Lee makes third straight final in Budds Creek
BUDDS CREEK, Md. - IHRA Torco Pro Nitro Funny Car driver Paul Lee made his third straight final round during this past weekend's IHRA Torco Race Fuels President's Cup Nationals at Maryland International Raceway in Budds Creek, Md. Lee was the picture of consistency during the weekend, posting a career best run during qualifying, only to have a clutch disc failure in the final.
Lee, from Bala Cynwyd, Pa., qualified Jeff and Bonnie McGaffic's Chevy Monte Carlo second in the field with a career-best 4.803 second pass at 316.38 mph. In round one, he defeated Vinny Arcadi with a 4.899 at 313.15 mph, then took out Terry Haddock with a 5.060 at 290.07 mph in the semifinals.
Lee's final round opponent would be No. 7 qualifier Jeff Diehl. Lee, a heavy favorite based on performance going into his fourth IHRA final of the year, left the line first only to have a bad clutch disc significantly slow the Rislone machine to a 5.733 at 198.85 mph to let Diehl get by with a 5.399 at 241.07 mph.
"It was just one of those freak deals," said McGaffic. "We really had the car running good, but a clutch disc came apart early in the run, and it went downhill from there. The clutch never locked up, and if one of these nitro motors loses the load on it, it starts dropping cylinders. We looked like we were in good position to win our first race, but that's drag racing. Other than the final, we had a very good weekend. We ran the quickest we've ever ran, so we're definitely heading in the right direction with this Rislone, Allied Machine, Bars Leaks, Justice Brothers and Kimberly Clark Chevy."
After acquiring major sponsorship from Rislone in September, the team has hit the IHRA schedule full time. Going into the final event in Rockingham, N.C., the Rislone/J&B Motorsports team is just a mere 9 points away from achieving their goal of a top five finish.
"After missing a few races early in the year, we felt getting in the top five was a realistic, yet prestigious goal to shoot for," commented McGaffic. "We started quite a ways out in Norwalk, but this team really has come together and we've been going rounds. Hopefully we can finish the season off with a win in Rockingham, and the points will take care of themselves from there."
The Rislone Nitro Funny Car will make a stop on the NHRA tour this weekend in Richmond, Va., then move on to the IHRA/eMax Series finale, the IHRA World Finals in Rockingham, N.C., Oct. 20-22.