Rockingham II: Series spotlight - Kenny Lang

Lang on verge of second Pro Mod championship From the very start of the 2009 season everyone knew that the IHRA Pro Modified championship was going to come down to Kenny Lang and Ed Hoover. While many tried to keep up with the pair of...

Lang on verge of second Pro Mod championship

From the very start of the 2009 season everyone knew that the IHRA Pro Modified championship was going to come down to Kenny Lang and Ed Hoover.

While many tried to keep up with the pair of veteran drivers over the course of the season, no one could match the raw power and speed that Lang and Hoover produced on race day. While everyone else was trying for low 6s, Hoover and Lang were consistently firing off runs in the 5s.

Thanks to that effort it didn't take long for Hoover and Lang to separate themselves from the pack.

Five times the pair met in the finals of an IHRA national event this season and twice more they met on Sunday equaling an incredible seven matchups in nine races.

In fact since May no other driver has won an IHRA national event in Pro Mod. Beginning with the Sooner Nationals in June, Lang has tasted victory four times and Hoover twice leading to a significant gap between second place Hoover and third place Chris Russo.

But as of late there has been another gap that has been growing in the Pro Modified ranks -- the points gap between first and second place.

At midseason the IHRA Pro Modified championship looked like it was anyone's ballgame, but as of late a once tight points battle has turned into a runaway victory by Lang.

Lang, who has held the points lead following all but three events this season, took the lead for good following his victory in Martin in August and hasn't looked back since. Since that win Lang has won three consecutive races and seen his points lead grow from 56 points to 112 points entering the final race of the season at Rockingham Dragway October 22-25.

Now all that is left for the Canadian is to put his car in the show at the World Finals and Lang will secure his second consecutive IHRA Pro Modified World Championship.

"Everything has just gone well this year. We had a bit of a slow start, but after that everything has just fell into place," Lang said. "Eight finals in a row, three wins in a row and wrapping up a second championship -- you really can't beat this."

While four wins and a series leading 25-5 win-loss record is nice, what really stands out about Lang's '09 performance is his incredible final round streak. After being eliminated in the first round at the season opener in Baton Rouge, Lang has since been to eight consecutive final rounds in one of the most dominating performances in Pro Modified history.

"Obviously last year was really competitive and our first year we got a national event win and now to go to eight finals in a row and have the season we are having is great," Lang said. "This ranks right up there if not better than last year."

Now Lang returns to Rockingham at the track where his streak began over six months ago.

After suffering a first round loss at the opening race of the season, Lang returned with a vengeance at the Spring Nationals at Rockingham Dragway in April with a runner-up finish to Tim Tindle.

He hasn't looked back since.

Lang followed up his Spring Nationals performance with another runner-up finish in Dallas before breaking through with his first win of the season at the Sooner Nationals in June. The victory was the first of five final round matchups between Lang and Hoover.

When the series shifted to Canada in early July Hoover finally started to gain some ground, winning two straight over Lang to overtake the points lead for the first time all season.

But once back in the States Lang found his groove yet again and has since recorded three straight victories including two straight over Hoover.

Now all Lang has to do to secure his second consecutive championship is put the car in the show at the World Finals and the celebration can finally begin.

"Just getting a championship is tough, but getting back-to-back world championships is just incredible," Lang said. "It is a hard thing to do and something we were definitely shooting for and to get that done is just impressive."

While Lang will more than likely walk away from The Rock with his second title, the second half struggles by Hoover leaves one of the originators of the class still searching for that elusive first championship.

"Me and Paul (Trussell) have been together for a long time and we have been close, but we haven't been able to get a championship," Hoover said. "We would love to pull off an upset at Rockingham, but that looks like a pretty tall order right now. Hopefully we can continue to run well and put on a great show for the Carolina fans."

Hoover turned in a memorable performance this season, visiting victory lane twice in five final round appearances in his first season as crew chief and driver, but he simply could not match the record-breaking performance turned in by Lang and his crew.

"It has been great having the success we have had this season, but you always look back and think what you could have done different," Hoover said. "Lang is a great racer and they are a good team and it has been fun racing them this year. Hopefully we can have another great race to close out the season."

-credit: ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers Ed Hoover , Kenny Lang