Weis makes splash in IHRA return with Top Fuel win Russo gets first Pro Mod win; Gugliotta returns to victory lane CRANDALL, Texas -- A beautiful Texas weekend came to a close Sunday afternoon as Scott Weis (Top Fuel), Chris Russo (Pro ...
Weis makes splash in IHRA return with Top Fuel win
Russo gets first Pro Mod win; Gugliotta returns to victory lane
CRANDALL, Texas -- A beautiful Texas weekend came to a close Sunday afternoon as Scott Weis (Top Fuel), Chris Russo (Pro Modified) and Frank Gugliotta (Elite Motorsports Pro Stock) all claimed victories during championship Sunday at the Amalie Motor Oil Texas Nationals Sunday in Crandall.
For Russo and Weis, Sunday marked their first career Ironman victories, while Gugliotta picked his 11th career Ironman in IHRA Pro Stock competition.
In exhibition action, Gaylen Smith grabbed the win in the Outlaw Pro Modified shootout while Chris Gulitti (Top Sportsman), Russell Marr (Top Dragster), Kevin Helms (Super Stock), Bob Murray (Stock), Doug Miller (Quick Rod), Leonard Greathouse (Super Rod) and Jeremy Hefler (Hot Rod) all took home Ironman victories in sportsman competition.
Coming into this weekend, all the talk surrounded the big three in Top Fuel -- Bruce Litton, Del Cox and Bobby Lagana.
Sunday afternoon, Scott Weis threw his name into the conversation.
Weis (Ashland, Va.) made a big splash in his return to IHRA Top Fuel competition this weekend with a victory over veteran Terry McMillen (Elkhart, Ind.) in the Top Fuel final at the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals Sunday in Crandall.
"That was a great run in the heat. Wayne Dupree is an amazing man with these guys," Weis said. "We were concerned with the race track because of the sun that had been on it all day and we smoked the tires in the first session, but I was able to pedal through it and keep up with it. In the second session I tried to crutch it a little bit and we made a few adjustments and had a good lap.
"Going into the final round my crew chief said I don't know whether that made the difference or not, but do it again."
Weis had an absolutely blazing lap in the final on a 4.837 elapsed time at 298.87 miles per hour -- the second fastest speed of the weekend -- to drive around McMillen who smoked his tires at 1,000 feet leading to a second place finish on a 6.838 E.T. at 120.01 mph.
"Great return. Just to get back in the race car is awesome," Weis said.
Not only was this weekend Weis' return to the IHRA -- it was his return to racing.
Weis had been on the sideline for over two years after suffering a broken back in Chicago in 2008. Being out for a year, Weis' operation dwindled and he wasn't able to bring that car back out due to a lack of funding.
So instead, Weis looked for another avenue to make his return.
"The only choice I had was to get in someone else's car and this deal came together in about a weeks time," Weis said. "Wayne called me on Saturday of last week and asked if I want to go to Dallas, can you meet me there and we will go racing."
And what a return it was.
"Friday qualifying to get in that car and then to make it to tonight is pretty neat. I haven't bee in a race car in two years. It is amazing," Weis said. "Once I was in the car it was kind of like riding a bike. Once you get back in the controls are etched in your mind. As many laps as I had made in a fuel car it didn't take long to get back in the groove.
"I have been trying for a really long time to win in a fuel car and to do it in my first time back after sitting for two years, it is amazing."
Weis made his return to IHRA drag racing a successful one, driving around Spring Nationals winner Del Cox in the semifinals on a 4.894 E.T. at 286.68 miles per hour to Cox's 5.013 at 292.58 mph in a great drag race.
Both cars were welded together for most of the run as Weis, driving the the Urs Erbacher backed orange and black dragster, nipped Cox at the line to advance to his first final.
McMillen reached the finals by knocking off No. 1 qualifier Tim Boychuk who lit the tires at about 1,000 feet, allowing McMillen to cruise around him for the win.
McMillen ran a 4.921 at 295.92 mph to Boychuk's 5.390 at 203.83 mph setting up a McMillen and Weis final.
Sunday marked McMillen's eighth career Top Fuel final.
