Rods all the rage entering New Hampshire This is the first in a three-part series looking at the current Tournament of Champions qualifiers from the seven IHRA sportsman categories. Throughout the week we will be detailing the drivers making...
Rods all the rage entering New Hampshire
This is the first in a three-part series looking at the current Tournament of Champions qualifiers from the seven IHRA sportsman categories. Throughout the week we will be detailing the drivers making up the Rod categories, Stock categories and Top Dragster and Top Sportsman categories.*
Of all the categories making up the IHRA's sportsman ranks, perhaps none has been more competitive this season than those making up the Rod classes.
In all 36 different drivers have combined to fill 42 spots with a potential 66 more positions up for grabs over the next two months.
Among its ranks the Rod categories already have six former world champions and one former Summit SuperSeries champion who have punched their ticket to Rockingham, but there is still plenty of time for other heavy hitters to join the fight.
"We have been absolutely thrilled with the competition we have seen out of all of our classes this season, but the Rod categories have really put on a show," said Skooter Peaco, Vice President of Racing Operations. "Some of the initial fears of this new format have been addressed because competitors are not qualifying for the tournament and then not racing with us anymore. Most of them seem to be actually running more events and some have qualified multiple times.
"Also, this field is not made up of the 'one race wonders' as some thought. The list of drivers that have qualified is packed with talent and past world champions. When you factor in the top three in each division, this will be a tournament that will have the who's who of Rod racers in it.
"This many world champions have never been in one place at one time in head-to-head competition. I really can't wait to see what happens when you take all of these talented drivers and put them in one big tournament with a world championship and a big check on the line."
Headlining the qualifying drivers from the Quick Rod, Super Rod and Hot Rod classes are former world champions Luke Bogacki (QR), Brett Nesbitt (QR), Jim Linter (SR), Kenny Underwood (HR) and Glenn Ferguson (HR).
Former Summit SuperSeries world champ J.J. Brock (HR) has also booked his spot in Rockingham.
Bogacki qualified via a win at the season opening Mardi Gras Nationals in Baton Rouge, while Nesbitt claimed a victory in Rockingham. Linter won in Michigan, Ferguson won in Rockingham, Brock won at Carolina Dragway and Linter claimed his spot via a win at the Summit All-Star race back in April.
While drivers cannot claim more than one spot on the ladder, they can qualify in multiple classes and that is exactly what Bogacki, Nesbitt, Donny Urban (QR), Tony Elrod (SR) and Casey Plaizer (HR) have done.
Despite not being able to occupy multiple positions, drivers can eliminate the competition and take a ton of momentum into Rockingham with multiple wins just as Bogacki, Brock, Joe Bauman (SR), Todd Thompson (SR) and Jay Bunce (HR) have managed to do.
With seven former world champions in the field and a ton of talented drivers already qualified, it is sure to be an exciting weekend when the full field of Rod qualifiers take to the staging lanes in October.
The full list of drivers already in the Tournament of Champions from the three Rod categories include Quick Rod drivers Bogacki, Nesbitt, Urban, Doug Miller, Jimmy Stookey, Jamie Fiesel, Ron Folk, Brendon George, Tony Helms, Jeff Lopez, Mike Lund, Matt Weston and Scotter Choate, Super Rod drivers Elrod, Thompson, Bauman, Linter Ben Massey, Shane Maddox, Leonard Greathouse, Shawn Carter, Dennis White, Shannon Waycaster, Ted Moore, Steve Furr and Hot Rod drivers Bunce, Plaizer, Elrod, Brock, Ferguson, Underwood Jeromy Hefler, R.L. Koontz, Jeff Heilmeier, Bryan Harris, Craig Schultz and Tom Connly.
Current Summit Pro-Am division leaders looking to secure a spot in the invitation only field include Quick Rod leaders Jason Hoff, Tony Helms, Pat Martin, Jay Bunce, Jeremy McCormick and Lauren Freer, Super Rod leaders Dale Koncen, Shannon Waycaster, James Linter, Tommy Maedgen, Brian Folk and Danny Estep and Hot Rod leaders Travis Harvey, Kenny Underwood, Nick Karas, Sidney Norwood, Timothy Shuck and Chip Johnson.
In all 13 events are already in the books including Nitro Jam events in Baton Rouge, Rockingham, Dallas, Tulsa, Edmonton, Grand Bend and Martin and Champion Systems Sportsman National events at Immokalee Regional Raceway, Richmond Dragway, Pine Valley Raceway, Byron Dragway, Carolina Dragway and Pittsburgh Raceway Park.
There are only a handful of events left to qualify including a pair of Nitro Jam events at New England Dragway and Maryland International Raceway and one final opportunity prior to the World Finals at the Rockingham Champion Systems Sportsman Nationals.
Drivers can also earn a spot in the field by finishing in the top three in their respective Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Divisions. Divisional winners will earn a first round bye in the tournament.
Along with competing for a world championship, drivers will also be battling it out for their share of the $125,000 purse up for grabs at the World Finals.
With only a few more chances remaining to qualify for the tournament, you can be sure that the competition will only continue to heat up with only two months remaining in the season.