Milan: Round two preview

IHRA Knoll Gas Nitro Jam Season Continues at Milan Dragway May 23-25 Spencer Massey (Top Fuel) and Laurie Cannister (Alcohol Funny Car) look to win third straight events to open 2008 season (Norwalk, OHIO; April 24, 2008) -- Spencer Massey, the...

IHRA Knoll Gas Nitro Jam Season Continues at Milan Dragway May 23-25
Spencer Massey (Top Fuel) and Laurie Cannister (Alcohol Funny Car) look to win third straight events to open 2008 season

(Norwalk, OHIO; April 24, 2008) -- Spencer Massey, the Fort Worth, Texas-based Top Fuel driver who has claimed the first two Ironmen of the 2008 season, is quickly becoming one of the most amazing stories in all of motor sports. After securing his Top Fuel license the Monday before the IHRA season opener in San Antonio, Massey shocked the world by defeating Terry McMillen in the final round at San Antonio Raceway to capture a very improbable victory. He followed that up two weeks later by stopping Bruce Litton in the final round of the IHRA Spring Nationals in Rockingham, becoming the first driver in drag racing history to win his first two career Top Fuel events.

In his six round wins thus far this season Massey has defeated five different drivers. The only driver he has defeated twice is defending Top Fuel World Champion Bruce Litton, who he beat in the first round in San Antonio before stopping him in the final in Rockingham. Massey is as astounded as anyone about his early success.

"I'm having a blast and I can't believe things are falling together like this," he said. "If everything can keep going it'll be a dream come true."

Massey earned his shot at a Top Fuel ride by earning his stripes behind the wheel of Gene Snow's Injected Nitro car in NHRA competition. He currently leads Litton by 56 points in IHRA championship points standings.

Laurie Cannister (Johnstown, Ohio) is another racer who has made a strong early statement in 2008. The former Pro Outlaw World Champion has dominated the IHRA competition this season, winning six straight rounds and claiming two Ironmen. In fact, including qualifying sessions this season, Cannister has had the low elapsed time in all 12 competition rounds.

"The only time anyone has done this well was when Jimmy Rector was racing," Cannister said of her early-season success. "He dominated back in 2002. I just hope we can keep it up, but it'll be tough. There are a lot of great racers in this class."

Matt Hagan (Christiansburg, Virg.) won his first career national event at the IHRA Spring Nationals in Rockingham. His career started with two seasons behind the wheel of a Pro Modified entry before he stepped into a Nitro Funny Car this season. Hagan topped Paul Lee in the final at Rockingham Dragway and currently sits third in the championship points chase behind San Antonio winner Steven Macklyn and two-time defending World Champion Dale Creasy Jr.

"This thing is overwhelmingly fast," Hagan said of his Monte Carlo Nitro Funny Car. "Your mind has to play catch-up. I'm starting to get pretty comfortable in the car and I've made about 25 laps in it, but now I have to get to where I'm totally comfortable. I want to get to where I know what the car is going to do, but in one of these things anything can happen. They are so fast and they're so violent. They just want to blow up all the time."

The Torco Pro Modified standings are, as usual, very tight. Two events have done nothing to separate any drivers from the rest of the field and, in all, 13 drivers are within 100 points of current #1 Jim Halsey. Kenny Lang won in Rockingham while Mike Janis has been the only driver to dip into the sub-6 second range this year. The big question in Pro Modified has always been "Which cars run better, those with nitrous or those with superchargers?" In San Antonio a nitrous car took home the gold when Jim Halsey knocked off Billy Harper in the final. In Rockingham Lang, with his supercharged '53 Corvette, claimed the title.

"This is going to be a battle all season," IHRA president Aaron Polburn said of the Pro Modified class. "One thing is for certain, the top Pro Modifieds in the world race in IHRA competition. We have the best drivers and the biggest paydays, which means every crew chief in the pits has to be set on 'kill' if they hope to compete. It's fun to watch."

There have been Torco Pro Stock winners in two events this season as the class remains, consistently, the most competitive in IHRA racing. John Montecalvo claimed the title in San Antonio, topping Jeff Dobbins in the final, while Elijah Morton beat Montecalvo in the final at Rockingham Dragway. The field in Rockingham was the second-quickest in IHRA history with a 6.409 bump spot.

"The Pro Stock drivers and tuners are amazing," Polburn said. "We are seeing bump spots that, only a couple of years ago, would have set world records. The technological advances we've seen in Pro Stock over the last few seasons are mind-blowing. And they're really fun to watch."

The IHRA Motor City Nationals will begin Friday, May 23. Sportsman time trials will run all day with the first professional qualifying session taking place at 6 p.m. There will be two Saturday professional qualifying sessions, at 2 and 6 p.m. followed by the Night of Fire featuring the Super Shockwave jet truck. Final eliminations begin Sunday at noon. For more information or to order tickets please visit or

-credit: ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers Laurie Cannister , Mike Janis , Bruce Litton , Dale Creasy Jr. , Paul Lee , Jim Halsey , Matt Hagan , Kenny Lang , Spencer Massey , Terry McMillen