Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship impresses at Riverbend Nationals

The Riverbend Nationals was truly a ground-breaking event at Dragway at The Bend at the weekend (April 5-7), bringing no end of incredible racing from the entire line-up.

A full complement of Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship racers descended on the state-of-the-art South Australian venue alongside Top Fuel, Top Doorslammer, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle, putting it all on the line for the highly anticipated conclusion to the Western Conference.

The Western Conference final winners and runners-up – those with the most points within that conference at the close of the Riverbend Nationals – have now secured their place at the invite-only Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship Grand Final, as have the Riverbend Nationals event winners and runners-up*.

These invitees will be joined at the prestigious finale, to be held in October, by a to be determined number of invitees of the top racers for each category (based on the cumulative points of each racer’s best four events across the season across both conferences) **.

For an overview of the Riverbend Nationals results for all brackets, including group one, please click here.

For a detailed rundown of how each of the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship brackets unfolded over the weekend and to hear from a number of our event winners and Western Conference final winners, please read on.

COMPETITION

Western Conference final winner, Riverbend Nationals winner and Riverbend Nationals Top Qualifier: Craig Geddes; Western Conference final runner-up and Riverbend Nationals runner-up: Matt Forbes

It was winner takes all for Craig Geddes at Dragway at the Bend for the Riverbend Nationals. The Victorian racer took out the Western Conference final win for Competition Eliminator, as well as the Riverbend Nationals event victory and the Top Qualifier honours.

Geddes stormed to victory on Sunday, enjoying a round one bye before going on to defeat Frank Intini in round two to secure his spot in the event final against runner-up Matt Forbes, who had defeated Mitch Oxley in round one and enjoyed a bye in round two.

“I was very proud to be racing at this awesome facility, it is definitely one of the best facilities in the country,” Geddes said.

“A super smooth track and great weather conditions allowed us to run great times and the event went really smoothly too; it is a credit to all of the officials of the NDRC.

“The car performed faultlessly, it was super consistent, and the track surface was great so we could throw everything at the car that we had.

“We ran personal bests in qualifying and then were able to navigate our way through eliminations, while not pushing it too hard so we didn’t set a record and so can save our handicap for the future.

“It was just a great event, it ran super smooth, and we are proud to be a part of the points series. We are doing what we can to attend all the events we can, and it was very close in the end between Matt Forbes and I, so it was really good to get that win and now we will plan to be at the final.

“In the meantime, I want to say thank you to the crew, Darryl, Rob, Laura, Beau, Jessie, Bella, and Alexander and also the family at home, Amanda and Charlie. Thank you to all of our sponsors also.”

Craig Geddes (Cackling Pipes)

SUPER GAS

Western Conference final winner: Colin Griffin; Western Conference final runner-up: Jordan Spencer; Riverbend Nationals Top Qualifier: Graeme Spencer; Riverbend Nationals winner: Jason Wilson: Riverbend Nationals runner-up: Des Woolstencroft

The Super Gas battle was tight heading into the Riverbend Nationals. Colin Griffin was the only racer on the points gap but was pursued closely by Graeme Spencer, Jordan Spencer and Robert Bergamin.

Graeme Spencer got his weekend off to a strong start by taking the Top Qualifier position but was knocked out early in Sunday’s running by eventual event runner-up, Des Woolstencroft.

Ultimately, it was points leader Colin Griffin who would claim the Western Conference final win despite being knocked out in round two by Woolstencroft, with Griffin’s victory over Vasilios Hondros and Jason Wilson’s defeat of Bergamin in round one helping to seal the deal for the Victorian.

Colin Griffin (Cackling Pipes)

Wilson would go on to claim the event honours, defeating Jordan Spencer in round two before lining up against Woolstencroft in the final.

“I am feeling pretty overwhelmed with this being my first Christmas Tree trophy, and a gold one at that!” grinned Wilson.

“I have been racing for close to 30 years, so to get my first Christmas Tree is pretty special and I am pretty overwhelmed.

