Cordova Johnny Rocca's "Ironhorse" Makes Strong Showing

CORDOVA, Ill. (June 18, 2000) – Pro Modified car-owner Johnny Rocca's plans to capture the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Summit Drag Racing Series world title for his Leesburg, Va.-based USA Racing Team took several...

CORDOVA, Ill. (June 18, 2000) – Pro Modified car-owner Johnny Rocca's plans to capture the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Summit Drag Racing Series world title for his Leesburg, Va.-based USA Racing Team took several significant steps forward this past weekend, during the Amalie Oil Nationals, held at Cordova Dragway Park, in Cordova, Ill. While the performance from his Prolong Super Lubricants/Somerset Refinery, Inc.-sponsored '49 Mercury "Ironhorse" was indeed impressive and forward in progress, the incredibly-tough competition – plus an ignition malfunction, eventually put an end to Rocca and driver Troy Critchley's hopes for victory in the second round. Nevertheless, the "Ironhorse" literally ran on rails, first with a strong number two qualifying effort from car-owner Rocca's tuning abilities on Friday at 6.336-seconds, and second-best speed of the meet at 225-plus mph. The next phase of the popular team's accomplishments came from the driver's compartment, where 28 year-old Australian-born Critchley showed solid improvement in his reactions at the starting line. He also managed to keep the supercharged machine straight. A far cry from last year's appearance at Cordova, where an oil leak sent the errant machine crashing into the guardwall. Throughout eliminations during the IHRA's unique national event Saturday format, competition was extremely close. In round one veteran driver-turned-crew chief Rocca improved on his qualifying numbers while Critchley steered the crowd-pleasing "Ironhorse" to the win over the similar supercharged entry of Lyman, SC chassis-builder Alan Pittman, 6.308, 225.63 to 6.331 and 217.77 – the margin of victory just 12-inches. In the second stanza, Critchley got off the mark sooner with a fine .0453-second reaction time against Paducah, Ky's Billy Harper's .0478, but an ignition problem slowed the '49 Mercury to a 6.438 and 224 mph speed, allowing Harper's Viper to take the win by just four inches at the finish line stripe, with a quicker 6.412 and 214 mph charge. "We recently put a new and more sensitive computer on the car and found that our ignition output was breaking down at 9,000 RPM," said Rocca. "You could squeeze it (the optimum engine performance) up to 9,000 RPM, but that was basically it," he continued, further explaining why the car fell off its 6.3-second numbers in the second round. "We've gone back to the former magneto-type system, instead of the electrical setup we've been using and will do some extensive test and development work this weekend at Darlington International Dragway (Darlington, SC) during this Saturday's 'Night of Fire' event, in order to pinpoint the problem. It's definitely not what it used to be," concluded Rocca, whose car is a former-IHRA world record-holder in elapsed time at 6.227-seconds and currently sits in the top-five in IHRA points. The USA Racing Team will indeed have their hands full as they compete the following week in the second Canadian Pro Modified Series event at Earlton- Temiskaming Motorsport Dragway, in Cobalt, Ontario, on June 30 through July 2. The next national event appearance of the "Ironhorse" on the IHRA Summit Drag Racing Series will be the at CARQUEST Empire Nationals in Leicester, NY, the weekend of July 14-16, the fifth national event in the million-dollar, 12-race IHRA series. Far-reaching television coverage of the Pro Modified division can be seen nationally in one-hour shows on The Nashville Network (TNN), throughout the IHRA's 2000 series. The Amalie Oil Summer Nationals show will air on Sunday, August 27 at 10:30 (E.T.).

- www.usaracing.com.

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Series Drag
Drivers Johnny Rocca , Alan Pittman , Troy Critchley