singles after Litton crash, Kerunsky, Thomas and Montecalvo win
in San Antonio
|Top Fuel -- Clay Millican, 4.596 seconds,
311.49 mph def. Bruce Litton, broke.
(3-28-2004) - Clay Millican has been in a lot
of final rounds, but never one like he experienced at the IHRA Amalie
Oil Texas Nationals at San Antonio Raceway. The three-time World
Champion from Drummonds, Tenn., drove Peter Lehman’s Werner
Enterprises to an unprecedented 31st Top Fuel win during the IHRA
Hooters Drag Racing Series opener.
Other professional winners included Glenn Kerunsky (Pro Modified),
Mark Thomas (Funny Car) and John Montecalvo (Sunoco Pro Stock).
What set this victory apart from the others for Millican is that
he did it alone. Just one round earlier, the former forklift driver
for Kroger could only watch helplessly as his friendly rival Bruce
Litton suffered a crash going through the traps at well over 300-miles
per hour following his defeat of Grant Flowers. Litton was airlifted
to the Brooks Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. He was
Although an investigation is currently underway, the initial cause
of the accident is believed to be tire failure, which in turn took
out the wing and caused the new Brad Hadman dragster to break apart
and slide to a stop at the end of the track. Litton suffered a minor
|Pro Modified -- Glen Kerunsky, Chevy Bel
Air, 6.275, 218.94 def. Harold Martin, Pontiac Grand Am, 7.110,
Millican soloed to a 4.596, 311.49
“Bruce was with me in spirit,” added Millican. “I
heard he was on his way back, so I knew I wouldn’t be idling
down the track. We tried to go to the other end and it was just
awesome. There was a heck of a crowd here today and I’m glad
we could put on a good show for them.
“He’ll rebound from this and we’ll see him hopefully
in Rockingham. I want him to know that our team will help him in
any way…all he has to do is ask. As much as old Bruce and
I beat up on one another, I think a lot of that guy and he certainly
taught me a lot about driving a car. That was a weird final round.
Finding out he was okay before the final round was a big relief
Millican’s list of victims included Rick Cooper and Todd
Paton. On the other side of the ladder, Litton won over Mitch King
|Funny Car -- Mark Thomas, Dodge Avenger,
5.897, 239.40 def. Rob Atchison, Pontiac Firebird, 5.870, 238.85.
When it came to having the odds stacked against him, Canadian Glen
Kerunsky looked like a man in charge en route to stopping Harold
Martin in the final. Kerunsky entered eliminations on the bubble
and used a calculated effort to get the best of low qualifier Zach
Barklage, Mitch Stott and Steve Vick before ending the incredible
weekend of Harold Martin.
On Friday, Martin crashed his ACDelco Pontiac. An all-night thrash
returned him to competition on Saturday. Still, on this day, Kerunsky
was not to be denied.
“We haven’t tested or anything else and basically,
this was our first time out in five months,” explained Kerunsky.
“We tried a lot of new things in qualifying that just didn’t
work out. What we did is basically return to our Rockingham tune-up
and evidently it worked. We know we can do a lot better than 16th.
We were just really happy to be qualified.”
For his part, Martin defeated Pat Musi, Shannon Jenkins and Rick
Distefano to reach the final round.
In Funny Car, there may have been only seven cars in the field,
but the same two cars wound up in the final round that comprised
half of them in 2003. This time, five-time World Champion Mark Thomas
got the best of defending World Champion Rob Atchison. Thomas was
overjoyed at the completion of the event.
|Pro Stock -- John Montecalvo, Chevy Cavalier,
6.566, 213.40 def. John Nobile, Ford Escort, 6.542, 213.13..
“The thing I felt best about today was in the way I did my
job,” said Thomas. “I have complete faith in Jimmy Rector
and my crew. I had been in the .07 range all day and Jimmy asked
me for just a little better in the finals. I did and it all worked
out great for us.”
Sunoco Pro Stock featured a final round between old friends from
Long Island, NY. John Montecalvo stopped longtime friend John Nobile.
“This was long way to come to determine the best driver between
the two of us,” Montecalvo said, with a laugh. “This
started about 15 years ago at our local track and we had no idea
that one day we’d be in Pro Stock racing one another. John
and I have had a rivalry that has been going on for about 15 –
20 years. Good buddies, best of friends, but when it comes to racing
we go to it.”
Montecalvo left no stone unturned in his bid to win this weekend.
He entered eliminations as the top qualifier and soundly defeated
Bert Jackson, Frank Gugliotta and Brian Gahm.
