Drag Illustrated Issue 182, May / June 2023 - Page 114

David Ngo Pockets $ 20,000 in XFWD Challenge Victory

A wild weekend in the XFWD Challenge ended in an anticlimactic final round , as No . 2 qualifier Rafa Famania got timed out , resulting in an automatic DQ . In the other lane , No . 7 qualifier David Ngo in his ’ 89 Civic left the starting line and coasted to a 33.668 at 23.75 after hurting his engine . It was the Lebanon , Pennsylvania-based driver ’ s only rough spot in eliminations , but he still turned on the win light and pocketed the $ 20,000 payday .
“ I was honestly honored when Vic [ Alvarez , track owner ] and Wes [ Buck , DI founder and WSOPM promoter ] reached out to me and asked if I wanted to be one of the 25 [ invitees ]. That was already huge ,” said Ngo . “ They ’ re trying to put XFWD on the map , on the grand stage . To be one of the drivers was already a win in my book . To come out here and actually win the whole thing , I don ’ t even have words to describe it . It ’ s just crazy .
Earlier in eliminations , Ngo used an 8.089 at
182.28 to take out No . 1 qualifier Nichole Elff . He then made his best run of race day , a 7.939 at 186.30 , to move on past Rey Rios . A 7.979 at 175.94 secured Ngo ’ s ticket to the final round .
“ I do this for fun ,” Ngo continued . “ I don ’ t
have a shop or anything that benefits from this . I do it for fun because I love it . This just shows that if you love doing something , you can do it and you can be good at it if you put in the time .” – NATE VAN WAGNEN DI

Melanie Salemi Makes the Most of Second Chance

“ We decided that if we could get in , we would take the chance to make another run ,” confessed PDRA Pro Boost record holder Melanie Salemi as she and her team debated leaving Bradenton Motorsports Park after not qualifying for the main event .
However , the chance paid off for Salemi and her team as they claimed the $ 10,000-to-win Chicago-Style Second-Chance Shootout title .
Salemi experienced a few setbacks trying to qualify for the richest Pro Mod race in the world . She ended up outside the 32-car field , and as a matter of fact , Salemi was on the outside looking in on the 16-car second-chance field . However , when other teams started to pack up and leave , Salemi found herself in the second-chance shoutout .
“ We were just one run behind all weekend . Unfortunately , being low of the whole day just didn ’ t happen on the right day ,” stated Salemi on Sunday , after her team ’ s newly screw-blown
Camaro started to come into tune .
“ We typically go to bigger races , but this one is just for the books . The fans filled the stands , and the atmosphere was pretty hype about the whole thing ,” Salemi said .
Jon Salemi , Melanie ’ s husband , and brotherin-law Jim capitalized on their chance in the Chicago-style shootout . Salemi ran 3.661 at 205.10 to beat Mike Decker III , which moved her to the final . There , she laid down a 3.643 at 206.16 to win the $ 10,000 check over Steven Whiteley and his 4.817 at 103.34 in the screw-blown J & A Service ‘ 69 Camaro .
“ It was nice to be able to partake in [ the second-chance race ] and get a couple more runs ,” Salemi said . “ Jon and Evan [ Salemi ] and Jim put their heads together , and we got a good plan and made some really good runs . Every time that I made laps in the car , we were low for the entire round , not just the second-chance race . We were low out of everybody . It was kind of refreshing to come out and run a different setup and still be fast .”
Another highlight of the week for the WSOPM invitees , including Salemi , was the Racer Welcome Party presented by Strange Engineering .
“ It gave appreciation to the racers and got everybody together outside of their pits ,” said Salemi . “ It ’ s always nice to get together with fellow racers and hang out outside of being competitors on the track .” – KAYLA ZADEL DI
114 | Drag Illustrated | DragIllustrated . com Issue 182