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The final event of the Texas Automatic Outlaw Pro Mods 2016 season at Ben Bruce Memorial Airpark Raceway in Evadale, Texas, saw Championship point’s leader Bob Gulitti sitting 26 tallies ahead of second place runner Tim Ortiz. Gulitti had already taken home two event wins this year and need only to qualify and win a first round elimination round to claim the 2016 TAO Championship. Ortiz, last year’s championship runner up, needed to qualify, have Gulitti go out first round, and then win the event to claim the title.
Texas weather being what it is, changing every minute like a clock, the action to decide this final event winner and season champion would get under way two hours earlier than scheduled due to a cool front that rolled in. The earlier start would head off the potential of dealing with late night dewy track conditions. The cool air and bright sunshine did, however, provide a great opportunity for the ten Pro Mods on the grounds to lay down some numbers and put on a great show.
Qualifying started off with a single for Katy, Texas’ Travis Brandt. Brandt seemed to have the trans brake not hold and at the green two-stepped the blown entry and idled it down track logging a 12.50 @ 56.64 to get things started. Next to the line were Richard Willett and Bengt Blomberg who both had traction issues and had to get off and back on the throttle. Result was, Willet running 5.10 @ 105.81 while Blomberg clocked a 5.82 @ 98.94.
Point’s leader Bob Gulitti lined up next with series regular Eddie Roach. Roach’s Vette made a hard move to the centerline at the launch and he had to lift coasting to a 10.65 @ 52.47 as Gulitti streaked through the traps posting a 4.11 @ 178.08 to take pole for the moment. The next pair up matched Chris Domino, the last event winner, and Doug Morales. Morales completed his burnout and could not get the silver ’68 Camaro backed up and just ran through for a no time. Domino, meantime, staged and at the light proceeded to pick up right where he left off last race ripping a 4.04 @ 180.87 taking the number one spot from Gulitti.
Last to run in the first session was second in points, Tim Ortiz, out of Richard Otwell’s Team “O” Motorsports stable. Ortiz left the line hard and the yellow Camaro made a hard move to right about 100 feet out and he had to feather the car to the finish posting a 6.38 @ 94.84.
One entry that had to withdraw because of breakage before the round even began was Keith Hollenshead in his ’66 GT Mustang. Jerry Hicks’ blown ’63 Corvette did not make the first session. No times were showing on the scoreboards for the session and it would remain that way for the evening, unfortunately, as technical gremlin’s rendered all but the win lights inoperable.
The second round of qualifying would have one less competitor attempt a run when Jerry Hicks was registering no oil pressure on the warm up in the pits and could not fix the issue in time to make the call ending his day. Travis Brandt would again lead off the session, and this time the flamed ’96 Vette launched and ran a laboring 4.88 @ 112.39.