When it comes to horsepower, Adam Sorokin is behind the curve of most of his competition in the nostalgia Top Fuel ranks.
When it comes to desire, that's another matter.
Sorokin and the Champion Speed Sport team for which he drives are riding a two-race winning streak in NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series competition and are just a couple of round victories away from winning the championship.
Sorokin, of La Crescenta, has a 61-point lead over Rick Williamson of Stockton as the final event of the season -- the 21st annual NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion -- began its three-day run Friday at Auto Club Famoso Raceway.
"The big trick for this weekend is going to be to keep it alive," Sorokin said of his 377-cubic inch small block Chevrolet motor. "We only have two engines. I wish we had six so we could run it hard every run. We'll try to qualify well. We need to try to qualify in front of Rick Williamson. If we can do that and go some rounds the points will take care of themselves."
Sorokin's team is the only nostalgia front-motored car utilizing a small-block Chevrolet this weekend as all of his competitors have large, more powerful, big-block hemi engines.
A good quarter-mile run for Sorokin would be in the 5.70s. Several of his competitors dip in the 5.60s and a couple could go lower.
"There are a lot of good (cars). Everybody that can run is here." Sorokin said. "Honestly, at this point in the season there's probably not a car here that can't win it. They're all capable of stepping up. (Tony) Bartone is here. Rick White seems to be back in his form and is running really good.
"All these other cars are stepping up. Frank Ousley's Crop Duster car is possibly a 5.50 car, Bartone is a 5.50 car. And this track is going to reward guys who have high horsepower.”
Jimmy Young won the March Meet in Ousley's car and Paul Romine, a former March Meet winner, is now driving it.
Stepping up in the first round of qualifying Friday afternoon was Williamson, who set the pace with a 5.750 at 261.02 mph. Sorokin smoked his tires at the hit of the throttle and was 13th of the 14 dragsters that made qualifying attempt. Bartone, who shook the tires right off the starting line, stood 14th.
All cars have the opportunity for another qualifying round today at noon, which will set 16-car fields for the Top Fuel and nostalgia Funny Car classes. First round of eliminations is set for 3:30 p.m.
The 61-point differential between Sorokin and Williamson is about three rounds of competition. As it stands, Williamson would gain eight points on Sorokin if the qualifying order remained unchanged.
Qualifying in both Top Fuel and Funny Car showed just how unpredictable drag racing can be and what a fine line drivers ride between a solid run or an aborted run.
Rick White of San Diego was among those mastering the track in the unseasonably warm afternoon sunshine as he holds down the No. 2 spot at 5.87. He is followed by Jim Murphy of Santa Rosa at 5.79 and Romine of Morrison, Ill., at 5.88.
While the Top Fuel field is a couple of cars short, the Funny Car field is overflowing.
Thirty-one of the vintage-appearing floppers made qualifying runs Friday, with 14 running under six seconds.
Leading the way was Mike Lewis of Avon, Ind., competition director for Don Schumacher Racing on the NHRA Full Throttle series, at 5.82 and 243.15 mph in his ’71 Mustang, He was followed by NHRA Full Throttle series Funny Car driver Jeff Arend of La Verne, who ran 5.825 in his ’77 Firebird.
Garrett Bateman of Hesperia holds the No. 3 spot at 5.829; Steven Densham of Bellflower is next at 5.834, followed by Dan Horan Jr. of Rancho Cascades at 5.838. Horan is pulling double duty as he is also driving a Top Fuel dragster.
Hot Rod Heritage Series points leader Jason Rupert of Yorba Linda stood 11th after Friday's qualifying. The only driver with a shot at overtaking him is John Hale of Addison, Texas, who was 19th and not yet qualified.
The final event of the day will be the cacklefest, where restored and recreated dragsters will be brought to life the old-fashioned way, with a push start in front of the grandstands.
Gates open at 8 today.