GILLIAM, La. -- With one race remaining on the International Hot Rod Association's 2000 calendar, the championships are starting to come in for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Scott Weney got the championship ball rolling during the October 12-14 Mopar Parts World Finals at Red River Raceway near Shreveport, La.
Weney clinched the title with a semifinal appearance and a first-round loss by rival Von Smith. What's also amazing was Weney's consistency throughout the year. He's won two titles (Rockingham I, Norwalk) and four runner-up finishes (Darlington, Grand Bend, Leicester and Stanton). In fact, Shreveport was only the third time Weney failed to reach the finals.
"This was nothing short of a dream come true for us," said Weney. "It has been what we worked for from the day we started racing. I kind of knew in my heart that this championship season would transpire, but you never want to take things for granted. This is drag racing, after all."
Adam Szeler, racing in his first IHRA Funny Car final, defeated Jim Lape on a hole shot at Shreveport. Szeler's 5.987-second/233.96mph run was enough to stay ahead of Lape's 5.963/236.38.
Weney is leery of the prize that comes with the championship. "I would expect that No. 1 on the car to turn into a bullseye before the season is complete," he added. "That's OK, we proved that we could play offense. Next year, hopefully we'll prove that we can play defense as well."
The other IHRA contenders will have to wait for this weekend's rain-delayed CARQUEST Autumn Nationals at Rockingham, N.C. Chief among those are the three contenders for the Top Fuel title. Bruce Litton defeated Paul Romine in the final round at Shreveport, making a 4.746-second/308.85mph pass while Romine went sideways at the start and coasted across the line.
The win gives Litton a slim six-point lead, 954-948, heading into Rockingham, with Clay Millican also in contention with 922 points.
Mitch Stott won his first IHRA Pro Modified race, defeating Fred Hahn, 6.334/223.84 to 6.412/218.65. Hahn, though, retook the point lead from Quain Stott by 57 points, whose round one loss to brother Mitch severely hurt his championship hopes. "Quain took it in stride," said Mitch Stott. "Quain needed to win but he had to earn it. I could not, would not give it way.
Steve Stordeur took over the Screamin' Eagle Nitro Harley points lead from Jay Turner, defeating Bill Furr in the final, 6.541/214/93 to 7.653/127.38 to lead Turner by 34 points.
Jon Yoak topped Tommy Lee in the Pro Stock final after Lee has set the all-time Pro Stock elapsed time record (6.586 seconds) in qualifying. The win also gives Yoak a 69 point advantage over Ron Miller heading into the final round.
Mick Snyder defeated Michael Barclay for his second Pro Outlaw victory of the season. Snyder defeated points leader Laurie Cannnister in the semi's, keeping his slim championship hopes alive. Cannister leads Snyder by 57 points.
Goodyear also picked up a pair of Sportsman titles at Shreveport. Tony Stephenson won the Modified division, while Anthony Bertozzi claimed the Super Stock title.
The event was marred by the death of Top Fuel veteran Wayne Bailey, who died early Saturday from injuries sustained during Friday qualifying. Bailey's car appeared to break between the driver compartment and engine, sending Bailey in the concrete barrier. The 47-year-old from Leonard, Mich., was airlifted to the Louisiana State University Health Science Trauma Center, where he was later pronounced dead from severe trauma.
Matt Crafton made his championship run in the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series a little easier in the penultimate race at Bakersfield's Mesa Marin Raceway. After starting 18th, he quickly moved his way into the top 10 before he cut a tire on debris. Crafton finished 11th while championship rival Auggie Vidovich Jr. went on to win the race. Goodyear's top finisher was M.K. Kanke, who gave Vidovich a race, finishing 0.35 second behind at the flag. Doug McCoun finished fifth on Goodyears.
Crafton can now win the championship by finishing 31st or better at Phoenix.
The NASCAR Winston West Series race was an old-fashioned donnybrook, with 13 cautions slowing the race. Kevin Harvick won the pole on Goodyear Eagles, but saw his day end in the wall. John Metcalf and Joe Bean were the top finishing Goodyear racers in third and fourth.
Brendan Gaughan, who finished 15th on Sunday, will claim the championship just by starting the Irwindale finale, while Bobby Dotter is just one point out of second heading into the finale.
The NASCAR Goody's Dash Series crowned another first-time winner when Jake Hobgood won at USA International Speedway near Lakeland, Fla. Ricky Bryant, B.J. Mackey, Keith Roggen and Jimmy Britts rounded out the all-Goodyear top-five. Scott Weaver set a new track record of 121.184 mph in qualifying on his Goodyear Eagles.
The 2000 Goody's Dash Series national championship will go down to this weekend's finale at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, Ga. Robert Huffman, who crashed out while fighting for the lead with Mackey, and Bryant are separated by 119 points.
Sammy Swindell and Mark Kinser knew they were fighting an uphill battle for the Pennzoil World of Outlaws championship and they were doing everything they could in Baytown, Texas. On Friday, Swindell chased down early leader Stevie Smith to grab the lead, then fought off the hard-charging Kinser over the final laps. Kinser made his move in the final corner, but Swindell held him off by 0.1 second, with Smith finishing third.
The next night was a classic Sammy Swindell/Steve Kinser duel. The two traded the lead three times in the first half of the race until the pair entered traffic. Sammy saved his best for the final lap and nearly drove his Channelock car around the outside of Kinser, but Kinser held on for the flag. The win also clinched the WoO championship for Kinser.