ROC KINGHAM, NC.-Car owner Johnny Rocca, and his driver, Troy Critchley, enjoyed an outstanding weekend at the IHRA CARQUEST Autumn Nationals in Rockingham, NC. Critchley drove the supercharged Ironhorse Pro Modified to a quarter-final finish at Rockingham Dragway and earned the first IHRA Top Five finish of his career.
The Ironhorse was not in the show going into qualifying at the rescheduled event. Rocca and Critchley pooled their talents during Saturday's first session to run an amazing 6.229/226.20 to grab the top qualifying position. The pair returned for the final Pro Mod qualifying session of the season but failed to improve on their earlier 6.22. The Oldsmobile powered '49 Mercury slipped to the No. 2 qualifying position and a first round encounter with Buzz Varner.
Critchley was the first driver to fire his motor during the opening round of eliminations in Mopar Pro Modified. Varner cut the tree too close and red lighted away his chance at the upset. The Australian-born Critchley thundered to an excellent 6.205/227.84 to take the win and earn lane choice over second round opponent, Billy Harper. The 6.20 was also low E.T. of the first round.
Rocca put the Ironhorse in the left lane again for Critchley's second round battle with Harper. Critchley was quicker off the line with a .504 to .540 light but near half track the Ironhorse started blowing smoke from the back of the car. Harper drove around Critchley to take the upset win with a 6.607/220.40 to Crichley's slowing 7.249/145.55.
Despite the second round loss, the Team USA Prolong-sponsored '49 Mercury was a power to be reckoned with the last half of the season. The late season performance surge earned Rocca and Critchley their first IHRA Top Five finish in the Mopar Pro Modified class.