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BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Neither driver started the season with much fanfare, but Jason Rupert and Adam Sorokin are on the brink of NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series championships.
Rupert holds a 71-point advantage over John Hale in the nostalgia Funny Car class, while Sorokin holds a 61-point edge over Rick Williamson in front-motored Top Fuel heading into the final event of the five-race season -- the 21st annual NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion.
The three-day event gets under way today at Auto Club Famoso Raceway.
Rupert qualified No. 1 at the March Meet, the first event in the Hot Rod Heritage Series, but lost in the first round of competition. He's rebounded nicely -- winning the first event after the March Meet and finishing as runner-up in the past two.
Sorokin followed up the March Meet with a second-round loss in Spokane, Wash., but won the last two races -- at Boise in August and Sacramento in September-- to edge out to his lead.
Both drivers will face stout competition.
A whopping 37 Funny Car drivers are entered -- 10 more than made qualifying attempts at the March Meet. Among them are Hale, Del Worsham, Chad Head, Kris Krabill, Dan Horan Jr. and Steven Johnson.
Also entered is Tim Boycuck, who won the March Meet, but had his victory taken away more than a week later due to an unapproved fuel pump. Head, who finished as runner-up, was declared the winner.
On the Top Fuel side, 15 drivers are entered, including Tony Barton in his potent machine out of Long Island, N.Y. Bartone was fast qualifier at the March Meet and ran 274 mph over the summer.
March Meet Top Fuel winner Jimmy Young has been replaced by veteran driver Paul Romine in the "Crop Duster" dragster out of Illinois.
Williams, Jim Murphy, Rick White, Rick McGee and Mendy Fry are among the large contingent of West Cost drivers entered.
Gates open at 8 a.m. today, qualifying and exhibition runs in a variety of nostalgia racing classes get under way at 8:30 with the first round of Top Fuel and Funny Car qualifying is set for 1 p.m.