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A sneak peak at the 2014 IHRA Summit Tournament of Champions Qualifiers

Tuesday, 07 October 2014

The battle for the 2014 IHRA Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions officially gets underway in Memphis, Tennessee on October 10-11 as the best drivers from across North America travel to Memphis International Raceway for the Summit Racing Equipment World Finals.

At the center of this huge weekend are IHRA’s two premier championship tournaments – the Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions and the Summit SuperSeries. A total of 10 championships will decided during these two unique competitions, as well as over $250,000 in cash and prizes.

For the 2014 edition of the IHRA Summit Tournament of Champions, 117 drivers from 22 states and four Canadian provinces will represent their divisions as the best drivers from the 2014 IHRA Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour presented by AMSOIL season. Each driver in the Tournament of Champions earned their way into the event by finishing in the top three in their respective Pro-Am division.

A total of 12 former IHRA World Champions will help make up this year’s field, including two of last year’s seven champions. A grand total of 43 drivers are returning from last year’s tournament, while seven drivers will have multiple opportunities to take home a championship by qualifying in more than one class. Those drivers qualifying in more than one class are Brett Nesbitt, Aaron Allison, Gil Carty, Darcy Clarke, Jimmy Hidalgo Jr., John Dustin and Chris Dean.

Even more impressive, five drivers in this year’s field have qualified for the Tournament of Champions each year since its inception in 2009. Those drivers are Gil Carty, Jacob Elrod, Brett Nesbitt, Mark Nowicki and Donald Webb.

A complete breakdown of each class, qualified drivers and their respective divisions can be found below.

TS

TOP SPORTSMAN – Perhaps one of the most up-in-the-air competitions in this year’s Tournament of Champions resides in Top Sportsman. Only two drivers in the 18-car field have won this tournament in the past – 2009 champion Mike Koontz and 2010 winner Steve Corker – with the rest of the field being rather new to the TOC. That isn’t to say there aren’t some experienced drivers in this year’s field, as Rick McDonough has qualified for the tournament five times in his career, along with Rube Allman and Russell Marr with four previous TOC berths. Jeff Southerland looks to be this year’s biggest threat, visiting four finals in 2014 with three wins. He also led all drivers in Division 3 with 474 points on his way to the divisional title. The rest of the division champions are Steve Corker (D9) – a two-time Top Sportsman World Champion – Travis Housh (D1), Russell Marr (D4), Rick McDonough (D2) and John Tiegen (D6). Housh also had a big year with three wins. Others to watch out for in this class include Leslie Dugas, who had two wins on his way to a runner-up finish in Division 4, and Mark Payne, one of last year’s winningest sportsman drivers and the fourth place finisher at last year’s TOC.

TD

TOP DRAGSTER – Easily the most wide-open class in all of IHRA drag racing, Top Dragster has produced the widest variety of winners of any class in the TOC. In fact, since the Tournament of Champions debuted in 2009, not a single divisional champion has won the tournament, leaving the field wide open for any and all competitors. And once again, that fact rings true in 2014 with no former world champions making up the Top Dragster field, guaranteeing that we will see a new face in the TOC winner’s circle. Division 2 champion Kevin Brannon leads the field into Memphis with three victories, joining fellow three-time finalist Michael White. White had two wins in 2014 en route to winning the Division 9 Top Dragster crown. Other division champions this season include Christopher Cadle (D3), Elie McGee (D4), Scott Taylor (D6) and Chad Traylor (D1). Cadle and Traylor also managed top five finishes at last year’s tournament. Others to watch in this popular class include Division 9 runner-up Brett Nesbitt who has more experience than any other driver in the field. Nesbitt has qualified for the TOC every year since its inception and was once again stellar in 2014 with three final rounds. William Crawford also had multiple wins this season as the Division 3 runner-up.

SS

SUPER STOCK – Jimmy Hidalgo Jr. leads the high-flying Super Stock class into the Summit World Finals. Hidalgo, the defending world champion in the class, picked right up where he left off with eight total finals in 2014, including four finals and three wins in Super Stock alone. Hidalgo was also the high point earner in his division with 459 on his way to the Division 4 title. As the defending champion in the class and the winningest driver in 2014, it is hard to pick against the Louisiana native, but there are some other experienced drivers in the field. Mark Nowicki, another driver who has qualified for every TOC since its inception, had three wins this season on his way to the Division 2 SS crown and Pete D’Agnolo, another veteran racer, had three wins and a divisional title in Division 1. Nowicki also finished runner-up in last year’s tournament. Other division champions include A.H. Adkins (D3), Adam Hull (D9) and Don Thomas (D6). Others to watch in this class include Aaron Allison, who had a strong surge late in the season to qualify for the TOC in both Super Stock and Stock, Richard Preiser, a talented racer out of the northeast who reached three finals this season, and, of course, multi-time IHRA champion Scott Stillings.

