Cox and Lang win again; Cary Goforth returns to victory lane World records and multiple wins highlighted final eliminations at the IHRA President's Cup Nationals at Maryland International Raceway Sunday in Budds Creek, Md. after a soggy start...
Cox and Lang win again; Cary Goforth returns to victory lane
World records and multiple wins highlighted final eliminations at the IHRA President's Cup Nationals at Maryland International Raceway Sunday in Budds Creek, Md. after a soggy start gave way to a beautiful afternoon of racing.
Del Cox Jr. (Top Fuel) and Kenny Lang (Pro Modified) won for the fourth and third time in a row respectively and Cary Goforth (Elite Motorsports Pro Stock) returned to victory lane for the first time since April as the championship battles in each of the three professional classes reaches a frenzied pace with one race remaining.
While Lang has all but wrapped up his second consecutive IHRA Pro Modified world championship, the battles in Top Fuel and Elite Motorsports Pro Stock are still far from over.
While Cox controls his own destiny with a comfortable 74-point lead over Bruce Litton in the Top Fuel title chase, the Pro Stock championship is still wide open. John Montecalvo has overtaken Frank Gugliotta by 33 points in the battle of the mountain motors as both search drivers seek out their first career championships.
Two-time champion Pete Berner is just 61 points behind in third.
In Sportsman action several former champions and multiple-time winners highlighted the classes as Bruce Thrift (Top Sportsman), Chad Traylor (Top Dragster), Anthony Bertozzi (Super Stock), Myron Piatek (Stock), E.J. Parker (Quick Rod), Calvin Butler (Super Rod) and Brian McLaughlin (Hot Rod) all claimed Ironman hardware.
While there were many great races on Sunday, the highly anticipated Elite 8 Pro Stock Shootout had to postponed due to a washout on Friday. The eight qualified drivers for the $40,000 showdown will now face off next month at the IHRA World Finals in Rockingham.
Along with the Elite 8 Pro Stock Shootout all 10 IHRA championships will be decided at the IHRA World Finals next month in North Carolina.
Make it four straight for Del Cox Jr.
After a bit of a rocky start to the 2009 IHRA season, Cox managed to get things turned around in a big way at midseason and once he got it figured out, he hasn't lost since.
Cox hasn't lost a round since mid-July and continued to show his dominance on Sunday with a thrilling victory over teammate Ron August Jr. who was in his first career IHRA final at the President's Cup Nationals at Maryland International Raceway on Sunday.
"With Paul Smith over here and all these guys working their butts off on these cars and then having two of them in the final is pretty cool," Cox said. "You never know what the year will bring, but after having Spencer Massey in the car and having the same team from the world championship last year is just mind boggling. They do a great job and have given me a great car to go out and try to win this championship."
With the win Cox (Downey, Calif.) claims his fourth victory in a row and fifth total and extends his streak of consecutive round wins to 12 straight. More importantly, after Bruce Litton fell out in the first round at the hands of August, Cox was able to all but seal the Top Fuel championship entering the World Finals next month in Rockingham.
"Ron is my new hero. It is great for Mitch and everybody on the team. We are both southern California boys and he deserves it. He did a great job this weekend, "Cox said. "To be in this position is just incredible, I just hope we can keep it going and wrap this thing up."
Cox ran a 4.842 second elapsed time at 308.57 miles per hour in the final to drive around teammate August (Pleasanton, Calif.) who coasted across the line after running into trouble.
Cox now holds a 74-point advantage over Litton, erasing a one-time 84-point deficit that stood at midseason. After suffering a first round loss at the Rocky Mountain Nationals at Castrol Raceway in early July and falling behind by nearly 90 points, Cox has since won four straight races and turned that one time deficit into a huge advantage.
"It was a stressful weekend coming in here only 24 points ahead and then losing a few points because Bruce was top qualifier," Cox said. "After Mitch (King) beat me in Canada Bruce had a big lead on me so that shows how good our team is to be able to come back from that deficit and now to have the lead we have going into the last race is great."
It was an all Mitch King Motorsports final for the first time ever as both cars put on an incredible show for the boss this weekend.
Cox knocked off August, Dom Lagana and Bobby Lagana Jr. to advance to his fifth final of the season while August mowed through Todd Paton and No. 2 man in points Bruce Litton in his first ever IHRA race behind the wheel of a Top Fuel dragster.