“It is sad that my daughter couldn’t be here, she has been to every race so far, but of course, she had to miss this one!

“The weekend went really well. The car was flawless all weekend. Thank you to my wife Michelle and my daughter Grace, and also Pro Automatics, Premier Roof Coatings and Race Radiators.”

Jason Wilson (Cackling Pipes)

TOP SPORTSMAN

Western Conference final winner: Glenn Henley; Western Conference final runner-up: Leon Davies; Riverbend Nationals Top Qualifier: Darren Whitford; Riverbend Nationals winner: Jason Young; Riverbend Nationals runner-up: Greg Damiani

It perhaps wasn’t the Riverbend Nationals finish that Top Sportsman competitor Glenn Henley was expecting, but that didn’t stop him from being announced as the Western Conference final victor after a dominating season that saw him go into the event with the maximum 50 bonus points thanks to his many event wins across the season.

Despite a first-round knockout by David Foster, Henley had enough points going into the final day’s racing to secure the Western Conference final win ahead of runner-up Leon Davies.

Davies, in turn, knocked out fellow contender Valdo Turic in round one before falling to Greg Damiani in round two. Event runner-up Damiani would go all the way to the final against Jason Young thanks to additional defeats over Roc Puccini (round one) and Foster (round three), plus a bye in round four.

Glenn Henley (Cackling Pipes)

“It was great to win, it was nail biting, and a great personal reward for my crew and family for all the effort we have put in, winning five events along the way,” Henley said.

“While we didn’t go as far as we wanted in the event today, the car was consistent as usual and my thanks goes to my crew, my wife Tracey, my brother Brett Henley, Nicholas Karanovic, Brian Keane, Trampas and Brett Matthews, as well as THR Engine Developments, and Craig Carrison Race Engines back in Mount Gambier, Glenara Transport.”

Young ensured he was able to race all the way to the end by defeating Peter Grandoni (round one), Darren Parker (round two), Cory Read (round three) and Sam Cardinale (round four) before his final stand against Damiani to take out the event victory.

“We are stoked!” Young said.

“We worked really, really hard on the car all weekend – we fixed doors, replaced starters, changed lots of stuff – we were working hard, and it is a great result for the boys and the team.

“The whole weekend is a credit to everyone involved; it really is. It was a great weekend.”

Jason Young (Cackling Pipes)

COMPETITION BIKE

Western Conference final winner and Riverbend Nationals winner: Chris Allen; Western Conference final runner-up and Riverbend Nationals Top Qualifier: Edge Mallis; Riverbend Nationals runner-up: Ken Collin

It was a successful weekend for Chris Allen, claiming not only the Western Conference final win but also the Riverbend Nationals.

Competition Bike employs the three-round Chicago Shootout format for its racing, with a 13-strong field of Comp Bikes putting on plenty of entertaining racing for the packed crowd.

Allen secured his spot in the final against runner-up Ken Collin with a round one win over David Willis, a bye in round two and a win from Rob Church in round three.

Collin, meanwhile, had bested Gavin Dohnt and Willis in rounds one and two respectively while enjoying a bye in round three.

Top Qualifier Edge Mallis also put in a strong showing on Sunday, defeating Church and Mark Habel in rounds two and three and enjoying a bye in round one.

Chris Allen (Cackling Pipes)

“I am lost for words to be honest,” Allen said.

“To come here and run a 6.86 in qualifying, and then back it up in round three at 6.85 was really awesome.

“Then we put the bike in ‘psycho’ mode, and I was told to hold on!” he laughed.

“Just running a six second pass which was the main objective of us coming to Adelaide is amazing, and to then also come away with the Western Conference win and the event win, what a bonus.

“I can’t thank my team enough; without them I can’t do this. Also thank you to my sponsors: TD Granny Flats and Modular Homes, Jacks Supplements, PCM Group Perth, MM IT, Burson Auto Parts Rockingham, and Battery World Rockingham.”