The next event on the schedule is the 34th annual IHRA Spring
Nationals in Rockingham, NC., April 23 – 25.
|Top Stock -- Vance Cummins, Dodge Dart,
16.786, 77.83 def. Danny Byrd, Chevy Nova, foul.
|Top Sportsman -- Ricky Adkins, Chevy Camaro,
7.559, 172.43 def. Darrell Froboese, Ford Thunderbird, 7.726,
|Top Dragster -- Daniel Fjeldahl, 12.337,
73.34 def. Gary Williams, foul.
|Quick Rod -- Ron Folk, Dragster, 8.894,
173.99 def. Damon Dabbs, Dragster, foul.
|Super Rod -- Michael Pennington, Ford
Roadster, 9.919, 157.82 def. Mike Carlson, Oldsmobile Cutlass,
|Hot Rod -- Bill Levatino Jr., Chevy Camaro,
10.885, 138.09 def. John Yamaguchi, Chevy Nova, 10.841, 131.09.
|Stock -- Nick Folk, Chevy Camaro, 11.070,
115.46 def. Bill McClister, Ford Mustang, 11.271, 117.61.
|Super Stock -- Monty Bogan Jr, Chevy Camaro,
9.196, 151.80 def. Michael Lyons, Ford Probe, 8.756, 156.57.
|ET Bracket -- Tim Lee, Buick Regal, 11.699,
114.36 def. Roger Grant, Chevy Nova, 12.392, 107.61.
Final round-by-round results from the Third annual Amalie Oil Texas
presented by Ancira Cars, Trucks & RVs and the San Antonio Express-News
at San Antonio Raceway, the first of 12 events in the 2004 Hooters
IHRA Drag Racing Series -
ROUND ONE -- Todd Paton, 5.003, 253.23 def. Tim Cullinan,
5.079, 248.25; Bruce Litton, 4.790, 297.48 def. Mitch King, 6.195,
136.69; Grant Flowers, 5.145, 271.52 def. Mark Kinsella, broke;
Clay Millican, 4.583, 320.36 def. Rick Cooper, 12.646, 78.32;
SEMIFINALS -- Litton, 4.817, 302.69 def. Flowers, 5.487,
193.18; Millican, 5.799, 247.93 def. Paton, 5.977, 205.51;
FINAL -- Millican, 4.596, 311.49 def. Litton, broke.
ROUND ONE -- Mitch Stott, Chevy Corvette, 6.292, 225.97
def. Von Smith, Ford Mustang, 15.687, 52.13; Shannon Jenkins, Chevy
Camaro, 6.393, 224.32 def. Mike Janis, Corvette, 6.557, 220.94;
Mike Castellana, Camaro, 6.293, 224.02 def. Frankie Taylor, Corvette,
6.280, 227.00; Steve Vick, Camaro, 6.287, 224.10 def. Al Billes,
Corvette, 8.792, 104.66; Rick Distefano, Corvette, 6.300, 225.75
def. Thomas Patterson, Willys, 6.529, 212.43; Glen Kerunsky, Chevy
Bel Air, 6.328, 223.99 def. Zach Barklage, Pontiac Grand Am, 7.263,
216.51; Harold Martin, Grand Am, 6.690, 208.49 def.
Pat Musi, Bel Air, 8.025, 120.92; Scotty Cannon, Studebaker, 6.235,
227.50 def. Dennis Radford, Dodge Viper, 6.288, 223.88;
QUARTERFINALS -- Martin, 6.300, 220.91 def. Jenkins, foul;
Distefano, 6.236, 210.08 def. Castellana, 6.318, 223.36; Kerunsky,
6.286, 224.51 def. M. Stott, 6.321, 226.09; Vick, 6.479, 221.56
def. Cannon, 6.868, 179.64;
SEMIFINALS -- Kerunsky, 6.265, 225.07 def. Vick, 7.159,
146.34; Martin, 8.072, 130.85 def. Distefano, broke;
FINAL -- Kerunsky, 6.275, 218.94 def. Martin, 7.110, 146.85.
ROUND ONE -- Rob Atchison, Pontiac Firebird, 5.861, 238.85
was unopposed; Mark Thomas, Dodge Avenger, 5.850, 240.00 def. John
Sullivan, Pontiac Firehawk, 6.109, 227.57; Ronnie Midyette, Chevy
Camaro, 5.935, 236.92 def. Ray Drew, Ford Mustang, broke; Terry
McMillen, Avenger, 5.992, 234.57 def. Chris Foster, Avenger, foul;
SEMIFINALS -- Atchison, 5.849, 239.14 def. McMillen, 8.731,
93.53; Thomas, 8.131, 110.15 def. Midyette, foul;
FINAL -- Thomas, 5.897, 239.40 def. Atchison, 5.870, 238.85.
