Shreveport, LA - Last year at this time, the Mopar Parts World Finals were exactly that; the final race on the IHRA's national event schedule. And at that race last year, Canada's Al Billes nailed down a top-ten finish in the Mopar Pro Modified points standings by virtue of an appearance in the prestigious final round. He was just edged out by Tommy Mauney in a great drag race, and laid claim to the number eight spot in the season-ending stats.
At the conclusion of the 2000 version of the big event in Louisiana, the team from Barrie, Ontario once again found themselves eighth on the chart. But this year the situation is just a bit different, because Billes and crew will have one more kick at making a move up the ladder. With the conclusion of the rained out CARQUEST Autumn Nationals scheduled to be contested at Rockingham, NC on November 4&5, most of the tight points battles will be settled one race later this year. And everyone, title contenders or not, will definitely be fighting hard to grab the best possible finish.
This group includes Al Billes and his flamed yellow, supercharged '53 Studebaker. Typical of the up and down season he's been struggling through this year, Billes had his hands full just making the show at Shreveport. Fighting tire shake and some twitchy handling, he was down to his last card before he finally got things heading in the right direction. In the third qualifying session, he ran a clean 6.403/223.32 to he get into the field in the number 10 spot.
An added feature at this particular race is the Mopar Parts Shootout, and Al was paired up with nitrous tough guy Quain Stott in the first round. Billes took the advantage at the green, but then slowed noticeably, notching an off-pace 6.894/208.88 to hand the win to Stott. In the first round of the regular eliminations, Billes had his car builder Alan Pittman, in his '41 Willys, staged up beside him. This was a close race right to the end, with Pittman squeezing out the win by a margin of just 0.031 seconds.
So the World Finals have been run, but the books aren't closed on the 2000 season quite yet. Everybody wants to go out on a high; to prepare for next season with a positive attitude. After the unsettled year that he and his team have had, have no doubts that Al Billes is thinking very hard about that very thing himself as he prepares to head to "The Rock"