Cameron Manuel - Super Rod
When it comes to championship sportsman drag racing, no one does it better than the International Hot Rod Association.
The best of the best were on hand Sunday afternoon at Virginia Motorsports Park to take part in the second ever Tournament of Champions and after a thrilling season of exciting racing spread across North America, it all came down to one afternoon to sort it all out.
Despite persistent weather that moved Friday’s TOC finals to Sunday, nothing could deter the racers in their quest for a championship. And after three tense days of preparation, the books were finally closed on the 2010 IHRA racing season with the crowning of World Champions Sunday afternoon during the World Finals Nitro Jam at Virginia Motorsports Park.
Drivers from nearly 30 states and five Canadian provinces were on hand to take part in the only sportsman championships decided on the track and when all was said and done seven new champions were crowned. Those champions were Steve Corker (Top Sportsman), Scott Ball (Top Dragster), Michael Volkman (Super Stock), Richard Alford Jr. (Stock), Matt Weston (Quick Rod), Cameron Manuel (Super Rod) and Kenny Underwood (Hot Rod).
Steve Corker - Top Sportsman
The seven drivers were the second crowned under the new Tournament of Champions format and all seven competitors had to navigate through a field of the best-of-the-best in sportsman racing today to come out on top. And in the end the TOC produced exactly what IHRA was hoping for.
At the end former world champions stood alongside championship newbies, but all of them had one thing in common – they were the best in the world on Sunday.
Some of the best racing of the night was produced in the IHRA’s two quickest and fastest categories as Corker (Clayton, N.C.) took out hometown favorite Terry Logan in the Top Sportsman final and Ball (San Antonio, Texas) defeated Steve Furr.
Corker claimed perhaps the easiest win of the afternoon after Logan went red, allowing Corker to coast to the top end and bask in his second career Top Sportsman World Championship. Corker also won the title in 2008.
Corker defeated Logan, Glenn Butcher, Glenn Wright and Bob Mandell Jr. in the final four rounds and received a bye in the first round on his way to the win with the ninth spot on the ladder as determined by reaction time during time trails.
Kenny Underwood - Hot Rod
Corker earned his way into the Tournament of Champions vial a championship in Division 9 on the Summit Pro-Am Tour.
In Top Dragster Ball dominated on his run with a .003 reaction time to help put up a near perfect 7.364 on a 7.36 dial to win his first IHRA title. Furr, on the other hand, went just a hair quicker than his dial to hand Ball the win.
Ball defeated Furr, Will Crawford, Steve Estes, Rob Moser and Jack Trussell on his way to the victory. Ball barely earned his way into the tournament, finishing third in Division 4 on the Summit Pro-Am Tour, but he proved that you don’t need to have a big travel budget to earn an IHRA World Champion.
Matt Weston - Quick Rod
IHRA’s Stock classes produced another batch of incredibly tight races as Volkman (Moon, Pa.) defeated Scott Richardson and Alford (Raleigh, N.C.) won over Brian Rowe.
Volkman won his first career Super Stock championship with a solid light leading to a perfect 10.10 E.T. on a 10.10 dial. Richardson ran an equally impressive 9.426 on a 9.42 dial in his runner-up effort.
Along with Richardson, Volkman also defeated Bryan Worner, Gil Carty Jr., Byron Worner and Eddie Bolton in the opening rounds to win his first championship. Volkman punched his TOC ticket via a second place finish in Division 3 on the Summit Pro-Am Tour.
Scott Ball - Top Dragster
In Stock, Alford produced a great run of 10.798 on a 10.78 dial to drive around Brian Rowe who ran under his dial by five thousandths of a second.
Alford also used a string of strong runs to eliminate defending champion Michael Beard, Daryl Bureski and Clint Blezien in the opening rounds. Alford received an opening round bye. To reach the Tournament of Champions, Alford managed to claim a win at the Piedmont TOC qualifier.
In the rod categories there was one repeat champion and two new champs as Weston (Hendersonville, N.C.) roared past Greg Slack in Quick Rod, Manuel (Winston Salem, N.C.) defeated Billy Smith in Super Rod and Underwood (Tampa, Fla.) won over Michael Schiberl in Hot Rod.
Underwood won his second championship in Hot Rod with his other title coming in 2006. While the road to the championship wasn’t easy, winning the final was as Schiberl went red to give Underwood an easy victory.
Underwood eliminated Schiberl, Matthew Robinson, Tony Jordan, John Furr and R.L. Koontz on his way to his second title.
And no one was more dominating this season than Underwood.
Richard Alford - Stock
The championship was a fitting end to a near perfect season for the Florida native who seemed to dominate every big race held during the 2010 season. Underwood won two national events at the Spring Nitro Jam and Northern Nitro Jam, claimed a win at the Immokalee TOC qualifier and won the Summit All-Star race all leading to his second career championship at Virginia Motorsports Park this weekend.
In Quick Rod Weston, last year’s TOC runner-up, roared past Slack in the final with a solid 8.913 to Weston’s 8.925 in the 8.90 class to claim his first career IHRA championship.
Weston took down Slack, Steve Muller, Jeff Martin, Mark McKay and Jim Morrison on his way to the championship. He earned his way into the TOC via a victory at the Spring Nitro Jam at Rockingham Dragway back in May.
Manuel wrapped up the championship group with his first title over Smith. Manuel ran a 9.909 on the 9.90 index to Webb’s 9.914 in the final.
Along with Smith, Manuel also eliminated Philip Pennington and Calvin Butler while receiving a bye on his way to the final. Cameron had one of the most impressive resumes of any TOC competitor with a victory at the Spring Nitro Jam and a championship in Division 2 on the Summit Pro-Am Tour.
Michael Volkerman - Super Stock