MILLINGTON, Tenn. -- From the northern corner of British Columbia to the southern tip of Florida, the International Hot Rod Association saw its most diverse lineup of world champions ever as the IHRA wrapped up its 2013 season Sunday at the Summit Racing Equipment World Finals at Memphis International Raceway.
After a weather-filled Saturday, Sunday's championship finale went off without a hitch as beautiful weather greeted the 10 world champions left standing in the Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions and Summit SuperSeries races held over three days at the Millington, Tennessee track.
All six of IHRA's Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour divisions were represented in Sunday's Tournament of Champions finale, with Division 4 taking home bragging rights to Texas and Louisiana.
"It took us a while to get here, but boy was it worth it. We got here last Friday and have just been waiting for our opportunity to shine," said Top Sportsman World Champion Graham Foster. "We came down here for the incredible competition and to try our hand against the best and to come away from this thing with a win is just awesome. I can guarantee you it will make the trip back home a little less stressful!"
In the final Foster nailed the tree with a .005 light and ran a 7.618 on a 7.58 dial at 176.42 miles per hour in his '68 Camaro to take home the win. Koontz ran a 7.619 on a 7.61 with a .092 reaction time in the runner-up effort.
IHRA's fastest class was won by one of its fastest drivers as Bulverde, Texas' Austin Cowan took one of three world championships out of IHRA's Division 4. Cowan went four rounds on Sunday culminating with a final against another driver making the long haul from northern Canada, Sherwood Park's Trevor Ritchie. Unfortunately for Ritchie, his car ran into trouble while staging and Cowan was able to take a leisurely Sunday drive to his first IHRA championship.
Cowan, who squeaked into the field with a third place finish in Division 4, also had wins over Michael White, Steve Dweck and David Johns.
The 2013 Division 9 Hot Rod champ, who had yet to win a race this season after four trips to the finals, also had wins over Keith Mayers, Mike Frederick Sr. and Mark Mullen.
"It is hard to believe it has been that long since I have won one of these things, but it really does mean a lot to me," Griffin said. "This was such an exciting weekend with a lot of heavy hitters and we are proud to be standing here today with this trophy. When we got to the finals we felt pretty good, we just didn't feel like we were going to be unlucky enough to finish runner-up for a fifth time this season."
The Division 4 domination continued in Super Stock and Stock as Jimmy Hidalgo Jr. and Wes Neely - both Renegades division champions - took home Ironman trophies.
Hidalgo defeated Tony Cowell, Jim Reynolds and Marvin Dunahoo to reach the finals.
In Stock, Florence, Mississippi's Wes Neely drove his '88 Trans Am to a win over Jeff Longhany in a narrow double breakout victory to hand him his first IHRA title. Neely had a 12.369 on a 12.37 to Longhany's 10.549 on a 10.56 in the championship tilt.
"A lot of close races, a lot of good racers out here this weekend," Neely said. "It means so much to me. To be a champion, not just in my area, but in the whole country, it is a big honor."
John Dustin was the Quick Rod World Champion representing Division 1, besting Vernon Rowland in a shootout in the final. Dustin, from Rockville, Maryland, took his powder blue dragster to a .012 reaction time and had an 8.912 lap at 141.31 mph in the 8.90 class to Rowland's 8.930. Dustin reached the finals with wins over Otis Henry, Jake Levatino and Jeremy Mason.
"I had a lot of trouble earlier in the weekend with a lot of red lights, but we kept tinkering with the car and finally we found where we wanted it today," Marcus said. "It is unbelievable to walk away from here with the championship. I was happy when I got down to four and really calmed down and then to keep going and win it all, man what an amazing feeling."
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