ROCKINGHAM, NC. - With his tenuous hold on second spot in the Mopar Performance Parts Pro Modified championship points at stake, Alan Pittman knows the last three events on the 2001 IHRA Summit Drag Racing tour are beyond critical. Attempting to...
ROCKINGHAM, NC. - With his tenuous hold on second spot in the Mopar Performance Parts Pro Modified championship points at stake, Alan Pittman knows the last three events on the 2001 IHRA Summit Drag Racing tour are beyond critical. Attempting to claim the title in just his second year behind the wheel of the supercharged Westbrook Motorsports '41 Willys, the 40-year-old car builder from Pelzer, South Carolina needs to shoot for the moon this weekend at North Carolina's Rockingham Dragway.
The 3rd Annual CARQUEST Autumn Nationals is the setting and Pittman is gathering up all his resources for a crack at points leader Mike Janis of New York State. Janis, the runaway surprise of the Pro Mod class this year, has three national event wins to his credit, and holds a 256-point advantage over Pittman and the Westbrook crew. Early in the season, Pittman chalked up two wins of his own, but a mysterious mid-season performance decline seriously disrupted his momentum.
Fortunately, to the team's great relief, at the previous stop on the tour, the Amalie Oil North American Nationals in Epping, NH, the curvaceous red and silver Willys was back to its old belligerent self, running a string of 6.20s, the best a sparkling 6.246 at 227.04 miles per hour, to qualify third in the challenging field. A first round loss in a hard fought race didn't dampen the team's newfound enthusiasm in the least, because, while a better finish would have helped in the points chase, they had finally banished their irksome performance-robbing demons.
As a result, Pittman and the Westbrook team, led by crew chief Darren Mayer, are heading into Rockingham determined to re-establish their rightful place in the Pro Mod hierarchy. Pittman had this to say regarding the race, and the rest of the season. "We've been through it all this year, and I don't think any team has worked as hard as us, or struggled as much. Early on, we couldn't put a foot wrong - we were on top of the world after a great pre-season and two national event wins. But for some reason, we fell on hard times. We had a fire in the car, broke parts, had trouble qualifying, and were just generally in a slump.
"But we stuck to it, and worked our way out of the hole we were in," he continued. "The car was great at Epping, and now we're looking forward to letting Janis know that he's going to have to earn the title the hard way this year. With three races to go, anything can happen, and with just a few good breaks we can be a real thorn in his side the rest of the way."