After trading the top spot in Nitro Funny Car numerous times throughout the weekend, Tim Nemeth capped off a wild weekend in the nitro-powered Funny Car category at the IHRA Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals with a thrilling victory over Tim Boychuk to lead the way at IHRA's biggest event of the season. Ike Maier (Top Fuel), Joe Delehay (Pro Mod), Damian Cownden (Nitro Bike), Shane Reykdal (Pro 6.90) and Dawn Perdue (Jet Dragster) also were winners at the IHRA Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals presented by Good Vibrations Motorsports and Parts Canada Sunday at Castrol Raceway.
Sunday's sportsman winners on the Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour presented by Amsoil were Cody Liwiski (Top Sportsman), Scott Hearn (Top Dragster), Mark Faul (Super Stock), Ed Matiejewski (Stock), Mike Shannon (Quick Rod), Dave Stobbe (Super Rod), Carey Borchuk (Hot Rod). The remaining sportsman winners included George LeBlanc (Box ET), Ray Peck (No Box ET), Jenna Michaud (Junior Master), Kassie Thomas (Junior Advanced) and Connor Scott (Junior Beginner).
Nemeth and Boychuk, who have combined to win the last five Rocky Mountain Nationals events in Nitro Funny Car, spent the majority of the weekend trading the fast lap for the weekend. Nemeth led the way after qualifying on Friday, but he conceded a great lap to Boychuk on Saturday to give the Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series regular the top qualifying spot. On Sunday, Nemeth saved the best for last and drove his way to his second consecutive Rocky Mountain Nationals victory.
"We were really excited about this event. We got here early, got setup and really focused on the possibility of back-to-back wins at one of our favorite tracks," Nemeth said. "We started the weekend off rough. We had a good first round of qualifying, but after that we started to struggle and we thought this might not be a back-to-back weekend after all. But last night, I got everyone together, we had a nice dinner and I told them to suck it up, put the bad behind us and go to work. We got up this morning and everything just came together."
From the No. 2 spot on the Amsoil Nitro Funny Car ladder, Nemeth, in the "Iceman" '77 Firebird, won a thriller over Boychuk with a 5.929-second lap at 238.05 mph. Boychuk, in the "Forever Forward" '77 Firebird, had a 6.190 at 205.19 in the runner-up effort.
"Tim and I are really good friends on and off the track, but it looks like there is a little bit of a rivalry developing between us," Nemeth said. "Friday we went out there thinking we are just going to repeat what we did last year and it didn't happen. We just held on to the top spot until Tim came back on Saturday with a number and we thought, wow, this is going to be a tall order. But we just stuck to our guns, stuck to our game plan and Sunday turned out to be our day."
Nemeth added a win over Jordan Pawlick earlier in the day and received a bye into the final in the non-points paying Canadian showcase.
Sunday's other big winner was Joe Delehay, who set both ends of the track record and bested a few personal bests on his way to the Ironman in Pro Modified. Driving a beautiful blue and silver '68 Camaro, Delehay qualified first and was the fastest driver all weekend on his way to his first win at the Rocky Mountain Nationals.
"We have been away from this race for three years and it was great to once again put on a show for these fans," Delehay said. "Tim McAmis built us a pretty good racecar. It goes right down the track every time, straight as an arrow, and has been really good to us as of late. We came here in August of last year and won the race. We went to Las Vegas and won the race. Now we come here and win again to make it three-in-a-row. That is not too bad."
With everyone on the property gunning for the weekend's fast qualifier, Delehay's final-round opponent, Garry Weslosky, got ahead of himself, going way red and allowing Delehay to make a victory pass of 6.086 at 238.72 for the win.Delehay, trying to put down the first five-second Pro Mod pass in Castrol Raceway history, flirted with the record all weekend long, coming as close as 6.001 Saturday evening. But on Sunday, Delehay shifted his focus from records to an Ironman as he weaved his way through Kerry Stone and Glen Kerunsky on his way to the win.
"We actually hadn't run this car since November. We put the car together, put a new blower on it, new gear ratio, new combination and started the weekend pretty safe in our setup, but we stepped it up as the weekend went along," Delehay said. "We were so close to that five-second mark. We thought we were there a couple of times, but we just came up short. Still, we set a few records and came away with the win and we are pretty happy about that."
IHRA's largest pro field in Edmonton was Pro 6.90 made up of the Rocky Mountain Nostalgia Funny Car group as Edmonton's own Shane Reykdal, piloting the "E-Town Hustler" '79 Omni, drove to his second win in the last three years at the Rocky Mountain Nationals. From the No. 7 position on the 16-car ladder, Reykdal went four rounds ending with a win over Ryan Hodgson.
Reykdal had a .025 light and drove a 6.982 at 197.62 in the final of the 6.90-index class as Hodgson broke-out by .003 at the line.
Reykdal added wins over Cal Tebb, Landon Goudreau and Troy Sitko on his way to his second Ironman in three years.
Damian Cownden, from Victoria, B.C., won the Drag Specialties Nitro Bike category, meeting up with Nate Gagnon, from Qualican Beach, B.C. in the final. Gagnon, who won IHRA's most recent race in Grand Bend,Ontario just two weeks ago, had the advantage on the starting line with a .109 to a .137, but lost it at the top end as Cowndon rode to a 6.699 at 212.43. Gagnon had to shut it off early.
Tottenham, Ontario native Ike Maier won his second consecutive IHRA Ironman in Top Fuel on Sunday, besting Indiana native Kyle Wurtzel in the final with a 4.988 at 279.73. Wurtzel's dragster lit up in a fiery explosion at the line, handing Maier the win.
Wrapping up pro eliminations in Edmonton was Jet Dragster as Dawn Perdue, in the Sport Aviation jet dragster, collected her second Ironman of the year over Marisha Falk. Perdue had a 6.008 at 262.74 in the final, while Falk launched before lighting the stage light, negating her run.
Mark Faul and Casey Plaizier led the way in the sportsman categories during the three-day weekend. Faul, from Tacoma, Wash., won Super Stock both Saturday and Sunday, while Plaizier, from Stony Plain, Alb., took home a pair of Ironman trophies on Saturday in Stock and Hot Rod.
Next up for the IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series is a trip to Cordova Dragway Park in Illinois for the IHRA Nitro Jam Summer Nationals July 18-19.