LE Tonglet has made it to the final round of eliminations four times this year, and has a perfect record to show for it.
Tonglet captured his fourth victory of the year on Sunday at Brainerd International Raceway with a win over Hector Arana Jr.
Driving in his 11th career final round, Tonglet made the winning pass with an elapsed time of 6.954 seconds and at a speed of 191.27 miles per hour, barely besting Arana Jr.’s time of 6.961, and 193.43 mph.
“We expected little Hector to outrun us,” Tonglet admitted. “We were pretty much dead even. To have him slow down like that, I don’t know what happened, but I’m glad it did and we were able to hold him off for the win. I kept hearing him and waiting for him to drive by me. But he didn’t and that’s a great feeling.”
Tonglet also said that his approach this year was much different then last year’s, when he had a fairly low profile.
“It’s a totally different atmosphere this year. Last year when we were here we went to the zoo,” he said. “We were kind of under the radar. This year they all knew who I was. It was kind of weird, but a good feeling.”
With just one race left before the Countdown to the Championship begins, Tonglet sits in third place, just one point behind Karen Stoffer. To get to the final round he had to beat Eddie Krawiec, who was the top qualifier and had the fastest bike all weekend.
Arana Jr. earned his way to his first career final round by defeating Andrew Hines, the 2010 champion.
The Pro Stock Motorcycle class was the only class that had their top four qualifiers make it to the semi-finals with Krawiec, Arana Jr., Hines and Tonglet in that order.
In the first round of eliminations, Krawiec ran a time of 6.887, with a speed of 195.17 miles per hour to defeat Michael Phillips. Hector Arana Jr. was the only one who ran faster the Krawiec in the opening round. Arana posted a time of 6.885, and a speed of 194.18 to defeat Justin Finley.
Steve Johnson, starting in the No. 10 spot was able to move on to face Arana III when David Hope red lit on his start. Hector Arana also was able to move on from the No. 11 spot when Jim Underdahl had a red light penalty.
His first round exit ended a successful weekend for Underdahl, who is from Forest Lake. Underdahl qualified sixth with a time of 6.947 on Saturday morning, which was his best qualifying position of 2011.
“We looked at the graph from our run on Friday night and we saw that we were still a little rich on the fuel,” said Underdahl of his time of 6.947 on Saturday morning. “So we leaned it out a bit for this morning’s session and made a couple of chassis and everything worked out.”
In the second round of eliminations, Krawiec defeated Gerald Savoie, and Tonglet set up a semifinal matchup against Krawiec with a victory over Chip Ellis.
On the other side of the bracket, Arana Jr. defeated Steve Johnson. With Hines advancing to face Arana Jr. with a victory over Arana Jr.’s dad Hector.
In the first race, Krawiec and Tonglet faced off with Tonglet winning by five tenths of a second. Tonglet’s time of 6.956 was five tenths of a second better then Krawiec’s time of 6.904.
“Going up against Eddie and little Hector, we knew that we had to cut a light,” Tonglet said. “My dad was able to make some adjustments and to know that I don’t have to speed up my reaction time, and that the bike is actually set up for that is a lot of help for me.”
Arana Jr. then defeated defending champion Hines with an ET of 6.893. Hines finished with an ET of 7.005 to set up the final elimination round matchup between Arana Jr. and Tonglet.