Richmond: Johnny Rocca/Paul Athey review

DINWIDDIE, Va - Paul Athey, driver of Johnny Rocca's "Ironhorse" Pro Modified, enjoyed his best weekend of the season at the inaugural IHRA ACDelco Nationals presented by Chevrolet. Athey advanced all the way to the semifinals behind the wheel of...

DINWIDDIE, Va - Paul Athey, driver of Johnny Rocca's "Ironhorse" Pro Modified, enjoyed his best weekend of the season at the inaugural IHRA ACDelco Nationals presented by Chevrolet. Athey advanced all the way to the semifinals behind the wheel of the potent, supercharged 1951 Mercury at Virginia Motorsports Park after qualifying in the No. 7 position for the quickest 16-car field in Pro Modified history.

Athey began qualifying with a bang, laying down an astounding 6.259 at 220.91 mph, the quickest run of his brief Pro Modified career. After failing to improve on his great first lap during the following three qualifying sessions, the Rocca tuned machine settled for the No. 7 spot in the record-setting field.


Paul Athey's "Ironhorse" Pro Modified. Photo: Greg Gage

The "Ironhorse" opened eliminations with a bye run after his opponent, Shannon Jenkins, broke after his burnout. Athey laid down a 6.380/220.01 to earn lane choice over Al Billes in the second round. Athey then drove his Mohegan Sun-sponsored Pro Mod past Billes with a consistent 6.365/221.82 after Billes slowed to a 9.947/86.88.

Once again Rocca and Athey enjoyed lane choice in their semifinal battle with Ronnie Hood. The pair left the starting line with almost identical reaction times but Hood out ran Athey's Oldsmobile-powered Mercury at the top end, taking the victory with a 6.419/221.67 to Athey's game 6.425/219.26.

Despite the semifinal loss, Rocca and Athey have made it clear to the rest of the Pro Modified field that the "Ironhorse" will be a force to be reckoned with the rest of the 2001 IHRA season.

The USA Racing team has their own website at www.usaracing.com.

-CP

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Series Drag
Drivers Johnny Rocca , Paul Athey , Ronnie Hood , Shannon Jenkins , Al Billes