Monday, June 4, 2012

NTB Service Central Top Fuel dragster pilot Dom Lagana exits home town race eager for more

The 43rd annual Toyota NHRA SuperNationals was a weekend to be proud of for Dom Lagana and the Paul Richards Racing NTB/Service Central Top Fuel team. They found their groove during qualifying and produced four solid passes to earn a raceday start in front of a plethora of family and friends at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, a facility where patriarch Bobby Lagana Sr. and team owner Richards’ father, Gary Richards, regularly match raced in the 1970s and 80s.

During qualifying, Lagana piloted their team-tuned rail – with calls primarily made by brother Bobby Lagana Jr. – to a 3.864 that was just a tick off of their career best. Although they hurt a motor on their last pass, the team entered raceday with enthusiasm and made the plan to go A to B, just as they had in each previous journey down the historic dragstrip. Unfortunately, a puff of tire smoke slowed their progress, and although opponent Shawn Langdon smoked the tires first, he pedaled and got it back to take the win, 4.21 to 5.14.

“We set the car up to run as good as our last qualifying run, and we were hoping for something between a 3.88 to a 3.92,” said Lagana. “We really didn’t change the set-up, but what happened was it didn’t wear any clutch, and that is something that is out of the tuner’s hands. It didn’t wear enough clutch, and so it grabbed hold of the motor and smoked the tires. The real kick in the butt is that [Langdon’s] Al-Anabi team didn’t make it down, and they’ve had a real good car this weekend. 

“But it’s all good, things like this happen in racing. At the end of the day, we’re happy that our car ran awesome all weekend. Everybody worked their tails off to make four good runs, and the fact that they were all in between 3.86 and 3.94 is pretty awesome. We almost matched our career best run and we made the show, and I couldn’t be more proud of everybody. It’s important to us to represent NTB and Service Central well, and we feel we were able to do that. We can’t wait for the next race.”

The team will next compete on the NHRA Full Throttle Series tour at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., August 16-19, but they won’t be taking much time off between now and then.

“It looks like it’s going to be awhile before the next NHRA race for us, but we would like to put something together – we’re definitely ready to go again,” said Lagana. “In the meantime, we’re going to keep busy racing. Next weekend we’ll be back in Martin, Mich., and then in about a month we’ll be heading out west in Canada for a couple of IHRA races, and we’ve got a match race in Buffalo planned, too. We might be going out west and working on someone else’s car for NHRA’s Western Swing [three summer events back-to-back-to-back in Denver, Sonoma and Seattle]. We’ll have our car with us, so if anything comes up for us while we are there, we’ll be ready.

“For now, I’m just super excited and proud of everybody – my brother, my dad, the whole team. They really worked hard, and besides our Sunday performance, we showed what we’re capable of. It will be great to go to Brainerd and represent NTB and Service Central. We always want to do our best for them, and nothing makes us happier than having the opportunity to take this car down the track.”

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