The Northern Nationals was not short on suspense and unexpected twists and turns throughout the day and night. The International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) season-ending professional finale came down to the final runs and teams having to overcome some challenging weather conditions at US 131 Motorsports Park.
Mother Nature once again came into play in Martin, Michigan and prevented teams from starting on schedule. Once the rain showers moved through the area, the track temperature changed drastically and things heated up. The professional classes made one late afternoon qualifying run and moved into eliminations an hour and a half later. The results for the remainder of the day were nothing less than spectacular.
In the Pro Stock class, Cary Goforth redeemed himself after failing to make a qualifying run Friday evening. The veteran driver qualified his Chevrolet Camaro in the third position for eliminations and his momentum continued for the remainder of the day. He paired up with Trevor Eman in the semi-finals and the two faced off to determine the World Championship title. Goforth narrowly beat Eman with a 6.319 at 221.57 mph against a 6.342 at 220.91 mph to claim his third consecutive championship title. Goforth finished off the night with a Northern Nationals win against JR Carr when he posted a 6.315 at 221.35 mph.
Jason Rupert took home his third consecutive IHRA AMSOIL Nitro Funny Car World Championship and his second win of the 2016 season this weekend. In addition, Rupert shattered the elapsed time World Record when he ran a 5.522 at 262.54 mph in the final round. He and Mike McIntire Jr. found themselves in familiar territory as the two paired up in the final round of eliminations. McIntire Jr. needed to break an IHRA record in order to secure the championship by one point but fell short and finished in the runner-up position in the point standings for the third year in a row.
The Pro Modified class bounced back-and-forth between breaking world records over the course of the Northern Nationals. Billy Glidden wound up victorious with the top speed world record of 250.98 mph and the Northern Nationals win at US 131 Motorsports Park. Rickie Smith went up against Billy Glidden in the semi-finals and lost to Glidden but claimed the elapsed time world record in the process with a 5.831 second pass. Glidden and Jason Hamstra advanced to the final round at the end of the evening. Hamstra faltered after launching at the tree allowing Glidden to secure the win. Billy Harper claimed the 2016 IHRA Pro Modified World Championship Friday night after he secured the third spot in qualifying for the Northern Nationals.
The IHRA Nitro Motorcycle class had some unexpected twists and turns after points leader Jay Turner failed to qualify for the Northern Nationals. The 2015 World Champion had bike issues on both qualifying runs and never made it to the tree for a pass. Bob Malloy sat second in the point standings heading into US 131 Motorsports Park but was knocked out of contention in the first round of eliminations, giving Turner back-to-back IHRA Nitro Motorcycle World Championships. Frank Capone landed in the winner’s circle after he defeated Tii Tharpe in the final round. Capone ran a 6.459 at 220.26 mph to Tharpe’s 6.503 at 200.80 mph and garnered his first IHRA Ironman.
The 2016 IHRA Drag Racing Series has come to a close but the Summit sportsman racers still have plenty of racing left to do. The Summit Pro-Am Tour continues at US 131 Motorsports Park tomorrow for a doubleheader. Tickets are available at the gate.