Pro Extreme Motorcycle (PXM) star Eric McKinney took over this year from where his tuner left off in 2011, turning in a dominating performance that’s included six wins in eight final-round appearances and clinching the 2012 championship with one of 10 scheduled events still to be run.
With Ashley Owens, winner of eight events and the class title last season, calling the shots on his 2012 Suzuki, McKinney’s latest victory came Sep. 29, at Summit Motorsports Park, where he beat Canada’s Terry Schweigert in the PXM final of the ADRL Summit Racing Equipment Ohio Drags VI presented by Mickey Thompson.
“I don’t know what to say, I really don’t,” McKinney said after winning a mixed-up final that saw Schweigert leave before the tree was activated and McKinney go red by a whopping -.252 before posting a 4.112-seconds at 172.96-mph pass. “We’ve worked so long and so hard for this all year and to finally get it done (the championship) is just awesome. I know I say this all the time, but I really have to thank my dad and my mom, my Uncle Steve and of course Ashley Owens, the guy really is a genius when it comes to running these bikes. I really don’t think there’s anyone else even close to him.”
Unfortunately, Casey Stemper, McKinney’s closest rival in the points chase, suffered a serious engine fire at the end of his first qualifying pass that severely damaged the wiring and other critical systems on his bike and he had to withdraw from competition.
The weekend also started off on a sour note for McKinney after he burned up an engine in his first qualifying pass and injected a sense of caution into the entire McKinney team. A 4.083 at 171.99 landed them in second place on the eight-bike qualifying list, behind David Vantine who scored his career-first top qualifier with a 4.071 pass at 175.07 mph.
In round one, McKinney easily handled TT Jones with a 4.079 at 173.43 that lost lane choice by just one thousandth to Paul Gast for the semis. Once there, Gast left with a .039 reaction to McKinney’s .053 and it was almost enough to win, but McKinney’s 4.083 at 172.85 was just enough to edge ahead of Gast’s 4.103 run at 173.81 by six-thousandths of a second at the eighth-mile stripe.
“That was some great racing; the most exciting I’ve had in a while,” McKinney said. “Paul asked me if I had looked over at him, but I told him no way, I was just concentrating on my tuck and hitting my shift points and not screwing anything up.”
Winning the championship at the Norwalk, OH, track made it an extra-special experience for McKinney as he made his PXM debut there in 2008 and living about three hours away in Hamersville, OH, he was able to celebrate the moment with several friends, family members and co-workers.
“We had at least 20 or more people here with us this weekend and with this being our home ADRL track there just couldn’t be a better place for this to happen. I could do backflips right now,” the normally reserved McKinney declared. “This is awesome, just awesome.”
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