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Rookie Vincent Cupolo Wins First Corvette Challenge

By Edgar Perez

July 24, 2010 - Englishtown, NJ - When it comes to weather extremes the East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge presented by Yank Racing Converters has it covered. Today's record high temps reached 97 with a heat index well over 100 degrees. The savior for the drivers today was there was a breeze blowing and that, along with any shade we can find, made it a bearable day; at least for the first portion of the day. Red hot racer Ralph Savarese continued his mid-summer tear going to the semi-finals before being eliminated. The big story of the day however was Vincent Cupolo, a Corvette Challenge Rookie, running one of the quickest Corvettes in the field, going to the final round against three-time Champion Rob Farley and coming out of it with the win. This is a first for him in the series. He was the second Cupolo winner of the day as his nephew, Anthony S. Cupolo, had just won the Corvette 11.50 Index just a few minutes earlier. The young Cupolo, Anthony, is running on a hot streak of his own having gone to the semi finals at the Super Chevy Show last weekend at Maple Grove. The heat index did hold back some folks from attending but we still enjoyed the company of 34 racers in the Corvette Challenge today and a total of 60 entries among our four classes. Today's race was number 6 overall and 5 for points meaning we are at our halfway point in the Championship battle.

Round 1

With 34 entries today we had 17 pairings for round 1 and just short of having to go to a ladder for round 1 (we ladder at 32 cars). We got underway just after 1 pm with Doug Bereczki in the red C4 Corvette dialed 14.47 against Shawn Cavanagh in the Spiral Gray C5 who was doing double duty today also running the 10.50 Index class. Cavanagh dialed it 10.60 and would chase Bereczki but left with the -.017 light so it was over at the start. Bereczki's .049 light and 14.47 would have made a tough package to beat. They were followed by the only Cupolo that would lose today and that was Tony. He dialed the car he shares with son Anthony at 11.55 and would chase Frank Schear dialed 13.35. Cupolo would run a great package going 11.561 with a .039 light. Only thing is Schear was .004 green and 13.351 for a .005 package. Frank was moving on and Tony and his dad would cheer on the remaining two Cupolo's racing. Speaking of which, Vincent Cupolo would be out next vs. Al Salanitro. Nitro would leave first dialed 14.06 with .076 light and Cupolo would leave nearly 4 seconds later dialed 10.42 with a .134 light. Salanitro could not run the number and Cupoloís red C3 passed him and hit the brakes taking the win with a 10.459 @ 111.56 mph. Ron Higgins' .037 light would outshine Ellis Gray's .059 and he would take that to a win with a 12.348 on 12.32 dial as Gray broke out chasing him down. Red hot stick driver Ken Tyler drove his torch red C5 to a win when Artie Chin broke out in his Black C6. Tylerís .111 tree over Chin's .208 likely had a lot to do with that. Former Champion Bob Trieschmann was able to breathe a sigh of relief when he left with a .161 light but took the win when Andrew Volponi was out of the hole too soon going -.161 red. Trieschmann, like Schear earlier, also ran dead-on his dial going 12.872 on 12.87. Resident writer Eric Fischer was involved in a double breakout race with John Policastro. He was able to take the win because his 11.475 on 11.51 dial was better than Policastro's 12.564 on 12.60 dial. That is a .0019 margin in the very close battle. Eric's dad, Bill Sr., would not fair as well. Paired with Rich Shuleski, the senior Fischer would lose by a margin of .0135 when Shuleski ran 11.742 on 11.64 dial and .127 tree. Gary Hillen would advance to the next round in his Z06 when Louis Calicchia would go red to him with a -.022 light. Michael Archibald would take his C3 Corvette to the next round when the C3 driven by Tom Smith would go too fast for his 12.58 dial going 12.512. There is a theme happening here, despite the heat and humidity we are seeing a fair amount of breakout passes likely meaning drivers were dialing very conservatively.

Rob Farley would advance easily as Gary Hurta was not able to run the number in his Gray 2010 ZR1. Hurta had a tenth advantage on the tree but spun the tires and get off the throttle to save the beautiful Corvette flagship ride. Don Peppler Jr. suffered a similar fate in is 1967 Corvette and would lose to Ralph Blauvelt. That did not stop Peppler from going rounds in Real Street class however as he, like a lot of our drivers, enters multiple classes on race day. Greg Colella would find himself paired with new racer Keith Bitzel. Bitzel is a friend of 10.50 Index racer Steve Wells who was out trying the series for the first time. Colella took the win with a .229 light and 13.839 on 13.59 dial. Turned out Dave Buddendorff did not need his dead-on 12.202 on 12.20 dial with a .046 light this round as his opponent, Peter Huff, lit the red light lighting Dave's win light early. Ralph Savarese would go 11.318 on his 11.29 dial with .038 staring his attempt to win his third straight Corvette Challenge event in a row which has never been done. His win light also came up early as Russ DeLibero went red -.032. Ken Baranski would be our fourth driver of the round to go dead-on. He took the win over Jerry Muniz by running 14.857 on 14.85 dial @ 93.00 mph. Edgar Perez also got a break when his Torch Red C5 Corvette blew the tires off at the line and was never able to catch Peter LoPresti. The break came when LoPresti did not get the win light as he broke out and Perez was moving on to round 2.

