The surprises kept coming Saturday night at the Perth Motorplex's ANDRA Pro Showdown with reigning Top Doorslammer champion John Zappia a shock first round loser, while Stuart Bishop secured his first ever win in 15 years of racing over fellow surprise finalist, Pino Priolo.
John Cannuli earned his fourth win in the strong Top Alcohol bracket, the Queenslander making up for his DNQ in Top Doorslammer with round wins over Gary Phillips and Steve Ham, and a final round victory over local Craig Glassby.
Bishop ran his Murray Anderson-built Wallace Bishop Jewellers Camaro to a 5.97 in the final eliminating a 6.02 from Pino Priolo's '34 Chev to take home the ANDRA silver Christmas tree trophy, and said the win was "special".
"I am feeling numb to be honest, this is my first win in 15 years of drag racing and it's awesome," Bishop, right, said.
"[The last few years] I've usually been out in the first round and [it] feels like I'm always up against [John] Zappia, who went out first round – unfortunately I'm used to that.
"I'm a jeweller by trade and this is the most expensive piece of metal I've ever held!"
Bishop paid tribute to his crew chief Daniel Reed and his team.
"Daniel Reed has done a fabulous job with our car, while this weekend we're also down on crew (from the Queensland cyclone). We've also had some personal setbacks with some of our crew having some health challenges, so we've put our heart and soul into this weekend as a tribute to them," Bishop said.
Six-time and reigning Top Doorslammer champion Zappia was a shock first round loser, his 6.141 not good enough for Grant O'Rourke's 5.992, while top qualifier Murray O'Connor also lost in the opening round.
Maurice Fabietti escaped disaster after putting the Holden Trade Club Monaro on two wheels, turning sharply to the right and over the centre line while racing Martyn Dack.
After not qualifying for Top Doorslammer, Cannuli said winning Top Alcohol was the team's priority, with the Queenslander's consistent 5.60s downing 16-time Top Alcohol champion Gary Phillips and Steve Ham before belting local Glassby's tyre-smoking 9.27 in the final.
"We came here to get this funny car in the final and that's what we did," Canulli, right, said
"[Our car] was consistent all weekend; it ran 5.60s and we brought the win home. To beat [the likes of] Steve Ham and Gary Phillips is a really good feeling.
"Any win is good but these [ANDRA] Christmas trees are really special."
Cannuli's plan is to run in Top Comp at the upcoming Westernationals to further challenge his fellow Queenslanders Phillips and Ham.
"We've got a consistent 5.60 car, but we want to run 5.50s so we can chase the likes of Phillips and Ham – that's what we're going to try to do."
Top qualifier, Shane Weston's dream run came to an end in the semi-finals when he blazed the tyres in his Pirtek dragster, Glassby taking full advantage to win on a holeshot with a 5.768 to 5.726.
In other brackets, Andrew Katavatis won Super Comp, Ryan Learmonth won Competition Bike, Frank Taylor was the winner of Supercharged Outlaws, Cameron Turner in Modified, Karl Firmin in Super Sedan, Roger Harris in Modified Bike, James Read in Super Street. and Brayden Naylor in Junior Dragster.
The next event at the Perth Motorplex is second round of ANDRA's Top Fuel and Top Doorslammer series at the Westernationals on 28 February – 2 March.
ANDRA TOP DOORSLAMMER
Winner: Stu Bishop 5.972 (QLD)
Runner-up: Pino Priolo 6.028 (WA)
LOW ET: Murray O'Connor 5.908 (WA)
TOP SPEED:John Zappia 249.30 (WA)
ANDRA TOP ALCOHOL
Winner: John Cannuli 5.609 (QLD)
Runner-up: Craig Glassby 9.270 (WA)
LOW ET: Shane Weston 5.562 (WA)
TOP SPEED: Steve Ham 260.11 (QLD)
Winner: Ryan Learmonth
Runner-up: Ross Smith
HARRIS ENGINES SUPER COMP
Winner: Andrew Katavatis
Runner-up: Kyle Putland
A1 HIGH PERFORMANCE SUPERCHARGED OUTLAWS
Winner: Frank Taylor
Runner-up: Al McClure
VEEM ENGINEERING MODIFIED
Winner: Cameron Turner
Runner-up: Dale Gummow
SUPEROO SUPER SEDAN
Winner: Karl Firmin
Runner-up: Laurence Adamos
PERTH QUAD BIKES MODIFIED BIKE
Winner: Roger Harris
Runner-up: Paul McNamara
SOUTHSIDE ENGINE CENTRE SUPER STREET
Winner: James Read
Runner-up: Blake Jeffreys
AUSTRALIAN CIVIL HAULAGE JUNIOR DRAGSTER
Winner: Brayden Naylor
Runner-up: Bailey Ferguson
Images: Top - ANDRA supplied. Others - © Just Drag Racing/Phil Blondel