ROUND ONE -- Frank Gugliotta, Ford Escort, 6.611, 212.06
def. John Bartunek, Chevy Cavalier, foul; Tony Gillig, Ford Mustang,
6.706, 210.83 def. Charlie Peppers, Mustang, 8.872, 128.30; Pete
Berner, Mustang, 6.575, 209.14 def. Steve Spiess, Cavalier, 24.006,
30.53; Brian Gahm, Mustang, 6.571, 212.39 def. Mike Bell, Ford ZX2,
6.882, 163.37; Rick Jones, Dodge Stratus, 6.565, 211.83 def. Robert
Patrick, Escort, 6.683, 210.90; John Nobile, Escort, 6.570, 213.40
def. Carl Baker, Mercury Cougar, 6.651, 210.08; Elijah Morton, Mustang,
6.549, 212.46 def. Larry O'Brien, Stratus, foul; John Montecalvo,
Cavalier, 6.580, 213.03 def. Bert Jackson, Cavalier, 6.704, 207.37;
QUARTERFINALS -- Montecalvo, 6.559, 213.33 def. Gugliotta,
11.268, 76.29; Nobile, 6.529, 213.47 def. Berner, 6.557, 211.53;
Gahm, 6.581, 211.63 def. Jones, 6.575, 211.59; Morton, 6.599, 211.43
def. Gillig, 6.662, 210.05;
SEMIFINALS -- Montecalvo, 6.551, 213.47 def. Gahm, 6.610,
208.33; Nobile, 6.545, 213.23 def. Morton, 6.605, 211.63;
FINAL -- Montecalvo, 6.566, 213.40 def. Nobile, 6.542,
involved in high-speed accident during IHRA Texas Nationals
(3-28-2004) – Bruce Litton, 49, of Indianapolis,
was involved in an accident during the second round of Top Fuel
eliminations at the IHRA Texas Nationals on Sunday.
Litton was airlifted to Brooks Army Medical Center, a level one
trauma center in San Antonio, Texas. According to medical personnel,
Litton was conscious and vital signs stable.
Litton was later released from the hospital with a minor concussion.
Nitrous cars hold their own, Cowboys and Indians and leak-free
|If you're a photographer and a car comes
by belching parts and the parachute floats over into your space,
what do you do? You hit the ground like this one did.
(3-28-2004) - Awesome Dismissals –
The prediction on Friday, according to Pro Modified nitrous racer
Charles Carpenter, was 5-to-1 odds that the supercharged entries
would go home in the first round. In head-to-head competition, three
of four matches were won by nitrous cars. Two of those three were
accrued by the Awesome Motorsports team of Shannon Jenkins and Mike
Jenkins took out Mike Janis in a pedal-fest while Castellana beat
a comatose (.217) Frankie Taylor, 6.293 to 6.280.
“It was an ugly race for me,” Jenkins added. “I
had to pedal all the way through second. Mike (Janis) wasn’t
beside me so I had to keep going.”
Jenkins stands by his assessment that raceday and qualifying are
two different things.
“You get more aggressive on Sunday, I know we did.”
Steve Vick was the other victorious nitrous driver as he took out
“We have struggled the last few years and I feel we are on
our game now,” Vick added, when asked about the chances of
the nitrous cars. “We have it all together now and we’ll
just see it shakes out the rest of the day.”
Vick’s second round opponent was none other than six-time
World Champion Scotty Cannon.
“He made the statement once that you try to find the biggest
guy in the bar and knock him out first. I guess that’s what
I’m gonna have to try and do.”
Vick was victorious over Cannon.
Still no oil – The IHRA Top Fuel program
has been the target for many years of critics. However, did you
know that from the start of qualifying until the completion of the
first round, not one single drop of oil fell on the racing surface?
Stranger in a strange land – One of the more uncommon
faces walking through the pits at San Antonio Raceway was Texas-businessman
Dave Wood, who owns AMS Staff Leasing – the sponsor of the
NHRA Pro Modified exhibitions. His Pro Modified entry failed to
make the cut, but that didn’t prevent him from having fun.
“It’s a little bit different,” added Wood. “I
am enjoying being here. It’s drag racing. It doesn’t
matter whether it’s IHRA or NHRA. I love the sport and the
Pro Modified class.”
According to Wood, the team plans to make as many as ten stops
on the 12-race tour.
Cowboys and Indians – IHRA Speed color commentator
and Native American Johnny Rocca on coming to San Antonio, Texas,
for his debut as part of the television talent crew, “My ancestors
were concerned about me coming to Texas. There are way too many
SATURDAY - 19-year
old Barklage blasts way to top of Pro Modified field, Millican,
Atchinson and Montecalvo round out professional low qualifiers
|Zach Barklage scored his first-ever IHRA
Pro Modified pole position.
(3-27-2004) – Just one week after establishing
a personal best, 19-year old Pro Modified racer Zach Barklage pushed
his Pontiac Grand-am to the quickest elapsed time of the IHRA Amalie
Oil Texas Nationals in San Antonio, Texas. Barklage saved his best
for last with a 6.208, 229.86.
Also landing atop their respective divisions were Clay Millican
(Top Fuel), Rob Atchinson (Funny Car) and John Montecalvo (Sunoco
On the heels of Barklage’s career-building effort was Harold
Martin’s 6.218, 226.46. Martin had crashed his ACDelco-sponsored
entry on Friday evening and rebuilt it in time for Saturday’s
qualifying. Canadian Rick Distefano was third with a 6.223, 218.
