COMMERCE, Ga. - Ed Hoover picked a good time to break a losing streak. Hoover, 40, of Columbia, S.C., ended a dismal 14-race, first round losing streak that dated back to March of 2000 by winning the Pro Modified exhibition at the NHRA Advance...
COMMERCE, Ga. - Ed Hoover picked a good time to break a losing streak.
Hoover, 40, of Columbia, S.C., ended a dismal 14-race, first round losing streak that dated back to March of 2000 by winning the Pro Modified exhibition at the NHRA Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals in Commerce, Ga. The last time that Hoover won the first round was at the 2000 IHRA Winter Nationals in Darlington, S.C., and he also won that event.
Pro Modified's original national event winner laid down a 6.328, 220.87 to distance himself from Rickie Smith's nitrous-injected Dodge Viper, which carded a 6.343, 222.22 in the final round.
"Fast Eddie" as his competition has named him over the years, has rediscovered his winning groove.
"We had a big disadvantage by not taking weight out of the car during last year," explained Hoover. "We had waited around much of last year for a new car and when we didn't get it, we had to adjust this car over the winter. We started the season equal, but then we encountered electrical problems and they just beat us up for the early part of the season. Now that those are gone, we have a serious machine to work with."
Despite qualifying number one and setting the low elapsed time during eliminations, Hoover did not take the good fortunes for granted.
"I really had to finesse the car today," explained Hoover. "Not one time was the clutch ever locked up. It was really hard to slip the clutch on a consistent basis. I didn't want to give it away because I saw a lot of people spinning the tires. I didn't want to get too aggressive. I just wanted to feed it a little bit at a time now that we had a lot of horsepower. I knew we had enough to win."
The competition knew that Hoover was unshakable on this day. His first two opponents to roll into a deep-stage in an attempt to try and shake him out of his game. Hoover was never shaken.
"I really didn't pay attention to my opponents in the other lane," explained Hoover. "Sometimes I let them roll in first and sometimes I roll in first. It depends on how I feel. I just tried to make my car the quickest and fastest of every round and when you do that, you win more times than you lose."
Hoover needed the win to boost sagging morale on the team.
"To win this race and qualify number one was a real morale booster," confided Hoover. "We've been down in the dumps with our first round losses and chasing the electrical problems. Now that all of this is behind us, we can put a cap on this. I wanted this one for my crew and especially Paul Trussell. He never gave up hope in me and he knows how the racing thing goes. You're not going to see one car jump out there and dominate. The days of domination like Scotty Cannon had are gone. There are a lot of machines out there that can step up and win just like we did."
Hoover will go down in NHRA Pro Modified history as the first nitrous-injected driver to ever qualify number one for final eliminations. Hoover entered final eliminations with a 6.313, 223.95 best.
In the first round, he gained the automatic victory after Tutterow went deep-staged and then rolled early, causing a foul. Hoover hit the combination right and stormed to the low elapsed time of the event with a 6.299, 223.14.
Hood hoped to shake Hoover with another deep-stage and succeeded in nailing him on the tree. Armed with a .07 starting line advantage, Hood got out on Hoover, but the Trussell Motorsports entry reeled him in with a 6.314, 221.92. Hood lost with a 6.408, 221.223.
In the final round, Hoover rated a performance advantage, but the cagey veteran Smith was not going to be a pushover. Knowing that the battle could be won on the tree, Hoover jumped out first and never looked back en route to a 6.328, 220.87. Smith made it a battle with a 6.343, 222.22.