Epping: Round nine preview

NEW HAMPSHIRE NEXT STOP ON IHRA EMAX DRAG RACING SERIES NORWALK, Ohio (August 30, 2006) -- Tony Gillig, after winning the Torco's CompetitionPlus.com Pro Stock Ironman at the Torco Northern Nationals, talked about upcoming races on the IHRA eMax...

NEW HAMPSHIRE NEXT STOP ON IHRA EMAX DRAG RACING SERIES

NORWALK, Ohio (August 30, 2006) -- Tony Gillig, after winning the Torco's CompetitionPlus.com Pro Stock Ironman at the Torco Northern Nationals, talked about upcoming races on the IHRA eMax Drag Racing Series. He mentioned going to Norwalk and the fact that his car runs well in the heat. Then he mentioned Epping.

"We have to work on our cold-weather tune-up," Gillig said of the IHRA's venture into New England.

At the Amalie Oil North American Nationals presented by New England Dodge Dealers, IHRA racers will be facing weather conditions they have not seen in quite some time. After the long summer grind where track temperatures consistently climbed well above 100 degrees, the track at New England Dragway is expected to be much cooler on race weekend, Sept. 8-10. With the track at a mere 90' above sea level as well, IHRA's crew chiefs will have to make the required adjustments to get their drivers down the track.

The Amalie Oil North American Nationals has other unique characteristics as well. Where the two races prior to the Epping race usually are a good indication of who will win professional world championships, the Northern Nationals has had only one eventual World Champion win in the last two seasons...Knoll Gas-Torco Pro Stock driver John Nobile in 2004. Conversely, all four winners in Norwalk last season went on to claim championships, as did three of the four winners in Martin.

Despite the lack of eventual World Champions in the Winner's Circle in Epping recently, the '06 Amalie Oil North American Nationals will go a long way towards deciding this season's titlists. Four of the five professional classes on the IHRA circuit are extremely tight, and those in contention cannot afford a slip-up in Epping.

Clay Millican has won five consecutive IHRA Knoll Gas-Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel World Championships and is in the points lead again this season, but he is in the biggest fight of his career. Millican has won just one national event this season, and his lead over second-place Doug Foley is now 15 points. There are a couple of other drivers who, if they get on a hot streak, could overtake Millican as well, including Foley-teammate Rick Cooper, who has yet to win a national event this season or in his career, Bruce Litton or Bobby Lagana Jr., who claimed his career first win this season in Grand Bend, Ontario.

As tight as the Top Fuel race is, the Knoll Gas-Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car chase is even tighter. Dale Creasy, Jr., a two-time winner on the '06 schedule, holds a slim lead. Creasy has scored 543 points this season while Jack Wyatt, also a two-time winner this season, trails by only 13. Bob Gilbertson, at 468 points, and Vinny Arcadi, at 424 points, also remain in contention.

In Torco's CompetitionPlus.com Pro Modified, Glenn Kerunsky built a big lead early this season by advancing to the final round at the first three IHRA national events, winning once. Since then the rest of the field has been reeling him a little bit at a time. Kerunsky, with 431 points, no longer has a comfortable lead in the points standings, with Danny Rowe (425 points) and Quain Stott (414 points) making strong showings recently.

Mark Thomas has two Alcohol Funny Car national events this season, but he's hearing footsteps from three-time winner Tom Carter, and most recently Rob Atchison. Atchison, the defending three-time IHRA champ, trails Thomas by only five points. However, Atchison, who entered the season with 16 career national event victories, has yet to land Ironman #17. Carter would be in even better shape if not for a DNQ at Grand Bend.

Tony Gillig claimed win #3 of the season in Martin, Mich., and has extended his Torco's CompetitionPlus.com Pro Stock points lead over Pete Berner to 69 points. Frank Gugliotta is within striking distance, trailing Gillig by 100 points. The championship is far from decided. Gillig is in the midst of his most successful season ever, but he will have to keep things going in the right direction with some of the toughest competitors right there.

-credit: ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers Mark Thomas , Clay Millican , Bruce Litton , Tony Gillig , John Nobile , Bob Gilbertson , Quain Stott , Bobby Lagana Jr. , Jack Wyatt , Doug Foley , Danny Rowe , Frank Gugliotta