Norwalk: Critchley eyes triple championship

NORWALK, Oh. (August 24, 2000) - Australian-born Troy Critchley's role as a "hired gun" behind the wheel of Johnny Rocca's popular '49 Mercury Pro Modified, "Ironhorse", has left the former division record-holder with triple vision. That's...

NORWALK, Oh. (August 24, 2000) - Australian-born Troy Critchley's role as a "hired gun" behind the wheel of Johnny Rocca's popular '49 Mercury Pro Modified, "Ironhorse", has left the former division record-holder with triple vision.

That's because the 28 year-old driving sensation, who recently held the category's elapsed time mark at 6.227-seconds, still has a realistic chance at claiming three separate major titles - between two countries.

Currently, Critchley leads the Canadian Drag Racing Series championship point chase, with its final event, including a previous rain-delayed run-off, to be held back-to-back the following weekend, Sept. 3-4, at Cayuga International Raceway Park, in Cayuga, Canada.

His immediate focus, however, is on this weekend's Mopar Parts World Nationals, the International Hot Rod Association's (IHRA) largest annual gathering, currently being held at Norwalk Raceway Park, near the sanctioning body's home base in Norwalk, Oh.

Although presently qualified seventh in the 16-car field at Norwalk, and sixth in the IHRA/Summit Drag Racing series point chase, Critchley and the USA Racing team must make up crucial ground in order to secure a unique place in history, especially as the IHRA tour reaches the midway point in its 12-race season.

That's because, in addition to the Canadian and IHRA world titles, a third championship is at stake. Should the team be among the top eight point finishers at the IHRA tour's end, they will automatically be seeded in the highly-anticipated Mopar Parts Pro Mod Shootout, a special eliminator held in conjunction with the season-ending Mopar Parts World Finals, in Shreveport, La.

Meanwhile, at Norwalk on Wednesday, Critchley steered Rocca's Prolong Super Lubricants/Somerset Refinery, Inc.-backed "Ironhorse" to the aforementioned seventh position at a 6.409-second and 215 mph charge. The top 11 cars are all in the 6.4-second range. The current bump position is held by Ronnie Hood's 6.549.

"That was a good run, but there's definitely more left in the tune-up," said car owner, and former driver-turned crew chief, Rocca.

"The car was reacting to the extremely high humidity, and I think people underestimated how good the track would be," he continued.

"We got a good baseline of information from that run. But, by the end of qualifying on Friday, that time will probably be enough for only the bubble. So, we need to improve."

Rocca was mildly happy with the recent IHRA rule change which allowed more rear-end gearing for supercharged vehicles, aimed at giving more parity for the class, which combines the latter with currently dominant nitrous-assisted vehicles.

"It will help, but it isn't the answer," he said of the rule, which was implemented at Norwalk in response to a previous set of guidelines, which reduced the supercharged contingent's capabilities by up to two tenths-of-a-second in elapsed time. Consequently, it allowed the nitrous cars to catch up to current point leader and supercharged racer, Fred Hahn.

At the same time, the changes have relegated Rocca's machine rearward, after an impressive fourth place point holding prior to the initial rules implementations, plus a non-qualified effort at the most recent event, in Stanton, Mich.

"This new rear-end rule won't put us deep enough in the field, so that's what we have to deal with," Rocca said.

"We're reasonably happy," he said further.

"At least we can compete."

Qualifications will continue Thursday and Friday, August 24-25, with final eliminations for the Mopar Parts World Nationals to be held on Saturday, August 26.

The event will be nationally televised on a tape-delayed basis via cable entity, The Nashville Network (TNN), airing on Sunday, September 17 at 10:30 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).

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Series Drag
Drivers Fred Hahn , Johnny Rocca , Troy Critchley