Wally winner: GJ’s Covington captures King of the Track title
Jason Covington can put his own NHRA Wally trophy on the shelf next to his father’s.
The 27-year-old Grand Junction racer won the King of the Track title Saturday afternoon at Western Colorado Dragway. Covington received a Wally trophy and a Snap-on tool box for his accomplishment.
“As soon as I saw that (winner) light, I paused for a second because it took a little while for me to realize what happened,” Covington said. “It was celebration after that.”
Covington beat Daryl Dinkel of Rifle by five-thousandths of a second in the final in the bracketed dial-in race. Covington traveled the 1/4-mile run in 7.96 seconds at 167.88 mph in his 1992 rear-end alcohol dragster. Dinkel finished in 12.27 seconds at 107.28 mph in his 1967 Dodge Coronet.
“Daryl’s been knocking them out all year,” Covington said. “He could probably jump in the Super Pro class and do just as well. He can pull some amazing lights (reaction time).
“It came right down to the strip. Sometimes you’ve got to close your eyes for a little bit and hold tight.”
Dinkel, 41, had a good race with a reaction time of 0.035 seconds, but Covington caught him just in time at the finish line.
“What a phenomenal race,” Dinkel said. “He had a better tree than I did. That’s what carried him to victory.
“They come on like a freight train, I’ll tell you that much. I thought I beat him.”
The King of the Track event is a race among the four class champions. Covington won the Super Quick and Super Pro classes for the first time.
“We were joking about it at the beginning of the season when they allowed us to run two classes,” Covington said. “A bunch of people asked me if I would. I thought, ‘I don’t know. That’s a lot of work and I don’t know if we’d be able to pull it off.’ “
Covington decided to give it a try the first race of the season. He ended up winning both races and stayed with the dual entry.
He drew his own name for the first round of the King of the Track race Saturday, guaranteeing him a spot in the final, but he was only relieved for a moment.
“I was relieved, but then I was like, ‘I’m probably going to find some way to screw it up,’ ” Covington said.
Dinkel won the Pro ET class for the first time after winning the Sportsman class title the past two years. This was his first King of the Track final.
Dinkel defeated the Sportsman Class champion, Ray Vollender, in the semifinal run.
Vollender, 42, of Grand Junction won the Sportsman class this year in his 1995 Yamaha snowmobile.
He has raced the snowmobile at the dragway for four years and was the only snowmobile racer at the track this year.
“I’d seen these years ago,” Vollender said. “I thought it would be cool to drag a sled. I started researching it and got a phone call from a buddy that was going to give me a sled to run.”
Vollender raced his snowmobile for three years, struggling to find success. He made it to the semifinals of two races in that time.
“I was known as Mr. First Round,” Vollender said.
This year, he made the finals of the first three races and won one of them.
He’s gone as fast as 11.3 seconds at 111 mph this year in his Yamaha with two Banshee-style motors with four cylinders.
“I’ve always been the odd guy,” Vollender said. “When I was in kart racing, I had to have the chassis no one else had. For me, it was a no-brainer. I was spending $500 a weekend kart racing. Here, I pay an entry fee and for three gallons of gas.”