KENNY IN CONTENTION FOR SECOND NHRA TITLE
The 2012 Super Comp national champion is in good position to win it all in Top Dragster
When Alan Kenny won the 2012 NHRA Super Comp national championship, it instantly went to No. 1 on the list of accomplishments during his long racing career.
"It's like a fairy tale season," said Kenny in an interview after winning the 2012 title. "If you're a drag racer, the NHRA world championship is your World Series, your Super Bowl, whatever you want to call it. Every year, you lay in bed at night when you can't sleep thinking, 'You know, if I could just win a couple early, maybe I'd have a shot.' "
Given the early season success he has enjoyed this year, there is chance his 2018 campaign may join 2012 at the top of that list. He opened this year by scoring a Top Dragster victory at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., and followed up with another win about 20 miles from his home in Kutztown, Pa., at the Division 1 race in Reading, Pa. All told, Kenny entered the second half of the year second in the national standings, only one point away from first place.
Off To A Great Start
Kenny's Top Dragster victory in Gainesville in March was special for many reasons. Not only was it the first of his career in the category, but it also came in his third different class.
"It was awesome to finally win Top Dragster," said Kenny, who has also scored five times in Super Comp and twice in Super Gas. "We went 6.0s in Gainesville, but those were mineshaft conditions that we may not see for years to come -- 29.90 barometer, 60 degrees, 14% humidity, and an honest 20-mph tailwind -- but we get to keep the time slip."
Kenny has been racing his current ride since 2014 and has spent the years ever since fine-tuning the dragster to the point where it is very consistent.
"I have been learning a lot since I began racing it, and of course learning means losing," he said. "The car has been getting better and better. It started out as a 650 with a blower and carburetors, and then we went to fuel injection and a bigger blower. The car is repeating really well; it has become very predictable. When it runs well, it seems I drive better. I'm more relaxed and can focus better.
"From last year to this year we made no major changes; just a couple of minor tune-up adjustments," added Kenny, who relies on Dan Page Race Cars, engine builder Gary Stinnett, Ed Alessi at Select Performance, and James Monroe for assistance. "James has been a huge help since we went to the injected fuel system. He and I had worked together before, and I just love the way he thinks, and it's working."
Because of its current configuration, the dragster has taken Kenny back to 1975, when he ran an alcohol dragster and an injected-nitro dragster in Pro Comp before switching to a blow-alcohol combination in 1976.
"This car is kind of going back to my roots — running a blower, on alcohol, and with a fuel-injected system," said Kenny. "I think the fastest I ever went back in the 70s and 80s is a 6.42 at 212 mph, so this car is already quite a bit faster."
Kenny is driven by his love for speed, and competing in Top Dragster gives him the opportunity to live that thrill every time he goes down the track.
"It's just a lot of fun to go fast, and in Top Dragster you still get to drive the finish line a certain amount," he said. "I just love it. With my Super Comp car, it was one of the faster cars at 185 mph, but with my current blower car I go 220 mph. Even when you lose, you still get that thrill of reeling a competitor in. Racing is a thrill, an adrenaline rush. You can't drive the finish line like you would in a Super Comp car, but I'm having more fun than ever."
Just Like In The Beginning
As he does every year, Kenny began the season looking to chase championship points with the full support and help of his family, which includes wife Carol, son Jason, and daughter Samantha.
"We don’t all get to the same races like we used to, but it's been a family thing since the beginning," said Kenny, who also pointed out that Samantha, who is married to Pro Stock racer Jeg Coughlin Jr. and had stopped racing for a couple of years to raise her family, has had trouble getting back to the track due to competition requirements that he deems a bit unfair.
"She took time off to start a family, and now she has no grade points. She has run a few races, but with the smaller quotas now, it's difficult to get in," he said. "I think it's kind of discriminating a little bit against women who choose to be mothers. It's like, 'Sorry, but when you come back, you're going to have to start all over again.' She should be able to go back to her last full racing year and use those grade points."
Despite that frustration, Kenny does his best to focus on Top Dragster and compete at any national and divisional events he can.
"I still have my Super Comp car. I started racing it last year, but I was 64 and I thought, 'You know what? One race, one car is enough.' Especially because with the blower car you have to look at the data. And I'm old-school: No matter what the computer says, I like to look at the spark plugs. It just takes more time.
"As long as my health holds up, I'll keep doing it. I still feel like I can win any race I enter. If I ever get to the point where I'm just showing up to be there, I think I would let somebody else drive the car. But I still feel that I can hit the Tree, and if you can hit the Tree, you can win."