Upsets Highlight IHRA Winter Nationals Clear Skies and Smooth Sailing for Season Opener By Ed Dykes BRADENTON, Fla. - SUMMIT FastNews - The IHRA Prolong Winter Nationals was completed today in front of a capacity...
Upsets Highlight IHRA Winter Nationals
Clear Skies and Smooth Sailing for Season Opener
By Ed Dykes
BRADENTON, Fla. - SUMMIT FastNews - The IHRA Prolong Winter Nationals was completed today in front of a capacity crowd here at DeSoto Memorial Dragway, and there were several surprises in the Winners Circle.
Tommy Johnson, Jr. took the honors in the Top Fuel Dragster category, defeating Steve Smith in the final round. "We raced the track today," Johnson said after the win, "we'd always like to go quicker, but we played it smart." The Ottumwa, Iowa-based Johnson hadn't raced on the IHRA tour since last year, when he won the Summer Nationals at Cordova, Ill. Currently without financial backing, he plans to race the next two races on the circuit in hopes of attracting sponsorship.
Favorites Paul Romine and Doug Herbert both fell in the first round, their cars overpowering the race track.
In the debut of the new Screamin' Eagles Top Fuel Harley-Davidson motorcycle category, Johnny Mancuso scored a decisive victory with a 6.811 second run against Jamie Emery. A Harley-Davidson dealer from Houston, Texas, Mancuso had last won a national event in 1970, and said "It;s been a long time between wins, but that just makes it that much sweeter."
Scotty Cannon ended his drought when he returned to the Pro Modified winners circle, running 6.510 seconds to defeat Tommy Mauney in the final round. It was the first win for Cannon in his '53 Studebaker, a car built by Murray Anderson in Australia and just shipped back to the USA.
Pro Stock saw a new face in the Winners Circle, Kingsport, Tenn.'s Kenny Lee taking the win over Jerry Yeoman in the final round. Lee was IHRA's Rookie of the Year last year.
In Alcohol Funny Car, Matt Goss won in his first trip to the finals, driving Carl Ruth's '56 Ford Crown Victoria to a win over Monty Todd in the final round. Dave Price took Super Eliminator honors over Billy DeWitt in the first appearance of the new category.
The event, the first of ten national events on the IHRA schedule for 1998, was conducted under clear skies and warm temps for all three days.
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