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Words and photos by Ian Tocher



Although one of the closest points battles in drag racing history was on tap, television cameras were conspicuously absent at the IHRA CARQUEST Autumn Nationals, held Nov. 4-5 at Rockingham (NC) Dragway. The race initially was scheduled for Sept. 21-23, with TNN scheduled to broadcast it a week later; but heavy rain forced the event to be postponed and TNN was unavailable for taping the later date.


The IHRA Summit Top Fuel championship — perhaps the most compelling points chase in professional motorsports this year — wrapped up Nov. 4-5 at Rockingham Dragway with Bruce Litton, Paul Romine, and rookie Clay Millican separated by a mere 32 points at the head of the field going into the event. Before the race, each driver stated his team was in control of its own destiny, with any slip up by either of the other two almost certain to cost them the $200,000 title.

Romine came out hitting hard in qualifying with the first 320-mph pass in IHRA history, going 4.676 at 320.43 mph in his CARQUEST-backed machine to take the pole.

"The car was absolutely perfect, absolutely flawless," Romine said. "I didn’t have my hand on the brake, I didn’t have to do anything. It just marched on down through there and about a thousand feet down I thought, ‘You know, this sumí bitch is haulin’ ass!’ When it gets blurry down there you know you’re running fast."

Millican wound up second at 4.679/316.08; Litton was third at 4.725/317.72; and Jim Head rounded out the top half of the eight-car field with a 4.783 at 299.93 mph pass.

Fittingly, all four drivers advanced past the first round, pairing Millican’s dragster against Litton, and Romine against Head in the Big Daddy’s BBQ rail.

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