If ever something was meant to be, perhaps it was the IHRA Summit Sportsman National Championship Troy Williams Jr. won in Top Sportsman this year. Williams had won multiple championships but none when he faced a significant health challenge and missed a large part of the season like he did in 2017.
Williams began the season as an IHRA World Champion and a multi-time IHRA Division Champion with three Moroso 5-Day Points Championships to his credit; he is a B&M Series World Champion and a Tenn-Tuck Triple Crown Bracket Series Champ.
But this year, in addition to the challenging competition he faced on the track each week, he battled another less familiar foe: kidney stones. “I was fighting with them all year; they tried lithotripsy, but it didn’t work,” Williams said. “They actually had to go into my back and get it – it was like an inch-long kidney stone. I put the surgery off until April because I didn’t want to miss the million-dollar Spring Fling in Las Vegas. As soon as I got back from that, I went in for surgery and was down until the end of June. Farmington (Farmington Dragway in Mocksville, N.C.) was my first race back after surgery so I had a two-month break.”
Kidney stones aside, when asked about the IHRA Summit Sportsman National Championship earlier this year, the Deland, Fla., driver was prophetic saying he liked the format, and he seemed to like his chances.
“I really like the format; I prefer it to the single-race championship of the past few years,” Williams, 44, said in March. “I think you get a truer champion when every race counts. Without great companies like Summit Racing Equipment sponsoring the series, we wouldn’t have a whole lot to race for – I think it’s big.”
Fast forward to September, and Williams can indeed add another world title to his resume: the 2017 Top Dragster title in the IHRA Summit Sportsman National Championship which was determined using points claims from the best seven of the first 10 events in which a driver raced.
“Out of seven races, I had two wins, two finals, a semifinal, and I also had to keep a first and second round. I got a win and a semi at Carolina Dragway in Jackson, S.C. earlier this month. It’s wonderful; Top Dragster was the class I hadn’t won. As far as IHRA goes, I was world champion in Quick Rod. I ran Top Dragster back then, but the best I finished was third. I was typically in the top 10 so yeah, it feels nice to win Top Dragster.
“I’ve always liked what I feel to be a more-legitimate way to win a championship as opposed to a one-race deal,” Williams said after winning his title. “There are so many good drivers out there with good equipment – anyone can win a one-race deal because it’s a kind of pot luck or flip-of-the-coin type deal. But if you get to run enough events, you’ll get a true champion – the person that did better through the long haul.
“I definitely like the format better, and Summit putting all the money behind it with all the sponsors paying the big contingency money, it’s greatly appreciated obviously. Hopefully we have something like that to look forward to next year. We couldn’t have won this championship without our partners at FTI, Steve Schmidt Racing Engines, Renegade Race Fuels, Mickey Thompson Tires, Autometer, APD Fuel Systems and Milodon and Alliance Racewear – we appreciate their support.”