It took at least a 6.308 to gain a spot in the show.
Millican, of Drummonds, Tenn., one-upped his Friday performance
with a Saturday evening 4.631, 309.77. The Werner-sponsored driver
was light years ahead of #2 Mark Kinsella, who registered a 4.669,
303.30. Rick Cooper landed on the bubble.
|John Montecalvo paced the field for the
Sunoco Pro Stockers.
Atchinson, the defending Funny Car champion, stepped up in the
final session with a 5.814, 239.78 to edge out multi-time World
Champion Mark Thomas.
Montecalvo, of Center Moriches, NY, established both ends of the
Sunoco Pro Stock track record, with a 6.533, 213.57. Falling into
order behind the Citgo-sponsored driver was Elijah Morton (6.544)
and John Nobile (6.545). Bert Jackson ended up on the bubble with
a 6.634, 208.49.
Up to the minute results at IHRA.com.
First-round pairings for professional eliminations Sunday for
annual Amalie Oil Texas Nationals presented by Ancira Cars, Trucks
& RVs and the San Antonio Express-News at San Antonio Raceway,
the first of 12 events in the 2004 Hooters IHRA Drag Racing Series.
Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday.
Top Fuel -- 1. Clay Millican, 4.631 seconds,
309.77 mph vs. 8. Rick Cooper, 5.027,
230.61; 2. Mark Kinsella, 4.669, 303.30 vs. 7. Grant Flowers, 4.963,
279.96; 3. Bruce Litton, 4.785, 304.25 vs. 6. Mitch King, 4.883,
255.63; 4. Tim Cullinan, 4.817, 283.91 vs. 5. Todd Paton, 4.882,
Pro Modified -- 1. Zach Barklage, Pontiac Grand
Am, 6.208, 229.16 vs. 16. Glen
Kerunsky, Chevy Bel Air, 6.308, 224.25; 2. Harold Martin, Grand
Am, 6.218, 226.47 vs. 15. Pat Musi, Bel Air, 6.301, 218.83; 3. Rick
Distefano, Chevy Corvette, 6.223, 224.85 vs. 14. Thomas Patterson,
Willys, 6.296, 221.82; 4. Al Billes, Corvette, 6.224, 226.96 vs.
13. Steve Vick, Chevy Camaro, 6.288, 223.10; 5. Scotty Cannon, Studebaker,
6.227, 228.15 vs. 12. Dennis Radford, Dodge Viper, 6.284, 223.73;
6. Frankie Taylor, Corvette, 6.231, 226.70 vs. 11. Mike Castellana,
Camaro, 6.281, 223.43; 7. Mike Janis, Corvette, 6.239, 228.00 vs.
10. Shannon Jenkins, Camaro, 6.279, 224.43; 8. Von Smith, Ford Mustang,
6.241, 228.61 vs. 9. Mitch Stott, Corvette, 6.265, 226.73.
Funny Car -- 1. Rob Atchison, Pontiac Firebird,
5.814, 239.78 vs. Bye; 2. Mark Thomas,
Dodge Avenger, 5.856, 240.38 vs. 7. John Sullivan, Pontiac Firehawk,
6.140, 229.12; 3. Ronnie Midyette, Chevy Camaro, 5.946, 240.81 vs.
6. Ray Drew, Ford Mustang, 6.034, 227.50; 4. Chris Foster, Avenger,
5.964, 235.68 vs. 5. Terry McMillen, Avenger, 6.019, 235.10.
Pro Stock -- 1. John Montecalvo, Chevy Cavalier,
6.533, 213.57 vs. 16. Bert Jackson,
Cavalier, 6.643, 208.49; 2. Elijah Morton, Ford Mustang, 6.544,
212.29 vs. 15. Larry O'Brien, Dodge Stratus, 6.629, 209.79; 3. John
Nobile, Ford Escort, 6.545, 213.27 vs. 14. Carl Baker, Mercury Cougar,
6.616, 210.67; 4. Rick Jones, Stratus, 6.553, 212.06 vs. 13. Robert
Patrick, Escort, 6.605, 212.26; 5. Brian Gahm, Mustang, 6.559, 211.76
vs. 12. Mike Bell, Ford ZX2, 6.603, 211.00; 6. Pete Berner, Mustang,
6.566, 210.90 vs. 11. Steve Spiess, Cavalier, 6.593, 211.56; 7.
Tony Gillig, Mustang, 6.568, 211.83 vs. 10. Charlie Peppers, Mustang,
6.589, 212.03; 8. Frank Gugliotta, Escort, 6.577, 212.96 vs. 9.
John Bartunek, Cavalier, 6.588, 212.49.
SATURDAY - Harold
Martin's inspirational return, Great act of sportsmanship by Berner
and Cannon's holding court again...
Thrash Man – Some
might have packed up after crashing their car in qualifying, but
not ACDelco-sponsored Pro Modified racer Harold Martin. Martin towed
his wounded Pontiac to the pits on Friday only to be met by a large
gathering of racers ready and willing to pitch in a helping hand.
