LAST MINUTE EFFORT TIES "IRONHORSE" ATOP QUALIFYING; POINT LEADER STOTT FAILS TO MAKE CUT BUDDS CREEK, Md. (September 30, 2000) - While the Olympic Games continue to play out half a world away in Sydney, it was Australian-born drag racer, Troy...
LAST MINUTE EFFORT TIES "IRONHORSE" ATOP QUALIFYING; POINT LEADER STOTT FAILS TO MAKE CUT
BUDDS CREEK, Md. (September 30, 2000) - While the Olympic Games continue to play out half a world away in Sydney, it was Australian-born drag racer, Troy Critchley, who supplied the high stateside drama in the International Hot Rod Association's (IHRA) race for the Pro Modified world championship.
Critchley, steering the Johnny Rocca-owned Prolong Super Lubricants/Somerset Refinery, Inc. '49 Mercury "Ironhorse", entered the third and final session as a non-qualifier during the ExpressAutoparts.com Presidents Cup Nationals. The event, held at Maryland International Raceway, is the ninth of 11 national events sanctioned by the IHRA.
With the pressure of the championship riding on their shoulders, crew chief Rocca masterfully made the right tuning decisions with the supercharged, alcohol-burning entry, while 28 year-old Critchley drove it straight and true, clocking a 6.264-second and 224.58 mph speed. The elapsed time, while tying Chip King's similar supercharged entry for the top position, proved enough for second, as King's speed was greater at 227.54.
"I was confident, going to the starting line, that our car was going to go down the track, and that we were going to qualify well," said Rocca of the emotion-filled run on the newly paved racing surface.
"It's like waking up on Christmas morning, opening a box and finding the surprise inside," he further explained.
The implications of Critchley's qualifying run proved more astonishing minutes later, as current division leader, Quain Stott, failed to make the 16-car eliminator. The result is a point chase with no less than five cars still capable of claiming the IHRA/Summit Drag Racing world title. Stott (570) is followed by former point leader, Fred Hahn (505), Ed Hoover (396), Ronnie Hood (396), and Critchley (391).
But, while Critchley and Rocca's "Ironhorse" are indeed occupants of the fifth point position, the former elapsed time world record-holders (6.227-seconds) are currently the hottest commodity on the IHRA circuit. The Leesburg, Va.-based team, with 40-year veteran driver-turned-crew chief Rocca calling the shots, were the recent winners at the tour's last stop, in Epping, NH. A week prior, they secured a victory, and tied for the Canadian Drag Racing Series (CDRS).
Nevertheless, the USA Racing Team will have their hands full, as Saturday night's elimination ladder is seeded with no less than seven supercharged entries in the 16-car Pro Modified division, one of the best-ever showings for the "air-grabbing" engine breed. This is the result of recent rule changes by the IHRA, aimed at providing more parity against the division's nitrous oxide-fed counterparts.
Each of the 11 IHRA/Summit Drag Racing Series events are nationally televised on TNN (The Nashville Network), with one-hour shows airing each Sunday, at 10:30 P.M. (Eastern Standard Time).
Stay tuned for elimination results from the ExpressAutoparts.com Presidents Cup Nationals, plus other news and information, on the USA Racing Team's website at www.usaracing.com.