Ranchero keeps its cool to win King of the Track

Joy Cozzette with her car “Joyride” at the Western Colorado Dragway Sunday afternoon.

Tim Griffith had a lot of luck on his side.

His race car kept overheating Sunday and he didn’t have the best reaction times, but he had enough to win the 2013 Western Colorado Dragway King of the Track title at the drag strip on Whitewater Hill.

It was Griffith’s first King of the Track title and first Wally trophy. He also received a tool box for winning the title.

“I’m still trying to suck it in,” Griffith said. “I’ve got to say thanks to my wife for letting me spend monsters of money on the car. My dad and mom never miss a race. This is a motor my dad and I built with our bare hands.”

The Grand Junction 30-year-old and his 1963 Ford Ranchero beat Trent Umberger, 32, of Grand Junction and his 1967 Chevy Camaro in the final. Griffith ran an 11.78-second elapsed time at 109.76 mph, barely beating Umberger, who ran a 9.54 et at 140.54 mph. Griffith had a slightly better reaction time to his dial-in.

“It was very close,” Griffith said, who had a reaction time of 0.108 seconds to Umberger’s 0.146. “I had enough tree and hit the brakes enough. It’s one of those it’s better to be lucky than good, I guess. It just worked out.”

The Ranchero barely made it through the eight hours of racing, though.

“We were dumping ice water on the tranny; it was boiling right now,” Griffith said. “We were lucky to make it through the night.

“It’s really the way I run my car. When I stage the way I do, bring up the RPMs, it creates a lot of heat in the converter. It’s just the way I race right now, but hey, it worked out.”

Griffith qualified for the King of the Track finals by winning his second consecutive Crown Supply Sportsman Class track championship.

For Umberger, it was his third loss in a finals race for the day.

“It’s heartbreaking, especially the King of the Track,” Umberger said. “The biggest trophy there is in NHRA is the Wally. To lose right there is very heartbreaking. I always get so pumped up racing for a Wally, I screw it up myself.”

Umberger qualified for the King of the Track eliminations by winning the Western Colorado Dragway Racing Association Super Pro class title.

He reached the finals of the last Super Quick and Box class races Sunday, but lost.

Griffith defeated Joy Cozzette in the first round of the King of the Track eliminations.

The 53-year-old Whitewater woman had a chance to become the first woman to win the local dragway’s King of the Track title.

Cozzette won the Batteries Plus Pro ET class title in her 1977 Chevy Vega Wagon named “Joyride,” for her second track class championship in her four years of racing.

She narrowly defeated her husband, John Cozzette, in the series.

“She is very good at dialing the car in,” John said. “That’s what she used to do for me. You calculate density, altitude and all that stuff. She’s got a knack for it and picking a number the car is going to run.”

Joy won an NHRA Summit Racing Series Pro ET Division 7 Challenge earlier this year to go with her track championship.

“I think (John) was way more excited than me,” she said. “I was competing for the track championship at the same time, so it was weird.”

The Western Colorado Dragway team of 23 drivers tied for fourth place out of 17 teams in the Division 7 Team Challenge. Each team could have as many as 40 drivers. Western Colorado had the smallest team, track manager Bryan Carmack said.

The other 2013 dragway track class champions were Cindy Moore of Idaho Springs in the J&A Services Super Quick class, Davey Sluiter of Grand Junction in the NAPA Auto Parts No Box class, Trent Dinkel of Rifle in the Master Automotives Young Guns class (high school division) and Dean Saylor of Grand Junction in the Glass Pro Box class.

Ryan Marshall won the King of the Track in the Youth Alternatives Junior Dragster class. Mikayla Vollender placed second and Colton McCallum was third in the junior dragster class.


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