Dinwiddie, VA - For the time being, in spite of some serious pre-season rumblings from the Chevrolet camp, Ford continues to dominate IHRA Sunoco Fuels Pro Stock competition, and defending Sunoco Fuels Pro Stock Champion Tom Lee, of Kingsport, TN,...
Dinwiddie, VA - For the time being, in spite of some serious pre-season rumblings from the Chevrolet camp, Ford continues to dominate IHRA Sunoco Fuels Pro Stock competition, and defending Sunoco Fuels Pro Stock Champion Tom Lee, of Kingsport, TN, is one of the major reasons why. In fact, if not for some extraordinary light-cutting voodoo by one Gene Wilson, Lee would have two checkmarks in the win column this year instead of two runner-ups.
In a highly unusual coincidence, Lee and Wilson re-enacted their final-round meeting from the season-opening Holley Spring Nationals in Rockingham, NC. In fact, they pretty well re-enacted the whole weekend, from their one-two qualifying efforts (Lee took the top spot both times) to their dramatic Ford versus Ford final showdown. This only thing different was the time and place, the action this time around taking place at the AC Delco Nationals, presented by Chevrolet, at Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie.
Lee, the class ET record holder, once again had a strong race car all weekend, aptly demonstrated by the way he wheeled the Charlie Taylor-owned 2000 Mustang to the top of the qualifying ladder with an impressive 6.585 / 210.70 shot in the second of four sessions.
On race day, Lee was a study in determination as he first set up, and then knocked down, David Jenkins, Jason Collins and Ron Miller en route to his inevitable re-match with Wilson. Once again, however, Wilson reached down deep for a great light, and as at Rockingham, his 0.026 starting line advantage was enough to turn back Lee for the second time in a row. Just to illustrate how close this race really was, both drivers had identical 6.655 elapsed times, but Wilson's light gave him the margin of victory - approximately eight feet at the finish line.
With these two Ford guys battling for supremacy in the class this year, things are bound to get pretty tough for everyone else as the season progresses. Power, performance and lightning fast reflexes are what make heads-up racing the great attraction that it is, however, and as long as mountain-motor Pro Stock racing can deliver the goods like this every time out, the IHRA is going to pack a lot of happy fans in the stands.
Of course, Lee would like to see a reversal of fortunes sometime in the near future. He knows championships can be won, or defended, without ever winning a race, but there's a lot to be said for holding that trophy high at the end of a tough race, and knowing that you had the skill and preparation to be the best on a given weekend. And he's sure to have that day real soon, because, after all, there's just so many ticks on the clock, and eventually, cutting the best light in the world won't overcome a car that's capable of running 6.55. Tom lee is just biding his time, and that just might spell bad news for the rest of the class this year.
Tom Lee has his own website at www.tomleeracing.com. For more on Tom Lee, and the rest of the stars in the IHRA, log on to the Internet's largest drag racing magazine, www.competitionplus.com