While the 2004 IHRA championships in Top Fuel and Pro Modified have been locked up, Pro Stock and Funny Car are going down to the wire heading into the Ninth Annual Bethesda Softworks World Nationals at Rockingham Dragway taking place October ...
While the 2004 IHRA championships in Top Fuel and Pro Modified have been locked up, Pro Stock and Funny Car are going down to the wire heading into the Ninth Annual Bethesda Softworks World Nationals at Rockingham Dragway taking place October 22-24.
Clay Millican clinched his fourth consecutive title in Top Fuel, and Mike Janis clinched the season crown in Pro Modified, but Funny Car and Sunoco Pro Stock are a different story. In Sunoco Pro Stock, John Nobile leads with 786 points, but John Montecalvo is only ten points behind. Elijah Morton, Rick Jones, and two-time defending champion Brian Gahm and Budds Creek champion Pete Berner also remain in the hunt.
"It really shouldn't be this way," Gahm said. "We haven't qualified for three events this year and are still within 100 points. I don't know if anyone wants to win the championship this year." Gahm won the championship by just 49 points last year over Carl Baker. With the race as tight as it is this year, he knows competition will be fierce. "I've said it for years, that Pro Stock is the best class the IHRA has," Gahm said. "You take anybody that qualifies for any event...come Sunday they can win it."
The Funny Car title is down to two racers with a heated rivalry. Defending champ Rob Atchison and current points leader Mark Thomas go into the final weekend of racing each looking for the other to flinch. Atchison and Thomas have a well known rivalry that both liken to "big brother vs. little brother."
"Rob and I probably have the most heated rivalry there has ever been in drag racing and there is no love lost between us on the track," Thomas said. "We know we are going to finish #1 and #2 in the world...we both want what we have worked so hard for...to be #1." Atchison ended up defeating Thomas in the second round at Budds Creek when Thomas red lighted.
The Top Fuel crown has been won by Clay Millican, who wrapped the championship up at the rescheduled World Nationals presented by PPG at Norwalk Raceway Park. But just because he collected his fourth consecutive title, that doesn't mean that the weekend will be devoid of any suspense in Top Fuel. Doug Foley, a leading candidate for IHRA rookie of the year, is locked in a heated battle with Tim Cullinan for third place.
"We want to finish third, we've decided that third place is ours," Foley said.
While Rockingham will be an exciting weekend for the professional classes, it will be equally exciting for the sportsmen as the Mr. Gasket Accel Survivor Series crowns its champions. The top eight drivers in each class, as determined by Mr. Gasket points, will run off to determine the season's best sportsman driver. Erson Cams Top Sportsman, Mallory Top Dragster, Accel DFI Super Stock, Hays Stock, Accel Quick Rod, Lakewood Super Rod, and Hurst Hot Rod will all have their top eight in the field for eliminations.
Purchase tickets for the Ninth Annual Bethesda Softworks World Nationals by calling (910)-582-3400. Log onto www.rockinghamdragway.com or www.ihra.com for more information.