Upon taking inventory of the damage, Martin realized that with the
exception of the sheared axle studs on the rear, most of the damage
was cosmetic. The team, along with a few volunteers worked until
2 AM on Saturday. The only reason they stopped was they had run
out of parts.
Just when it seemed futile to work towards Saturday’s first
qualifying session, the trio of Kip Dupuis, Elijah Morton and Gary
Henry along with a score of new racers found the missing pieces
to the puzzle and Martin was in the lanes at Noon.
“I am just blown away by the support of the community,”Martin
added. “We had tons of help and it may have gotten crowded
at times. But, we got it down.”
By the way, Martin went to the top of the qualifying list with
a 6.218, 226.47.
Martin admitted the run on Saturday felt exactly like the launch
on Friday. He added that what we saw on Saturday should have come
the night before.
A taste of Italy - When you visit an Italian restaurant,
you can usually come across a listing on the menu as a "Taste
of Italy." This entre usually offers three samplings of Italian
The IHRA version has its own version of A Taste of Italy in the
Pro Stock pits. The most notable is the "The Flying Meatball"
Frank Gugliotta. Joining the fraternity is now John "The Flying
Sausage" Montecalvo and John "The Flying Pepperoni"
Nobile. The trio are all of Italian heritage and suggested the nicknames.
|There's nothing better for Saturday entertainment
than a VW vs. Motorhome match race.
Pimping out Annie – While we wouldn’t
call Sunoco Pro Stock racer Pete Berner drag racing’s version
of a pimp, he did execute a measure of good sportsmanship by loaning
out one of his leading ladies to fellow racer Frank Gugliotta. Berner’s
leading lady is none other than his number two engine affectionately
nicknamed “Annie.” The scenario began earlier in the
week when Gugliotta mortally wounded his only motor in testing at
Houston Raceway Park. Rather than allow the Steve Thodos team to
go home and not participate, Berner offered his spare engine.
Driver Frank Gugliotta was at a loss for words when it came to
expressing his gratitude afforded him. Once he gained his composure,
he said, “The rulebook says that once an engine qualifies,
it cannot be entered in another car. He jeopardized himself to help
us. That’s huge.”
Berner’s main engine is named “Shania.”
“I was happy to help Steve,” added Berner. “They
are good people and I wouldn’t just loan an engine to just
anyone. I feel confident that we’ll do just fine with one
|When Mitch Stott said he wounded a block,
he wasn't lying.
He ain’t Hemi, he’s my Chevy –
The road has been long with many winding turns for Chevrolet racer
John Montecalvo and engine builder Sonny Leonard’s development
of the next generation cylinder head, a design based on the Ford
Hemi. Montecalvo concluded Saturday’s qualifying with both
ends of the track record. His 6.533 elapsed time put him ahead of
the twenty entries on the grounds. His 213.57 blast stood up as
the fastest mile per hour.
Once a doormat of the class, the Chevrolets are changing that attitude.
“I think it took most of last year to get things together,”
Montecalvo said. “We have a handle on it now. I also have
a new 2004 Cavalier from Rick Jones that I’m just dying to
give it a shot.”
The Boys are back in town – The 2004 IHRA Amalie
Oil Texas Nationals looked like a return of the old guard in IHRA
doorslammer racing. This nostalgic quartet consisting of Scotty
Cannon, Robert Patrick, John Nobile and Tony Gillig all seemed to
pick up where they left off at. After three sessions, Cannon and
Nobile were third in their respective classes, while Gillig ended
up seventh and Patrick was 14th.
Cannon analyzes the situation – After watching
a set of cars do burnouts, only to be shut down when oil was discovered
on the track, six-time Pro Modified World Champion Scotty Cannon
took IHRA President Bill Bader to task over his procedure of running
a pair of cars every 17 seconds. Cannon uttered with a flurry of
hand gestures, “Bader if you were running an airport, you’d
have planes crisscrossing each other and landing all over one another.”
Question Answered – One of the largest unknown
questions looming in the drag racing was finally answered on Saturday
evening. Which is the better race vehicle, a VW bug or a 35-foot
diesel-burning motorhome? The rig was afforded a three-second handicap,
which was overcome by the VW with a 26.063, 51. The motorhome lost
with a 26.668, 52.
They have medical coverage – Just one week
earlier, the NHRA refused to allow “Nurse Tiffany,”
the scantily clad nurse figure on the Dr. Moon’s Rage team
driven by Von Smith, to walk to the starting line unless she had
a team uniform. On Saturday evening, IHRA President Bill Bader escorted
her just past the Christmas tree and back. Bader was later rumored
to be complaining of some soreness in his shoulder and requested
FRIDAY - Millican
king of the hill in Top Fuel; Billes, Atchinson, Jones top professional
|Clay Millican was light years ahead of
the competition during first day qualifying for the IHRA Amalie
Oil Texas Nationals in San Antonio, Texas.
