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2017 Drag Week: Day Three
Alex Corella passes the mid-way mark while struggling to remain a contender
Hump Day proved to be a difficult one—on track—for Miami-Dade firefighter Alex Corella and his turbocharged 1993 Mustang LX. The start of Day Three of Hot Rod Drag Week, powered by Dodge and presented by Gear Vendors Overdrive, began just like any other. On Tuesday night Corella and his co-pilot and girlfriend, Christina High, made a drama-free 289-mile drive through the state of Illinois, going from Madison (just outside of St. Louis) up to Rockford, after their teammate Mike Jovanis and your author had to bail out of competition with mechanical issues. They were feeling confident on Tuesday night as the provisional class leaders in Street Race Small Block Power Adder, albeit by a small .0005 margin.
The third day was spent at Byron Dragway and Corella made three runs, more than he anticipated but he is moving on to Day Four. Street Race Small Block Power Adder is, perhaps, one of the most challenging categories with its 8.50 hard limit. The Hot Rod Drag Week staff didn’t intend to have an ET-limited category when it started a few years ago; the original rule was that vehicles in the class weren’t allowed to have a funny car cage.
As the racers kept pushing each other over the past several years, the Street Race Small Block Power Adder top runners are now up against the SFI-imposed line in the sand. Last year there were a few racers playing the game of staying at 8.50 and the Street Race class exploded in popularity for 2017. Fifty-one entries showed up this year and many of them in the 8-second zone. Corella held the top spot heading into the third day, but he had a hard time retaining it as the group pushed past the midway mark of the competition.
Corella’s first hit on Wednesday occurred mid-morning and he clicked off an 8.64 at 158 mph, far off his barrage of mid-to-low 8.50s that he had been turning since Sunday’s test session. “I lifted early on that run,” commented Corella as the stress and fatigue from 500-plus street miles and lack of sleep began taking its toll. The road trips vary between five and six hours as the Hot Rod officials select interesting routes through backcountry roads and small towns.
Corella and High hustled to pack the parachute and get back in line after their first run, but the Floridians narrowly missed the open time session and had to wait for the Street Eliminator class runoffs before he got another stab at the track. During the downtime, Corella plugged in his laptop to review the Pro EFI data to ensure the 308ci engine and Bullseye Power 83mm turbocharger were running properly. The air/fuel ratio was dead-on and the E85/pump gas ratio was back to an 80-percent mix, favoring the corn.
One thing to note, the weather was warming up, so to combat that issue and take aim at the 8.50-second max limit, Corella upped the starting line rpm by 500 rpm. The result was good and bad, depending on how you want to look at it. The car carried the wheels higher and further than ever before, indicting he was on a good run. The scoreboard revealed a fast 8.45 at 163 mph, his best time of the week, but when you are shooting for an 8.50, there isn’t a reason to celebrate.
By mid-afternoon Corella was holding one time slip that was too slow and one that was too fast, meaning he should make another attempt on track. The third pass wasn’t as fortuitous as planned, the car broke traction and Corella ran 9.20s. Time ran out and they had to hit the road for a brisk 152-mile journey to Great Lakes Dragway in Wisconsin.
His competition, Jason Doisher in a LS-powered Mercury Marquis wagon, ran an 8.52 at 158 mph after several attempts to get a good timeslip. The other racer hot on Corella’s heels was Chris Bishir and his turbocharged LS setup in a Chevy S-10 pick up truck. Like Corella, he needed three runs to snag an acceptable timeslip and Bischir ran 8.55 at 161 mph. By midnight, the official results confirmed their suspicions—Corella slipped back to sixth place with an 8.5590 average while Doisher took the lead with an 8.518. A top finish would require a serious turn of events for Corella, but a Top 3 finish, like he completed last year, is still attainable with two more days of drag racing left on the schedule.
The fourth day of competition goes down at Great Lakes Dragway and the contestants will have one more road tour that evening, bringing them back to where it all started—Cordova International Raceway, for the fifth and final day of competition.