Joliet: Tom Hammond finals summary

Hammonds' "ironman" performance produces runner-up finish in Joliet. Tom Hammonds and the Winnebago/GM Vehicle Care Cavalier Racing team had their best performance of the season at this weekend's Chicagoland Dodge Dealers NHRA Nationals. After...

Hammonds' "ironman" performance produces runner-up finish in Joliet.

Tom Hammonds and the Winnebago/GM Vehicle Care Cavalier Racing team had their best performance of the season at this weekend's Chicagoland Dodge Dealers NHRA Nationals. After a strong 6.870-second effort on Friday night had placed him second on Sunday's final eliminations ladder, Hammonds proceeded to march through a strong Pro Stock field to reach his first final round of the season, and third of his career.

Making this accomplishment even more remarkable was the fact that Hammonds had released his crew chief on Friday morning, and had personally handled the tuning responsibilities during the weekend. Despite constantly changing weather conditions, the Hammonds Racing entry was consistently one of the top performers in the Pro Stock Category throughout the event.

In the first round, Hammonds faced a tough challenge in No. 15 qualifier Kurt Johnson. Hammonds gained the advantage by five hundredths of a second at the starting line and never looked back, using a strong 6.850-second elapsed time to easily defeat the younger member of the Johnson clan.

Hammonds' assignment did not get any easier, as he next faced defending IHRA Pro Stock champion Gene Wilson. Although Wilson was able to gain a slight lead at the start, the former NBA forward displayed some power, using the quickest pass of the session at 6.844 seconds to drive by his opponent for the win. The scene was quite similar in the semi-finals, as Hammonds' Cavalier was again the class of the field, edging a game Allen Johnson to reach the championship round.

Facing veteran Bruce Allen in the final, Hammonds knew a complete, mistake-free effort would be necessary to secure his first national event win. However, the strain of the extra work finally took its toll, resulting in an atypical .510 reaction time. Despite outrunning his rival by almost two hundredths of a second, it was not enough to overcome the advantage gained at the starting line, forcing Hammonds' victory celebration to wait for another day.

Although understandably unhappy with the results of the final round, Hammonds nevertheless realized that it had been an outstanding weekend for the Winnebago/GM Vehicle Care team.

"We're naturally disappointed that we didn't get the win, but we're not about hang our heads. We made good, consistent runs all day, and our Winnebago/GM Vehicle Care Cavalier was the fastest car. We're going to focus on what we accomplished this weekend, making sure to stick with it and keep moving forward. I'm looking forward to finishing this year in strong fashion.

"To be honest, I had a mini-training camp this weekend in terms of working on the motor again, and I just ran out of gas in the final. It was tough, as tired as I was, to concentrate. But we're not about to use that as an excuse. Bruce Allen is a tough competitor, and although you don't ever get used to losing to somebody, it's something we can live with. Besides we were able to have two GM cars in the final at a Dodge-sponsored race, so that can't be too bad."

-thr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Gene Wilson , Bruce Allen , Tom Hammonds , Allen Johnson