Drag Illustrated Issue 180, January / February 2023 | Page 56

Special Section
ONE OF THE FIERCEST championship battles of the season took place in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by US Rail , where Henry Underwood emerged the world champion . Underwood picked up his first win of the season at the fourth race in Maryland . It was Underwood ’ s only win of the season , but consistent semifinal finishes at three other races in his ProCharged PAR Racing Engines ’ 63 Corvette gave Underwood the points he needed to hold off contenders like Chris Nyerges , Buddy Perkinson , and Donny Urban .
“ My little girl , Macy , brings me up to the starting line ,” Underwood started as he thanked his family . “ I look at her right before I bump that car in and it just puts a feeling in me that I know I ’ m ready to go . I ’ m just blessed . My mother , she was a woman who ’ d race anyone from stoplight to stoplight . You just had to know her . She put racing in me . My brother , Bob , was a drag racer . He was really good , won many a race . They just put racing in my soul from a very young age . I grew up by a dragstrip . It made me who I am . I love it . I ’ m just very blessed .”
THE COMPETITION LEVEL was also high in Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster presented by Laris Motorsports Insurance . Of the six completed races , five saw different winners in the class . One of those winners was Larry Roberts , who won the Norwalk race in his ProCharged Roberts Equipment ’ 16 Race Tech dragster . He went rounds at four of the other five races to fend off the two most recent world champions , Pete Maduri ( 2021 ) and Steve Furr ( 2020 ).
“ Thanks to the PDRA and the whole Franklin family – we have never been more welcomed at any race sanction ,” Roberts said . “ Thanks to Tyler [ Crossnoe ] and the whole track team . The tracks are always spot on . Thanks to God Speed Ministry , Renee [ Bingham ] and Tammie [ Smith ] for the guidance and pointing us in the right direction . Thanks to Scott Duggins and the crew at PAR for low E . T . s and consistent power . Thanks to Race Tech ,
Russ Farmer and his crew , for championship-winning cars . Thanks to ProCharger , APD Carburetors , NGK Spark Plugs , FTI Transmissions , and Mickey Thompson Tires . Thanks to my family for 43 years of drag racing .”
AFTER BEING CONVINCED to run the full PDRA tour by fellow racer Glenn Butcher , Joe Roubicek claimed the MagnaFuel Top Sportsman presented by Vortech world championship . Driving his nitrous-fed , Sonny ’ s-powered ’ 68 Camaro , Roubicek grabbed his first win of the season at the Bowling Green race . He went on to win in Elite Top Sportsman at Maple Grove , then he was one of the three drivers left in competition at the World Finals before rain hit . He clinched the title by 15 points – mere qualifying points – over defending world champion Nick Meloni . In non-points competition , Roubicek also won the second annual Summit Racing PDRA ProStars race .
“ I ’ m so proud of being a part of this for my own team ,” Roubicek said , thanking his wife , his crew , and people like the Butchers and the Daniluks . “ It ’ s been a phenomenal season . I ’ m riding a wave that started at the end
of [ 2021 ]. I won the last two races that year . I won another three races this year . Drag racing is a losing deal . Ninety-nine percent of us lose . For me to say I ’ ve been to 14 PDRA races , almost seven finals , won five of them , and the last one didn ’ t get finished … I can ’ t believe it .”
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