UNBURDENED McGAHA TAKES ARIZONA NATIONALS PRO STOCK TROPHY
Who wouldn’t enjoy besting a three-time champion?
Pro Stock’s Chris McGaha sure did in the final round Sunday afternoon at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park at Chandler, Ariz.
The Harlow Sammons Chevy Camaro driver used a nearly perfect .007-second reaction time against Jason Line to leg out a winning 6.529-second elapsed time at 211.59 mph on the quarter-mile to earn his sixth victory in nine final rounds at the Arizona Nationals. Line challenged with a 6.538-second E.T. and 210.14 mph in the KB / Summit Racing Chevy Camaro but fell about eight feet (.0258-second).
“Jason’s over there. That’s one of the guys I come to race, right there,” McGaha said. “You know you’ve got to bring your A-Game right there, because he’s good at what he does.”
Line reached this 97th career final round past Vincent Nobile, Greg Anderson, and No. 1 qualifier Deric Kramer.
McGaha was especially thrilled because he claimed just his second victory against Line in 10 meetings, eliminating Tanner Gray, Erica Enders, and Alex Laughlin on the way.
“The .007 [light] means I didn’t screw it up. When the crew chiefs give you a good car, that’s the last thing you want to do,” McGaha said. “It’s kind of like a field-goal kicker. He sits over there on the bench the whole time and then he has to come out and win the game. That’s kind of what you feel like as a driver: Don’t mess it up, because you’re the last guy.”
McGaha had performed well at the Christmas Tree all day, nailing a .009 light in the first round against the ultra-aggressive Gray.
“Maybe it was adrenaline in the finals,” he said.
What made the victory – as he described it – “very satisfying” was the fact he did it with his own engine program.
“We’re the little guy from Odessa, Texas, with a one-car team and not a lot of data,” he said. “They say ‘not a lot of data,’ but sometimes you can get too much data and it starts to become cloudy.”
He showed respect for “all the other teams that are trying to make Pro Stock have enough cars and what have you,” no matter what their budgets, big or small, multi-car teams or independents like himself. “Our shop doesn’t have enough depth to do that, but we try to do what we can and help some of the other guys like Steve Graham and Joey Grose.”
The addition of Adam Hornberger as crew chief during the offseason is proving to be beneficial already.
“I’ve kind of relieved myself of the crew-chief duties, let him totally take it over. It’s kind of working out good right now. I think I didn’t realize how overloaded I had made myself. And maybe that’s helping me drive better,” McGaha said. “I always felt I needed to do something in the pits to help my driving, but maybe I obviously had overloaded myself. Maybe we can get it going good and see what happens.”
He said, “We picked up power this winter. We did find some power that we’d been lacking and looking for. When we unloaded and it went No. 1 on the first session, we said, ‘OK, we’ve got something that can compete.”
But all the pieces didn’t fall into place this weekend that easily.
“Then we lose a push rod on Q4, the good session. I’ve done that so many times since we’ve gone to EFI – it was like déjà vu,” he said. He told himself, “If we can overcome this, we can make it happen. I guess we overcame it.”
It certainly looks that way.