JUNIOR DRAGSTER

Western Conference final winner and Riverbend Nationals event winner: Cooper Plummer; Western Conference final runner-up: Sarah Osborne. Riverbend Nationals Top Qualifier: Taylor Horton; Riverbend Nationals runner-up: Zayne Condello

It was double the celebrations this weekend for Cooper Plummer, who not only claimed the Riverbend Nationals Junior Dragster event victory, but also the Western Conference final win.

On his way to the win, Plummer defeated Todd Wagner in round one before knocking out top qualifier Talor Horton in round two, before round three brought a victory over Lachlan Walker. Plummer then lined up against event runner-up Zayne Condello in the final.

Western Conference runner-up Sarah Osborne had a strong showing throughout the day, making it through to round three before being knocked out by Condello, with prior wins over James Barlow (round one) and Madalen Datson (round 2).

Consistency was the key for Plummer this weekend, despite the South Australian struggling through the qualifying rounds.

Cooper Plummer (Cackling Pipes)

“I am absolutely stoked, I really, really wanted the Western Conference win and to get it was absolutely amazing,” Plummer enthused.

“And to get the event win, that was like a little cherry on top, it makes it even better.

“It wasn’t really a smooth weekend for us, we had some troubles with the car during qualifying with it stalling in the bottom end and we couldn’t get it to run on the index. We weren’t really able to get it sorted out entirely, but it was running consistently, so we worked with it, and it all came together.

“I really did not think I was going to win; I went into some rounds up against some real heavy hitters, and I am just in disbelief,” concluded the 14-year-old.

MODIFIED BIKE

Western Conference final winner, Riverbend Nationals event winner and top qualifier: Dean Jamieson; Western Conference final runner-up: Lucas Neagoe; Riverbend Nationals runner-up: Matthew Yard

Dean Jamieson had his hands full on Sunday evening, claiming the accolades for the Western Conference final win and the Riverbend Nationals event win.

Jamieson, who was also the weekend’s top qualifier, went into the weekend with 280 points behind Lucas Neagoe and Johnny ‘Hog’ Ireland – who were both on the cap – as well as Derryn McGregor (290) who did not take part.

Jamieson’s event and Western Conference final win came following race victories over Colin ‘Baldy’ Sainsbury and Michael Cristoforo in rounds one and two, before a bye in the final sealed his spot in the final, where he took the victory over event runner-up, Matthew Yard. 

Despite being knocked out in round one by Cristoforo, Lucas Neagoe still has plenty to celebrate, being named as the Western Conference final runner-up.

Dean Jamieson (Cackling Pipes)

“I am a bit beside myself really,” Jamieson said at the end of the event.

“Johnny (Ireland) and Lucas (Neagoe) both had losses in round one, so I was sort of playing catch up (in the Western Conference) all weekend to them. It takes a bit of luck, and we had some go our way.

“It was tough racing out there. You never know what ‘Baldy’ is going to put up and then we had to race Mick Cristoforo in round two and he is a pretty handy racer – we have raced him a couple of times and it has gone either way. Then we had a bye run, where I went red – have been trying to fix that all weekend, leaving a few cherries, so that was a good time to do that and saw me a little cautious in the final!

“I am just so happy, and it is great that with Lucas and I being such great mates that we could go 1-2.”

SUPERCHARGED OUTLAWS

Western Conference final winner and Riverbend Nationals Winner: Dale Tucker; Western Conference final runner-up: Shaun Kerkman; Riverbend Nationals Top Qualifier: Milan Dokic; Riverbend Nationals event runner-up: Larry Basile.

Supercharged Outlaws racer Dale Tucker was another who had multiple accolades to claim at the end of weekend presentations at Dragway at The Bend, claiming the Riverbend Nationals event win and also the Western Conference final win.

Tucker went into the weekend’s event as the only racer to have hit the points cap and converted that lead into a comfortable Western Conference final win.