Runner Up Group Winner
Runner-up Rob Farley Winner Vincent Cupolo
Photos by Tony Cupolo. For over 7,000 Corvette Photos, click here.

Round 2

From 34 to 17 and on the ladder. Frank Schearís .004 first round light would earn him the number one spot on the ladder and thus a bye run in round 2 as we were uneven. The first pair around the wall was Eric Fischer with the Green C5 and Ken Baranski in the Blue C3. The drivers were near even off the line with Fischer's light slightly better, .054 to .057. Both drivers ran through the finish line all out and each ran under his dial. In a double breakout race, the driver that breaks out least is the winner. In this double breakout it would be Fischer going 11.462 on 11.51 dial to Baranski's 14.770 on 14.85 dial for the .0328 margin win. Edgar Perez was up next in the Red C5 vs. Ralph Blauvelt in the Black C4. Once again the same fate for Perez blowing the tires away at the line but collecting the win when Blauvelt went under his dial 14.147 on 14.20 dial. He was on the brakes but not enough. Ken Tyler would face Greg Colella next despite a .127 to .307 tree advantage for Tyler, both drivers went under the dial. Tyler's 12.682 on 12.79 was better 13.281 on 13.50 dial. Colella is struggling with his convertible which is much faster than he is allowed to dial due to not having a rollbar. Hopefully the equipment is in his winter modification plans so he can unleash the Corvette to its full potential. Savarese would get another win by red light when Rich Shuleski would give him the win with a -.097 red. There is no doubt that Savarese's Black C4 Corvette makes us try a little harder and the result is sometimes more red than we should be. The red light allowed Savarese to check up on his 11.34 dial and ran 11.281 @ 117.61 mph. Gary Hillen would also advance thanks to a red-light by Ron Higgins which was barely red, -.005. Vinny Cupolo would cut a .034 light but would find himself in a double breakout race with Dave Buddendorff. Thankfully for him, he was closer to his 10.40 dial with a 10.392 while Buddendorff ran 13.174 on 13.20 dial. Michal Archibald did his job on the tree against three-time champ Farley with a .014 light to Rob's .128 light. However he could not run his 12.07 number going 12.358 making it possible for Farley to "slide" across the finish for the win. Doug Bereczki would end the day for Trieschmann with a .028 green light to .119 for Bob. Trieschmann broke out chasing 12.867 on 12.87 dial. Frank Schear took his single pass and ran 13.360 on 13.35 dial with a .079 green light.

2010 Event 6 Ladder

Round 3

The two red Corvettes driven by Frank Schear and Edgar Perez were up first for round three. Schear dialed 13.37 and would add a little more red to the starting line with a red light leaving early by -.080. Perez then used the run to check up on his 10.50 dial and was able to run dead-on, 10.502 @ 128.37. Perez was staging deep to match the ET he would be running in the 10.50 Index. The next racer out, Vinny Cupolo, did one better going dead-on with a zero going 10.370 on 10.37 dial. He defeated Ken Tyler who went red, -.103. These two dead-on drivers would be paired in the next round. For the first time Savarese's opponent would be off green. Eric Fischer would go .057 at the tree. It was not enough as Savarese was .013. Still the close lights led to both drivers breaking out. Savarese, 11.305 on 11.32 was better than Fischer, 11.465 on 11.51 and Savarese was that much closer to three in a row. Rob Farley would get the tree advantage on Doug Bereczki .064 to .080 and at the top end Bereczki was off his number allowing Farley to "slide" across for the win at 110.09 mph running 11.383 on 11.37 dial. Gary Hillen got the bye on the ladder and would take an easy pass to collect the win.

Round 4 - Quarter-Final

Now with five Corvettes left it would be the 1998 Pace Car against Hillen in the C6 Z. Hillen dialed 11.50 would get the head start over Farley dialed 11.37. Hillen leaves and lights the red light -.011 giving the win to Farley. Good for Farley as he left nearly the same time going -.121 red but Hillen did it first so Farley gets the win. The next pair is the two quickest dialed cars in the class. The next pass will be a fast one with both drivers running low 10's. Vincent Cupolo kept his 10.37 dial on the window and Perez decided to stage shallow and dial 10.36. Each driver wanted the left lane so they flipped a coin and Cupolo won and took the left lane. When the third light flashed, Cupolo was off clean and green with a .076 and Perez lit up the tires in the right lane for third time today in eliminations and was a goner. A .206 light and 10.712 run would be no match for Cupolo who took the win with a 10.446 @ 118.29 on the brakes. The fifth car in the round was Ralph Savarese and he had a bye. He chose to sit out the bye after checking to make sure it was okay with his competitors.

