UPSETS IN MARYLAND
Words and file photos by Ian Tocher
OSTRANDER OUSTS MILLICAN
It wasn't Bruce Litton. It wasn't Paul Romine. It wasn't
even an interloper from the rival sanctioning body. It was 64-year-old
IHRA regular Jack Ostrander who finally put an end to defending Top
Fuel champion Clay Millican's perfect record in 2002.
Millican entered the event at Maryland International Raceway with 30 round wins that added up to a record-setting 10 event titles after 10 tries this year, but Ostrander won a tire-smoking duel in the first round against him. Ostrander then went on to win his first IHRA event since 1993.
Millican was gracious in defeat. "We could not have lost to a better guy than Jack Ostrander. He was out here racing when I was still dreaming about owning my first car. He's a great guy and I'm very happy that he went on to win the race."
Ostrander earned a free trip to his 14th IHRA career final round when his opponent, John "Doc" Sipple, was unable to answer the call to stage in the semis. Meanwhile, Romine had a freebie in the opening round when Bobby Lagana had staging problems, then narrowly beat Ostrander's teammate Louie Allison to reach his third final of the year and the 23rd of his IHRA career.
Once there, Romine strapped a whopping .151 secs holeshot on Ostrander, but went up in smoke almost immediately, allowing the number-eight qualifier to post a winning 5.193 at 275.90 mph -- his best pass of the weekend.
Ostrander later conceded he had a "very lucky" day, but the Waterford, MI-based veteran added he couldn't have won if not for the help of rival team members to get his car in shape between rounds. "I thank them all for being a part of this special day."