Tucker found his way to the event final after emerging victorious from battles with Mike Evans (round one), Western Conference final runner-up Shaun Kerkman (round two), and Larry Basile in the final.

Kerkman, who was next behind Tucker in the points, headed into the weekend and secured the runner-up position with a successful match-up against David Pessios in round one before coming up against Tucker in round two. Meanwhile, the weekend’s Top Qualifier, Milan Dokic, advanced to round two with a bye in round one before being knocked out by Basile in that round.

Dale Tucker (Cackling Pipes)

“We set out with the intention to win in the Western Conference, but to also have a go at the event win,” Tucker said.

“We only really had Shaun Kerkman to worry about in the points as far as who would be able to catch up, so we were very happy we got to race against him in the second round.

“It was quite good racing, the event went smoothly, the weather was reasonably good, and the track was great.

“The car ran spot on and was extremely consistent with almost identical runs all weekend; it helps make you hard to beat when you can back up with identical runs.

“Thank you to my family and crew for giving up their time to attend the event and their support across the season, and also to my sponsors that have helped me get through the season: Keller Grain, AutoPro Renmark and Riverland Country Meats/Riverland Country Kitchen.”

SUPER STREET

Western Conference final winner: Tony Antonino; Western Conference final runner-up: Michael Jennings; Riverbend Nationals Top Qualifier: Katrina Read; Riverbend Nationals winner: Andrew Waight; Riverbend Nationals runner-up: Michael Bridges.

Tony Antonino was announced as the Western Conference final winner for Super Street following a countback after being eliminated in the second round by event winner, Andrew Waight.

Antonino came into the weekend on the points cap alongside Michael Jennings, who was knocked out in round one by Top Qualifier Katrina Read.

“The Riverbend Nationals went very well and it was a successful meeting. I really want to thank the fellow racers and congratulate the other winners and runners-up of the Western Conference. Thank you also to my crew, Bergamin Brothers Racing, and my family for supporting what I love doing so much,” Antonino said.

Tony Antonino (Cackling Pipes)

Waight’s event win came after knocking out Wayne Edwards in round one and Read in round three, before a victory over Tex Griffith in round four before the final match-up against Michael Bridges. It is worth noting that if Bridges had been able to win the event final, it would have been him and not Antonino celebrated as the Western Conference final winner.

“This is awesome. It was a ripper weekend that was put together, and it was good to finally put the wagon in the winner’s column!” Waight said.

“It was such an awesome, great event. The Finals ran like clockwork, congratulations to all involved for sure.

“Pretty much everything went to plan for us over the weekend. It is a shame that Michael Bridges was having some engine issues in the final and so wasn’t able to bring all he normally could to the final, but he did the best he could.

“It was a great weekend, a tough weekend, a long weekend, but it was unreal, textbook. I am still lost for words really.”

Meanwhile, event runner-up Michael Bridges stormed through the brackets with defeats over Allen Brooks (round one), Stefan Lainas (round two), and Paul Aforozis (round three) before a bye in round four.

Andrew Waight (Cackling Pipes)

SUPER SEDAN

Western Conference final winner and Riverbend Nationals Top Qualifier: Tony Miskelly; Western Conference final runner-up and Riverbend Nationals Winner: Martin Mirco; Riverbend Nationals runner-up: Joe Carbone

Tony Miskelly might have been dispatched in round three of the Riverbend Nationals, but that wasn’t enough to stop him being heralded as the Super Sedan Western Conference final winner at the weekend.

Miskelly also claimed the Top Qualifier honours before going on to make it through two rounds of racing with a bye in round one and a defeat over Darren Russell in round two before coming up against event runner-up Joe Carbone in round three.

Tony Miskelly (Cackling Pipes)

“I am very happy with the Conference win, we have had some good results at Darwin and Mildura with wins and brought some good form into the Riverbend Nationals,” Miskelly said.

