At the SummitRacing.com Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, Jay Blake’s
Permatex/Follow A Dream team shot back into the top 10 in the national
standings with a second straight semifinal finish in national competition.
As in Englishtown two weeks earlier, driver Todd Veney qualified in the top
five and advanced to the semifinals, where he fell to 13-time Top Alcohol
Funny Car world champion Frank Manzo, who has yet to lose a round all year.

The car ran flawlessly, with times of 5.72, 5.67, and 5.70 in qualifying and
equally consistent runs of 5.70 and 5.72 in the first two rounds of
eliminations. The 5.70 took out Canadian veteran Larry Dobbs, who ran a
5.87, and the 5.72 was just enough for another close win over John Anderika,
the second-ranked driver in Division 1 last season, who hit a 5.74.

“Norwalk is kind of a home race for me because I grew up just an hour from
the track,” Todd said. “I really wanted to do well there, and we did. It’s
always great to be in the late rounds at a national event, but my wife was
there, my mom and dad were there, and a bunch of my friends from high school
and college were there, too, which made it that much more special for me.”

Just as in Gainesville, where the team also reached the final four, the
other semifinalists were Manzo; Steve Harker, who finished second in the
national standings last year; and Mickey Ferro, who appears headed for a
second-place finish this year, having reached the final round in each of his
nine starts this year.

A possible final-round showing for the Permatex/Follow A Dream team
dissolved in the semi’s when the engine inexplicably fell silent just as
Todd was preparing to stage against Manzo, handing Manzo a free pass into
the finals.

“It’s disappointing to lose because of an electrical failure, but overall,
it was another good weekend,” Jay said. “We had some special guests at the
track, we got back in the semifinals, and we’re back in the top 10.”

The team’s next race is this week’s Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series meet at
Lebanon Valley Dragway in scenic upstate New York, just outside Albany.
Tuner Tom Howell has a history of success at the sometimes tricky track,
having guided the car to the number 1 qualifying spot there in 2006.

The Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals sportsman finals will be
broadcast July 4, 2010 @ 12:00PM ET on ESPN2.