Rocca and Athey ready for Winner's Circle at IHRA CARQUEST Northern Nationals STANTON, Mi. - It seems only fitting that a state that has the reputation of creating the finest hot rod should play host to an event that features one of the finest...
Rocca and Athey ready for Winner's Circle at IHRA CARQUEST Northern Nationals
STANTON, Mi. - It seems only fitting that a state that has the reputation of creating the finest hot rod should play host to an event that features one of the finest hot rods to cover the quarter-mile. Such will be the case when Johnny Rocca's Mohegan Sun-sponsored Ironhorse 1949 Mercury, driven by Paul Athey, blasts down the Mid Michigan Motorplex for the IHRA CARQUEST Northern Nationals in Stanton, Mi.
One race after parts breakage wounded their hopes of reaching the final round for the second year in a row in Leicester, N.Y., Rocca's team is fired up and ready to get down to business in Stanton.
"New York was an unfortunate experience," explained Rocca, who serves as the tuner and crewchief on the classic hot rod. "Parts break and that's a part of the sport. It always has been and always will be. Paul is maturing at a rapid rate and he's proven more times than I count that he is an up and coming driver in this sport. I'm proud of the progress that he has made and I believe that he will win his first national event soon."
The Native American duo has developed a flair for the dramatic over the course of the season. One of the trademarks has been to enter the final qualifying session unqualified and lay down their best run of the weekend to get into the field.
Case in point was the recently completed IHRA CARQUEST Empire Nationals.
Hoping to provide car owner Johnny Rocca with a final round showing for the second year in a row, Athey entered Leicester with plenty of enthusiasm. During the first qualifying session, Athey nailed the tires hard and coasted to a 15.998. Knowing that he needed some worthwhile data to work off of on Saturday, the team backed the car down enough to get a clean pass with a 6.595.
The team was mired in the 6.5-second zone after the first day and was understandably on the outside looking in when the event entered the second day. The first attempt on Saturday offered no improvement as far as gaining a berth in the field. However, it led the team in the right direction as Athey improved with a 6.466, 221.16. He created a Hollywood storyline in the final session as the former Funny Car driver was relentless in pushing the Mohegan Sun-sponsored 1951 Mercury to a qualifying berth with a 6.335, 222.11.
To keep up with the latest news regarding Johnny Rocca's Ironhorse, visit his website at www.usaracing.com.