Summit Tournament of Champions Preview – Top Dragster
By IHRA Media
Oct 1, 2012
It is drag racing’s fastest sportsman class and this year, it is also its biggest.
This year’s Top Dragster field features a whopping 29 different drivers – four more than any other class in this year’s tournament – with two potential spots still yet to be filled making Top Dragster one of the biggest crapshoots in this year’s Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions presented by AMSOIL.
Of the 29 drivers in this year’s field five are former IHRA World Champions, however only Scott Ball has a championship within the dragster class. Additionally, only three drivers from last year’s tournament top 10 are back leaving this year’s Top Dragster tournament wide open. Overall 12 states are currently represented in this year’s tournament led by North Carolina and Texas with six drivers each, Pennsylvania, Alberta and Florida with three apiece, two from Virginia and one each from Arizona, Manitoba, Michigan, Ohio, Ontario and Utah.
Leading the charge into this year’s Top Dragster tournament is a trio of superstar drivers – Steve Dweck, Jacob Elrod and Cameron Manuel.
Manuel, from Winston Salem, N.C., is the only former world champion among the three, winning the Super Rod crown in 2010. And he hasn’t missed a beat since getting behind the wheel of his Justice Racing machine winning back-to-back divisional championships including taking the 2012 Patriots Division by 17 points over Chad Traylor. This season Manuel recorded one Top Dragster final round, winning at London Dragway in early September.
Jacob Elrod is another driver that has garnered a lot of attention in 2012 racking up an impressive seven total wins in nine finals in five different classes. In Top Dragster Elrod had two wins at Mountain Park and U.S. 131 Motorsports Park and a runner-up to finish 102 points ahead of Mia Tedesco for the North Stars divisional championship. Elrod, from Harrod, Ohio, is also one of three drivers in Top Dragster currently qualified in more than one class, adding a spot in the Super Rod field as well.
Steve Dweck, from Hollywood, Fla., is another driver qualified in more than one class at the 2012 Tournament of Champions, occupying a spot in both TD and Hot Rod. In all Dweck visited six finals this season with three wins to take the Heat Wave Division championship by a narrow nine-point margin over Claude Debonis. Four of Dweck’s finals, including all three wins, came in Hot Rod leaving two runner-up finishes in Top Dragster to propel him to the title.
Top Dragster’s other multi-class qualifier is Burlington, North Carolina’s Brett Nesbitt. Nesbitt qualified in both dragster classes – TD and Quick Rod – on the strength of three wins and two runner-up finishes with one of those wins coming in Top Dragster at Richmond Dragway back in May.
Of the remaining divisional champions Edmonton, Alberta’s Tom McAvoy had the most successful season with two wins at Eagle Motorplex and Castrol Raceway to propel him to the Border Bandits championship by 61 points over Geordie Castle. Greg Slack, from Albemarle, N.C., also had a big season with one win at Rockingham Dragway in April and a runner-up to finish first in the tough Raiders Division by 32 points over David Barr.
Larry Eidson rounds out the divisional champs with a big win in the Renegades Division. Eidson, from Mineral Wells, Texas, had a mixed bag year visiting a trio of finals, but falling short in all three. Still, that tally was just enough to push Eidson over the edge and into the divisional top spot by 11 points over former Top Dragster World Champion Scott Ball.
Other former World Champions scattered throughout the field in addition to Nesbitt, Ball and Manuel include 1991 Quick Rod winner David Barr who is the highest finishing driver returning from last year’s tournament where he took fourth and three-time Top Sportsman champion Gary Bingham who snuck into the field late in the year off of the strength of two finals at the last race of the season.
While Dweck, Eidson, Elrod, Manuel, McAvoy and Slack were busy winning divisional titles, those drivers that finished just behind in the divisional race in the runner-up spot are Chad Traylor (D1), Claude Debonis (D2), Mia Tedesco (D3), Scott Ball (D4), Geordie Castle (D6) and David Barr (D9). Divisional third place finishers were Wesley Washington (D1), Jeremy West (D2), Jason Weaver (D3), Wynette Hudgins (D4), Trevor Ritchie (D6) and Gary Bingham (D9).
Rounding out the Top Dragster field are the winners of the 2012 Tournament of Champions qualifier races. What made this year’s field so large is the abundance of different drivers winning throughout the year. Those drivers include Scott Doyen (Martin), Cindy Hawk (Tucson), Chase Murray (Baton Rouge), Brett Nesbitt (Richmond), Donna Patterson (Edmonton), Todd Robinson (San Antonio SS), Kevin Romeo (Pittsburgh), Paul Snell (Salt Lake), Joseph Tinsley (San Antonio), Jamie Tupper (Grand Bend) and Nick Womack (Farmington).
The 2012 Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions will take place October 12-14 as part of the IHRA Summit Racing Equipment World Finals at Memphis International Raceway.
NAME (TOC Qual, Hometown) – 2012 Pro-Am Finals
Julian Scott Ball (D4 2
, San Antonio, TX) 1 win, 1 runner-up
David Barr (D9 2
, Candler, NC) 1 win
Gary Bingham (D9 3
, Kings Mountain, NC) 1 win, 1 runner-up
Geordie Castle (D6 2
, Edmonton, ALB) 1 runner-up
Claude Debonis (D2 2
, Fort Lauderdale, FL) 1 win, 1 runner-up
Scott Doyen (Martin, Bay City, MI) 1 win
Steve Dweck (D2 1
, Hollywood, FL) 3 wins, 3 runner-ups
Larry Eidson (D4 1
, Mineral Wells, TX) 3 runner-ups
Jacob Elrod (D3 1
, Harrod, OH) 7 wins, 2 runner-ups
Cindy Hawk (Tucson, Tucson, AZ)
Wynette Hudgins (D4 3
, Clyde, TX) 2 wins
Cameron Manuel (D1 1
, Winston Salem, NC) 1 win, 1 runner-up
Tom McAvoy (D6 1
, Edmonton, ALB) 2 wins
Chase Murray (Baton Rouge, Orange, TX) 1 win
Brett Nesbitt (Richmond, Burlington, NC) 3 wins, 2 runner-ups
Donna Patterson (Edmonton, Lorette, MAN) 1 win
Trevor Ritchie (D6 3
, Sherwood Park, ALB) 1 runner-up
Todd Robinson (San Antonio SS, Corpus Christi, TX) 1 win
Kevin Romeo (Pittsburgh, Hounastown, PA) 1 win
Greg Slack (D9 1
, Albemarle, NC) 1 win, 1 runner-up
Paul Snell (Salt Lake, Sandy, UT)
Mia Tedesco (D3 2
, Murrysville, PA) 3 runner-ups
Joseph Tinsley (San Antonio, Melvin, TX) 1 win
Chad Traylor (D1 2
, King William, VA) 2 wins
Jamie Tupper (Grand Bend, Tillsonburg, ONT) 1 win
Wesley Washington (D1 3
, King George, VA) 1 win, 1 runner-up
Jason Weaver (D3 3
, Saxton, PA) 2 runner-ups
Jeremy West (D2 3
/Immokalee, North Port, FL) 1 win, 1 runner-up
Nick Womack (Farmington, Lillington, NC) 1 win