BUDDS CREEK, Md.-There will be no overtaking of the points lead for Von Smith, at least at Budds Creek. The three-time World Champion needed to keep pace with Weney, and despite a first round loss, still managed to keep himself in striking distance as Weney lost in the following round.
Smith, who desperately needed to win his first-round elimination match Saturday at the Expressautoparts.com President's Cup Nationals with Weney to stay in the chase for the championship, had been involved in a season-long tug-of-war with him for tour victories and the lead in the Funny Car championship points chase.
Weney supplied a temporary blow to Smith's drive for a fourth title during the first round elimination in the ExpressAutoparts.com Presidents Cup Nationals.
The Tennessean won the battle of starting line reactions, .433 seconds to .452, but it wasn't enough to secure the victory. Weney covered the Maryland International Raceway quarter-mile in 5.956 seconds at 235.02 mph to Smith's 6.045/239.02 mph. Both cars had tire shakes early, but Smith skated around more, allowing Weney to drive by.
Smith's quest for a three-peat looked good earlier in the season. During the IHRA stop in Cordova, Ill., Smith beat Weney in the second-round elimination on the way to his second straight victory. The win propelled Smith to a 29-point advantage over Weney in the funny-car standings.
The luck ran out for the driver of the Atomic City Tool-Nitro Fish Trans-Am during the next race, losing to Weney when the tour visited Leicester, N.Y. Weney also regained the point lead. Smith would win in Stanton, Mich., but couldn't budge Weney from atop the standings.
Smith's confidence appeared in high gear during qualifying at Budds Creek. After posting a 6.065/236.15 during Thursday's run, he stepped up to a 5.957 for Friday's first pass. Smith saved his best qualifying pass for the final session as he stepped up with a 5.959/234.17, giving his the eighth spot.
The bad news was that he it paired him opposite of Weney in the first round.
Smith will have two weeks to digest what happened before rolling into Red River Raceway in Shreveport, La., for the Oct. 12-14 Mopar Parts World Finals.