(3-26-2004) – Clay Millican was light years
ahead of the competition during first day qualifying for the IHRA
Amalie Oil Texas Nationals in San Antonio, Texas. The Drummonds,
Tenn.-based driver was the quickest Top Fueler out of 20 entries
with a 4.642, 303.23.
Falling into the second spot was Mark Kinsella with a 4.728, 303.30.
Gene Davis was on the bubble with a 5.314, 224.96.
The balance of the low qualifiers included Al Billes (Pro Modified),
Rob Atchinson (Funny Car) and Rick Jones (Sunoco Pro Stock).
Pro Modified’s final session provided a historic shootout
that resembled the 1991 Pro Modified World Championship battle between
Billes and six-time World Champion Scotty Cannon. Cannon pushed
his Oakley-sponsored 1953 Studebaker to the top spot with a 6.227.
His run stood for two pairs when Billes backed up his recent NHRA
Gatornationals victory with a 6.224 pole position. The bump spot
for the 16-car field is anchored by Steve Engel with a 6.350.
|Al Billes backed up his recent NHRA Gatornationals
victory with a 6.224 pole position.
In Funny Car, Atchinson opened his championship defense with a
provisional top qualifying effort with a 5.853, 239.31, Mark Thomas
was second with a 5.856, 244.38. Only six cars are in attendance.
Jones, a chassis builder from Galesburg, Ill., took a huge step
towards defending his event title by landing on top with a 6.553,
212.06 in his Quartermax-sponsored Dodge Stratus. His elapsed time
actually was tied by Elijah Morton, but his 211.89 speed was slower
than that of Jones. The bump spot was anchored by Chuck DeMory with
a 6.718, 207.11. On the outside looking in are 2003 IHRA Hooters
Drag Racing Series winners Carl Baker, Doug Kirk and Jason Collins.
Up to the minute results at IHRA.com.
Results Friday after qualifying for the Third annual Amalie
Oil Texas Nationals presented by Ancira Cars, Trucks & RVs and
the San Antonio Express-News at San Antonio Raceway, first of 12
events in the 2004 Hooters IHRA Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will
continue Saturday for Sunday's final eliminations.
Top Fuel -- 1. Clay Millican, 4.642 seconds,
303.23 mph; 2. Mark Kinsella, 4.728,
303.30; 3. Todd Paton, 4.882, 288.33; 4. Mitch King, 4.883, 242.19;
5. Bobby Lagana Jr, 5.035, 291.89; 6. Doug Foley, 5.070, 283.43;
7. John Sipple, 5.282, 242.89; 8. Gene Davis, 5.314, 224.96.
Pro Modified -- 1. Al Billes, Chevy Corvette,
6.224, 225.86; 2. Scotty Cannon,
Studebaker, 6.227, 228.15; 3. Von Smith, Ford Mustang, 6.241, 228.61;
4. Frankie Taylor, Corvette, 6.253, 224.62; 5. Mitch Stott, Corvette,
6.265, 226.70; 6. Mike Janis, Corvette, 6.278, 227.88; 7. Shannon
Jenkins, Chevy Camaro, 6.279, 224.43; 8. Zach Barklage, Pontiac
Grand Am, 6.281, 226.51; 9. Mike Castellana, Camaro, 6.283, 222.29;
10. Rick Distefano, Corvette, 6.295, 217.28; 11. Thomas Patterson,
Willys, 6.296, 221.82; 12. Glen Kerunsky, Chevy Bel Air, 6.308,
224.25; 13. Steve Vick, Camaro, 6.311, 222.47; 14. Dennis Radford,
Dodge Viper, 6.326, 222.95; 15. Pat Moore, Bel Air, 6.337, 223.17;
16. Steve Engel, Corvette, 6.350, 223.39.
Funny Car -- 1. Rob Atchison, Pontiac Firebird,
5.853, 239.53; 2. Mark Thomas, Dodge
Avenger, 5.856, 240.38; 3. Chris Foster, Avenger, 5.989, 234.57;
4. Terry McMillen, Avenger, 6.019, 235.10; 5. Ronnie Midyette, Chevy
Camaro, 6.030, 240.38; 6. Ray Drew, Ford Mustang, 6.034, 227.50;
7. John Sullivan, Pontiac Firehawk, 6.219, 206.04.
Pro Stock -- 1. Rick Jones, Dodge Stratus, 6.553,
212.06; 2. Elijah Morton, Ford
Mustang, 6.553, 211.89; 3. Brian Gahm, Mustang, 6.559, 211.76; 4.
