Edmonton: Series final eliminations summary

Litton becomes first repeat winner of year Hoover gets his revenge in Pro Modified Records fell by the wayside both on and off the track during a very busy weekend at the River Cree Resort and Casino Rocky Mountain Nationals presented by ...

Litton becomes first repeat winner of year
Hoover gets his revenge in Pro Modified

Records fell by the wayside both on and off the track during a very busy weekend at the River Cree Resort and Casino Rocky Mountain Nationals presented by Paradise RV Sunday at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

With six professional classes, nearly two dozen sportsman classes and small handful of match races and exhibition vehicles sprinkled in for fun it was an exciting three days of racing as fans came out in droves to see the world's greatest drivers go at it on the Canadian quarter mile.

Packing the stands as tightly as possible to make room for three straight sold out crowds, race fans watched Bruce Litton (Top Fuel), Ed Hoover (Pro Modified), Roger Bateman (Alcohol Funny Car), Jason Arkinstall (Nitro Bikes), Gary Christopher (Pro Mod Bike) and Rod Elliott (Pro Nostalgia) take home Ironman trophies during Parts Source Championship Sunday at Castrol Raceway.

The IHRA also saw its record of four straight events without a repeat winner among its regular touring pros come to an end Sunday thanks to the win by Litton.

Also taking home wins during Sunday's championship rounds were Scott Blake (Top Sportsman), Tom Koenen (Top Dragster), Jamie Fiesel (Quick Rod), Dennis White (Super Rod), Casey Plaizier (Hot Rod), Randy Hutchings (Stock) and Casey Plaizier (Super Stock) in sportsman competition.

There were also a number of drivers taking home wins in several other sportsman categories.

Nitro Funny Car also returned to IHRA competition over the weekend as Dale Creasy Jr. made his return to racing against Terry Haddock in a weekend long grudge match between the two Nitro Funny Car world champions.

While Creasy dominated the headlines, it was Bruce Litton who took the spoils.

Litton made quite a statement in his bid for a second championship Sunday while also breaking up the list of non-repeat winners with a victory in Top Fuel Sunday at the Rocky Mountain Nationals at Castrol Raceway.

Litton (Indianapolis, Ind.) ran a solid 4.908 second lap at 299.26 miles per hour to get around Mitch King (Galveston, Texas) who was in his first career final. King ran a disappointing 7.221 elapsed time after smoking the tires at halftrack.

"I am just thrilled that we could get a win for the fans and for Lucas Oil Canada and United. They are the ones that keep us racing and turning win lights," Litton said. "It was a long haul up here, but the spectators made this worthwhile. These crowds are second to none."

Sunday marked Litton's second win of the year as he also claimed a victory at the season opening Mardi Gras Nationals in Baton Rouge. It was also Litton's fourth final in five tries this season as he extended his points lead over rookie Del Cox Jr. to 84 points after Cox fell out in the first round.

"It isn't about me, I just steer the car. These guys (my crew) deserve all the credit. They do their jobs so well and allow me to come out here and have the easy part," Litton said. "We have been so blessed to do this and we enjoy having the opportunity to represent our sponsors and put on a good show for these incredible fans."

Litton, who won the inaugural Rocky Mountain Nationals in 2003, knocked off Bobby Lagana Jr., Terry Haddock and King on his way to his 15th career victory.

King reached his first career final round with a big upset of Terry McMillen in the semifinals. McMillen began pedaling the car at mid-track while King produced a trouble-free run with a 5.145 second pass at 273.39 miles per hour to advance. McMillen crossed the line on a 5.997 second lap at 166.37 miles per hour.

Litton made his fourth final in five tries with a dominating win over Terry Haddock who had all sorts of trouble in his run. Litton blew bye the '08 Nitro Funny Car champ with a 4.987 second pass at 288.21 miles per hour while Haddock limped across the line nearly two seconds later.

In quarterfinal action King pulled a huge upset of protege Del Cox, who suffered his first first round loss of the season. With the loss Litton was able to extend his points lead over the rookie from California.

Haddock continued the upset trend with a stunner over Edmonton product Tim Boychuk in a pedal fest as Haddock kept in the throttle despite smoke rolling from every corner of the car. In the other quarterfinal rounds Litton got past Bobby Lagana Jr. and McMillen made an easy pass against Smax Smith.

Coming into the weekend everyone knew that the Pro Modified final at the Rocky Mountain Nationals would probably consist of Ed Hoover and Kenny Lang.

