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Rapisarda Autosport International star Wayne Newby has taken a stranglehold on his maiden 400 Thunder Championship after scoring a holeshot win over NHRA star Richie Crampton in the final of Nitro Thunder at Sydney Dragway.

“Newbs” only needs to qualify at the final round of the season - the Winternationals - to make history in becoming the first racer in Australia to secure titles in Top Alcohol and Top Fuel across two national series.

RAI also claimed third and fourth spots when American import Dom Lagana outlasted Western Australian Damien Harris in the ‘B’ final. 

“The final was not pretty because both cars struggled to get down the track,” according to an elated Newby. “I’m thrilled to take the win but in all honesty I’m happier for my crew chief Santino Rapisarda who, if all goes to plan at Willowbank will join his brother Santo Junior in winning Australian championships in Top Fuel. Santino and his crew had the car dialled in from the very first practice run and I got to do the fun part, drive the car. I also want to thank the track staff of Sydney Dragway who got a lot of‘stick’ in the week leading up to the meeting but delivered a great race track on the day and silenced the critics.” 

“Technically we need to enter and qualify at Willowbank to win the title,” said Santino Rapisarda. “ But that’s in the future. At the moment I want to pay tribute to the crew who have delivered our second win in a row. All the hard work has payed off. We run three cars but are one big team. None of us would be here today without the passion and love that our dad, Santo has for the sport.”

“We struggled with traction and a best run of 4.66 was below our expectations,” according to Santo Jnr tuner of the Harris car. “We were a bit greedy in the first couple of runs, then the track got cold and we missed it. But every run you make you learn from. To see a Rapisarda car take the win was a great result for the family and we are looking forward the Winternationals.”

“We took two wins on race day but ended in third place,” said Lee Beard crew chief of the Lagana fueller. “I think the format is a bit confusing. I can see how they want to put on the best show possible, have all the cars run every round and the fans get to see lots of racing. On the day we were just not quick enough. That’s to take nothing away from Wayne and Richie who both made the final. We gave it our best shot and ran in the 4.50’s .Going into the final round, everything I gave the car, the track ate up.”

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