With a semifinal win overundefeated Frank Manzo and a final-round decision over veteran EricLourie, Jay Blake’s Follow A Dream team picked up its first event titleof the season and climbed to sixth place in the national standings. Atthe Division 1 Lucas Oil Series event at legendary Lebanon ValleyDragway in upstate New York, driver Todd Veney set low e.t. of all threerounds of eliminations, with a 5.66 against Tom Carter, a 5.75 againstManzo, and a 5.77 in a close final-round win over Lourie.

“This is the best day of my racing life,”Todd said after the final. “I’ve won before, but never like this.Because of the teamwork that went into it, especially before thesemifinals, and because we were the first to beat Manzo all year andcame out on top in such a close final, this is the best day I’ve everhad in drag racing.”

Jay led the crew through a majorthrash before the semifinals after a lifter was damaged in thefirst-round win over Carter. He and tuner Tom Howell were on the vergeof installing another engine – so close that a new engine was rolled outfrom beneath the bench and the motor mounts were removed from the onein the car – but, ultimately, the lifter bore proved to be repairableand the team got the job completed in time.

The car rolled into the staging lanes with just minutesto spare and performed flawlessly, running a 5.75 on the hot, trickysurface to cover Manzo’s up-in-smoke effort. Until that round, the13-time NHRA world champion had won every race he entered this seasonand 33 rounds in a row overall, dating back to the semifinals of lastyear’s U.S. Nationals.

In the final, Lourie, a pastnational event champ competing at his home track, ran a 5.83 but Toddgot the win with a 5.77. “We knew Eric was a solid, consistent performerand that it would be a really close race,” Tom said. “The trackcondition worsened for the final, and we left it up to Todd to get thecar down the track, and he did.”

“Itwas an awesome weekend all around,” Jay said. “Everybody on the teamcame together to get the car turned around in time to race Manzo – justanother example of the teamwork that Follow A Dream is all about.Lebanon Valley is the closest to home that we race all year, and a lotof us had family with us at the track, which just the whole weekend thatmuch more special for everybody.”

After five races in a seven-week span, the team hasseveral weeks off before the next event, a Division 1 Lucas Oil Seriesevent at Cecil County Dragway in Rising Sun, Md. Aug. 20-21.