John Montecalvo, Chevy Cavalier, 6.572, 212.26; 5. Tony Gillig,
Mustang, 6.578, 211.83; 6. Charlie Peppers, Mustang, 6.589, 211.33;
7. John Nobile, Ford Escort, 6.603, 212.16; 8. Robert Patrick, Escort,
6.608, 211.86; 9. Frank Gugliotta, Escort, 6.611, 211.69; 10. John
Bartunek, Cavalier, 6.617, 211.39; 11. Steve Spiess, Cavalier, 6.623,
210.50; 12. Mike Bell, Ford ZX2, 6.633, 210.67; 13. Pete Berner,
Mustang, 6.640, 210.90; 14. Larry O'Brien, Stratus, 6.641, 209.79;
15. Chuck DeMory, Escort, 6.718, 207.11; 16. Robert Mansfield, Pontiac
Grand Am, 6.751, 208.42.
FRIDAY NOTES – The
brewing controversy in Top Fuel; Funny Car famine, Top Fuel miracles
and the legend of the Mohawk
|As news breaks, we'll pass it on to you.
(3-26-2004) - Old Faces; New Place –
If the AMS Staff Leasing crew appears to have that familiar
look, it’s because the quartet at one time were joined under
the umbrella of Johnny Rocca. Driver Troy Critchley was instrumental
in bringing in former Rocca tuner Darren Mayer, as well as former
crewmembers Billy Medina and Dave Jordan.
“We do have that retro look,” Mayer admitted.
It’s ironic that Rocca will be in the announcing booth this
year. Was that cause for a team reunion?
“We laughed about that over dinner,” added Mayer. “It
was a time of reminiscing over the memories we had while racing
with Johnny. Some of them made us laugh so hard it made our stomachs
|Harold Martin's ACDelco-sponsored suffered
parts breakage at the launch which caused his Pontiac Grand-am
to cross the center-line and hit the opposite retaining wall.
Martin Uninjured in mishap - Harold Martin's ACDelco-sponsored
suffered parts breakage at the launch which caused his Pontiac Grand-am
to cross the center-line and hit the opposite retaining wall. He
New Kids on the Block – Remember when you
were growing up and a new kid moved into the neighborhood? In most
instances, you either liked them or you didn’t. That’s
exactly the reaction the injected-nitro cars received in their debut
as part of a revamped Top Fuel division. Most welcomed them, but
at least one driver wasn’t so hospitable.
Defending World Champion Clay Millican thinks the new addition
to Top Fuel will be welcomed.
“I think as a whole, they will be welcomed. If it causes
everyone to step up it will be a good thing. The bottom line is
that no one wants to get beat by one. Nobody wants to get beat by
a car that they should beat.”
|A/FD (far lane) versus AA/FD. Some like
it. At least one driver doesn't
Then again, there are those like Todd Paton, who feel the inclusion
of these cars signal an unofficial end to the class.
“We saw it happen a few years back when the IHRA let Billy
Austin run,” Paton said. “An A/Fuel Funny Car was just
like a BB/FC, and where are they at now in IHRA? The writing is
on the wall. I don’t understand how you can bring a combination
in and tell them the only rules they have is have 90 to 100-percent
“We know the A/Fuel cars are very powerful, even under their
standard rules. They are very capable of running 5-teens and lower.
With the lock-up clutches and all, they make awesome amounts of
torque. We are only running 1320-feet so torque is king. If it was
a long-distance race, then horsepower would be king. Then there
is the reliability factor. Once they get them dialed in, it would
be a lot cheaper to run one. I don’t think the class really
|This was seen on the trailer of a blown
Paton questioned the need for additional entries when there were
at least 8 – 12 conventional cars on the grounds Thursday.
“How many cars do you need for an eight-car field?”
Millican, who ran the quickest elapsed time in the first session
of qualifying which turned out to be nearly eight-tenths of a second
quicker than the leading A/Fuel Dragster, doesn’t see him
as a bully. He added, “I know those guys are there if I ever
smoke the tires.”
“I really don’t care. It’s just another car in
the other lane. If it makes a better show, I’m all for it.”
Paton considers a loss to an A/Fuel Dragster to be somewhat like
an eight-year old boy getting beat by a girl.
“It would be worse,” added Paton.
“The incredible Turd – That’s
what injected-nitro Top Fuel driver Dave Hirata calls his 460-something
cubic inch engine. He’s not even sure what cubic inch size
“I just grabbed the biggest one I could find,” Hirata
added. “I can’t wait until we get 40-extra cubic inches.”
Impressive Part – Of 16 blown and injected
nitro Top Fuelers, not one single entry applied oil to the racing
|Dave Hirata threw together an engine to
come out to Texas.
Unimpressive Part – While Top Fuel had 20
cars on the grounds, Funny Car was considerably off with only 6
Park the rig, we’ll drive it for you –
Pro Modified team owner Richard Patterson is ready to issue an ultimatum
to any drag race team that brings their rig to his house in Houston.
It seems that every time a team visits, they seem to do damage to
Patterson demands, “I’m going to tell them all to park
their rigs at the top of the road and I’ll provide valet service.
Nothing gets torn down that way.”
Patterson points out that the last two visits resulted in an awning
being down, which in turn fell on a new Chevy Tahoe causing irreparable
Most recently, a team, whom Patterson prefers to keep anonymous,
bent his wrought iron gate into a 90-degree angle.
