Las Vegas SummitRacing Nationals
April 10th-12th 2015
The Strip Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, NV
Driver Bill Litton started this race weekend off a little differently by attending a fantastic fan event outside of the famous New York-New York Hotel on the Vegas Strip!
Litton, alongside several other drivers from Top Alcohol to Funny Car and Top Fuel, signed hero cards and was able to interact with racing fans from all over the world!
Litton cheerfully described the event as, “a lot of fun,” and he said with a smile, “It was awesome to see so many people that like drag racing almost as much as I do.”
In the first Qualifying Round of the weekend, Driver Bill Litton faced off against Ashley Sanford. While Sanford and crew faced struggles at the starting line and had to shut-down, the Litton Financial Dragster made it down the track with a 6.446 at 168.79 mph. Robin Samsel gives what he calls a rundown of the “basics” of the round, explaining, “We went up the first round here at Las Vegas looking at 3800 hundred feet density altitude, which is pretty low in the Barometer and a hot track! Track was 120° where I measured it at. Bill got one hell of a light. Car went out, at about 150 feet the car started to shake and Bill caught it. We had previously talked about not trying to go too much farther with it if it did that.”
Crew Chief Anthony Dicero had this to say about the first round run, “We had really tricky track conditions with the Top Fuel dragsters running in front of us. We told Bill it was going to be a tough go at it and he was going to have to stay ahead of the race car and try to get ahold of the brake in case it started washing around. Unfortunately, it got itself out of the groove and ‘knocked the tire off’ but he did a really good job of pedaling it and that was an opportunity there for him to practice pedaling, you don’t get too many of those.” It wasn’t hard to see that most of the dragsters were having a little trouble adjusting to the track, with many not making it down, but Litton and ADR had it under control and knew what needed to be done heading onto the next round.
The ability to be dialed in ahead of the competition paid off as Q2 quickly rolled around later in the afternoon! Dicero said, “Well that was much better! A 540 with a 5 (4.05)! Qualifying third going into the last session, it’s a pretty comfortable position. I feel like there’s a lot more left in the racecar and we plan on trying to let it show tomorrow.” He further went on to commend Litton’s driving, “Bill did a great job keeping it in the groove this time and not letting it get away from him and the scoreboard showed it. We left a little on the table, but hey, being third with the second fastest qualifying run of the session behind World Champion Chris Demke? Nothing to be mad about, we’ll get them tomorrow!”
When Q3 came around on Saturday, the crew was out with the wrenches again making the smallest adjustments that end up meaning the difference between a fantastic run and being dragged off the track. Robin Samsel’s knowledge came into play as he gave a picture of what was to be expected at the starting line. “We’re looking at final round of qualifying. Little bit worse air than what we had yesterday. Track is not very good. We’ve got it tuned a little bit but we’ll see how things work out.” After the race, he described the issues the crew faced heading into the first round. “Car keeps drifting to the right. I don’t know whether it’s the driver or the car so we’re going to take a look at that and see if we can find out what’s going on. All in all it was a good pass but we did slow up five hundredths from where we were yesterday. Mile an hour is still decent for the air and that’s about all we got on this run.”
In the First Round of Eliminations, the air conditions were the worst seen at the track all weekend but the track condition was a little bit better than the crew had been counting on so Tony Samsel made some quick adjustments. Steve Cowie was the competition as the dragsters lined up to make their respective burn-outs. It was the first time Litton and Cowie would go head to head and the run was best summed up on the NHRA results page stating,
“Cowie did his job, but Litton made his best run of the event, with a career-best ET, to run Cowie down by half track and pull away for the win.” Litton ran a 5.398 at 264.75 mph and the crew celebrated the victory that would take them into the Sunday rounds for another chance at winning it big! Litton was excited, “Running a 5.39 in the bad density altitude of Las Vegas would be a low 5.30 or possibly a break into the 5.20’s at most of the other tracks we race.”
When Elimination Round Two came up on Sunday afternoon, there was much anticipation from the crew and the growing crowds. If Litton and ADR could pull off the win here, there would be an automatic bye into the Finals due to how the brackets were set. Facing a fierce competitor tuned by Jerry Darien, Megan McKernan, Litton was just shy of the win. Robin Samsel summed up the run by saying, “The car went straight as an arrow. We were a little behind on the tune up and a little behind at the light so that four-thousandths turned out to be about nine-thousandths to ten-thousandths of a second lost. We were real close.” Tony Samsel echoed his Father’s summation of the weekend adding, ” Basically we had a pretty decent weekend, but the last pass we tuned it up a little bit and it didn’t respond as much as what we thought it would. Hopefully we’ll figure out why it didn’t respond and we’ll go from there.”
Litton Racing returns to Vegas this weekend for a Regional Points meet. The team will have some practice at dialing the car in and Litton will make some passes in the dragster to fine tune his skills. Litton Racing and ADR are well on the way to securing that elusive Wally and if this weekend is any indication, they’d be the up and coming team to bet on!