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It was just two months ago that Sean Bellemeur took his first Top Fuel title at the Goodguys Nitro Nationals in Las Vegas. Since then he and the Plaza Hotel - MasterCam team (with a brand new car) are two for two including a win at the National Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, KY and their latest victory at the 7th Pomona Nitro Nationals. In a sport where three wins in a row are rare - three wins in a row by a "rookie" with a new car is unheard of.



First car in the pits on Thursday - the winner on Saturday.




For several reasons including the warm weather and Fathers Day, the format for this event was 2 days (Friday and Saturday) with racing from morning 'till night. The large car count and a 10 pm curfew at Pomona forced the Goodguys to further alter the schedule and limit the Pro classes to only two qualifying sessions - both on Friday. The first session was held in the heat of the day on Friday afternoon.


Bellemeur waits to fire up for his first qualifying run. This would be the first time that the West Coast fans would see the new car go down the track.


Sean heats up the tires in preparation for their first qualifying attempt.



As he always does, co-owner and ex-driver Walt Stevens backs Sean up after his burnout. The other part of the teams back up procedure is Roger McMartin eying the engine for any leaks or abnormalities.



With opponent Fred Farndon being pushed back, co-owner Tom Shelar brings Sean up to the the staging beams to make a single run.


Playing it safe in the clutch and power department, the car leaves soft and cards a baseline 6.213 @ 229.82. This would place him in the # 7 qualifying position at the end of the first session.








Between Sessions


After every run the cars are serviced and decisions are made for improving the tune-up for the next pass.


Bellemeur is a "working" driver as part of his responsibility is clutch maintenance.


Veteran NHRA "Big Show" crewman Randy Green volunteered his specialty - checking the bottom end. Not a job everyone wants or can do correctly.


Being the only two car team currently running Nostalgia Top Fuel, the Plaza Hotel & Casino - MasterCam - High Speed Steel Heat Treating (now that's a mouth full) crew is quite large. With both cars in competition some of the crew members work on a specific car and others bounce back and forth between them.








After all the maintenance is done the car the crew does a "warm up" in the pits. This is done to heat in the engine, check oil pressure, to get baseline computer data and to make sure there are no leaks. Here Tom Shelar hooks up the computer before firing up.


Walt Stevens has Sean check the fuel system, clutch and reverser. It's always better to find a problem in the pits than the race track.


The people love it when the cars fire up in the pits and gather like flies when they hear one. Many hard core fans stay in the Top Fuel pit area the entire time between rounds.




The second session was scheduled for 7 pm but did not get under way until 9 pm which was fine with both the racers and fans as there's nothing better than nitro at night. Bellemeur does his burnout under the lights.



Liking the night air, the car responded and improved on its first run with a solid 6.105 @ 236.84.



Race Day


Pulling up for the first round: 5:00 pm - let the games begin!







Note: The new car was starting to hike the front wheels at the hit - a good sign that the clutch is getting dialed in.


At Pomona the return road goes right in front of the stands and then the cars take a mini tunnel to return to the pits. This allows the fans to see the cars closer and cheer for their favorite teams.




Between rounds it was business as usual for the crew.


Tom Shelar analyzes the data collected on the previous run. This information allows the team to tweak the tune-up and clutch settings for better performance (hopefully).





As the sun was setting over the hills surrounding Pomona, the semi finals pitted Bellemeur with the always tough Jeff Diehl in the black RB Entertainment car of Bryan Van Dyke.



Both cars left together and in a great side by side race Bellemeur held on for the win in the best race of the field. Cheers went up when the electronic scoreboard posted a 6.099 @ 243.37 for Sean while Diehl was right there with a 6.124 @ 239.42. That was a drag race!



Final Round

With a 10:00 pm curfew the Top Fuel final went off with 20 minutes to spare. Due to the "break rule" Bellemeur would have to race Jeff Diehl again! Although Diehl was beaten by Sean in the semis he got back in the show as low ET loser when Jason Richey couldn't make the call.


Diehl, knowing he had to get a starting line advantage to beat the white car, took a shot at the lights and lost. He left too early by a bunch handing Bellemeur and the Plaza Hotel - MasterCam - High Speed Metal Heat Treating team their third win in a row. Sean knew he had the win but drove it to the end for the fans. His 6.061 @ 245.76 would have been tough to beat even if Diehl hadn't red lighted.


High fives all around... its great when a plan comes together!




The jubilant crew heads to the other end to retrieve Sean and the car.


At the far end Sean pulls off his helmet gives a "I must be dreaming" look.


Co owner Tom Shelar at the other end - no excitement here.




Larry Dixon stopped by to congratulate Sean on the win.


It was a special win for Sean's mom, Nancy who has been battling heath problems of late. In fact, she recently had surgery and didn't expect to be able to come to this event. We were all gald she could and did.




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