Jilted at the altar again – After a barrage
of promotional releases and a few columns promoting his return to
Top Fuel, Steve Hamilton was jilted once again in his bid to run
with the Kings of the Sport. According to Hamilton, he got a call
a week before the IHRA Amalie Oil Texas Nationals from team owner
John Mitchell telling him decided not to run.
“I just don’t get it,” Hamilton explained. “I
had a signed contract. I just can’t get a break.”
Hamilton’s bids to run in the class have been spoiled by
a broken down tow truck en route to an event and another time he
made it there, but the wing for the car didn’t.
The Rod Father - “There were rods coming
out here and rods coming out there. Once I got out at the finish
line, I realized there was nothing there.” – Mitch Stott
after wounding the first of two motors on Friday
The Iceman Reloadeth – After a dismal showing
last week in Gainesville, Fla., at the NHRA Gatornationals, nitrous
Pro Modified stalwarts Shannon Jenkins and Mike Castellana pulled
out of Gainesville Raceway following the third qualifying session.
Was it a protest? “No way,” says Jenkins. “We
had hurt two motors and had one left…two cars…one good
motor…race next week…you do the math.”
A quick trip to Gene Fulton’s shop and many hours of sleepless
nights, and Jenkins was back at San Antonio ready to rumble.
“We’ll qualify and it should be fine.
It’s all in the hair – Von Smith’s
first event during the 2003 season was in Norwalk. In the second-half
of the season in NHRA competition, Smith had the winningest record
of any in the class.
This season, Smith has a new look and a new theme as part of the
Tom Lipar-owned team. The former Roy Hill Mustang is now adorned
with Dr. Moon’s Rage livery. Smith also has blonde highlights.
So are the highlights to cover any gray hair that Smith may have
developed in learning to drive a Pro Modified car?
“Nope,” Smith answered. “Tom wanted me to do
something to make my hair stand out.”
Does he have any limits with the hair, would he do a Mohawk or
something like that?
“The only thing I won’t do is shave my head,”
Smith continued. “Well maybe if I had 40 more pounds of muscle
and a few earrings in my ear. Then I could be the Pro Modified equivalent
to ‘Mr. Clean.”
Hair, Part 2 – Of course, the most popular
hairdo in the Pro Modified pits is the Mohawk. There were three
known instances of this Native American hairdo floating through
the Pro Modified pits. One was created as a gimmick and another
Pro Modified’s winningest driver Scotty Cannon was sporting
his newly cropped Mohawk approximately 3 ¼-inches long. He
adopted the hairdo in 1998 as the result of peer pressure from a
longtime friend. The hairdo stuck and it drew the overwhelming approval
of Oakley President Jim Jannard.
Then there’s Paul Athey’s do. Athey is a Native American
from the Mohegan Tribe and in his area of New England, that style
is common. His Mohawk extends to his neck.
Athey adds, “There’s a misconception that hairdo was
reserved for the Mohawk Indians. The funny thing is that they didn’t
even wear a Mohawk.”
When asked if the hair style might be a prerequisite to running
the class, Athey piped up regarding teammate Quain Stott.
Athey added, “Quain’s even said if he wins, he might
|Scotty Cannon's return to IHRA ended up
a second-quickest effort after two sessions.
Cannon’s Philosophy – “I must
be back. I’m here ain’t I?” – Six-time Pro
Modified champion Scotty Cannon on his return to Pro Modified.
The following session Cannon held the top spot momentarily with
a 6.227 until Al Billes took the mark by .003.
Demolition Man – The last time Al Billes
had his ’53 Corvette out, he took home the NHRA Gatornationals
title. The time before that he was playing demolition derby with
the wall at U.S. 131 Dragway in Martin, Mi. Billes credits the success
of his car’s return to time spent at Tim McCamis’ shop
“We kind of like to forget about the Martin incident,”
said Billes. “Tim completely overhauled the car and it works
In the week following the event, CompetitionPlus.com was accused
of labeling Billes as the underdog at Gainesville. Billes just laughed
when asked how it feels to be an underdog.
“Oh man,” Billes laughed. “Hey, we're from up
in Southern Canada…we don’t get a lot of chances to
test and it sometimes puts us behind headed into the new season.”
|The last time Al Billes had his ’53
Corvette out, he took home the NHRA Gatornationals title.
I know he didn’t say that – When the
comment was made to nitrous advocate Charles Carpenter, “Ten-to-one
odds say the nitrous cars will get their butts kicked this weekend,”
he appeared stunned by the comment. His response was, “I won’t
take that bet, but five-to-one odds says the blower cars go home
I know he didn’t say that either –19-year
old Pro Modified racer Zach Barklage was posed with the question,
“Which would you rather have, 6.20s at the Gatornationals
(which he did last week) or the prom queen in the back seat of a
car?” His response? “The 6.20s at the Gatornationals.
I can always get the prom queen.”