Road to a Championship - Eric Manuel

Full disclosure, it wasn’t until I had written this entire thing that I got around to doing some sort of intro. Our 2017 Edelbrock Super Pro Champion certainly had his ups and downs, registering only two round wins in the first three Edelbrock Super Series’. He continued to hang tough after such a rocky start, and kind of makes ya wonder, maybe the slow start gave him the freedom to just go out there race?  I don’t know, perhaps we’ll get a little bit of insight to that come January at the Edelbrock Awards Banquet

April 22, 2017 – Edelbrock Super Series #1

We will start following Eric’s journey on April 22nd, the first Edelbrock Super Series of the season. On this day Eric only went one round, and that was against Keith Gerlach. Eric ran a good race to kick off the season with a .008 light, going .032 over his 4.61 dial in; although Keith had a pretty good package, going just .012 over, he was tardy on the tree resulting in what happened to be Eric’s first round win of his championship season. In the second round, he was taken out by your fourth-place finisher in Edelbrock Super Pro, John Boes. John left the line first with a .024 to Eric’s .038; at the finish line Eric was only .013 over his 4.61, but Boes shut the door on him going 4.846 on his 4.82 for the win.

Ultimately, at the end of Edelbrock Super Series #1, your eventual champion was sitting in 29th place, with one round win.

April 29, 2017 – Edelbrock Super Series #2

RAIN OUT
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May 6, 2017 – Edelbrock super Series #3

Coming back in May for race day number three of our Edelbrock Super Series, our champion made it out of first round again, this time with a win against Kimmi Barnhill. Eric was on the tree again in the first round with a .014 light, .025 over his dial, while Kimmi was just a tad late, .029 running .012 over her dial in. In the second round Eric was unfortunately in the way of Steve Cannode, who laid down a .003 package, and while Eric was still dead on with a .009 was still not enough, and bowed out of competition early.

At the end of Edelbrock Super Series #3 Eric was sitting in 23rd place, with only two round wins; while his son, Zach, was up in 7th place, with four round wins.

May 13, 2017 – Edelbrock Super Series #4

Eric was not able to make Edelbrock Super Series #4, and in doing so dropped way down in points to 38th, a hole which he would eventually see himself climb out of in pretty dramatic fashion.

As Edelbrock Super Series #4 concludes, Eric is sitting in 38th place, with two round wins.

May 27, 2017 – Edelbrock Super Series #5

Race day #5 was a breakthrough for Eric, as he battled his way down to the quarter finals. When ya go back to try and see where the rally started, May 27th is where you should begin.

In the first round Eric lined up against the legend killer, Diana Murphy. Eric kicked off his day with a killer light, going .005 running a 7.333 on a 7.29, while Diana had to break out trying to keep up. Eric dodged a bullet in the second round against Ron Barnhill; Eric was tardy on the tree while going dead .001, but unfortunately Ron was just .002 too quick and watched the win light turn on for Eric. In the third round now, Eric had to take on Matt Dadas, where he dodged another bullet. Eric was tardy again under by .007, however he was fortunate enough to see the red light turn on for Matt Dadas as he coasted in the fourth round. In the fourth round Eric lined up against a 2017 Top three finisher in Lisa Boes. Eric’s race against Lisa started off tight with a difference of only .003 off the line, as Eric laid down a .017 to Lisa’s .014. Down track though, Lisa fell off her 7.66 and allowed Eric to slide in safe, going 7.326 on a 7.31. In the fifth round Eric ran into the roadblock that is Dennis Hall. Eric’s luck ran out as Dennis got him on the tree and wrapped it up with an 8.761 on an 8.75.

With this quarter-final finish, Eric moved himself all the way up to the number fifteen spot, with 6 round wins.

June 17, 2017 – Edelbrock Super Series #6

Coming into our midseason championship, our eventual Edelbrock Super Pro champion was sitting outside of the top ten, in the number fifteen spot with just six round wins, but was only six rounds behind John Boes at number one.

Eric kicked off the day against Brian Rambow, and got through with ease as Brian had some technical difficulties while Eric ran a 7.420 on a 7.41. In the second round Eric lined up against the defending Edelbrock Super Pro champion Allen Moore. It seemed like Allen had Eric on the ropes with a .012 light to Eric’s .032 reaction time; however, at the top end Allen broke out .004 to Eric’s .003, and Eric cruised on into the third round. For the third round Eric took out Ray Miller, or Ray kind of took himself out rather, with technical difficulties as Eric was able to lift and roll into the next round. Eric and Jason Toombs were the first pair out in the fourth round, and Eric laid down a lap, forcing Jason to break out by .024. In the fifth-round Eric kept on rolling, laying down another lap causing his opponent, Michael Parks to break out .022. Eric finally met his match in the sixth-round against Ryan Pickens. Eric and Ryan both left the line with a .029 reaction time, while at the big end Eric goes dead on with a .007, while Pickens went dead on with a .001.

