But once the sun rose on Sunday, things began to take a turn for the better. Dustin said he began to feel better around noon and once he got on the track all he could focus on was taking home the biggest win of his life.
Around five hours and four rounds later, Dustin was standing in the winner’s circle having just won the IHRA Quick Rod World Championship over a field of the toughest 8.90 racers in the world.
“I knew all the racers here were the best of the best. I have had some friends tell me about my competitors, so I kind of knew what I was up against,” Dustin said.
In the final Dustin found himself matched up with series veteran Vernon Rowland from Blanchard, Oklahoma for the Quick Rod title. With the championship on the line, Dustin left little room for error as he got off the line first with a .012 reaction time to Rowland’s .023 and ran nearly dead-on the numbers with an 8.912 second elapsed time at 141.31 miles per hour, while Rowland crossed the strip with an 8.930 at 159.87 mph.
“That was definitely the biggest round of my life. I wanted to make sure it was a good race. I definitely didn’t want to do something stupid like red light or drop too hard and go way over. I wanted to make it a solid run,” Dustin said. “I saw the win light come on and I was excited, but I didn’t get too excited. I had people in the shutdown area congratulating me, but I don’t think I took a breath until I got that paper in my hand that said I was a winner. That is when it all sunk in.”
Quick Rod Final - John Dustin (near) vs. Vernon Rowland
Dustin, who won the Division 1 championship in Quick Rod on the Summit Pro-Am Tour in 2013, recorded round wins over Otis Henry, Jake Levatino and Jeremy Mason on his way to the final. In the other lane, fellow divisional champ Rowland, winner of IHRA’s Division 3, had wins over Chris Scarlata, Dale Scates and Mark Miles.
In all four round wins Dustin got it done on the tree, recording lights of .005, .012, .006 and .012. In his first two rounds both Henry and Levatino broke out, while in the semifinal Mason missed the top end with an 8.998 on an 8.90 index. Dustin had an 8.954 to move into the finals.
Dustin’s win capped an incredible year where he recorded two wins in four finals, getting it done in a car that many felt should have been sent to the scrapyard by now.
“I bought this car in 1997 and a lot of people think I should have replaced it by now,” Dustin said. “Everyone around me has been getting new cars and they are all getting onto me about driving this older car. The thing is, it is just a perfect car.”
Now Dustin will have an opportunity to put a coveted No. 1 on the side of that “older car.”
“I really want to thank my mom and dad, my wife Lenore and my little baby Danica. We love racing IHRA and we love Summit Racing,” Dustin said. “To be honest we debated about the weekend. It is a long haul for us, but we felt confident in the car as long as the driver got it done. I think it all turned out just fine.”