When Casey Stemper bowed out of Pro Extreme Motorcycle (PXM) competition with transmission trouble July 14, in round one of eliminations for the ADRL Summer Drags VIII in Martin, MI, it opened the door for Eric McKinney to extend his advantage in the season-long points race.
“We came into this race a little over two-and-a-half rounds ahead of Casey and of course wanted to stretch out that lead,” McKinney said after stepping through that door by earning his third race win this year after going to five finals in the six events held so far.
With only 11 entries on the grounds at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park, McKinney led an eight-bike field into eliminations after a 4.100 at 172.86-mph qualifying pass that eclipsed Stemper’s previous number-one effort by just two-thousandths of a second.
“We were kind of chasing him (Stemper) in qualifying a little, but then in that last (qualifying) session he sat it out and we went a .10 to take away the number-one spot and that’s all Ashley Owens, you know? He made the difference there,” McKinney said of the runaway 2011 PXM champion who is serving as his exclusive tuner this season.
“The way I see it you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with and with Ashley and my mom and dad, my uncle Steve and we’ve got Steve Drake and his wife and mom with us here this weekend, I feel like I’ve got the best of everything,” McKinney added.
McKinney opened eliminations with another 4.10 to beat T.T. Jones, then downed Brunson Grothus with a 4.11 in the semis to reach first-time finalist Dave Norris, who previously prevailed over Billy Vose and Dave Vantine.
Both riders stepped up with their best passes of the weekend in the final, with McKinney posting a .014 reaction followed by a track record 4.073 pass at 170.15 mph to beat the .016/4.133/170.95 package put together by Norris.
“It was just a routine pass, everything went pretty smooth,” McKinney said later. “Dave, he’s an excellent racer, deadly on the tree, and with this eighth-mile stuff you’ve got to be on your game. I’m glad it all came together.”
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