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Mon, 11 Dec 2006, 09:19 AM

IHRA Salutes World Champions
Courtesy of IHRA Communications
Photo copyright 2006 BME Photography

2006 Awards Banquet Held Saturday Night


2006 IHRA World Champions
Concluding a very successful season, the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) honored its drivers Saturday night in Greensboro, N.C., during their annual awards banquet. IHRA crowned the fifteen professional eMax Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series world champions, Mr. Gasket Pro-Am Tour champions, and recognized several special award winners.

Dale Creasy Jr., who won the first IHRA Nitro Funny Car world championship since the sanctioning body stopped running the class in 1992, accepted his award with thanks to his crew, family and sponsors. Creasy, Beecher, Ill., finished the season No. 1 in the point standings, a mere five points over second-place-finisher Jack Wyatt.

"My crew was just great this season, as they've been every year," Creasy said. "A few years ago we were out of money and about to quit racing, but everyone stuck with it, and through the support of Torco Racing Fuels, it became possible again and now a reality."

Two world champions were sitting at the head table for the sixth time - Clay Millican (Top Fuel) and Mark Thomas (Alcohol Funny Car). Actually, Millican, Drummonds, Tenn., was accepting the IHRA's Knoll Gas - Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel honors for the sixth consecutive year.

"A lot of people wondered what was wrong with us this year, because we didn't win as many races as before," Millican said. "But it really was a good season and I owe it to my entire crew and (crew chief Mike) Kloeber."

Quain Stott, Columbus, N.C., accepted the Torco's Pro Modified title. Pete Berner, Crete, Ill., was the Torco's Pro Stock world champion.

The 2006 eMax World Champions:
Knoll Gas - Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel: Clay Millican, Drummonds, Tenn.
Knoll Gas - Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car: Dale Creasy Jr., Beecher, Ill.
Torco's Pro Modified: Quain Stott, Columbus, N.C.
Torco's Pro Stock: Pete Berner, Crete, Ill.
Alcohol Funny Car: Mark Thomas, Louisville, Ohio
Erson Cams Top Sportsman: Marco Abruzzi, Warren, Ohio
Mallory Top Dragster: Bryan Bennett, Shallowater, Texas
ACCEL DFI Super Stock: Scott Stillings, Indianapolis, Ind.
Hays Stock: Myron Piatek, Holly Hill, Fla.
ACCEL Quick Rod: Forrest Lipke, Belleville, Wisc.
Lakewood Super Rod: Steve Furr, Harrisburg, N.C.
Hurst Hot Rod: Kenny Underwood, Tampa, Fla.
JEG'S Top Stock: Bo Kenney, Manassas, Va.
Summit SuperSeries Box: Joe Gary, Greenwood, S.C.
Summit SuperSeries No Box: John Coyle, Tinley Park, Ill.

Bobby Lagana Jr.
Special awards were given in categories such as "Most Improved," "Rookie of the Year," "Crew Chief of the Year" and IHRA's most prestigious award "Sportsman of the Year," which exemplifies the best qualities of teamwork, fellowship and compassion that personify the winning human spirit.

IHRA's special award recipients included:
Pro Driver of the Year: Tony Gillig
Sportsman Driver of the Year: Steve Furr
Pro Rookie of the Year: Tommy D'Aprile
Sportsman Rookie of the Year: Bryan Bennett
Most Improved Pro Driver: Tom Carter
Most Improved Sportsman Driver: Kenny Underwood
Crew Chief of the Year: Jay Lewis
Sportsman of the Year: Bobby Lagana Jr.
Track Operator of the Year: Joe Lombardo, New England Dragway
Promoter of the Year: Joy and Mike Anderson, Sumerduck Dragway
National Track of the Year: Rob Reeves, Castrol Raceway
Sportsman Track of the Year: Steve Groseclose, Motor Mile Dragway
Sponsor of the Year: Torco Racing Fuels

During Friday night's Pro-Am Tour awards ceremony, IHRA announced that Summit Racing Equipment would take over sponsorship of their semi-professional series. The Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour presented by Mr. Gasket kicks off 2007 in Immokalee, Fla., on February 10.

The 2007 IHRA eMax Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series begins March 23 - 25 in San Antonio, Texas, at the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals.

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