Rockingham II: Season finale preview

IHRA CHAMPIONSHIPS DECIDED AT UNIVERSAL TECHNICAL INSTITUTE WORLD FINALS Creasy Jr., Stott, Thomas and Gillig hope to maintain championship leads NORWALK, Ohio (October 11, 2006) -- As the Universal Technical Institute World Finals approaches,...

IHRA CHAMPIONSHIPS DECIDED AT UNIVERSAL TECHNICAL INSTITUTE WORLD FINALS
Creasy Jr., Stott, Thomas and Gillig hope to maintain championship leads

NORWALK, Ohio (October 11, 2006) -- As the Universal Technical Institute World Finals approaches, fans of the IHRA eMax Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series will pay close attention to the championship chases in the five professional categories. The event will be held October 20 -- 22 at Rockingham Dragway in North Carolina.

The one championship that is all but locked-up is the Knoll Gas -- Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel class. Clay Millican, Drummonds, Tenn., leads Doug Foley by 117 points for his sixth-consecutive Top Fuel championship. Due to injuries sustained during a crash in Ontario, Foley missed the last IHRA race in Maryland and is expected to miss the World Finals. On the other hand, Millican has attended every race, and will earn 41 bonus points at the end of the season for doing so. Foley, Sewell, N.J., cannot earn those points.

Therefore, regardless of who wins at Rockingham, when Millican arrives at the track, he locks up the championship. He'll be the only professional competitor to ever win six-consecutive championships. The only other driver to accomplish such a feat is Anthony Bertozzi, Richmond, Va., who won the ACCEL DFI Super Stock championship every year from 1996 -- 2001.

The battle for second place will come down to Rick Cooper, Boise, Idaho, and Bobby Lagana Jr., Scarsdale, N.Y. Neither competitor can catch Millican, but it's likely they will both pass Foley, Cooper's teammate. Only 32 points separate Cooper and Lagana Jr.

It was thought Dale Creasy Jr. (photo attached), Beecher, Ill., made the definitive blow in the Knoll Gas -- Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car class by winning the Canadian Nationals last month and leaving the event with a 55-point lead over Jack Wyatt, Corydon, Iowa. However, after a first round loss in Maryland, including a costly 15-point black flag deduction (for oiling the track), Creasy Jr. enters the World Finals only 22 points ahead of Wyatt, and 73 points ahead of pre-season favorite and Charlotte, N.C.-resident Bob Gilbertson. Creasy Jr. needs to qualify well and not let Wyatt advance any rounds beyond him in eliminations to ensure his first career world championship. Obviously a black flag penalty would be costly for anyone at this event. Of note, Wyatt won the IHRA Spring Nationals this past April in Rockingham.

"We just have to worry about doing our job and things will take care of themselves," Creasy said. "Sure, we've been thinking about the championship and its something this team has been working towards for years, but we just have to keep our focus and go rounds."

Quain Stott, Columbus, N.C., is in the same boat as Creasy. Stott took the lead in the Torco's CompetitionPlus.com Pro Modified class with a win in Maryland, but his lead is tenuous at best. Glen Kerunsky, Calgary, Alberta, sits just 10 points behind Stott in second, but there are as many as four other drivers who could conceivably jump up and snatch the title away.

Mike Janis, Lancaster, N.Y., on the strength of his win in Cayuga, Ontario, is 30 points behind Stott in third place. California's Danny Rowe is 33 points back. Tommy D'Aprile, Port Charlotte, Fla., is 57 points behind Stott while Carl Spiering, Jordan Station, Ontario, has an outside shot to move into the lead as well, currently sitting 103 points behind Stott.

Mark Thomas, Canton, Ohio, did not win the Alcohol Funny Car Ironman in Maryland. However, that race might end up being the turning point if he holds on to win his sixth career World Championship.

Thomas, who enters Rockingham with 802 points, was the #1 qualifier at the President's Cup while three-time defending World Champion Rob Atchison, London, Ontario, who currently has 754 points, failed to qualify for eliminations, causing him to surrender the points lead. Tom Carter, Cuero, Texas, with 724 points, remains in contention as well.

Tony Gillig, Pete Berner and Frank Gugliotta will slug it out for the title in the Torco's CompetitionPlus.com Pro Stock class. Gillig, Lake Bluff, Ill., is in the driver's seat with 784 points, but Berner (753) and Gugliotta (692) are in striking distance. Gugliotta, Mt. Airy, Md., is the defending World Finals champion.

The Universal Technical Institute World Finals, featuring the Saturday JCB "Night of Fire," the concluding race of the 11-event eMax Drag Racing Series, will be held at Rockingham Dragway, October 20 -- 22.

-credit: ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers Mike Janis , Mark Thomas , Clay Millican , Tony Gillig , Bob Gilbertson , Quain Stott , Dale Creasy Jr. , Bobby Lagana Jr. , Jack Wyatt , Doug Foley , Danny Rowe , Glen Kerunsky , Frank Gugliotta