Smith Loses Bid To Win Final Funny Car Event In 2000

ROCKINGHAM, N.C.-Finishing second in the 2000 Funny Car season points chase would have most drivers ecstatic but not Von Smith, who had envisioned a third straight championship.

If there is any consolation for Smith, no matter how small, it's that he ousted Scott Weney in the rain-rescheduled CARQUEST Autumn Nationals' season finale. The showing, however, won't make up for the fact that his title was clinched by Weney three weeks earlier in Shreveport, La.

Smith's small measure of revenge came during Sunday's second round of eliminations when the driver of the Atomic City Tool-Nitro Fish Trans-Am used a solid pass to turned back a struggling Weney. The Tennessean covered Rockingham Dragway's quarter-mile in an elapsed time of 5.959 seconds at 241.32 mph to Weney's 7.524/126.35.

Weney got the drop on Smith at the Christmas tree, .458 seconds to .486, and pulled way until half-track. Smith caught a break when the engine on Weney's car pitched the blower belt, and he was able to score an easy victory.

After getting by Monty Todd in the next round, Smith found himself in position to bring the curtain down on the season with his first victory since the IHRA stopped in Stanton in early August. His challenger was Bob Newberry, a wily veteran of the drag-racing wars.

Smith got a big jump at the starting line, winning the holeshot .484 seconds to Newberry's .505. However, Smith would be second again as both drivers had to pedal around the 200 foot mark. Newberry suddenly hooked up and motored for the victory. His run of 6.034 seconds at 242.84 mph easily ousted Smith, who completed his run in 12.116/63.50.

Qualifying started tough for Smith, who battled tire shake when the event opened back on Sept. 21 and was 15th with an elapsed time of 12.306 seconds before the rains forced postponement to this past weekend. The six-week break helped Smith, and he used the first session on Saturday to improve dramatically with a 6.049/237.59, jumping to eighth position. The three-time world champ wasn't finished and improved again during the "Night of Fire," storming to a great 5.918/243.59 to finish No. 6 among the qualifiers. But there will be no more qualifying or elimination rounds this season for Smith, who will go back to Oak Ridge to assess what he must do to beat out Weney and take his funny car championship back. The quest will start March 8 with the preseason tests at Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie.

By Bill Bode/Harley Communications