NORWALK, Ohio --
While past versions of the IHRA's year-end championship tournament have included a collection of special event and big race winners in addition to Summit Pro-Am Tour regulars, beginning in 2013 the Summit Tournament of Champions will only be made up of drivers competing on the Pro-Am Tour recognizing year-round success at a multitude of different tracks.
And the entire program will be highlighted by a renewed commitment to sportsman drag racing as sponsor Summit Racing Equipment recently signed a multiyear deal to return as sponsor of the program.
Beginning next season the only way a driver can earn a spot in the Tournament of Champions is by finishing in the top three in their respective division on the Summit Pro-Am Tour. Single race winners will no longer earn an automatic tournament bid, instead focusing all championship aspirations on those racers that chase points on the Pro-Am Tour and enjoy season-long success.
To further reward drivers that compete on the Summit Pro-Am Tour, Pro-Am champions will receive an increased payout and payouts will be expanded to include drivers that finish in third place in their respective division.
While automatic, one race bids have been eliminated, competition at Nitro Jams will continue to be an important part of the formula as most all Nitro Jams in 2013 will double as a Summit Pro-Am weekend. But instead of one race qualifiers, essentially all Pro-Am races will act as a chance to qualify for the Tournament of Champions. Sportsman competitors that win on the final night of Nitro Jam will also receive an increased payout, contingency and a national event Ironman.
The narrowed tournament field, which determines the World Champion through 10th place in each of the IHRA's seven touring classes, will award $10,000 to the World Champion in addition to a special edition Ironman and more and will be contested at the Summit Racing Equipment World Finals at Memphis International Raceway. Championship runners-up through fifth place will continue to receive a cash prize, while drivers finishing sixth through 10th in the world will receive a gift card courtesy of Summit Racing Equipment. Visit www.ihra.com for complete Tournament of Champions payout information.
The new Tournament of Champions structure will continue to generate a first round ladder based on drivers that show up to compete at the IHRA World Finals and each class ladder will be generated via reaction time from the final qualifying time prior to the race.
A driver may compete in the Summit Tournament of Champions in a maximum of two different classes, but may not drive the same car in two classes during the race.
Once the field is set the best drivers in Top Sportsman, Top Dragster, Super Stock, Stock, Quick Rod, Super Rod and Hot Rod will go head-to-head against their peers with the final seven drivers left standing being named an IHRA World Champion.
"When we first designed the Tournament of Champions the idea was to reward all those drivers that had a good year by giving everyone, from the traveling pro to the guy that can only race regionally, an equal opportunity to chase a World Championship," said IHRA President Aaron Polburn. "While the TOC has served that function well by giving us a diverse group of champions each year, we wanted to take it a step further in 2013 by limiting the field to only those that compete on the Pro-Am Tour.
"In researching the tournament field over the past few years we found that most drivers that qualify for the tournament are chasing Pro-Am points anyway, so we took the next logical step by narrowing the field to only include those that do well throughout the season as oppose to someone who does well at one race.
"With this new format we are rewarding those that compete throughout the year on the Pro-Am Tour while still giving those drivers that can't travel an equal shot at competing for a championship."
All other Tournament of Champions rules and guidelines will continue to be in effect. For more information on the 2013 Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions presented by AMSOIL visit www.ihra.com/TournamentofChampions.
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