It's hard to talk about the NHRA Sony Xplod Sport Compact Racing Series finale, held as always at Pomona Raceway, without mentioning the freak weather. Yes, people have crappy weather wherever they go, but the areas surrounding the famous Pomona track were quite literally turning into hell on earth. Hurricane-strength Santa Ana winds were knocking down telephone poles and forcing nearby Ontario Airport to send all incoming flights away to other locations. The rest of Southern California, as you may recall, was burning to the ground, and everyone was calling Pomona's track officials crazy for allowing the race to carry on.
But the people questioning the sanity of the Pomona Raceway officials were obviously far, far away from the race track. Skies were blue, the weather was mild and even Carter's engineless Supra could outrun the gentle breezes blowing across the city. The racing gods were smiling down upon the storied drag strip, and they obviously wanted to see the exciting conclusion to the hottest sport compact drag racing on earth.
Gary Gardella was able to walk away with his first Pro FWD World Championship, but he almost didn't win this World Champion title. In fact, he lost his final race to rival Marty Ladwig and his Lucas Oil Chevy Cobalt. But to win the championship, Ladwig needed to do more than just beat Gardella's Red Bull/DuPont Cobalt; he had to set a new record while doing so. Though Ladwig was grateful for his win against Gardella, he just wasn't fast enough to speed away with the title, making Gary the slightly more appreciative racer.
Gardella wasn't the only one to get his champion cherry popped. All Modified driver Brent Rau had to do to win his first championship was successfully stage his '99 Eclipse in the first round of eliminations, which he managed to do with no problem. Launching off the line, on the other hand, proved to be a whole lot trickier. Just as Rau blew his Eclipse's transmission, opponent Ken Scheeper blew his Mazda's engine. Their ETs were 19.527 and 18.958, respectively. Again, even Carter's Supra can run faster than that.
Hot Rod points leader Stephanie Eggum's '99 Civic suffered mechanical problems and couldn't even move off the start line, causing her to lose her chance at the title. This allowed Kenny Tran to walk away from the event with his first World Champion trophy after defeating Chuck Seitsinger. We're sure that this title win made Tran feel a bit better about missing the final round due to his Q Power/Nitto-sponsored Scion tC's damaged engine.
In the Honda Tuning Magazine All Motor class, Norris Prayoonto came into the finals leading in points. After his electric motor-less Clutch Masters Honda Insight pulled away from all-motor legend Jeremy Lookofsky, he too walked away with his first World Championship title. Titan Motorsports Scion tC driver Brad Personett already won his Pro RWD championship title two weeks prior to the big event in Pomona, so he could have slacked off a bit. But he didn't. In fact, Personett was running consistent mid-six second runs all day long, and in doing so cemented his overall event win.