Grand Bend: Series spotlight - Todd Paton

Canada's own Todd Paton added to loaded Top Fuel field in Grand Bend Paton looking for first Top Fuel win in front of hometown fans GRAND BEND, Ontario (July 14, 2010) -- With one of the most star-studded Top Fuel lineups in recent memory...

Canada's own Todd Paton added to loaded Top Fuel field in Grand Bend
Paton looking for first Top Fuel win in front of hometown fans

GRAND BEND, Ontario (July 14, 2010) -- With one of the most star-studded Top Fuel lineups in recent memory already assembled for this weekend's MOPAR Nitro Jam Nationals at the Grand Bend Motorplex, the recent announcement that Canada's own Todd Paton will join the mix has only added to the intrigue as Paton, representing an entire country, takes on a contingent of American heavyweights this weekend in Grand Bend.

Representing the United States will be three former world champions in addition to the current points leader as Del Cox Jr. ('09 champ), Spencer Massey ('08 champ) and Bruce Litton ('07 champ) join current point leader Bobby Lagana Jr. as the four goliaths battling Paton and his all-Canadian team.

Ontario's Todd Paton will join a loaded Top Fuel field in Grand Bend this weekend

Even more exciting is the fact that "The Bend" is considered Paton's home track and is the place where he, a two-time IHRA World Champion himself in Alcohol Funny Car, made his first career pass in Top Fuel. Now, several years and a thrilling career later, Paton returns to the track where it all began in front of his hometown fans.

"We are thrilled to have our hometown boy return this weekend. Todd made his very first pass in a Top Fuel Dragster at Grand Bend, we even signed his license right here, and that just makes it all the more exciting to have him back," said Ron Biekx, Grand Bend Motorplex Track Manager. "This is where it all started and to have him come back after growing into one of the big hitters in the sport and to be the lone Canadian going against a team of American goliaths is awesome. Fans are in for a real treat this weekend."

In Nitro Jam competition Paton is coming off of a dominating performance at last year's Nitro Jam finale at Rockingham Dragway. After Tim Boychuk piloted the first eight races of the year, Paton finished out the '09 season with several strong outings including qualifying No. 1 at the World Finals on his way to a runner-up finish in his last IHRA race. While it has been several months since Paton last competed in a Nitro Jam event, he is confident that his team has the car ready for a competitive weekend.

Paton, above, qualified first and finished runner-up at his last Nitro Jam event in October of 2009

"We are looking forward to competing with the IHRA again. I had a great time running the last two events of the 2009 season and I can't wait to get behind the wheel again this weekend," Paton said. "The Tim Horton's dragster is running very well as of late. The team made wholesale changes to the combination we used to capture the top qualifying position and runner-up finish at last year's World Finals, but we have made even more strides during the last couple months and look forward to some great four second, 300 mile-per-hour performances."

Most recently Paton's dragster, piloted once again by Boychuk at the River Cree Rocky Mountain Nitro Jam Nationals at Castrol Raceway last month, made it to the final round in its first Nitro Jam outing of the year proving that the car is running the best it ever has. Now Paton brings that momentum to his home track competing in the all-new Nitro Jam format as Paton searches for his first career Top Fuel victory.

"We enjoy racing in front of our hometown fans and sponsors. The track in Grand Bend is only two hours from our shop in Paris, Ontario which only adds to the excitement," Paton said. "It will certainly be interesting for me to compete in IHRA's new format. I will have to hit the ground running without making any practice or qualifying laps, but I think the team is up to the challenge. It would truly be something if I could win my first Top Fuel Ironman in front of all these fans."

Tim Boychuk, above, has seen plenty of success driving Paton's dragster over the past three years

Paton, a two-time IHRA Alcohol Funny Car champion with seven career wins, is a fan favorite in the area and has earned his spot as one of the big names in the sport. Over his career Paton has piloted nearly every make of drag racing vehicle including Nitro Funny Cars and, most recently, Top Fuel dragsters. Paton is also one of the few Canadian Top Fuel teams, adding to his excitement this weekend.

"I am proud of my Canadian heritage and as the only Top Fuel team in Canada we will do our best to represent our country against the rest of the Top Fuel field," Paton added.

But it won't be easy.

Waiting for Paton at the MOPAR Nitro Jam Nationals are three former world champions and a quartet that has amassed 39 wins and an unheard of 89 final round appearances over the past decade. Despite their recent dominance, defending world champion and winner of this race last year Cox, along with teammate Massey (the '08 IHRA champion and '09 NHRA Rookie of the Year), in addition to 2007 champion Bruce Litton, are all chasing Lagana.

Paton will be up against a tough field that will include three former world champions, including '09 champ Del Cox Jr. (above)

Through five races Lagana has amassed five wins and two runner-up finishes giving him the top spot ahead of Litton. Litton has four wins and two runner-ups this season.

"The Top Fuel field is very tough this year with the three previous Top Fuel champions all competing. As a two-time IHRA champion myself, I am confident in our abilities to compete against Bruce, Spencer and Del," Paton said. "This is the same car that Tim Boychuk drove to victories over them in the previous two seasons."

The MOPAR Nitro Jam Nationals presented by E3 Spark Plugs will get underway Friday, July 16 and run through Sunday, July 18 at the Grand Bend Motorplex. For information logon to www.nitrojam.com or visit the track website at www.grandbendmotorplex.com.

-source: ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers Bruce Litton , Bobby Lagana Jr. , Todd Paton , Spencer Massey