 3

7: AA/FA Session 2

8: Funny Car Eliminations Round 1

9: Top Fuel Eliminations Rounds 1 & 2

10: Funny Car Eliminations Rounds 2 & 3

11: Final Rounds and Winners Circle

12: All Class Winners - Pits N' Prople

13: Other Cars, Other Classes

Cacklefest & Honorees

 

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