Series Martin spotlight - Ed Hoover

Hoover returns to site of record payout with new goal in mind For a driver who has won just about everything there is in IHRA competition over the past 20 years, it is interesting to find that the moment that stands out most in Ed Hoover's mind...

Hoover returns to site of record payout with new goal in mind

For a driver who has won just about everything there is in IHRA competition over the past 20 years, it is interesting to find that the moment that stands out most in Ed Hoover's mind is a win that can't actually be found in the record books.

While the official books say that the winner of the 2008 Northern Nationals is and always will be Jim Halsey in a thriller over Mike Castellana, the real winner that weekend in the minds of many was Hoover in his legendary Paul Trussell owned '68 Camaro.

Despite losing in the second round on Sunday, Hoover's victory Saturday night overshadowed much of the weekend's action at last year's Northern Nationals as Hoover took home the largest single-day payout in Pro Modified racing history -- a whopping $50,000 -- during the Pro Modified Shootout at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park.

Hoover defeated Castellana in the final to take home his share of the $100,000 purse in a field that consisted of the best of the best in Pro Modified racing today.

"That was a good one, money wise that win ranks right at the top. I was fortunate enough to win that race, it ranks right up there with some of the battles between me and Scotty Cannon and some of the Night of Fire Saturday night wins we had," Hoover said. "When they announced that race last year we started paying attention to where we were. It was something we had planned on for a whole year to stay in that top eight and we were lucky enough to be a part of it and win it.

"To have the fastest eight cars in the country going at it in two races in one weekend was a pretty neat deal. As a racer that was a very exciting weekend."

Now Hoover (Gilbert, S.C.) will return to the site of his record setting payout this weekend with a new goal in mind -- win a championship.

And, if you can believe it, he hopes to make this season even more memorable than the last.

"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 wrap this up and win one for Paul and myself. It would be mission accomplished and hopefully we could start backing that up with multiple championships."

In 19 years of Pro Modified racing Hoover has never won a series championship. He has been close, finishing as high as fourth two years ago, but a title has eluded the 15-time national event winner.

Now, holding down the points lead while riding the momentum of two-straight victories, Hoover hopes he can keep up his recent success with four races remaining on the schedule.

"It has been great winning these last two races, but when I leave the track I shut the gate, my mind moves on to the next race," Hoover said. "I can't dwell on the past; my focus is to put Trussell Motorsports back in the winners circle again."

While much of the first half of the season saw a jumble in the Pro Modified ranks, over the past three races the cream has quite literally risen to the top.

In the last three races the final has come down to Hoover and defending champion Kenny Lang (Grande Pointe, Manitoba) with Lang winning in Tulsa and Hoover taking victories in Edmonton and Grand Bend.

Overall the two competitors have met in five of six races this year with Lang holding a 3-2 advantage. Thanks to that success the two drivers have simply ran away from the competition, with Hoover holding a slim 11 point margin over Lang.

The closest competitor to Lang -- New Jersey native Chris Russo -- is a distant 299 points back of the lead in third.

"It has been stressful. I have less than a round lead right now, but the shoe is finally on the other foot. Instead of being behind I got that lead I have wanted and now I have to keep it," Hoover said.

Through six races Hoover has held down the No. 1 qualifying spot twice and has made three final rounds, winning two. He has a 14-4 round win-loss record and his victory two weeks ago in Grand Bend propelled him into the points lead for the first time this season.

Lang, on the other hand, has matched Hoover step-for-step.

Lang has a 14-5 round win-loss record and has been to the finals five times, winning once. He was also the No. 1 qualifier at Rockingham.

That tight competition has created quite a rivalry between the two competitors, especially off the track as Hoover attempts to win a championship with his own engine program.

Hoover broke free from the Al Billes brigade at the end of last season to start up his own engine program while Billes continues to be the go-to source for Lang and his operation.

No matter how you look at it -- Hoover vs. Lang, Trussell vs. Billes, United States vs. Canada -- this year's Pro Modified championship battle has been one of the most competitive in a long time and should be quite a showdown as the series enters the home stretch.

"I would love to have this wrapped up before we head to Rockingham, but he is too good of a racer to close the door on him. I just have to keep this lead and stay out front through Rockingham," Hoover said. "He is too good of a racer and they are too good of a team and he will be back. I won these last two races, but he will be back.

"We just have to keep focused if we are finally going to win this thing. We have a good hot rod and with a little luck we might be able to pull this out."

-credit: ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers Scotty Cannon , Ed Hoover , Al Billes , Jim Halsey , Kenny Lang