Championships on the Line in IHRA Northern Nationals at US 131 Motorsports Park
MARTIN, Mich. – In the case of Shawn Bowen, familiarity breeds content.
Although the Michigan native enters this week’s IHRA Northern Nationals at US 131 Motorsports Park in second place in Nitro Funny Car points, he hopes that “home field advantage” will provide him and his “Violator” Dodge Challenger the boost needed to end Jason Rupert’s two-year reign of terror at the wheel of the Rupert and Littlefield “Rolling Thunder” 1969 Chevy Camaro.
“We’ve moved up to second in points,” Bowen said, “and it all comes down to Martin. Whoever doesn’t make a mistake is gonna win the deal. I only live two-and-a- half hours from the track (in Grand Blanc) so I like racing there.”
A two-time winner this season in events as geographically diverse as one could imagine (one in Orlando, Fla., and the other in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), Bowen is just 18 points behind Rupert in the closest Nitro Funny Car battle in IHRA history.
In fact, there is no assurance that either Rupert, the defending event champion and track record-holder (5.551 seconds), or Bowen will wind up hoisting the trophy. Two other drivers still are in contention – Mike McIntyre of Mentor, Ohio, who is just 28 points behind Rupert, and Mark Sanders of Maple Valley, Wash., who is just 49 points off the lead.
Also undecided is the Mountain Motor Pro Stock title. The modern-day “King of the Mountain Motors, Cary Goforth of Holdenville, Okla., comes into US 131 as the point leader but without the cushion he usually enjoys this late in the season.
Just three points off his lead, in fact, is Aruba’s Trevor Eman and their duel for the title will play out as a classic Chevy-versus-Ford showdown; Goforth in a 2014 Chevy Camaro, Eman in a 2013 Ford Mustang.
While season championships no longer are at stake in Pro Modified or Nitro Harley, Northern Nationals titles hold greater significance this year than in years past since the Saturday night winners will savor their victories through the long off-season while the losers will be left to wonder what might have been.
Jay Turner of Julian, N.C., is heavily favored in the motorcycle class insomuch as he is the defending event champion and the three-time reigning world champion. Billy Harper of Paducah, Ky., already has clinched the Pro Modified title at the wheel of his black 2000 Dodge Viper but there is a torrid battle for second through fifth place status that includes defending Northern Nationals champion Bill Lutz of Canal Winchester, Ohio.
In addition to the pro titles, champions also will be crowned in Hot Rod, Stock, Quick Rod, Super Stock, Super Rod, Top Dragster, Top Sportsman and three Jr. Dragster classes.
Pro qualifying at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday with elimination rounds at 5, 7 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Adult admission at the gate is $25 Friday and $30 Saturday but a $5 discount is available each day to those who purchase in advance. Children 12 and under are free when accompanied by a ticketed adult.
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MARTIN, Mich. – Current IHRA pro point standings entering this week’s IHRA Northern Nationals at US 131 Motorsports Park, final event in the 2016 IHRA series:
Nitro Funny Car – 1. Jason Rupert, Yorba Linda, Calif., “Rolling Thunder” 1969 Chevy Camaro, 438; 2. Shawn Bowen, Grand Blanc, Mich., “Violator” 1971 Dodge Challenger, 420; 3. Mike McIntyre Jr., Mentor, Ohio, “McAttack” 1970 Chevy Camaro, 410; 4. Mark Sanders, Maple Valley, Wash., “Mr. Explosive” 1970 Ford Mustang, 389; 5. Tim Boychuk, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, “Hawaiian” 1977 Pontiac Trans Am, 337.
Nitro Harley – 1. Jay Turner, Julian, N.C., 472; 2. Bob Malloy, Elkton, Md., 358; 3. Jake Stordeur, Goshen, Ohio, 337; 4. Tracy Kile, Asheville, N.C., 309; 5. Randal Andras, Amelia, La., 235.
Pro Modified – 1. Billy Harper, Paducah, Ky., 2000 Dodge Viper, 344; 2. Ruben Tetshovili, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 1970 Camaro, 166; 3. Adam Flamholc, Malmo, Sweden, 1969 Chevy Camaro, 164; 4. Jerico Balduf, New Smyrna Beach, Fla., 1941 Willys, 149; 5. Bill Lutz, Canal Winchester, Ohio, 1969 Chevy Camaro, 126.
Pro Stock – 1. Cary Goforth, Holdenville, Okla., 2014 Chevy Camaro, 359; 2. Trevor Eman, Pos Chiquito, Aruba, 2011 Ford Mustang, 356; 3. J.R. Carr, Pasco, Wash., 2015 Chevy Camaro, 294; 3. Larry O’Brien, Lakeshore, Ontario, Canada, 2014 Dodge Avenger, 244; 5. John Konigshofer, Otterville, Ontario, Canada, 2013 Ford Mustang, 232.