What they didn't know was who was going to come out on top this time.

Hoover (Gilbert, S.C.) and Lang (Grande Pointe, Manitoba), meeting for the fourth time in five races this season, continued their grudge match in the battle of the United States versus Canada as this time Hoover got the best of Lang, breaking up a string of three-straight elimination losses to the Canadian to take home his first win of the year.

"It has been a tough road. We have been to five races and have made just one final. It was our turn to win," Hoover said. "Kenny Lang beat us and shut us down three times this year and it was nice to get one back. It is just satisfying to win one for Paul Trussell. He has been behind me 13 years now and we needed to get one. The car was just phenomenal this weekend."

Hoover ran a 6.127 elapsed time at 235.23 miles per hour to get around Lang (Grande Pointe, Manitoba) who smoked the tires on his way to a disappointing 13.265 second lap in the finals.

"It is a tribute to my team, my crew and to our new deal -- Gilbert Powerhouse. That is the name of my new engine company," Hoover said. "I took over tuning this car this year and we like to tune it aggressive. This is Ed Hoover power, now Al Billes power. I wanted to do something different and that is what I did. We qualified No. 1, set both ends of the track record and got the win.

"That is a good day for Ed Hoover Powerhouse."

Hoover picked up his 14th career victory.

Hoover, traveling nearly 3,000 miles to be at Castrol Raceway for this weekend's event, set up his dominance early by claiming the Last Man Standing award on Friday on his way to taking the No. 1 qualifying position, a number that would hold as the weekend advanced.

"I have to keep talking about the Canadian fans. Last night we had a tent full drinking beer and having a great time. They are great people," Hoover said. "It may be a long haul, but these fans make it worth the trip."

Lang got a bit of revenge on Saturday, stealing the five points back, but Hoover was able to get it done when it mattered most. Hoover claimed wins over Wade Sjostrom, Wayne Hofer and Lang to take the victory.

With the win Hoover closed the gap to just eight points in the Pro Mod points chase.

Hoover and Lang set up their epic second straight final with a few interesting afternoon runs.

Hoover, who was almost eliminated in the first round, rebounded nicely with a big win in the quarterfinals to receive a bye in the semis via his No. 1 qualifying position. It was in that bye run that Hoover claimed lane choice, running a solid 6.10 elapsed time at 236.17 miles per hour.

Lang's journey went a little smoother in the early morning, but really picked up in the afternoon session when Lang went head to head with Rick Distefano in the semis in a battle of the '53 Corvettes.

Despite the super semifinal matchup, Distefano took all the guess work out of the win when he went red, giving the free pass to Lang who ran a 6.706 E.T. at 227.46 miles per hour, setting up the battle of the best in IHRA Pro Modified competition.

Hoover survived a scary first round, stumbling twice before powering his way to a win. He didn't have nearly as much of a challenge in the quarters with an easy win over Wayne Hofer. In the other quarterfinal matchups Distefano got a free pass when Joe Delehay failed to show and Lang smoked Ross Hogenson.

Roger Bateman left no question who had the most dominating car of the weekend Sunday afternoon when he rocketed past Ken Webster in the Alcohol Funny Car final as Bateman walked away from the Rocky Mountain Nationals with two new track records and a shiny new IHRA Ironman to add to his collection.

"We had a good week. The race car was good and it makes it easy on an old man when the race car is this good," Bateman said.

But it wasn't just the car that kept Bateman motivated -- it was the memory of the last time he was at Castrol Raceway for the Rocky Mountain Nationals.

"We raced here three years ago and the guys reminded me that I lost in the final that year despite having the fastest car," Bateman said. "We didn't give it away this time."

Bateman (Calgary, Alberta) was a force to be reckoned with all weekend long, taking the No. 1 spot in qualifying and setting a pair of track records on Saturday before rolling through the competition Sunday on his way to his first career IHRA victory.

Not only did he set the new track record over the weekend, but every run over the course of the weekend was faster than the old track marks.

"Even our worse run was better than the track record," Bateman said. "Now that is a good weekend."

Bateman defeated Ken Webster (Red Deer, Alberta) in a superb final as Bateman ran a 5.669 elapsed time at 252.80 miles per hour to Webster's 5.909 second lap at 233.92 mph.

Bateman's domination of the Alcohol Funny Car class continued in the semifinals in a matchup with the second fastest car of the weekend, John Evanchuk. While Evanchuk got off the line first, Bateman was able to regroup and drive around the Edmonton native with a 5.697 elapsed time at 250.97 miles per hour. Evanchuk ran a 8.112 after hitting some trouble on the far end.

