BUDDS CREEK, MD (September 29, 2000) -- As the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Summit Drag Racing Series heads into the final stretch, Pro Modified car owner, Johnny Rocca, is hoping his Prolong Super Lubricants/Somerset Refinery,...
BUDDS CREEK, MD (September 29, 2000) -- As the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Summit Drag Racing Series heads into the final stretch, Pro Modified car owner, Johnny Rocca, is hoping his Prolong Super Lubricants/Somerset Refinery, Inc./'49 Mercury "Ironhorse", can retrace its newly-found path to the winner circle.
At the recently completed event in Epping, NH, the Leesburg, Va.-based USA Racing team, with Australian-born driver, Troy Critchley, at the controls, scored their first-ever national event victory.
However, with just three races remaining on the 11-race, 2000 schedule, this weekend's ExpressAutoparts.com Presidents Cup Nationals, held at Rocca's home track at Maryland International Raceway, in Budds Creek, looms critical to any championship hopes.
"We are really set up for this race - ready to rock and roll," said an enthused Rocca, a 40-plus year veteran of the sport, who assumed crew chief duties and established the former IHRA elapsed time world record at 6.227-seconds, midway through last season.
"That victory (at Epping) is a sweet, sweet taste," he continued. "We have the momentum and will be trying with everything we have."
For the second straight event, Rocca will perhaps utilize assistance from a "higher power" during qualifying, set for Friday, plus final elimination rounds, to be held on Saturday.
"Superman is going to be at the `Creek', and we're going to be flying with him," explained Rocca, with reference to the name given a unique prototype supercharger.
His enthusiasm is genuine, as the mechanical "air-grabber" debut resulted in the aforementioned first career national win, while running an impressive string of swift elapsed times, in the process.
"I can't see anything standing in our way," said Rocca, alluding to the car's current consistency, plus the weather forecast, calling for clear skies and low temperatures at the nearly sea-level track, perfect conditions for the supercharged division Pro Modified vehicles, versus their gasoline/nitrous oxide-injected counterparts.
"Trust me, we'll see the alcohol (fueled vehicle) records set. It'll be Katie bar the door.
"We're still in the point chase, and the close separation between second through fifth could find us right up near the top when all is said and done," he continued.
However, current point leader and nitrous foe, Quain Stott, of Inman, SC, is comfortably atop the division, perhaps well on his way to the title.
"Not so fast," chimed Rocca, pointing to the fact that a stumble or two now from Stott, similar to the multi-race slump suffered by the USA Racing team early on, could cast "Ironhorse" in the championship role.
"We still have a chance. But, we'll need a little help, a bit of racing luck, and some of Superman's power, " he continued.
"But that's all part of the 200 mile-per-hour games that we play that makes this so sport so exciting."
Each IHRA Summit Drag Racing Series is nationally-televised via TNN (The Nashville Network); with one-hour shows airing each Sunday at 10:30 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).