Von Smith Not To Be Denied, Claims Third Pro Funny Car Championship In 1999 STANTON, MI.-- The third time is always the charm and, in the case of defending IHRA Pro Funny Car champion Von Smith, it was an expensive treat. The veteran flopper ...
Von Smith Not To Be Denied, Claims Third Pro Funny Car Championship In 1999
STANTON, MI.-- The third time is always the charm and, in the case of defending IHRA Pro Funny Car champion Von Smith, it was an expensive treat. The veteran flopper pilot from Oak Ridge, Tn., battled a late rounds engine disaster to claim his third win of the 1999 season at the IHRA CARQUEST Northern Nationals. He stopped last season's points runner-up Scott Weney in the finals to protect a perfect record this season against the driver of the Sheetz Racing Pontiac.
Smith opened qualifying with a great 5.991/231.99, which was good enough to secure the early lead in qualifying after the first session. He chose to sit out the rest of the qualifying sessions and it didn't hurt his status any as the top qualifier.
Smith had to face Steve Ruda in the first round of eliminations. In the first round match, Ruda appeared to be most anxious to run and staged quick. The defending champion never flinched as he calmly rolled into the staging beams and dashed any hopes that his foe might have had with the quickest lap of the round with a 5.917/234.78.
He then had the opportunity to extract revenge from his second round opponent Monty Todd, who beat him in the finals of the IHRA Amalie Oil Nationals in Bradenton, Fla. Smith never afforded him the opportunity to beat him twice as he stormed to the quickest lap of the round with a 5.966/234.78.
Smith also gained a measure of revenge in the semis as he defeated Dale Brand. He didn't wait for Brand to initiate the battle, as he outreacted him and crossed the stripe first in the Big Daddy's BBQ Sauces & Spices/Jensen Pontiac with an engine-wounding, 6.002/234.41. Despite the damage, he was still the quickest of the stanza.
A mad thrash ensued in the hour before the finals. Crewchief Howard Moon admirably orchestrated a total refurbishment in the engine department and the final round performance only solidified Moon's status as one of the leading wrenches in the industry. The engine was still being put in the car as they rolled into the staging lanes. Von wouldn't let his crew down as he posted a 6.019/234.13 to defeat Scott Weney in the final round.
Smith plans to continue on his trek to winning another championship with his Big Daddy's-backed 1999 Pontiac Firebird at the IHRA MOPAR PARTS World Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio., during the weekend of August 26 - 29. Smith, along with each Pro Funny Car contestants, will be afforded a qualifying run on Thursday and Friday with another two on Saturday. Final eliminations are slated for Sunday. This event will be televised on ESPN2 with the dates and times TBA in an upcoming issue of the IHRA=92s Drag Review magazine.