Webster advanced to the finals when his opponent, Trevor Lebsack, took too long to stage essentially giving the free pass to Webster. Webster ran a 5.723 second lap at 253.33 miles per hour.

In quarterfinal action Lebsack pulled a bit of an upset over three-time IHRA world champion Rob Atchison who heavily shook the tires at about 200 feet. Webster got a nice win over Nathan Sitko in a super race, while Evanchuk took down Scott McVey and Bateman rolled over Jordan Pawlick.

A great weekend of racing in Nitro Bikes saw a bit of a scary moment during the finals when Jason Arkinstall, moments after taking the win light, ran off the far end of the track after failing to get stopped during his run against Damian Cownden.

After a brief delay Arkinstall's and his bike were pulled from the sand and he was able to celebrate in victory lane with his first career IHRA Ironman trophy.

Arkinstall (Surrey, British Columbia) ran a 6.610 elapsed time at 214.31 miles per hour to Cownden's (Victoria, British Columbia) 7.192 E.T. at 154.60 mph as Cownden dropped a cylinder at halftrack, easily handing the victory to Arkinstall.

Arkinstall and Cownden, who seemed to be on a crash course all weekend long, made sure that matchup became a reality with a pair of nice wins in the semifinals.

Arkinstall defeated John Breckenridge with a 6.659 elapsed time at 212.76 miles per hour to Breckenridge's 7.882 second lap. Cownden reached the finals with a 6.779 second time at 212.03 miles per hour to get past Ken Kent who ran a 6.899 E.T.

In the quarters it was Cownden over Mike Scott, Kent over Kevin Boyer, Breckenridge over Andy Beauchemin and Arkinstall over Mike Pelrine

Without a doubt the most dominating vehicle of the weekend whether on two wheels or four was the 2004 Ninja motorcyle driven by Gary Christopher in Pro Modified bike.

Holding down the top spot in qualifying throughout the weekend and carrying that momentum into Sunday, Christopher (Hope, British Columbia) was able to easily eliminate one opponent after another en route to taking the Pro Modified Bike championship Sunday afternoon.

Christopher eliminated Gord Smith (Kelowna, British Columbia) in the finals with a 7.229 second pass at 182.53 miles per hour while Smith coasted across the line nearly six seconds later after running into a bit of trouble early in his run.

Christopher, who had the fastest car all weekend long, easily reached the finals with a dominating win over Kevin Shupac. Christopher ran a 7.309 elapsed time at 188.12 miles per hour to Shupac's 9.172 E.T.

Smith matched himself with Christopher via a win over Rich Podszus who struggled at the line. Smith ran a 6.679 E.T. at 167.76 miles per hour.

In the quarters it was Christopher over Mike Smith, Shupac over Spencer Johnson, Smith over Terry Schweigert and Podszus in a solo pass when his opponent failed to show.

In Pro Nostalgia Rod Elliott was able to survive a couple of scares to reach the finals, eventually taking a victory over No. 1 qualifier Eddy Plaizier in the 7.20 index class.

Elliott (Edmonton, Alberta) ran a 7.242 elapsed time at 198.78 miles per hour while Plaizier (Edmonton, Alberta) ran a 7.274 E.T. at 163.10 miles per hour.

Elliott, who held the top spot on Friday, was knocked off of the podium by Plaizier on Saturday but was able to get his revenge by taking home the Ironman Sunday afternoon.

Plaizier was gifted a trip to the finals when opponent Cal Tebb took too long to stage, essentially awarding a free pass to Plaizier. Even with the freebie Plaizier still ran a blazing 7.210 E.T. at 188.70 miles per hour on the 7.20 index.

Elliott advanced to the finals with a win against newcomer Corey Sakura in a great drag race. Elliott ran a 7.258 second time at 187.05 miles per hour to Sakura's 7.282.

In quarterfinal action it was No. 1 qualifier Plaizier over the two-time Rocky Mountain Nationals champ Joey Steckler, Sekura over Jason Bussey, Tebb with a free pass and defending champ Elliott over Tim Boychuk.

Boychuk, who was entered in both Top Fuel and Nostalgia Funny Car, failed to make the semis in either class.

-credit: ihra

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About this article
Series Drag
Drivers Bruce Litton , Dale Creasy Jr. , Bobby Lagana Jr. , Ed Hoover , Mitch King , Al Billes , Terry Haddock , Kenny Lang , Mike Smit