Chapter Two of Knoll Gas Nitro Jam Season Slated for Rockingham Dragway
Fresh off upset-filled Texas Nationals, IHRA heads to fabled North Carolina quarter-mile strip for Spring Nationals
(Norwalk, OHIO; April 10, 2008) -- A significant part of drag racing history has taken place at Rockingham Dragway, Steve Earwood's venerable quarter-mile strip nestled in between the pine trees near the North Carolina-South Carolina border. But while history and memories are part of what makes Rockingham so special, the old guard better look out. The young guns are coming.
Spencer Massey, Steven Macklyn and Laurie Cannister each made strong statements at the IHRA Knoll Gas Nitro Jam season opener in San Antonio. And they have no plans to go away any time soon. Massey defeated Terry McMillen in the Top Fuel final in San Antonio a mere six days after securing his Top Fuel license in Houston. The 25-year-old Fort Worth, Texas resident made his bones in the A-Fuel ranks, but drove through the Top Fuel field en route to his first career professional IHRA victory.
"It was a dream come true. It was something we thought could possibly happen, but obviously I wasn't thinking about winning the race," Massey said. "As soon as the win light came on I could not believe it. It still hasn't hit me yet."
Steven Macklyn (Salt Lake City, Utah) is another racer who drove to an improbable Ironman victory in San Antonio. In just his second Nitro Funny Car race Macklyn drove past Jeff Diehl in the first round, Jack Wyatt in the semifinals and two-time defending World Champion Dale Creasy Jr. in the final round.
"I was lost, if I would not have been on a tow rope I would not have been able to find the Winner's Circle," Macklyn said. "We came out just hoping to qualify, but to beat Dale Creasy and end up in the Winner's Circle is a dream come true."
While a pair of upsets highlighted the Nitro classes in San Antonio, Laurie Cannister of Johnstown, Ohio stole the show in Alcohol Funny Car. She set both ends of IHRA's 1/8th mile world record in driving to her second career AFC Ironman.
"Texas was unreal, it was great for a new team to come out like that," Cannister said.
She knows, however, she has a tall order in front of her at Rockingham Dragway.
"We hope things continue or stay like this for a little while anyway," she said. "But it's a tough field out there so we know it's going to be very difficult. We have to keep working hard if we want to stay contenders."
Jim Halsey and Billy Harper, a pair of nitrous cars, made it to the final round in San Antonio...reviving the nitrous-blower argument that has been the talk of the Pro Modified class for years. In Rockingham, dead-smack in the middle of Pro Modified country, defending world champion Scott Cannon Jr. will be looking to rebound from his first-round exit in San Antonio. His father, Pro Mod legend Scotty Cannon, is back behind the wheel again this year...heading home to the Carolinas where his legendary career began.
Both Cannons hail from Lyman, South Carolina.
"Scott and Scotty, the fans are going to be thrilled," IHRA president Aaron Polburn said. "The Cannons are like rock stars in the Carolinas with good reason...they are among the best drivers in the world. I can't wait to see the crowd reaction they get the first time they stage their cars."
John Montecalvo (Center Moriches, N.Y.) won the Pro Stock Ironman at the IHRA Spring Nationals last season. He also captured the season-opener in San Antonio this year by defeating Wilmington, N.C. resident Jeff Dobbins on a holeshot. Montecalvo will be looking to build on his hot early start.
"I hope people are talking about a nice charge all season, not just an early-season charge," Montecalvo said. "We're out to win races this year. We have a really good team, Sonny Leonard is giving us awesome power, Ram Clutches and Braswell Carburetors...you put that combination together with my crew and I think we have a team to be reckoned with."
Rockingham Dragway is notoriously one of the hottest tracks on the IHRA Knoll Gas Nitro Jam circuit as far as performance is concerned. In the five professional classes, many of the quickest fields in IHRA history have taken place at The Rock. Four of the top 10 quickest Top Fuel fields have taken place in Rockingham. Five of the quickest 10 Alcohol Funny Car fields, four of the quickest 10 Pro Stock fields, three of the quickest Pro Modified fields (including the quickest ever) and two of the quickest Nitro Funny Car fields (also including the quickest ever) have taken place at Rockingham Dragway.
"We love coming to Rockingham because the cars absolutely fly," Polburn said. "You will see some amazing numbers at the Spring Nationals. It's a very historic place with very historic performance. Our drivers love taking a shot at that track. Qualifying or eliminations, it never matters at Rockingham...everyone always wants to put on a show."
The IHRA Knoll Gas Nitro Jam Spring Nationals will begin Friday, April 18. Sportsman time trials will run all day with the first professional qualifying session taking place at 6 p.m. There will be two Saturday professional qualifying sessions, at 2 and 6 p.m. followed by the Night of Fire featuring the Super Shockwave jet truck. Final eliminations begin Sunday at noon. For more information or to order tickets please visit www.nitrojam.com or www.rockinghamdragway.com.