In the semifinals Cox defeated Dom Lagana who had a tremendous weekend. In the round Cox ran a solid 4.730 at 303.84 to Lagana's 4.993 at 265.01. In the other matchup August got around Todd Paton after nearly hitting the wall on more than one occasion.
But after getting it straightened out August was able to coast across the line after Paton ran into trouble to advance to his first career final round.
Possibly the biggest upset of the afternoon came in the opening round of Top Fuel as No. 8 qualifier August upset Litton as Litton went up in smoke at the top end.
August's big win allowed Cox to pull away in the Top Fuel title chase and he will now head into the World Finals in Rockingham next month with a relatively comfortable advantage as he tries to pick up his first career championship in his rookie season.
In other quarterfinal action Paton stunned Mitch King, Cox defeated Bobby Lagana Jr. and Dom Lagana received a bye run after Smax Smith failed to show.
"We got one more to go so we are going to win the next one too," Cox added."
For the second race in a row and for the fifth time this season it was Kenny Lang and Ed Hoover in the final of an IHRA Pro Modified national event.
No matter the car counts, the talent level and no matter how you look at it, two of best quarter-mile Pro Modified drivers in the world have put on quite a show this season and the pair continued their bitter rivalry on Sunday with yet another head-to-head final at the IHRA President's Cup Nationals Sunday at Maryland International Raceway.
Lang and Hoover maneuvered their way through one of the toughest fields of the year on one of the most racer-friendly tracks seen all year, but on Sunday it was Lang who was once again left standing.
Lang, in his eighth consecutive final round, was able to drive around Hoover with a 5.934 elapsed time at 242.54 miles per hour to pick up his third win in a row and fourth total this season. Hoover went red on his run, but still put down a blistering lap of 5.998 seconds.
"Everything went well this weekend. The rain wreaked havoc on everybody, but we had a real good solid run on Friday and everything fell into place after that," Lang said. "Eight finals in a row, three wins in a row and wrapping up a second championship -- you really can't beat this"
With the victory Lang (Grande Pointe, Manitoba) put even more ground between himself and Hoover (Gilbert, S.C.) in the championship bout as Lang has all but clinched his second consecutive IHRA Pro Modified championship heading into the World Finals next month in Rockingham. Entering the final race of the season Lang now holds a 132-point lead over Hoover.
"Just getting a championship is tough, but getting back-to-back world championships is just incredible. It is a hard thing to do and something we were definitely shooting for and to get that done is just impressive," Lang said.
Lang also walks out of Maryland with a new IHRA World Record elapsed time of 5.884 seconds wrapping up one of the best races of the year during one of the most impressive seasons in Pro Modified history.
"Obviously last year was really competitive and our first year we got a national event win and now to go to eight finals in a row and have the season we are having is great," Lang said. "This ranks right up there if not as good as last year."
Lang received his toughest test of the season on Sunday to pick up the win, almost being knocked off on three different occasions on his way to his seventh career victory.
Along with barely edging Hoover, Lang also survived against the man with the fastest recorded pass in Pro Mod history Andy Jensen and had to hold on against Fred Scriba by three thousandths of a second.
"There were definitely no easy rounds. In the second round he cut a light on me and I knew that one was going to be close and then having the turbo car in the semifinals I knew I would have my hands full," Lang said. "Every round was tough and then to have Ed again in the final, I knew he would throw everything at it and we were able to come out on top."
Lang has been able to run away with the title thanks to his fifth victory over Hoover in seven tries -- including two wins in final rounds.
In the quarterfinals Jensen put down the lap heard round the world at 5.954 seconds at 243.63 miles per hour in his supercharged Camaro in the quickest lap ever recorded in an IHRA Pro Mod to move on to the semis.
Lang survived his quarterfinal run against Freddie Scriba by three thousandths of a second to move on to the semifinals and Alfonso defeated Pete Farber and Hoover defeated Steve Bareman in other quarterfinal action.
There were few surprises in the opening round of Pro Modified as nearly all of the high qualifiers moved on to the quarters. The lone exception was a big upset by Alfonso who took out No. 2 qualifier Tony Pontieri. Hoover also squeaked out a win over the third qualifier Ike Maier.
