The Sixth Time is the Charm for Paul Lee Tops Dan Wilkerson in the final round to claim first career IHRA national event championship MILAN, Mich. (March 25, 2008) -- Five times Paul Lee had advanced to an IHRA Knoll Gas Nitro Jam final round.
The Sixth Time is the Charm for Paul Lee
Tops Dan Wilkerson in the final round to claim first career IHRA national event championship
MILAN, Mich. (March 25, 2008) -- Five times Paul Lee had advanced to an IHRA Knoll Gas Nitro Jam final round. Five times he had come away empty-handed. All that changed at Milan Dragway when Lee defeated Dan Wilkerson to claim the Ironman at the IHRA Motor City Nationals.
"This feels great, I'm very happy and excited but at the same time this is a relief," Lee said after his 4.956/305.49 pass toppled Wilkerson. "You want to win so badly and you keep going to final rounds. I would go rounds and go rounds, but that final one kept eluding me for some reason. You need luck to win one of these things, and today we just had the luck."
In the semifinal against Matt Hagan, Lee's luck carried him through. He smoked the tires at the hit of the throttle and lifted out of the run. Hagan was well ahead at half-track, but his car went into tire shake, forcing him to pitch left and cross the center line. Lee, meanwhile, got back into the run and coasted down the track to take the win light.
Luck had nothing to do with Bruce Litton's win in the Top Fuel class. The Indianapolis-based defending world champion consistently clocked passes in the 4.60's to march through the field to the event championship. Scott Palmer could not get his car fired for the final round against Litton, but the defending champ zipped down the groove with a strong 4.678/287.66 pass to claim the win.
"You hate to win like that and always want to put on a show for the fans, but we'll take it,' Litton said. "My crew worked so hard to put a good car under me and I was pretty confident heading into the final."
Litton made a slight change prior to the Motor City Nationals. Prior to packing his 2007 Hadman Dragster into the hauler, Litton's team put the 500ci TFX engine that carried them to the '07 title back in the vehicle.
"It was like slipping on a broken-in pair of blue jeans," Litton said of his old motor. "That engine has been so reliable and we decided to make the change for this race. I guess it was the right call."
Kenny Lang's Crew Chief Al Billes has been making plenty of right calls as well. Lang (Grande Pointe, Manitoba) won his second consecutive Ironman, backing up his win in Rockingham with a victory at the Motor City Nationals. Lang stopped Mike Castellana's nitrous-powered '68 Firebird in the final.
"Al's a great Crew Chief and my team works so hard," Lang said. "I put a lot of pressure on myself to not make any mistakes because they always give me a flawless car and if we lose it usually is because of something I did. I don't want to let the team down."
Lang assumed the Pro Modified points lead with his win in Milan.
"We do this to have fun, but it's always fun to win," Lang said. "I have a great Tim McAmis chassis I am very comfortable with and Al is giving me plenty of power. Our goal was to be in the points chase all season and we're right where we want to be."
Dr. Tom Carter, a dentist from Cuero, Tex., did something no one else has been able to do this season...knock off Laurie Cannister in Alcohol Funny Car competition. Carter defeated Cannister in the final round at Milan Dragway to stop her eight-round winning streak. When Carter moved into the Alcohol Funny Car ranks in the 2006 season it was Cannister and her husband Dale who helped tune his car. At the Motor City Nationals he won the battle with his former teammates and close friends.
"Actually, it doesn't matter to me who is in the other lane when I stage the car," Carter said. "I'm trying to go fast and win no matter who I'm racing. But Laurie and Dale are great people and they're having an incredible season. This is going to be an outstanding points race all year long."
Carter, who set an IHRA national speed record with a 249.30 mph pass in the first round against Tony Bogolo, clocked a 5.802/248.43 pass in the final to top Cannister's 5.842/242.98 package.
Jeff Dobbins (Wilmington, N.C.) had a dominant weekend in Milan, finishing at the top of the qualifying sheet, making a career-best 6.294 pass during qualifying and blowing through four elimination rounds to win the Pro Stock Ironman. Dobbins defeated Pete Berner in the final round in a race he felt fortunate to win.
"I have no idea why, but we lost power towards the end of the track," Dobbins said. "Pete was charging hard and it seemed like the finish line would never get there. But we got it done. This was a great weekend."
Dobbins took the title with a hole-shot victory, clocking a 6.369/219.86 pass with a .031 reaction time to knock off Berner's .082-induced 6.333/220.73.
"That's me doing my job," Dobbins said of his hole-shot win. "Pete is a great driver and has a really strong-running car. I knew I had to be good at the starting line and was able to hold him off at the end."
The next stop on the IHRA Nitro Jam circuit is Maryland International Raceway for the Torco President's Cup Nationals June 13-15.