Rockingham: Bruce Litton up in smoke

ROCKINGHAM, N.C.-Ever see $200,000 go up in smoke? It's not pretty. Just ask Top Fuel pilot Bruce Litton, driver of the Wix Filters Top Fuel dragster. As much as he tries to put things in the proper perspective, it gets tough to do when ...

ROCKINGHAM, N.C.-Ever see $200,000 go up in smoke?

It's not pretty. Just ask Top Fuel pilot Bruce Litton, driver of the Wix Filters Top Fuel dragster.

As much as he tries to put things in the proper perspective, it gets tough to do when describing the end of his 2000 season at this past weekend's CARQUEST Autumn Nationals in Rockingham, NC.

"We controlled our destiny and didn't stand up to the challenge," explained a dejected Litton. "Both Paul and Clay are tremendous competitors and to be in a battle with those two really says a lot as to how far we have come with our racing operation. Sometimes, we go out there and give it our best, and it's not in the grand scheme of things with destiny."

He continued, "Is this going to deter me from coming back stronger than ever in 2001? No. Will we be ready to give the great people at Wix Filters their money's worth next season? You betcha. Whatever happens - happens and we have to accept it. I'm glad that Paul brought the title back to Indianapolis. I plan on giving him plenty of headaches and sleepless nights trying to keep it next year."

Three weeks ago in Shreveport, La., it was time to put up or shut up for the top three nitro-fuelers: Clay Millican, Chicago; Paul Romine, Indianapolis; and Bruce Litton, Indianapolis. Litton had a job to do and he did it. Marching through the Mopar Finals Top Fuel ranks, claiming the event championship and more importantly, the points lead.

With just a six-point lead over Romine, and Millican within striking distance (32 points), Litton once again had his work cut out for him. Only this time around, it was for all the marbles, 200,000 of them.

At the conclusion of qualifying, Litton sat in the number three spot behind Romine and Millican. This alone cost the Indy-based trailer sales magnate two points to Romine and one to Millican.

Litton was paired against #4 qualifier, Steve Smith in round one of competition. Litton left the line first and never saw his opponent. Smith over-powered the track almost immediately, lost traction and was forced to lift. Litton crossed the finish line at 4.756/315.

Meanwhile, Romine and Millican defeated their first round opponents.

Litton faced Millican in the semi-final round. Millican had lane choice going in to the round by clocking a quicker ET in round one. This proved critical for Litton. Millican left the starting line 2-hundreths of a second quicker, at 200 feet out on the asphalt Litton smoked the tires and could not regain traction. As the smoke cleared Litton watched Millican turn on the win light, signaling his Summit Championship hopes and the accompanying $200,000 top prize were gone.

When all was said and done, Litton ended up third in the world, collecting a $30,000 bonus from Summit Racing Equipment and the IHRA.

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