No team orders for Top Fuel title decider

The Top Fuel title chase has been incredibly close all season long, and as we head into the NDRC season-ending Gulf Western Oil Winternationals next weekend (6-9 June), one team occupies the top two spots with a narrow margin between them.

Defending champion Damien Harris leads on 626 points ahead of his Rapisarda Autosport International team-mate and former champ, Wayne Newby, on 587 points.

Phil Lamattina is third placed on 521 points ahead of Peter Xiberras (473) while Phil Read rounds out the top five (429).

It is an exceptionally talented top five, with each racer having a championship (or two or three) to their name, and with many making leaps forward in performance in recent times, the competition is set to be incredibly fierce across the entire field as they look to snag a prestigious Winternats win, and in the case of the Rapisardas, another national title.

“There have never been team orders, and that is certainly still the case heading into the title decider,” Harris’ crew chief, Santo Rapisarda Jnr, said.

“From our side we are just happy to still be in contention at this point, especially considering our Perth weekend.

“To get two titles in a row for Damien would definitely be nice, but really we are just so happy to be in the position to be fighting for it, as we really weren’t expecting to be in this position after Perth and given we are still in the back-up car after Perth – unfortunately due to the short turnaround time between events the original hasn’t made its comeback yet, we don’t want to rush it and show up unprepared and without any testing, so we will just aim to have that ready for next season.

“While it may be the back-up and Damien isn’t quite 100 percent comfortable in it, the “C” car has certainly been performing very well for us, snagging new Australian ET and MPH records at The Bend and going to the runner-up spot at both The Bend and in Sydney.

“At the end of the day, what will be, will be. That is the beauty of drag racing. We will just do what we can and at the end of the day as long as the trophy comes back to RAI HQ then that’s mission accomplished, either way I will be proud of what the whole team has accomplished this season,” concluded Jnr, while sending a shout out to everyone involved in getting the new Willowbank Raceway track surface up and running in time for the Winternats.

For Santino Rapisarda, crew chief for Wayne Newby, it has been a season of learnings.

“It has been very up and down all season – it started well but we have definitely handed away a lot of points through forced and unforced errors, but at the same time we have made a lot of developments with the car which we are very happy about,” Santino said.

“While I am the crew chief for Wayne and Jnr is crew chief for Damien, we do work on both cars, and my brother and I take a lot of pride in that. We have always joked it would be good to have a title 1-2, as we always seem to do more like 1-5 with a great season for one and a shocker one for the other, so to go the 1-2 would be really nice.

“But whatever happens, happens – sometimes the luck bites you and sometimes it blesses you. You have to make the right runs at the right time, and sometimes it doesn’t happen that way.

“As long as everyone is safe, that is the main thing. Perth really did put things in perspective for us that sometimes winning is not as important, having a good event and coming back in one piece and having a good time is more important sometimes, a win is just a bonus.

“There are certainly no team orders, it is pure heads up racing between our drivers, and we saw that at the last round at Sydney where our third car took critical points away from us in the second round of racing.

“We will be happy with whatever the outcome. It is very evenly matched between us, and you also can’t rule out any other teams being in the mix as well – it is quite impressive to see the while field doing so well.”

The NDRC title chase will conclude at Willowbank Raceway across 6 to 9 June for the Gulf Western Oil Winternationals.

With Top Fuel, XPRO Nitro Funny Car, Top Doorslammer, Top Fuel Motorcycle, Pro Alcohol, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle and FuelTech Pro Mod all in the one place for four huge days, plus the Eastern Conference final for the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship at this event, there will be everything to play for at ‘The Winters’.

For event info and tickets, go to ndrc.tv

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