“I was lucky enough to go a few more rounds than the other competitors to achieve the win for the Western Conference. Congratulations to Marty Mirco on the Riverbend Nationals win and also thanks to my fellow Super Sedan competitors for a great season.”

Carbone made it all the way to the semi-finals with victories over Kym Driesener (round one), John Pellas (round two), Miskelly (round three) and Steve Paech (round four).

Event winner Martin Mirco was able to best Carbone in the final after taking defeats over Deb O’Connell (round one), Lance Larcombe (round two), and Ned Karanovic (round four), with a bye in round three.

Martin Mirco (Cackling Pipes)

MODIFIED

Western Conference final winner: Kenny Stewart; Western Conference final runner-up and Top Qualifier: Simon Barlow; Riverbend Nationals winner: Daniel Carranza; Riverbend Nationals runner-up: Derek Wills

The Western Conference final win for Modified was almost anyone’s game heading into the Riverbend Nationals, with a host of racers in mathematical contention coming into the event at Tailem Bend.

Ultimately, Kenny Stewart would prove successful, with three round wins across the event enough to seal the deal.

Stewart first lined up against Anthony Raschella in round one before defeating Western Conference final runner-up and Top Qualifier Simon Barlow in round two. He was then knocked out of further event contention by eventual event winner, Daniel ‘Batdan’ Carranza, in round three.

Kenny Stewart (Cackling Pipes)

Carranza made it all the way to the top step of the ladder with wins over David Bonetti and Cory Dyson in rounds one and two, then coming up against Stewart in round three before going on to defeat event runner-up Derek Wills in the final.

Wills had booked his place in the final by taking race victories from Daniel Bader (round one), and Fiona Crisp (round two) before a bye in round three.

“I have no words to be honest,” Carranza said.

“It is still pretty unreal to me at the moment. I am pretty happy!

“We struggled quite a bit in the last round at Mildura – what a way to come back and take out the event!

“This puts us in a good position, and I have to thank my whole crew, my mum and dad, Rob and Anne – without those guys I wouldn’t be able to do what I do, and I am very thankful to them.”

Daniel ‘BatDan’ Carranza (Cackling Pipes)

SUPER STOCK

Western Conference final winner and Riverbend Nationals winner: Steve Norman; Western Conference final runner-up and Riverbend Nationals runner-up: Kim Fardella; Riverbend Nationals Top Qualifier: Nick Totsikas

The Super Stock Western Conference final win could have gone one of three ways, with contenders Steve Norman, Kim Fardella and Graeme Simms all on the cap and all competing at the Riverbend Nationals at Dragway at The Bend.

Both Norman and Fardella made it through to round two – with Norman defeating Darrin Gay and Fardella defeating Simms in round one – before going to battle for the Western Conference final and Riverbend Nationals wins.

Norman would ultimately prove victorious in the final stand-off with a 8.225 second 264.28kph run over Fardella’s 8.474 second at 255.93kph.

After securing the Top Qualifier position, Nick Totsikas was unable to take part in Sunday’s elimination rounds.

Steve Norman (Cackling Pipes)

NEXT STOP: SYDNEY

The National Drag Racing Championship, including two rounds of the Eastern Conference for the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship, now heads to Sydney Dragway across 3 to 5 May for the Gulf Western Oil Nitro Champs.

Joining a full field of sportsman racers will be no shortage of nitro action, including both the fire-breathing Top Fuel dragsters and Nitro Funny Cars as well Top Doorslammer, Pro Mod, Pro Stock and Top Fuel Motorcycle (exhibition).

Like the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship, Top Fuel will also be enjoying two rounds of its championship chase at this event.

For event info and tickets, go to ndrc.tv

*Assuming those racers have completed at least three NDRC events across at least two different tracks. Riverbend Nationals can be included in the three events.

**The exact number of invitees per category for the Grand Final is to be confirmed but will be based on the average number of competitors for each bracket across the season. No points will be carried into the Grand Final with a winner takes all format to be employed.

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