Driving his 2014 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet in Super Stock FSS/B, Anthony Bongiovanni of New Jersey bested the field at Epping Dragway during the NHRA Mello Yello New England Nationals to claim his first national title.
Bongiovanni, a former NHRA national open and Lucas Oil event winner, lasted through six rounds of intense competition, winning races against Mike Letellier, Scott Gove, Scott Albrecht and Tom Boucher in the final. He received one competition bye in round three.
“I had a .021 light against Mike Letellier, then I caught him early and pedaled him for the win,” said Bongiovanni, who ran 8.45 on an 8.41 dial. Bongiovanni then faced the 7-second Dodge of Scott Gove. “I have never been chased in my Super Stock car and [Gove],” admitted Bongiovanni. “I set up my mirror so I could see him and I watched him come at me. I wear a HANS, so I can’t turn my head very far. I don’t have a lot of runs in my memory bank to be good at being chased,” he said. “He was coming and I pedaled it near the stripe and got the win, but it was tight. Both drivers ran dead on (8.41 for Bongiovanni and 7.86 for Gove), but a better light gave the edge to Bongiovanni. Defeating Gove earned Bongiovanni a bye, followed by a meeting with the ever-tough Byron Worner in Round four. “This was a good, close race,” said Bongiovanni. “I was .025, he was .022, I ran dead on with a four, and he broke out.”
In the Semi-finals Bongiovanni faced Scott Albrecht. “Scott and I were dialed the same and we go about the same speed,” Bongiovanni stated. “When we left it seemed like he was a hair ahead of me. Then I started inching ahead of him and I was trying to decide if I could hold him off, or if he was going to catch me.” Albrecht had the better light (0.048 to 0.053), but Bongiovanni went dead-on his 8.45 to take the stripe by .0071 for the win.
In the final Bongiovanni raced Division 1 competitor Tom Boucher, driving his ’97 GT/GA Firebird. “I spotted Tom in the final and he had a slight advantage on the Tree, but I could tell I was going to catch him before the stripe. I pedaled once as I got on his bumper, and just barely got there ahead of him. It took a second for the win light to come on, and when it did the feeling was surreal. I couldn’t believe I won the race. There was no better feeling in the world at that moment. I was absolutely thrilled to have my daughter Michelle there. Michelle and I haven’t been out racing much and we spent the whole weekend together. The only thing that would have made it better is if Bev, my significant other, and my other daughter Genna were there to help me celebrate.
“It was a great day and a lot of fun. The Cobra Jet made it easy, I had no concerns. Nick Casertano built a great car, it’s won Best Engineered and now it’s a NHRA national winner. That was the best race car I’ve ever had on race day,” he added. Bongiovanni also won class eliminations in Stock and Super Stock.
Like most winners, Bongiovanni gets it done with a host of great people and partners including crew chief Ricky Hertzog, who works tirelessly to prepare the cars, Kenny Miele of ClassRacer.com, B&B Race Cars, engine builder Tom Martino, the guys at Select Transmissions and especially, Ray Scardelli, who first introduced Bongiovanni and his daughters to drag racing. Bongiovanni is also aligned with NEC Financial Services and he is a brand ambassador for Optima Batteries.
Bongiovanni’s team has an impressive resume having accomplished NHRA records, won wins in NHRA Class eliminations, and his drivers have won Cobra Jet Showdowns in NMRA and NMCA. Anthony Bongiovanni has scored wins in NHRA National Open and Divisional competition in Stock—this marks his first national in Super Stock.
“Drag racing is a great sport. It offers great opportunity and can be used as a tremendous marketing tool for my companies Resource1 and Micro Strategies. It’s wonderful to cultivate business relationships and spend time with my family and friends. We’ve shared it all and grown from Jr. Dragsters, up to Stock and Super Stock. It was so cool to win because we do it as a family. I was so proud, and they were over the top. This sport is so challenging and humbling. You can be competitive with yourself and against the competition. At times it’s tough, but a win like this gives you the enthusiasm to work harder.”