Round 5 - Semi-Final

We were now down to three Corvettes. Two three-time Champions and a series Rookie. That Rookie, Vinny Cupolo, had the bye run and like Savarese the prior round, choose to sit it out. And now we have a Champions battle. Farley would dial 11.38 to Savarese's quicker 11.29. Farley leaves with .007 light and Savarese follows with a .047. Farley got to the finish line first breaking out doing so going 11.368. He still got the win because Savarese broke out by more gong 11.25. It would appear by the mph neither driver lifted with Farley running 118.54 to Savarese's 117.94. Okay maybe the Mahopac Express dumped a little. Rob had taken away the chance for Ralph to win three in a row. Farley was on his way to the final to face Cupolo.

Round 6 - Final

Vinny Cupolo had watched his brother, Tony, race in the series for several years. He decided that he wanted to be a part of the series as well so he unloaded his former race car and picked up the Corvette he is racing now. He stepped right into the points chase as a rookie in the series and has gotten off to a good start. Cupolo has worked his way to his first final and Farley, he might have been to a few of these finals before; maybe;). Okay, maybe a few hundred! Farley tends to favor the right lane and we know Vinny was looking to take the left for this one. He lowers his dial to 10.36 while Farley also tweaks his dial to an 11.37. Farley is out of the gate with a .012 light. Cupolo follows just behind with a .027 light. Cupolo then reels in Farley and takes the stripe with 10.373 @ 132.17 pass to Farley's 11.420 @ 119.34. A margin of victory of only .0229 had made Vinny Cupolo a Corvette Challenge winner for the first time in his young Corvette Challenge career. Vinny had a great day today with an average reaction time of .052 in his 5 elimination passes (sat one out). Vinny was thrilled to share the winners circle with his nephew Anthony S. Cupolo who won the 11.50 Index class today.

Corvette Challenge Points Update

Point leader Ralph Savarese has been on a tear the past three races. Two event wins and today's semi-final appearance gives him a commanding lead with in the point standings with 26 points and two wins. I am not one to start rumors but I can pass them along. Rumor has it Savarese is about to miss a race and his tear is the result of knowing he will have to miss one. I'm just saying. For the second race in a row, Ellis Gray lost round 1 but he remains in second place now tied with today's event runner-up Rob Farley who is on a tear of his own. Gray and Farley are tied with 19 points and no wins. If the season ended now we would have to have a race-off to determine the second place finisher. It doesn't end now so each driver can breathe a sigh of relief and get back to racing. Rookie Vincent Cupolo's win today catapult's him to fourth place. With 18 total points and an event win, he holds that spot all by his lonesome. Ken Tyler, who also has 18 points, has no event wins, yet, so he loses the first tiebreaker to Cupolo and anchors the top 5 in the standings in the fifth spot.
2010 Corvette Challenge Standings
Corvette drivers page with more driver information

Rookie of the Year Update

With the win today Vincent Cupolo builds on his Rookie of the Year point lead. At this point in the season Cupolo owns the top spot with 18 total points and an event win. He is followed by Russ DeLibero in with 11 points for the season that has him tied for 11th overall in the series. Next in the points race is Peter Huff with 7 total followed by Rob Petyo and Marc Marsico who each missed today's race.
Rookie of the Year Standings

Gear Jammer Award Update

Ken Tyler holds the Gear Jammer Award point lead tacking on three points today to bring him to a total of 18 for the season. He hold a strong lead over Michael Archibald with a total of 9. Arch picked up 2 today so he lost ground. Frank Fiori (who did not make it out today) and Gary Hillen are tied for the third position with 8 overall points each. Rounding out the top 5 in this category are three drivers tied with 7 points. Perennial Jammer Don Peppler Jr., Tad Archambault and Peter Huff are knotted here.
Gear Jammer Standings.

Awards Handed Out at this Event

Next Two Races

We are headed to back-to-back weekends in our next two races. We hit the track on August 14th and again on August 21st. The heat is on us in our busiest time of our season. These will be our 7th and 8th races of the season open to all Corvette racers. for more information about the schedule visit www.corvettechallenge.info. You can discuss the series on , the Drag Racing section of The Corvette Forum where you can find news, updates and polls.

Visit the Drag Schedule at www.racewaypark.com to view Raceway Park's schedule for other events and days for test and tuning.

As always, we couldn't enjoy our passion for racing without the tireless efforts of our coordinators - Edgar Perez, Bob Trieschmann and Dennis Kazimir. We'd be reduced to time shots only without our sponsors - many thanks for the continued support of our sponsors;

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