Thorton crowned King of the Hill
Words and Photos by David Elrod
The 2006 Texas King of the Hill, ABC Rental Tool, Outlaw 10.5 series season opener was held at Texas Raceway in Kennedale, TX and when the tire smoke had cleared Rick Thorton got the win and the points lead.
The performance level of the KOTH cars has dramatically improved over last season. In 2005 just one KOTH ten-wide driver, Billy Stocklin, recorded a pass in the 5.50 range for the eighth mile. At the first race of the season no less than three teams ran in the 5.50’s #1 qualifier Rick Thornton 4.56 ( new KOTH ET record), 2005 Points Champ Jeff Naiser ran a 4.539 using a new for 2006 Big Block, Liberty trans and Clutch setup, and Greg Pizzino recorded an impressive 4.59 thanks to his newly acquired Gene Fulton 760 cubic inch motor.
There is no question that KOTH racers and teams have closed the gap, performance wise between them and the infamous ORSCA Outlaw 10.5 cars.
The top five qualifiers were Rick Thornton 4.568, Jeff Naiser 4.601, Greg Pizzino 4.612, Josh Lindsey 4.701 and Grant McCrary 4.806.
The First round brought a surprise to the fans as Josh Lindsey’s car got loose and recorded a losing 5.26 to David Houser’s 5.09, Fernando Ayalas and his hired gun Bud Morgan got their first round win as a team taking care of Carlsbad, New Mexico racer Chris Trew. Grant McCrary won over Mike Lorea when Lorea failed to stage in time. KOTH President Matt Jones made his way back to the 60’s with a 4.66 win over Mike Graham who was behind the wheel of Johnny Cuinn’s car.
Mark Jenkins sent his neighbor Luis Hildago back to Cypress Texas where they both live. Greg Pizzino got the nod over local Travis Franklin . Then came Jeff Naiser who proceeded to re-set the KOTH ET record of 4.56 that Rick Thorton had ran in qualifying with a 4.539 timing that trailered Billy Martone’s Supercharged Hemi Cuda. Rick Thornton’s Hans Feustel-powered, ‘65 corvette Rick used a 4.596 to edge out Brian Longacres Turbo-charged S- 10 Chevy Pick-up.