With that five-round performance Eric had navigated his way into the top ten, occupying the six spot with 11 round wins.

July 22, 2017 – Edelbrock Super Series #7

After establishing himself in the top ten, Eric came back to Summit Motorsports Park five weeks later with even more to prove as he sought out the top spot.

Kicking off the day Eric lined up against the fast door car of Dennis Rock. Eric laid down a pretty good lap as far as ET is concerned, however he was a little tardy on the tree, leaving the door wide open for the Rock man with a .006 bulb. However, it was too good to be true as Dennis ends up breaking out by just .002 and allowing Eric the first-round win. In the second-round, we had some dragster cannibalization as he faced off against Stephen Miglets. Stephen was locked and loaded this round going dead on with a .003, however was a bit anxious on the leave and left .004 on the wrong side of green. Eric ran her out the back door to a 7.417 on a 7.43; just enough to make sure he can get there. In the third round Eric came away the victor in a very tight drag race against Alex Miller. There was only .003 of a difference between the two reaction times, with that advantage going to Alex Miller. The bigger difference came at the big end of the track with a double break out win going to Eric Manuel. Eric was only .009 under, while Alex was .022 under his dial in. Now, into the fourth-round, Eric took on “Nitrous” Nick Reber. Both drivers were dead on their dial-in at the top end of the track, however Eric came away with the win light as Nick was just a little too ready on the line and went red .006. In the quarter finals Eric lined up against Jeff Hura, who I’m sure went at least a little postal after picking his time slip. Despite being dead on with a two, Eric was tardy on the tree; all the while Jeff is .010 on his way to a round win, when at the top end he broke out by just .001. Ouch. After Eric’s fifth round win, he rode a semifinal bye in to the finals against Jim Stephens. Eric put .005 in his back pocket off the line and rode it down to a 7.397 on a 7.39 for the win, while Jim ran under by just .001 in an attempt to keep up.

With this feature win Eric moved from number six to number one, now checking in with 18 round wins and one feature win. Not bad for a guy who at one point was sitting in 38th place…

August 13, 2017 - Edelbrock Super Series #8

I’m sure Edelbrock Super Series #8 was just a little bit different for Eric Manuel. The whole season he’s been chasing, I mean, he’s just been showing up to race ya know? Now. Well now he’s the guy. He’s the guy with the target on his back. I’m sure he’s also got a completely different mindset. Before he was licking the windows in the back of the bus, but now he’s driving the thing!

In the first round Eric took on Kimmi Barnhill. Now, if you’re paying attention you’ll know Eric turned on the win light against Kimmi all the way back in May on race day #2. With this round win Eric went up 2-0 on Kimmi on the season and tallied another round win. In the second round, Eric picked up a red light win against Eric Wieszkowiak, while running 7.343 on a 7.33. Eric kept on rollin’ in the third round with another round win against Abbie Cottrill, making it nine consecutive round wins. Eric’s luck ran out in the fourth round though against a very tough customer in Chris Bear. Eric went red but darn near needed to as Chris was .016 and dead one at the big end.

Despite not being able to keep it rolling and go back to back in Edelbrock Super Pro competition, Eric was still sittin’ pretty in the number one spot with 21 round wins, and one feature win. Hot on his heels though were Steven Schmidt with 19 round wins and two feature wins, Lisa Boes with 18 points and one feature win, John Boes with 18 round wins and finally Randy Scheuer Jr with 17 round wins and one feature win.

September 9, 2017 – Edelbrock Super Series #9

As previously stated, Eric came into race day #9 high atop the leaderboard, but the question is, where will he end the day…?

Unfortunately, this will be a very short recap as Eric was taken out in the first round by Dave Burghart, who to be fair, does Eric a real solid at the season championship but let’s go one race at a time. Eric was .016 on the tree to Dave’s .025, but at the big end both guys broke out but Eric broke our worse allowing Dave to advance on. Dave was .013 under while Eric was .023.

Well don’t I look kinda dumb. Despite not winning one round Eric WAS STILL ON TOP. A huge opportunity slipped through the fingers of Lisa Boes, Steven Schmidt, John Boes and Randy Scheuer Jr. Lisa went three rounds before she was knocked out by Lauren Dadas, who I don’t think has been down the racetrack since Obama’s first term. Steven Schmidt got through the first round before Maddie Fenn ended his night, John made it one round before Tim Bob took him out, and Randy Scheuer Jr. wasn’t even here! Talk about the perfect storm to Eric to remain on top as points become scarce towards the end of the season.

September 23, 2017 – Edelbrock Super Series #10

With only three opportunities to claim points before the 2017 points season, things were really heating up across all the categories, and Edelbrock Super Pro was no different, with anybody in the top ten really having a shot to shake things up.

