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NHRA: Anatol Denysenko continues his quest for ‘The Wally’

Anatol Denysenko estimates he spent approximately $1200 compete stock eliminator class Route 66 Nationals. | Tony Baranek/For Sun-Times Media

Anatol Denysenko estimates he spent approximately $1,200 to compete in the stock eliminator class at the Route 66 Nationals. | Tony Baranek/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 30, 2014 6:43AM



Anatol Denysenko estimates he spent approximately $1,200 to compete in the stock eliminator class at the Route 66 Nationals.

His weekend lasted a scant 12-plus seconds, when he was eliminated Friday in the first round.

In dollars and cents, it didn’t seem like a good deal. But Denysenko said he’ll spend it again next year.

“It’s not about the money,” he said. “You’re not really making any money with this.”

So what is it?

“It’s all about chasing ‘The Wally,’ ” Denysenko said.

The Wally is a trophy the champions in each of the categories at each NHRA national event receives.

“Wally Parks was the founder of the National Hot Rod Association,” Denysenko said. “He created a trophy of a person standing with a helmet and he’s standing with his hand on a tire. It’s probably two feet tall.

“To somebody out here doing this, it’s worth more than the money that you can win for the whole event.”

Denysenko will have to wait for another weekend to win his first Wally.

The 43-year-old Lyons native has captured his share of other trophies with his National Parts Depot/Mustangsandmore.com 1986 Mercury Capri during a career that began in 1997.

His first title came in a stock eliminator event at the IHRA Summernationals in 1999 in Cordova, Illinois. The last event he won was a Lucas Oil divisional event in 2011 in Stanton, Michigan.

In between he won four other division events. But a title in an NHRA national event such as the Route 66 Nationals has eluded him. Hence, so has The Wally.

Since 2011, Denysenko has had to scale back his racing program for financial reasons. The Route 66 Nationals was just his second event of the season. There might be a couple more.

But Denysenko said there will be another day, if for only one reason.

“You only have a few opportunities to go out and win a Wally if you don’t have a lot of dough,” he said. “The money isn’t going to be there, because you know that you’re going to spend more money than you’ll ever potentially make.

“It’s all about chasing The Wally.”

He gets around

Name a motor, any motor, and Dominic Paolella can make it sing.

The 36-year-old Steger native wrenches on the Top Fuel drag car driven by Luigi Novelli, but he’s more well known as the engine-builder for Illiana Speedway and Grundy County Speedway competitors Dean Patterson, Michael Gerike, Bobbie Jean Wall, Jacob McKown and Bobby Gash III.

“With all of the power here, it’s pretty neat to actually be able to work on it,” Paolella said about helping Novelli during Top Fuel qualifying Saturday. “You have to have 100 percent confidence in what you do.

“With this car there’s no cheating, no chance for second-guessing yourself. You do it right the first time.”

No. 2 stunner

Three straight qualifying misfires left Richie Crampton with just one more chance to make the 16-car Top Fuel field for Sunday’s finals. He didn’t come up short a fourth time, recording a 3.792-second (324.20 mph) run that vaulted him from 18th and last into second. He eventually was bumped down to No. 6.

Crampton’s good fortune meant an early exit for 82-year-old Hometown native Chris Karamesines. The “Golden Greek” was 15th on the grid through three rounds, but didn’t improve his time on his fourth run and was eliminated by Crampton.



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