Follow a Dream–Maple Grove Report

Jay Blake’s Permatex/Follow A Dream team knocked off former world champ Tony Bartone in the first round at the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., before a broken transmission line sidelined the team in round two.
Driver Todd Veney qualified 14th with a run that easily would have been well into the top half of the field had a similar problem not knocked the transmission out of high gear near the half-track mark. “I coasted for the whole back half of the track and still ran a 5.83 at 199 mph,” he said. “The car was going almost 209 mph at half-track – our best all year – so that was more than a little encouraging. That would have been about a 5.59, but even coasting for the last 600 feet it was quick enough to get us in the show.”
A decided underdog in the first round of eliminations against Bartone, the former world champ who has more career victories than any driver in the field, the Follow A Dream team ran a backpedaling 5.74 at 260.26 mph – the car’s fastest speed this season – to win. “One of these days we’re going to win this race,” said Blake, whose life-changing experience at this event in 1998 led him to form the Follow A Dream organization. “I’ve always said I’d rather win this race than win Indy, and at some point it’s going to happen.”
The final race of 2014 is the NHRA Finals Nov. 14-16 at the world-famous Pomona, Calif., track, where the Permatex/Follow A Dream team was runner-up in 2005 and won in 2006.