Frequent bridesmaid Trevor Eman, the 29-year-old driver of the Aruba.com Ford Mustang Pro Stock, put it all together Sunday in the IHRA finals for the Mopar Canadian Nationals Presented by Williams Racing at Grand Bend Motorplex in Ontario.
“It feels great,” said Eman about his first ever IHRA win. “It was a lot of hard work to get here, but the team never gave up.” The quick turnaround of one week from the last race at Maryland International Raceway put pressure on all the IHRA competitors, Eman included.
But he and his team rose to the occasion, taking out J.R. Carr in the finals. Eman made a pass of 6.411 seconds at 219.78mph, edging out Carr’s 6.485 at 210.62mph.
The fast qualifier, Cary Goforth, appeared ready to continue his hold on the Pro Stock field, setting low E.T. and fast time with a run of 6.284 at 222.71mph. But Carr took out the current champion in semifinals with a time of 6.438, compared to Goforth’s 6.453.
Another team with plenty of work to do, and little time to do it, was Billy Harper and his crew. The points leader in Pro Modified qualified first at Maryland, but broke the engine, terminally, before the first round. The Paducah, Ky. driver had to find a new engine, install it and tow the car north of the border without much of an idea what the car would do. Friday qualifying did not go well, but Harper came back on Saturday with a sub-six-second run.
And Sunday, in the finals against a strong Bruce Boland, Harper laid down another fast run of 5.980 seconds at 240.19mph, compared to Boland’s 6.034 at 237.15 mph, thus increasing Harper’s already healthy points lead.
It was another heartbreaking weekend for the Rupert & Littlefield AMSOIL Nitro Funny Car team of Jason Rupert. He was top qualifier in Maryland, but lost in the first round to the slowest car in the field. This week, he had another best-in-class pass of 5.602 at 255.82, but when he lined up in the finals against the number two qualifier, Mark Sanders in the Mr. Explosive Mustang, more bad luck.
At the starting line, Rupert shut the engine down just before the burnout – reportedly, there was a magneto issue that couldn’t be fixed at the line. That gave Sanders (above) a bye run to the win, with a time of 5.725 at 249.86mph.
Asked whether lane choice might have been important in the race, the colorful Sanders said, “I just like to choose the lane on the side where more people are in the grandstands, so they can see this old Mustang go down the track.”
The biggest upset of the day was in Nitro Motorcycle, where Bob Malloy absolutely dominated at Maryland, setting a record on the way to his win. He appeared poised for another good weekend at Grand Bend, with the quick elapsed time of 6.313. But Tracy Kile took Malloy out in round two of eliminations, leaving Kile to face off against current champion Jay Turner.
Turner saved his best for last, with a sizzling run of 6.373 at 219.08 mph, the fastest run of the weekend. As with the other winners, it wasn’t easy – “So many little things went wrong, one after another,” he said. “I’m almost scared to see what happens when I try to start our truck!” Regardless of whether the truck starts or not, Turner remains the points leader.
At least the teams have a little more time off before the second half of IHRA’s Canadian swing takes to the track. The Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals Presented by Good Vibrations Motorsports is scheduled for July 15-17 at Castrol
Raceway in Edmonton, Alberta.
Log onto CastrolRaceway.com for more information.