Epping: Series round eight preview

Three races to be run, three championships to be settled Simply put, after seven Nitro Jam national events, the 2009 IHRA season is heading for a thrilling three-race shoot-out, beginning with the Amalie Oil North American Nationals at New...

Three races to be run, three championships to be settled

Simply put, after seven Nitro Jam national events, the 2009 IHRA season is heading for a thrilling three-race shoot-out, beginning with the Amalie Oil North American Nationals at New England Dragway the weekend of September 11-13, 2009.

The event, presented by Wolverine Boots and featuring the New England Dodge Dealers Night of Fire, will provide the backdrop for the stretch run that will determine the 2009 champions of Top Fuel, Pro Modified and Elite Motorsports Pro Stock.

It's now or never for those with championship aspirations, and heading into New Hampshire the points battles in all three IHRA professional classes are extremely close.

In Top Fuel, 2007 class champion Bruce Litton has seen his lead over rookie Del Cox Jr., shrink from 84 to 15 points in the span of two races, and the stage is now set for a knock-down, drag-out brawl for the crown. This is sure to be one of the toughest battles for Top Fuel supremacy in recent memory.

The Pro Mod chase is just as exciting, as class veteran Ed Hoover and defending champion Kenny Lang have traded the top spot on the points list all season long. A victory at the previous race at Martin, Michigan, coupled with Hoover's early exit, has given Lang a 56-point lead with three races to go.

Not to be outdone, fans of the sport's quickest and fastest factory hot rods also have something to cheer about. In Elite Motorsports Pro Stock, Frank Gugliotta has a 46-point edge over rival John Montecalvo. With Montecalvo, and others, so close behind, however, Gugliotta's lead could quickly disappear, so fans are gearing up for a fight to the finish.

There's lots of excitement on the sportsman front as well, as there are still numerous chances left to qualify for the "Tournament of Champions," the new world championship system for sportsman racers.

This season, Nitro Jam national events, as well as select other events, were considered individual tournaments, with the winner of each tournament getting a spot in a field of competitors who will race each other for the world championship at the end of the year. This race, which will take place during the World Finals at Rockingham in October, will crown national champions as well as the national top 10 in each class.

The weekend's on-track action will be bolstered by the addition of teams representing the Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association.

"We are grateful to Aaron Polburn and Skooter Peaco of the IHRA and Feld Motor Sports for recognizing our efforts and inviting us to this event," said organization president John Mazzorana."New England Dragway is an excellent track, and we have many members who love racing there."

NEOPMA competitors will divert from their normal format of two classes -Nitrous/Aspirated and Blower/Turbo -- and run one all-inclusive class. All racing will be done on the quarter-mile.

Qualifying and eliminations for NEOPMA will take place Saturday and Sunday in conjunction with the IHRA professional categories, including a round during the popular "Night of Fire" session Saturday evening.

Also racing alongside the IHRA's regular and sportsman competitors will be the National Speed Association. The NSA is a heads up, Pro Stock asphalt-snowmobile drag racing circuit. These two-stroke sleds make over 260 horsepower and can rip down the quarter-mile in eight seconds at speeds of over 150 miles per hour.

As with the NEOPMA, the NSA riders will compete in conjunction with the professional rounds.

Prior to all of that, however, homage will be paid to some very special Americans. The first day of this event is September 11th, a date that struck the lives of every citizen in the United States and will always be remembered with sorrow.

In an effort to honor those who gave everything on that tragic day in 2001, the teams at the International Hot Rod Association and New England Dragway will take the opportunity to thank the men and women who continue to unselfishly give of themselves day-in and day-out by celebrating "Freedom Friday."

Members of any military, police, fire, medical, and rescue unit will receive free entry during Friday's opening day of competition, with a special ceremony honoring those brave Americans taking place prior to the 7 p.m. start of professional qualifying.

Capping Saturday's professional qualifying and New England Dodge Dealers Night of Fire festivities will be an appearance by the one and only "King of Quake," Mr. Bob Motz himself, who will rock the East Coast with the kind of explosive sensory overload only his world-famous jet-powered 20,000 horsepower W999B Kenworth can create.

-credit: ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers Bob Motz , Bruce Litton , John Montecalvo , Ed Hoover , Kenny Lang , Frank Gugliotta