Epping: Critchley leads Pro Mod field

EPPING, NH (Sept. 10, 2000) - Troy Critchley's initial qualifying pass on Friday withstood his Pro Modified competition's best efforts on Saturday, giving the driver of Johnny Rocca's USA Racing "Ironhorse" '49 Mercury the proverbial pole...

EPPING, NH (Sept. 10, 2000) - Troy Critchley's initial qualifying pass on Friday withstood his Pro Modified competition's best efforts on Saturday, giving the driver of Johnny Rocca's USA Racing "Ironhorse" '49 Mercury the proverbial pole position heading into Sunday's elimination rounds at the Amalie Oil North American Nationals.

The event, held at historic New England Dragway, near Epping, NH, is the eighth of 12 Summit Drag Racing national events sanctioned by the Norwalk, Oh-based International Hot Rod Association (IHRA).

While the 28 year-old and Australian-born Critchley failed to improve on his aforementioned Friday run, both he and veteran car-owner/crew chief, Rocca, combined for a pair of 6.228 and 6.301-second times during both day and night passes on Saturday.

It is the quickest-ever Pro Modified field in IHRA history, with number 16 qualifier, Dale Brinsfield, the slowest car in the division at a time of 6.446.

The weekend's top qualifying position should bolster both the USA Racing team's spirits and point capabilities, which lately have been hampered by a series of rule restrictions that have slowed their supercharged vehicle from its previous and record-setting potential. Critchley formerly held the IHRA's elapsed time official world record at 6.227-seconds.

That's a major change from the recent past. When the IHRA implemented a trio of rule changes in mid-June, Critchley was sitting fourth in the Summit Drag Racing point chase. However, a recent pair of non-qualified efforts, a result of the rule restrictions, poor weather conditions, and bad racing luck, pushed the team back to it's current seventh place point tally.

There are several reasons why the "Ironhorse" has been able to muscle its way back into the top-half of the 16-car Pro Modified eliminator this weekend at Epping.

First, the racetrack's near sea-level location in the Northeast, at this time of the year, provides for crisp, clean air, which is beneficial to an air-grabbing supercharged powerplant.

Second, this is the first race where the IHRA has allowed the supercharged vehicles a 75-pound weight reduction allowance, which follows a rearend gear allowance implemented just two weeks previous. Both rule adjustments are being used to hopefully provide a more level playing field between the supercharged and rival nitrous oxide-fed competitors in the class.

The third reason is car-owner Rocca, with a little help from his friends. It seems the 40-plus year veteran driver, and recently-turned crew chief, has seen fit to unveil his latest mechanical prowess, a unique prototype supercharger unit, which is still in the early phases of research and development by Rocca and Elkhart, Ind.-based Kobelco Superchargers, Inc.

Whatever the reason, the team is looking for better results when eliminations begin today at 12 Noon.

The race can be seen in an upcoming one-hour television show on TNN (The Nashville Network), airing on Sept. 24 at 10:30 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).

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Series Drag
Drivers Johnny Rocca , Troy Critchley