With five wins in eight ADRL Pro Extreme Motorcycle (PXM) races held so far this year, Eric McKinney is running out of superlatives to describe his team—but he’s not yet ready to stop trying.
“I mean, what can I say, they’re just awesome,” he said after defeating Paul Gast Sep. 8, in the PXM final at Memphis International Raceway. “My dad, my mom, my Uncle Steve, and of course, Ashley Owens, what more can you say about him?”
McKinney qualified on top of the 16-bike field with a 4.079-seconds pass at 173.03 mph, closely followed by a 4.087 from Casey Stemper, his closest but now distant challenger in the season-long points chase and the only other rider to record a 4.0 pass at Memphis.
In eliminations, McKinney mowed through the competition, running 4.073 at 174.01 against TT Jones in round one; 4.048 at 175.46 to beat Dave Norris in round two; and setting new track records of 4.028 and 176.05 mph against Terry Schweigert in the semis.
Gast, meanwhile, started from the third-place slot with a 4.119 at 175.89 qualifying run, then took out Derrick Holloway before earning a holeshot win over Ron Procopio. In a rare double disqualification when both riders moved before the tree was activated, both Stemper and opponent Charlie Prophit were tossed from round two, giving Gast a free pass from the semis to the final.
It was all McKinney when it counted, however, as he left first with a .023 light, then ran 4.052 at 175.57 to easily handle Gast’s off-the-pace 5.218 at 112.26 mph.
“We gave it what we had today,” said Gast, the owner of last year’s championship-winning bike with Owens aboard. “We caught a couple of breaks, but those guys (McKinney and team) are running great.”
Even after making a couple of engine changes and continuing to fight nagging crankshaft problems all weekend, McKinney insisted riding his nitrous-boosted, 1800-cc Suzuki “is a dream.”
“Ashley makes it that way,” he stated. “He sits there in the corner studying his computer then comes over, turns a few knobs and sends me out there. I’m loving it!”
Leaving the ADRL Memphis Drags III, McKinney held an almost insurmountable lead in the championship chase and said he’d like nothing better than to clinch the 2012 title in his home state when the ADRL visits Norwalk, OH, late this month.
“We’ll have a lot of friends and family up there with us and I’d love to get it wrapped up there,” he said. “It’d be a big party, for sure.”
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