And Sunday's great finish was set up by a tremendous first round.
McMillen started the afternoon session off with a bang with his first round win of the season, edging Bruce Litton at the line by 12 inches with a 4.90 to a 4.91 at nearly 300 miles per hour.
And McMillen picked a great weekend to get his first round win of the year, taking the victory at the race sponsored by his own Amalie Motor Oils.
Cox turned around a relatively unforgettable start in the quarters with a victory over Bobby Lagana Jr. who had a few issues at the line when the car started hopping, while Boychuk drove around a smoking Mitch King for his first round win of the year and Weis dominated from start to finish over Todd Simpson.
Now, with a win under their belts, it is off to Tulsa for the newly formed team.
"We are going to Tulsa now because it is exciting and we like running with the IHRA," Weis said. "I can't wait to do it again."
What a weekend it was for Pro Mod driver Chris Russo.
While everyone was talking about Ed Hoover and Kenny Lang, Russo flew under the radar and quietly climbed the ladder all weekend long, eventually leading to a victory over Lang (Grande Pointe, Manitoba) in the finals of the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals Sunday afternoon in Crandall.
"Flying under the radar, we have been doing that for a long time. This weekend was not like the last few IHRA races that I have been to. We have had nothing but problems breaking parts and even this weekend we broke a camshaft," Russo said. "But at the end of the day, the people who keep working on it and keep trying and doing to go sleep until 4 a.m., those are the people that succeed in this kind of sport and I am happy that on this day I was able to do that."
Sunday marked Russo's (Ashland, Va.) first career Ironman as he drove past a smoking Lang at the line on a 6.223 elapsed time at 230.13 miles per hour. Lang ran a 6.302 at 229.35 mph.
"When I saw him leave and he was next to me I honestly thought we were done because I didn't think I could drive around him. Not many people can," Russo said. "He got loose in the middle of the track and our car stuck and we were able to motor right on down there."
And to get the win over Lang made the victory that much sweeter.
"To be honest, I was really nervous. Anytime you run someone like Lang who is a world championship it is intimidating. I mean they are fast, legitimately one of the fastest out here," Russo said. "It legitimizes the win. No one shook the tires, no one broke, we went out there and we raced. And for me, that is a lot more satisfying."
A wild semifinal round set up the Lang-Russo final as Russo shot down Martin's attempt at making his first final with his new M4.
Both cars got off the line well, but Russo began to lose traction at about the 20 foot mark and Martin started to pull away. Russo tried to get back in the groove, but again spun the tires as Martin continued to hold the advantage.
But Russo did not give up, keeping in the throttle and chattering his way to his first IHRA final as he caught and passed Martin at the line.
Russo posted a 7.451 elapsed time at 216.76 miles per hour to Martin's 7.674 at 167.41 mph.
Lang received a bye run after defeating Ed Hoover in the first round. He posted a 7.831 at 123.38 mph in his solo run, giving up lane choice to Russo in the final.
Lang also claimed the 2009 Pro Modified points lead when he staged his car in the semifinal round. Hoover moved up to second.
Sunday was Lang's seventh career Pro Mod final.
In the first round all eyes were on Lang and Hoover.
A few bad runs saw Lang produce the lowest E.T. of the weekend, matching him up with the No. 1 qualifier and Last Man Standing both nights Hoover in the first round.
Hoover already came into the matchup with a few concerns, having to replace the engine Saturday night after discovering a broken piston and also having to deal with the defending world champion in the first round.
And Hoover's concerns were proven right.
Lang produced a holeshot victory over Hoover in the opening round Sunday afternoon, setting himself up for the eventual victory and points lead.
Martin also had a memorable first round, producing his first round win in IHRA competition in his new 2010 M4, driving around a smoking Dave Pierce while Russo got a bye into the next round after Jason Stock failed to show.
Cary Goforth and Frank Gugliotta have developed a bit of an interesting rivalry.
While Goforth (Holdenville, Okla.) is on quite a streak lately, Gugliotta (Mt. Airy, N.J.) has the experience with 14 final round appearances to Goforth's two.
Sunday afternoon, Gugliotta used that experience to post his 11th career IHRA Elite Motorsports Pro Stock victory.