ELITE MOTORSPORTS PRO STOCK
During the second half of the season, no one has had more bad luck than Cary Goforth.
After two final rounds and an incredible 9-2 win-loss record through the first three races of the season, Goforth's last four national events have included two first round losses, a second round exit and a no show.
Thanks to that stretch all Goforth could do was watch as his point lead through three races slowly dwindled from first to the bottom half of the top five entering this weekend's event.
But on Sunday Goforth finally managed to get his act together and return to championship form with a victory over Bob Bertsch at the IHRA President's Cup Nationals Sunday at Maryland International Raceway.
"It goes to show you that you have to keep chipping away and find what is wrong. I told everyone when you see us again we won't be in the bottom half of the field anymore," Goforth said. "Chris Bell just would not let me give up and it has paid off yet again."
Goforth (Holdenville, Okla.) ran a solid 6.334 elapsed time at 219.61 miles per hour to pick up his second career victory, getting around Bertsch's (Willis, Mich.) 6.343 E.T. at 219.61 miles per hour as Bertsch fell just short in his second consecutive Elite Motorsports Pro Stock final.
"I think it felt better than it would had we not had any bad luck. It was just as sweet as the first one, I just didn't cry this time," Goforth said. "We are happy and it means just as much to us, maybe more with the trouble we have had."
Goforth blasted through the field on Sunday with victories over Bertsch, John Montecalvo, John Pluchino and Lester Cooper to pick up the win. Bertsch also made his share of noise on Sunday with a pair of upset victories to severely shake up the Pro Stock point standing with one race remaining.
"We shot ourselves in the foot for a championship, but we didn't give up. Dad got us all together and told us how proud he was of everyone and he got chocked up a little and he doesn't show emotion," Goforth said. "This has been one hell of a year for us and I hope we can keep it going."
With Gugliotta's third first round loss in the past four races, he dropped to second in the standings as John Montecalvo leaped to the top of the charts by 33 points heading into Rockingham. Berner also moved up into the hunt and is now just 61 points behind Montecalvo as the three head to the World Finals with a chance to claim the 2009 Elite Motorsports Pro Stock championship.
In the quarterfinals Montecalvo continued to expand on his brand new points lead with a victory over Ned Katuran, Cary Goforth moved on via a win over John Pluchino, Bertsch continued to knock off giants with his second straight win over a driver in the top three in Pete Berner and Dean Goforth defeated Mark Martino.
Montecalvo took over the points lead thanks to a strange victory over Richard Freeman in the opening round. Both cars shook the tires off of the line, but Freeman went red by the narrowest of margins. Montecalvo got back in the throttle and coasted across the line to take the win light.
Freeman gave it all he had in an attempt to save Gugliotta's points lead, but his jump start allowed Montecalvo to overtake the lead heading into the World Finals in Rockingham next month.
Montecalvo was able to take the points lead via a huge upset win by Bertsch in the opening round. Bertsch had a solid launch off of the line while Gugliotta went into a severe wiggle, shutting it off moments later.
Perhaps one of the most competitive sportsman races of the season took place right here at Maryland International Raceway this weekend.
Two new world records were established and a host of others were threatened as veterans dominated the win column.
Headlining the weekend was the turbocharged 2008 Mustang Top Sportsman machine of Steve Drummond who shattered the elapsed time and mile-per-hour mark in that category. Drummond rocketed down the track at an incredible 6.322 seconds at 230.25 miles per hour to reset both ends of the world record and set a mark that will be very difficult to overtake.
Troy Stone also threatened to extend his Top Dragster world records, but ran into some trouble and was unable to backup his run.
Winners at Sunday's finals included Bruce Thrift (Waycross, Ga.) over Will Hinkson in Top Sportsman, Chad Traylor (King William, Va.) over Charles Careccia in Top Dragster, Anthony Bertozzi (Ashland, Va.) over Robbie Hudlow in Super Stock, Myron Piatek (Holly Hill, Fla.) over Adam Keir in Stock, E.J. Parker (Hughesville, Md.) over Greg Slack in Quick Rod, Calvin Butler (Marlington, W.Va.) over Cameron Manuel in Super Rod and Brian McLaughlin (Mechanicsville, Md.) over Eddie Bolton in Hot Rod.