San Antonio: Final eliminations summary

LITTON MAKES EARLY STATEMENT Creasy Jr., Patrick, Hoover and Munroe also winners at first Knoll-Gas Nitro Jam& event of 2007 SAN ANTONIO, Texas (March 25, 2007) -- Over the years Bruce Litton has grown accustomed to the bridesmaid role, but...

LITTON MAKES EARLY STATEMENT
Creasy Jr., Patrick, Hoover and Munroe also winners at first Knoll-Gas Nitro Jam& event of 2007

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (March 25, 2007) -- Over the years Bruce Litton has grown accustomed to the bridesmaid role, but he has never liked it. While Clay Millican was reeling off six consecutive Knoll Gas-Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel world championships Litton was always right there in his rear view mirror. The Indianapolis-native finished second three times ('02, '03 and '04) and third the three other years Millican was dominating the class.

Now he is ready for his time in the sun.

Litton knocked off T.J. Zizzo in the final round of the season-opening Amalie Oil Texas Nationals presented by NAPA Auto Parts to claim the early points lead and prove he is ready to go after the championship...a statement he made with the off-season hiring of tuner Nicky Boninfante. Boninfante was with Litton for most of his competitive Top Fuel seasons before leaving to pursue other opportunities while Litton slipped to fifth in the final 2006 championship points standings. Now, with Boninfante back, Litton is looking for big things this season.

"This team has really come together this year around Nicky Boninfante and (crew chief) Richard Hartman," said Litton. "We've worked so hard over the years and especially over the winter. I'm looking forward to this season."

After knocking off Scott Weis in the first round, Litton had to deal with No. 1 qualifier Doug Foley in the semifinals. Foley shook his tires hard at the hit of the throttle early and clicked it off, leaving Litton to wait to see who he would race for the Ironman. He did not have to wait long as Scotty Cannon could not answer the semifinal bell and Zizzo soloed into the final round.

Litton had lane choice in the final and selected the right lane. Two years ago Litton suffered a horrific crash in that same right lane at the Texas Nationals, but has since put those demons behind him.

"We try to run our own race every time," added Litton. "I knew he ran well all weekend. He was No. 2 qualifier, we were three. I felt like I needed to be on my game and leave on time. And we had some pretty good power all day. It all worked out for us."

Dale Creasy Jr., Beecher, Ill., began the defense of his 2006 Knoll Gas-Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car world championship in grand style by knocking off the defending Texas Nationals champion, No. 1 qualifier Gary Densham. Creasy almost was not around to race Sunday as he needed the final qualifying shot Saturday night to bump into the field. He took advantage, knocking off Del Worsham in the first round and Jack Wyatt, who finished a mere five points behind him in the points chase last year, in the semifinals.

Creasy then carded a 3.407 in the final round against a lifting Densham.

"We had the new car and we were struggling with it," said Creasy Jr. "I almost brought out the old car because I knew it could go down the race track. But we have so much invested in it, time and money, and if we want to step forward we have to have this car so we stuck with it and it worked."

"This is my first win (in the U.S.), so I finally have a trophy that doesn't need a passport to go home," added Creasy.

Ed Hoover, Gilbert, S.C., had a successful return to San Antonio Raceway, the site of his 2005 victory over Shannon Jenkins at the Texas Nationals. Hoover finished outside the top ten in IHRA points standings last season, but an early win has him thinking things have turned around a bit. Hoover stopped Danny Rowe in the final with a 4.031 ET.

"This is great. We struggled all year last year, and now we've got a new car and this win is really big for us," said Hoover. "We're leaving here with a lot of momentum and we're going to work real hard the rest of the season.

"This winter Al (Billes) spent 300 hours R&D and dyno time working on the car. He helped make the difference today. This is a professional class. If you're not working, you're not going to win."

Robert Patrick, Fredericksburg, Va., drove his '07 Shelby Cobra to the Torco's CompetitionPlus.com Pro Stock Ironman defeating John Montecalvo, Center Moriches, N.Y., in the final round. Patrick, one of the preseason favorites to contend for the 2007 championship, proved to be worthy of such attention by carding a 4.156 at 173.29 mph to knock off Montecalvo's 4.171 at 172.63 mph. Both drivers had identical 0.046 reaction times.

"The biggest thing I wanted to accomplish here was coming out with a win," said Patrick. "Last year I qualified on the pole a number of times, had the fastest car in eliminations and got beat a few times on hole-shots and that kept me out of the championship chase. So I wanted to kind of redeem myself here.

"We got the win and I just couldn't be happier for my team," he added.

Terry Munroe, Beaver, Pa., finally broke through in Alcohol Funny Car, stopping defending world champion Mark Thomas, Louisville, Ohio, in the final round with a 3.893 ET to claim his first-ever Ironman. Munroe finished fourth in the points standings last year, but could not get a win at either of his two finals last season.

"We've been doing Funny Car racing for five years. This is my fifth final round and I finally won one," said Munroe. "This year, we put it in our minds that we are going to be serious about this. We are still looking for sponsors...we could be dangerous with the right funding."

The Knoll-Gas Nitro Jam& will make its second stop of the season in Rockingham Dragway April 20-22 for the IHRA Spring Nationals presented by Advance Auto Parts and Castrol.

-credit: ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers Mark Thomas , Clay Millican , Bruce Litton , Robert Patrick , Scott Weis , Del Worsham , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Scotty Cannon , Ed Hoover , Shannon Jenkins , Doug Foley , Richard Hartman , Danny Rowe