Lagana Returns To Scene Of Greatest Victory 2006 Top Fuel winner looks forward to return to Grand Bend Motorplex NORWALK, Ohio (July 12, 2007) -- The 2006 MOPAR Canadian Nationals presented by Castrol at Grand Bend Motorplex provided the ...
Lagana Returns To Scene Of Greatest Victory
2006 Top Fuel winner looks forward to return to Grand Bend Motorplex
NORWALK, Ohio (July 12, 2007) -- The 2006 MOPAR Canadian Nationals presented by Castrol at Grand Bend Motorplex provided the quintessential moment in IHRA Top Fuel driver Bobby Lagana Jr.'s career: his first win.
Lagana Jr. and the rest of the competitors in IHRA's Knoll-Gas Nitro Jam's Drag Racing Series will return to Grand Bend Motorplex July 20-22.
After trying for nine years, doing whatever it took to get from race to race, Lagana had an Ironman, the trophy awarded to IHRA event winners. All those trips with the dragster pointing skyward on a ramp truck, all those times the checking account dipped into single digits, all those near-misses, DNQ's and first round losses were wiped away with one single shot down the track against the driver who had done more for Lagana than any other driver on the IHRA circuit, Clay Millican.
Millican, with crew chief Mike Kloeber, took Lagana's team under his wing years before they squared off in the final round in Grand Bend. Lagana and his brother, Dominic, were kind of "honorary" crew members on Millican's Top Fuel team.
After Lagana defeated Millican in the final round at Grand Bend to win his first career Ironman, the happiest person on the grounds was Lagana. The second happiest, without a doubt, was Millican, who jumped out of his car at the end of the track and rushed over to congratulate an emotional Lagana. When Lagana met up with his brother a few minutes later the tears flowed.
"I just looked at him and said 'this completes us.' We had been trying for so many years and had been through so much," Lagana said. "At that point the emotions took over. My team has had its shares of ups and downs, but that feeling in Grand Bend is something I will never forget. I still get a little choked up thinking about what that win meant to me, my family, (crew chief) Jay (Lewis) and everyone who had helped us out over the years...especially Clay and Mike Kloeber. We probably would not have been racing if not for them."
Lagana won again later in the year in Epping, N.H. and currently sits fifth in the Top Fuel points chase this season. Millican is not racing in IHRA competition this season, but the Top Fuel ranks are as strong as ever. T.J. Zizzo, Bruce Litton, Terry McMillen and Scotty Cannon are all off to quick starts.
"Another win in Grand Bend would be huge for us," Lagana said. "This season the championship points race is going to come down to the wire and every round is a big round. We have to keep working hard if we hope to be a factor towards the end of the year."
Lagana was not the only driver to score an emotional first win in Grand Bend last season. Dale Creasy Jr., who had toiled in the Nitro Funny Car ranks for over a decade without finding the winner's circle, broke through for his first career national event victory. Creasy, who went on to win the Knoll-Gas Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car world championship, defeated Bob Gilbertson in the final round.
"I got crushed about 25 times," Creasy said of the top end celebration that followed his win. "Our team and Bobby Lagana's team were down there high-fiving and hugging. We're both doing the same thing; for years and years we've both been out here just trying to make a go of it. We both got into the final and both won. Amazing."
Even now, after winning the world championship, Creasy fondly remembers that weekend at Grand Bend Motorplex.
"I don't think it sunk in for a couple days," he said. "It was probably the best weekend I ever had racing because everything worked out right."