In the first round of the day Eric’s opponent, Michael Toombs, was really just in his way. Eric was .013 to Michael’s .016, but at the big end Eric was dead three while Michael was 9.826 on the 9.80 as Eric drove to the second round. IN the second round Eric met up with Allen Moore for the second time this racing season as Eric made his record against Allen to 2-0. In the third round Eric was to face off against Dennis Hall, another competitor he was meeting for the second time this season, and for the second time this season Dennis came away with the win light. Dennis came loaded for bear in an attempt to make a late season push. Dennis was .004 and goes an 8.756 on the 8.74 while Eric is under by .011 trying to keep up with him.

Unfortunately for Eric, an early exit meant an opportunity for Steven Schmidt and Lisa Boes, who both finished the day ahead of Eric. Steven sat with 26 round wins and two feature wins, while Lisa had 26 round wins and one feature win. Eric was still within striking distance though, with 23 round wins and one feature win, and John Boes was right behind him in fourth with 23 round wins.

September 30, 2017 – Edelbrock Super Series #11

With only two races left Eric once again found himself chasing down the number one spot, as an early exit last week allowed Steven Schmidt and Lisa Boes to slip past him. With a tall order ahead of him, how will Eric handle the pressure at Edelbrock Super Series #11?

Nick Reber was the man to face off against Eric in the first round, and despite going dead six on the big end of the track, Eric picked up the win putting .010 in his back pocket off the line and running 4.632 on his 4.62. Vito Gambino was the victim in the second-round as Eric unloaded a .013 light on him to go 4.622 on a 4.61. Vito had a good run with a .022 light .018 over, but wasn’t good enough to head to the third round. Next man up was Doug Lynden, who’s tardiness on the tree ultimately led to his third-round demise, as going dead .006 was simply not enough. Eric was .001, .011 over which was more than enough to see his way to the fourth round, where he picked up the bye that took him to the quarter-finals. In the quarters Eric met Kristen Kiger, who laid down a dead three lap, but alas, was not enough for the win. Eric was .002 and .014 over, and when you can leave .023 ahead of your opponent, driving the top end gets that much easier. In the semi-finals Eric flinched a little bit with his worst light of the day, but he lucked out when Jerry Seibert was just .001 red. Eric’s good luck ran out in the final round against Fred Krakora when he went .003 red, and darn near had to as Fred was .007. Although a tough break for Eric, racking up six round wins this late in the season is huge, but will the missing out on adding another feature win hurt his championship chances?

At the end of the day, despite not being able to win that final round, Eric was back on top with 29 round wins and one feature win, bumping down Steven Schmidt with 27 points and two feature wins, Lisa Boes who had 26 points and one feature win, and John Boes with 26 round wins. Makes for a pretty exciting season championship, wouldn’t ya say?

 

October 7, 2017 – Edelbrock Super Series #12

Coming into the day Eric Manuel, Steven Schmidt, Lisa Boes and John Boes all had an opportunity to leave a champion.

Well if you thought things were kind of exciting coming into the day, once racing started things got hot quick. In the first round Eric was maybe just a little too amped against Bill Horvath and turned it red. And just like that, Eric took his hand out of it and could only sit and watch from the sidelines as his championship hopes were entirely out of his hands. John and Lisa Boes both got through first round, putting them level on points with Steven Schmidt, who, to his dismay, also went out in the first round at the hands of Alex Miller. In the second round now, John and Lisa Boes were both hot on the tail of Steven and Eric. John was the first pair down the track against Chris Bear, who, despite having a bit of an off year is still a pretty bad dude, but so is John Boes. Chris, however, was the dude who turned on the win light as John was just .003 red, leaving Lisa Boes, the last woman standing chasing the championship. Her second-round matchup was against Dave Burghart (remember I said he’d do Eric a solid at a later date?). Lisa beat him off the line with a .006 to Dave’s .014, but Lisa uncharacteristically ran off her dial while Dave goes dead .004 for the win, while at the same time sealing the deal for Eric’s 2017 Edelbrock Super Pro championship.

When the dust settled, Eric Manuel was king of the hill with 29 points and one feature win, Steven Schmidt was second with 27 points and two feature wins, Lisa Boes was third with 27 points and 1 feature win, John Boes was fourth with 27 points and Randy Scheuer Jr was fifth with 22 points and one feature win.

Despite picking up only one round win at three different Edelbrock Super Series events, and not even showing up to one, Eric was able to claim that elusive Edelbrock Super Pro championship. He did not let starting behind the 8 ball get him down, and continued to persevere even when it looked like the opportunity could have passed him by; and even on that last night, when he was out and the championship was up for grabs, continued to conduct himself like the champion he would eventually be.

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