Tightest Top Fuel chase in years heads to Willowbank

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Top Fuel will face one of its most exciting championship deciders in recent years at the Castrol EDGE Winternationals (June 10-13), with just 25 points separating a three-time champion, reigning Champion and a new championship challenger in the race for the title.
The top step of the ladder has been a see-saw all season long, and with Read Racing team-mates Martin Stamatis and Phil Read on a late season charge they now occupy the top two steps with reigning Champion Phil Lamattina in third.

Stamatis now is on the top step and looking towards a potential maiden title, while three time champ Read has moved into second place, while Lamattina is in third just 25 points shy of Stamatis and 10 points away from Read.

“This is so close you just can’t call it, and that is exciting,” said Stamatis.

“Talking to the team, I have been trying to focus them on thinking of this event as just another race meeting – it is very important that we stick to our routine, and not cloud our judgment with all of the championship hype.

“We finally have the belt problem which has plagued us for our past two seasons sorted, so that gives us a new air of confidence and we will be hoping to take full advantage of what is sure to be a immaculate track come race day and give it our best shot.”

Stamatis’ team-mate and three time champion Phil Read said there wouldn’t be any team orders as he hunts for his fourth championship crown.

“We are feeling pretty confident heading in to the Winternationals, the Auto One Valvoline Top Fuel dragster is getting back to where it was when we won our first three championships, and the best bit is there is a bit more improvement left in the car,” said Read.

“As I said before April’s event at Willowbank, my main concern is Martin (Stamatis) – realistically it doesn’t matter who wins out of the two of us as long as the championship goes to Jim Read Racing.

“There certainly won’t be any team orders – if there had been Martin would already have it in the bag!”

Trying to stop both Stamatis and Read is “Carrot King” Lamattina, with the likeable Victorian declaring that it is anyone’s race.

“Anyone can win this – it hasn”t been this close in Top Fuel for some years, any one of us three have had opportunities to run away with it and capitalise and we haven’t, and now we have this interesting scenario where it’s anyone’s race come the final event of the season,” said Lamattina.

“When you look at it, there have been five rounds run and won this season (Sydney’s Summernationals were rained out) and from those five you have had five separate winners – which shows just how close the competition is this year.

“It’s definitely going to be exciting for the fans and anyone that is coming to Willowbank – it is going to be absolutely huge and we will only have ourselves to blame if we haven’t got a competitive car with four qualifiers before race day.

“So many people have stepped up to the plate in this category and have real tough cars – Mark Mariani, Darren Morgan, Martin Stamatis, Phil Read, ourselves, Alan Dobbson for example – that its going to be great racing and we will be giving it everything to try and go back to back!”

The Castrol EDGE Winternationals is the largest drag racing event outside of North America and is expected to host around 500 racers at the season-ending event.

The Thursday June 10 to Sunday June 13 event will host the championship ANDRA Pro Series final rounds for Top Fuel, Top Alcohol, Top Doorslammer, Pro Stock, Morgan & Wacker Top Bike and Morgan & Wacker Pro Stock Bike as well as final championship rounds for all of the sportsman brackets. For more information, schedules or to purchase tickets, please visit www.willowbankraceway.com.au

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