ST

STOCK – Just like Super Stock, Jimmie Hidalgo Jr. is also a top candidate in the Stock class as the Division 4 racer was the only driver to win more than one divisional title, taking the crown in both Super Stock and Stock. Hidalgo also led all drivers with eight finals in 2014, with four of those final rounds coming in Stock. 2012 TOC winner Brent Darroch is another driver to watch as the Pennsylvania native won the Division 3 Stock title for the third year in a row, recording two wins in three finals in the process. He also finished fourth at last year’s tournament. Other division champions in 2014 include Darcy Clarke (D6), A.J. Currie (D9), Jim Marshall (D1) and Myron Piatek (D2). Piatek and Currie are two others drivers to watch this year, with each winning twice this season. Other drivers to watch out for in Stock include Gil Carty, a six-time TOC qualifier, B.J. Bianchi, Ed Longhany Jr. and Kevin Riner. On a whole, only three drivers that finished in last year’s TOC top 10 are back this year, leaving the Stock field with a lot of questions as to who will take the tournament win.

QR

QUICK ROD – Where do you begin with this class? Six of last year’s top 10 drivers at the TOC are back for another go this season, led by defending Quick Rod World Champion John Dustin. The only problem is, this season, Dustin has shifted his focus to his Hot Rod ride and hasn’t been his usual dominate self in the 8.90 class. Instead, last year’s third place finisher Jeremy Mason has made a good case as the top-dog in the class with four finals, two wins and a divisional championship in Division 3. Not to be outdone, Dale Harrison visited three finals this season en route to claiming and Division 9 title and Mark Miles repeated as Division 2 champion with one win. Other division champions include Mark Meadows (D4), Travis Ringguth (D6) and Wally Roberts (D3). Meadows, who won twice in 2014, recorded both of his wins at Memphis International Raceway, giving him a massive boost entering the tournament. Others to watch for in the class include 2008 Quick Rod World Champion Brett Nesbitt, the always tough Patrick Forster who visited three finals this season in finishing second in Division 3, and Chris Dodd.

SR

SUPER ROD – In terms of shear competitiveness, the Super Rod class may have the most balanced field in the tournament. Five drivers who finished in the top 10 in last year’s TOC are back in 2014, including IHRA’s most successful Super Rod driver over the past half-decade, Jacob Elrod, and former Super Rod World Champions Tommy Maedgen and Michael Ruff. Elrod, one of only five drivers to qualify for every TOC to date, had a tame year in 2014 compared to past seasons, finishing second in Division 3 with only one win. He finished runner-up in the TOC last year. On the flip side, 2012 tournament winner Michael Ruff had a monster year with three victories and a divisional title in Division 2, joining Tom Patterson who also had three wins and a divisional title in Division 6. Patterson also had a top five finish at last year’s tournament. Tommy Maedgen, the remaining former World Champion in the class, had two wins in three finals this season and finished second in Division 4. Of his stat totals, Maedgen visited both finals at the Memphis Pro-Am earlier this year. Other division champions include Shannon Brinkley (D4), Chris Dean (D9), Tom Dimond (D3) and Gerald Pierce (D2). Others to watch in this extremely exciting class include Ernie Knight, a top-10 TOC finisher from a year ago, and Donald Webb, who had a win and finished runner-up in Division 1 this season.

HR

HOT ROD – No one dominated a single class in 2014 quite like John Dustin. Dustin recorded four wins and had the most points of any driver on the Summit Pro-Am Tour with 538 en route to winning the Hot Rod division championship in Division 1. Adding to his successes, Dustin won at three different tracks this season and added a fifth win to his totals in Quick Rod. As the defending World Champion in Quick Rod, Dustin will try to be only the second repeat world champion in the TOC era. His stiffest competition comes in the form of a rejuvenated Glenn Ferguson Jr., the Division 9 champion. Ferguson, a four-time IHRA World Champion with three championships in Hot Rod, visited four finals this season with two wins. Other division champions include Dennis Clark (D4), Greg Fowler (D3), Dwaine Ringguth (D6) and Joe Tillman (D2). Fowler, who hauled in IHRA’s Hall of Fame award last season, has had a great deal of success at Memphis through the years. Others to watch in the 10.90 class include Christopher Webb, who had two wins this year, Tim Andersen, with two wins, and Ricky Roe who visited three finals and finished fifth at the TOC last year.

Last modified on Wednesday, 08 October 2014

 

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