Houston Super Bowl 2002: The
By Phil R. Elliott
NHRA (legal) Pro Stocks were indeed the headliners of
the Pontiac Excitement Pro Stock Super Bowl at Houston Raceway Park, but
there were many other vehicles there, from Pro Sock motorcycles to
Mountain Motor IHRA Pro Stocks and even several Pro Modifieds.
One that had a decent ride Thursday was Peggy
Llewellyn, who stretched her shifts to beyond optimum but still hit a
career best on two wheels, a fine 7.172/185. Owner and crewchief for her
Suzuki, Harry Lartigue, was all smiles about the performance.
Jason Collins thundered to a 6.621/209 in his 2002
Mustang, and Steve Spiess was just behind (6.626/209) in IHRA PS.
Several Pro Mods sniffed the starting line, but found
it not to their liking.
Friday saw much more of the same from the more potent,
higher torque machines (in comparison with NHRA PS entries). Trying were
New Yorker Mike Castellana in the Western Beef 57 Chevy, Shannon
Jenkins, Bill Kuhlman's 66 Corvette, Doug Winters' 57 Chevy, Kevin
O'Dell's 53 Stude, and Jack O'Dell's 70 Chevelle.
Among the IHRA PS troops present were Kenny Benso,
Robert Killian, Ron Miller, Jerry Yeoman, Dwayne Rice and the
aforementioned Collins and Spiess. None ran better than the two Thursday
Pro Stock two-wheelers included Greg Underdahl, Terry
Miceli, Matt Hines, Blane Hale and John Smith. Hale's 7.421/180 was as
close as anyone got to Ms. Llewellyn's Thursday run.
In IHRA PS qualifying, Steve Spiess had a 6.604/211,
followed by a 6.598/211 to set everyone back on their heels. Kenny Benso
looked to be the second best with consistent 6.769/208 and 6.776/206
clockings. Jason Collins finally found another 6.620, this one at
210mph. And in the final pairing, Dwayne Rice and Robert Killian matched
wheels, 6.642/210 to 6.647/207.
Back against Collins was Ron Miller, in the #1 Moser
Engineering entry (Spiess and Rice are Moser teammates), nearly leveled
the place with a booming 6.558/212.16!
When it came right down to it, the Mountain Motors
were far too much for the extreme conditions. Nonetheless, the six-car
field was set between that 6.55 and Benso's 6.76, with four of the six
Qualifying for the more powerful Pro Modifieds was
even more intense.
In the first session, Frankie Taylor's late model
Firebird from nearby Dickinson was head and shoulders above the pack
with a stout 6.253/217.
The first pairing of session two was the best
side-by-side of the breed. Shannon Jenkins blasted to a superb 6.278/225
with his Alabama nitrous Camaro while right alongside chugged the blown
Studebaker of Kevin O'Dell at 6.287/221! A couple pairs later, Jerry
Hicks 63 Corvette churned out a 6.359 at only 201mph.
The bump was an off-pace 8.01, but there was lots of
on-and-off the throttle excitement.
In round one of PS, Steve Spiess grabbed a quick
holeshot (RTs .467 to .473) over Robert Killian, only to have his Grand
Am squirrel out from under him, forcing him to shut-off. Killian's
Probe steamed on to a 6.632/209. After seeing his teammate go down to
tire spin and shake, Ron Miller made the necessary adjustments to his
Monte Carlo and laid down another stunner. He launched first (RTs .423
to .470), then pulled strongly to a 6.599/212.16 to defeat Kenny
Benso's Monte Carlo which trailed at 6.735/208. The last pairing
looked good on paper and lived up to its billing when Jason Collins
moved his new Mustang first (RTs .454 to .479) only to have his mount
let him down. Dwayne Rice's Grand Am won with a strong 6.605/211.93.
By virtue of his low qualifier, Miller earned the
semi-final single. With nothing to lose, he turned up the wick and found
tire spin and shake galore.
Rice improved again and joined the "50"
club, his 6.594/211.46 grabbing the win while Killian tried in vain to
maintain the handle. The short wheelbase machine saw most of the
attractions in and around Baytown, Texas during its tour of the
facility, and luckily, only sheet metal and pride received damage.
The long clean up contributed to a very late hour for
the finals that were run, including both of the Pro Stock classes, and
of course to not running of several others.
After such a performance string, it was a foregone
conclusion that Ron Miller would win the big inch Pro Stock final.
Virtually everyone at HRP agreed with that fact, with the only question
just how quick and fast he'd go.
Everyone agreed except one Dwayne Rice who'd
improved with virtually every turn of his Pontiac's tires. When the
final got underway, he was somewhat late (RTs .491 to .504) but that was
the last mistake he made. The car pulled strong and hard, right by his
opponent and partner, 6.572/211.10 to 6.598/210.67.
Who was happiest? Sponsor Greg Moser who is sure to
have a great 2002 in IHRA competition.
In round one of Pro Mod, two cars got down the track,
those of Shannon Jenkins (6.280/223) and Kevin O'Dell (6.311/219). The
rest were a combination of broken pieces, failure to start, and shaking
all over the track.
In the semis, the nitrous Camaro and the blown Stude
faced off for the second time of the event with the same result –
Jenkins beat Kevin O'Dell, 6.256/220 to 6.344/220. Shannon also won at
the starting line (RTs .471 to .485). In the other pairing, Taylor got
in his second decent run with a 6.293/208 trouncing of Jack O'Dell.
The money was split due to several delays.
After such a great run early in testing, Peggy
Llewellyn entered Pro Stock Motorcycle competition qualified 6th behind
Matt Hines (7.188/186.95), Blaine Hale (7.200 /184.95), Thomas Miceli
(7.218 /180), Greg Underdahl (7.219 /184), and John Smith (7.302/183).
In round one, Hines received a single and pulled out a
superb 7.126/193.93 lap. The best race of the round saw Underdahl beat
Smith, 7.231 to 7.286. Hale, on the only Kawasaki in a sea of Suzuki's,
fouled by .002.
Matt Hines took advantage of the conditions to his
liking in the semis as well to record a 7.096/194.30, the second best
run on two wheels, normally aspirated on gasoline that is. The
performance of course bested opponent Greg Underdahl.
Tom Miceli took his match too, but not nearly as
easily. His usually decent 7.244 was matched to the thousandth by
Michael Phillips, and only a better start (RTs .430 to .450) put him in
Like Pro Mod, the money was split due to the late
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