Von Smith Captures IHRA CARQUEST Empire Nationals Pro Alcohol Funny Car Title, Extends Points Lead LEICESTER, NY.-- Von Smith expressed concern that he might not be able to beat Jimmy Rector in the final...
Von Smith Captures IHRA CARQUEST Empire Nationals Pro Alcohol Funny Car Title, Extends Points Lead
LEICESTER, NY.-- Von Smith expressed concern that he might not be able to beat Jimmy Rector in the final round at the IHRA CARQUEST Empire Nationals. The two-time flopper champion felt that Rector was riding a wave of good fortunes that could not be overtaken by anyone, including himself. As always, Smith underestimated himself. Smith left no stone unturned as he claimed his second IHRA/Snap-On Tools event title of the 1999 season.
"Jimmy is an excellent driver that will do what it takes, driving wise, to win," explained Smith. "I knew he was driving very well and was getting a lot of breaks along the way. I've always said I'd rather be a lucky driver than a skilled one. Skills can only take you so far, luck has to carry you the rest of the way. I feel like both Jimmy and I deserved to be here. I am just glad that I won the race."
Smith didn't come out with his typical blazing gun in the first session. He made a positive baseline and settled into the third spot with a 6.089/233.96.
Smith, like most of the other alky flopper pilots, stepped up during the second session. He ascended one rung higher on the ladder with an astounding 5.895/238.34. He went into the final session in the second spot. His seeding remained intact despite his failure to improve. Smith met Dan Crownhart in the first round of competition.
The Oak Ridge, TN-based Smith was slow in leaving the line but soon caught up to Crownhart and surpassed him for a run of 5.976/237.46 to Crownhart's 6.083/228.04. His sheer and amazing driving techniques helped him to overcome a holeshot from Paul Nokes to win with a 5.950/237.17 to Nokes' 6.533/226.05. Luck seemed to be favoring the Big Daddy's-backed 1999 Firebird as he was able to outreact an impressive Scott Weney. Smith had him from the line and continued to hold off his foe to a victory at the finish line with a 5.930/238.38 to Weney's tire-rattling 6.674/186.87.
Now finding himself against one of the more consistent forerunners of the funny cars, Smith found it necessary to flex his horsepower muscles against Rector. Rector had Smith off of the line with a huge holeshot, but it was Smith's car and its top-end capabilities that propelled him to victory over Rector's. It was nearly a side by side race, with only .05 of a second separating the two floppers. Smith secured victory in a 5.934/238.72 to 5.989/236.13 decision.
Smith plans to continue on his trek to winning another championship with his Big Daddy's-backed 1999 Pontiac Firebird at the IHRA CARQUEST Northern Nationals in Stanton, MI., during the weekend of July 31 - August 2. Smith, along with each Pro Alcohol Funny Car contestants, will be afforded two qualifying runs on Friday and another two on Saturday. Final eliminations are slated for Sunday. This event will be televised on ESPN2 with the dates and times TBA in an upcoming issue of the IHRA's Drag Review magazine.