Big Yohns and Mendy Say Farewell at Bakersfield
By Ron Johnson
The Goodguys Fuel and Gas Finals at Bakersfield was the last race together for the Junior Fuel dragster team of Ron Johnson and Mendy Fry. Mendy and her husband are building their own car for next year. Here's Ron's recap of their weekend.
It was a good outing for us, although it was Mendy's last drive in my car. We lost the first run in qualifications. Right away, the car hoisted the front wheels and moved toward the cones. Mendy was out of it by the 330-foot light. So second round was our only shot and we qualified 5th at a 7.38 and 180 plus. Chrisman, Ramay, and Movius were marginally quicker, all in the mid 7.30s, but Bill Wayne cranked out a 7.24. Ouch.
We ran Kirsten Neumann in the first round. She drives for her dad who bought the old (Hank) Bender/ (Ron) Hier car. We had a substantial performance advantage (another 7.38) but Mendy added insult to injury by putting a big gate job on her too! Then we faced Bill Wayne. I decided not to change things much. I thought we could stand a little more fuel so I richened it up a little but left everything else alone. As you probably know, Bill crashed on this run. Mendy put a .438 light on his .452. Our car moved quicker in the 60 foot as well, so Bill was trying to catch up. His 330-foot time was 2.987, better than our 3.00 but he was still behind. His car starting moving around. It's possible this was because it had rained shortly before these runs and I think there was still moisture in the pores of the track surface. If so, getting out of the groove would cause a loss of traction on one side.
Anyway, he banged the guardrail hard on his left side and the rear tire climbed the rail and tipped the car on its side. It apparently bounced from side to side, because the left side headers had the most grind marks from sliding on the track. They cut the roll cage off to get Bill out. I was worried about him, particularly because he has had the same cancer deal that I had. He has a reconstructed bladder and the outlet is probably about under the right side lap belt. The announcer said he was okay though. That was a big relief. Frank Parks told me the car was sold for $50,000 to Dean Carter and would have been rolled into Carter's trailer after the race was over. I heard that Bill Wayne and his partners were going into top fuel and I also heard A-Fuel. I guess they are hip deep in $ so it's all academic anyway as long as Bill's okay
So, honestly, Bill probably would have gotten by us, but I'm not sure, we ran a 7.36 so we felt okay about winning. We were making good power and ran 179 plus. We faced Frank Parks and son Scott in the semis. They had not gotten out of the high 7.40s all day and I was feeling pretty good about our chances. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
They changed torque converters and in spite of Mendy's .429 to Scott's .500, they pulled a 7.33 out of the hat and we slowed to 7.40. At the finish line, there was .002 between the cars. Scott won. However, in reviewing our computer data, our engine rpm and pinion shaft rpm were spiking badly in the last half of the track. Mendy said she got out of the groove and our slicks were spinning and grabbing and the car was lurching until the last hundred feet or so. She said she caught Scott a few times and then spun some more and he nipped us by about 4 inches. We ran 181.23 to his 176.22.
Again, we were close to the fastest cars being only 1-2 mph off the top speeds. That means we are not far off on overall power. We feel we have a good combination but we need time to perfect it. I know what to do to get some more oomph right at the launch, but against Parks we had a 1.06 60-foot and another 3.00 330-foot so we're leaving hard right now. Our best had been 1.07 and 1.08s. For comparison, Parks had a 1.05, so he left a little harder with the different converter.
Chrisman was the big surprise, having put a new engine block under their heads. They ran a 7.31, which is their best ever I am pretty sure.
All in all, it was a good outing but it was tough on me, I was absolutely ready to go home as quick as we could get loaded up. I will see the Dr. again this afternoon and see what he thinks. Thanks for the interest.