Huw Evans
February 1, 2009
Photos By: Keith Keplinger
Never one to call it quits, Tom Conrad and his trusty Mustang LX coupe (foreground) were at it again in Norwalk, running in Street Bandit and Street Stang. In the latter class he was more successful, making it to the final against Larry Massiola.

At Norwalk it was anybody's guess who would be the last one standing. From the onset it seemed as if it might be Burton once again, who qualified top of the heap. But one thing was apparent-with Travis Franklin a no-show, somebody else might just take the championship lead. As had been seen before, we had another surprise-Mike Modeste, a former NSCA Limited Street class winner. Modeste was paired up against Burton and his silver Fox for the first round of eliminations and drove around Burton to secure his place in the final against Houston winner Angel Padilla. However, Padilla's car broke on launch, leaving Modeste to motor on down to Victory Lane. With this result, it was clear that the Renegade championship was still far from decided.

Mac Sibley has been having a good deal of success since the new Street Bandit 10.60 class was instigated. By Norwalk, Sibley and the Fairmont were still leading the chase, though Maryland's Tom Conrad Jr. was playing catch-up. In this race, the two archrivals were honor bound to meet each other in the semifinals, thanks to their consistent, canny driving. Sibley had been on form since the beginning, putting Josh Bruce on the trailer and then bagging a solo run to face Conrad, who was itching for his first class win of the year. It wasn't to be as Sibley was first out of the gate and ran an amazing 10.60-second e.t.-bang on the class index. With Conrad out, Bob Cottone was the only driver standing between him and victory. Running yet another 10.60 against Bob's 10.70, Mac's win was sweet, to say the least.

For as long as we can remember, Mac Sibley has been running his Fairmont in FFW events and with a great deal of success, too. In the Street Bandit class, he was on form once again, taking out Bob Cottone in the final and solidifying his class championship lead.

Never one to give up, Tom Conrad figured that if he couldn't win in Street Bandit, he'd give it a try in Street Stang. Sure enough, he made it to the final, where he faced Larry Massiola. However, Larry's 11.90 class was almost right on the class index, and Tom, although faster, broke out of the 11.90 running an 11.86. So there was more frustration for the Maryland driver at Norwalk. Well, at least he was still leading the championship.

Double Breakout
Over in Ultra Stang, it probably wasn't surprising to see S.D. Wheeler making waves. In Round 1 he was paired up against Paul Gamino. Despite both drivers breaking out of their index (11.33), Wheeler was the lesser offender. This left him to go against Pete Espeut in the final. Though Espeut was clearly on the charge, he got ahead of himself, breaking out of his dial while trying to make up for a somewhat sluggish start. That meant that the win was Wheeler's for the taking, solidifying his position as class championship leader.

In the Tremec-sponsored True Street class, around 90 cars showed up to run best out of three. Pennsylvania's Derek Bellotti was the top 11-second winner, thanks to a pair of 10.6s in his second and third rounds. Longtime readers on the Modified side will recognize this '86 GT as a former feature car.

In the Mod Comp class, a sizeable field of cars and drivers showed up for their best shot at the title. The two who pushed the hardest were Shane Williams and Geb Pizzo. By the semis only these two and Mike Kahl were still in the running, with Williams running against him and Pizzo catching a bye. Unfortunately for Kahl, his eagerness caused him to red-light at the tree, putting him out of contention and leaving Williams to motor away to his final showdown against Pizzo. Here, once again, Lady Luck smiled on Williams as Pizzo jumped the bulb, not only giving Shane the win, but also tying him for the lead in the points chase, alongside Jon Pickering.

The Tough Truck class saw regular contender Paul Gamino stand his ground against a challenge from Bob Dill, who qualified first and then proceeded to systematically take out the rest of the field. In the final, these two lined up, ready to give it their best. Paul was fastest out of the gate and from there didn't look back, running a 13.68 to secure the win-this despite the fact that both drivers broke out. Like S.D. Wheeler in Ultra Stang, Gamino claimed his third class win of the season.

Like past years in Norwalk, True Street saw a huge turnout-over 85 cars. The quickest of the lot was Marty Merillat, who scored an outstanding 8.70 average. His best run of the day was an 8.62 in Round 2.