"We made an awesome run. For that kind of weather conditions it was awesome," Gugliotta said. "The track came around each run and the whole crew did a really good job. Everything came together there at the end."
The two competitors met several times throughout the weekend in head-to-head competition, with Gugliotta taking two out of three on his way to the Elite Motorsports Pro Stock victory Sunday afternoon.
"All weekend long it was back-and-fourth. He has become the nemesis for me here lately," Gugliotta said with a smile. "He is doing a really awesome job driving and they are doing a good job over there. Hats off to the Goforths, they are doing one hell of a job.
"I also can't say enough about my own team. My crew, Elite Motorsports, Richard Freeman, J.R. Carr -- everybody did one hell of a job.
Gugliotta posted a 6.427 elapsed time at 217.67 miles per hour to turn the win light while Goforth ran a 6.457 at 218.19 mph in the runner-up position.
"We need to work on that (getting more wins). Hopefully this isn't our last one of the year," Gugliotta said.
It was the third straight meeting between the two, with Gugliotta nipping Goforth on Friday to claim the Last Man Standing award and Goforth taking down Gugliotta on Saturday to do the same while also holding down the top qualifying spot for the weekend.
But on Sunday it was all Gugliotta.
Gugliotta advanced to his 14th career IHRA final with a victory over teammate J.R. Carr in a great race. Gugliotta posted a solid 6.419 E.T. at 217.21 mph to Carr's 6.506 at 213.67 mph.
Goforth reached his second consecutive final by knocking off Richard Freeman, preventing an all Elite Motorsports final.
Goforth, the No. 1 qualifier, did what he had to do at the tree, getting a big jump at the line.
And boy did he need it.
Goforth's advantage at the line was the difference in the drag race as Goforth produced a holeshot victory on a 6.438 E.T. at 218.34 mph to Freeman's 6.418 at 216.65 mph.
In quarterfinal action it was three Elite Motorsports cars and a Goforth advancing.
Goforth drove past a hard charging Mark Martino in the quarters to advance to his second straight semifinal round, while Elite Motorsports entries Gugliotta, Carr and Freeman all advanced to the semis together for the first time since forming their three-car operation earlier this year.
Freeman defeated Chris Holbrook to advance, while Gugliotta chased down and passed Baton Rouge winner Jason Collins and Carr defeated defending world champion Pete Berner in a holeshot.
In first round action there were a number of upsets that sent a few top contenders home. Leading that list was Collins who motored past John Montecalvo in the first round and No. 11 qualifier Carr who took down a very strong Bob Bertsch.
Another great final was produced by the Outlaw Pro Modifieds that were on hand for this weekend's IHRA Amalie Oil Texas Nationals.
Gaylen Smith (Mansfield, Texas) had a tremendous weekend, saving the best for last with two great laps including a pass of 201 miles per hour during the afternoon session before eliminating Frankie Taylor in the final with a lap of 3.937 at 195.36 mph to Taylor's 4.076 at 163.18 mph.
Taylor had all he could handle in the final, weaving left and right across the track before calling it quits just before the 1/8 mile.
Taylor and Smith reached the finals of the 1/8 mile shootout with impressive semifinal victories.
Smith made the most noise on his way to the finals with a 201.19 mile per hour run in the 1/8 mile on a 3.908 elapsed time, getting around Ken Thomas to advance. Taylor, who topped qualifying with a spectacular 3.874 lap put down Saturday night, smoked Michael Browning with a 3.970 E.T. at 191.46 mph to Browning's broken 7.097 at 64.35 mph.
Sportsman winners during Sunday's Amalie Oil Texas Nationals included Gulitti (Spring, Texas) over Monte Weaver in Top Sportsman, Marr (Forney, Texas) over Jacky King in Top Dragster, Greathouse (Lorena, Texas) over Tony Gray in Super Rod, Helms (Schriever, La.) over Tim Herbert in Super Stock, Miller (Porter, Texas) over Scott Turnbough in Quick Rod, Murray (Onalaska, Texas) over Bill Bagley in Stock and Hefler (Kennedale, Texas) over Jeremy Wilson in Hot Rod.