Harper Makes It to Elite Eight in Indy
CLERMONT, Ind. - 9/3 - While the average person may think the Indy 500 is the hottest racing ticket in Indianapolis, drag racing fans know that the real action is held across town at Indianapolis Raceway Park (IRP) in Clermont, Indiana. This past weekend, Billy Harper, along with the best in the drag racing business, descended on the quarter-mile asphalt strip of IRP to show race fans what it takes to travel at speeds of more than 225 miles per hour. Harper, in his reptile-inspired Dodge Viper, proved to be a crowd favorite at the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) U.S. Mac Nationals not only for his slick paint scheme, but more importantly for his super-fast passes.
In drag racing, only the best cars are allowed to compete in the final show. Twenty-six pro modified cars started out the weekend's events in hopes they would have the power to make it to Monday's elite and final eight cars. Harper, who made it to the semi-finals in 2001, was confident his car had what it would take to get to the big show.
"This team has worked so hard over the last few months to give me a car and an engine that would be competitive," explained Harper. "We don't compete every weekend like a lot of these teams do, so we don't really have our momentum going week to week. Even with our limited schedule, these guys are so good, you would think that we are a full-time team."
Round one of qualifying started out a little shaky, literally, as the Dodge Viper shook at the line and headed to the wall before Harper saved it from damage. Once his competitors had cycled around through their passes, Harper was listed in the 25th position. Problems continued into round two when Harper's Dodge fishtailed following takeoff.
Knowing that he was going to have to kick it in, and quickly, Harper rallied in round three knocking off a 6.294- second run at a speed of nearly 225 miles per hour. The pass put Harper and his crew second out of 26 following completion of the round. Harper made two strong passes in both rounds four and five backing up his third round performance. Once the five rounds of qualifying were complete, the 2000 Dodge Viper was listed fourth out of 26 in the final rundown.
With only eight men left standing by Monday's big show, Harper was paired against the 1953 Corvette of Troy Critchley. Unfortunately, during the pass, Harper's Viper broke going down the strip sending him across the centerline, which caused disqualification.
"We had a great car today," stated owner and driver Billy Harper. "It is just so fun to come here to Indy and compete on the same strip as people like John Force and Kenny Bernstein. The fans at this track are awesome. They cheer for everyone and they make everyone feel welcome. I hope that we can come back next year to compete."
Harper and his teammates will be heading to the home of Rock and Roll for the next event on their limited schedule. Memphis Motorsports Park will host the NHRA for the 15th Annual O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals which will start on September 19 and continue through September 22.
Harper Goes to First Round of Eliminations at Norwalk
NORWALK, Ohio - 8/27 - Thirty-seven pro modified cars descended on Norwalk, Ohio this past weekend to compete in the 25th Annual International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Sunoco World Nationals. Despite the fierce competition, Billy Harper and his 2000 Dodge Viper qualified fifth for the final rounds of competition.
Harper lined up on Friday for the first round of qualifying in the left lane of the quarter-mile asphalt drag strip paired against Zach Barklage and his 2002 Grand Am. Harper easily beat the time of his competitor clocking in with a speed of 211.30 miles per hour. Harper was listed in the 21st position upon the completion of Friday's qualifying round.
On Saturday, Harper and his team, who were scheduled to go out last in the second round of qualifying, were forced to patiently wait as their competitors attempted to improve on the earlier times. Unfortunately, round two wasn't as successful for the 2000 Dodge Viper team, and once the field completed their passes, Harper was listed in the 29th position.
With just one more round of qualifying left to make it into the 16-car final field, Harper and his crew anxiously approached the line for their third pass. The team saved its best for last as Harper shot down the drag strip at a speed of 224.40 miles per hour. Once all 37 cars had made their qualifying runs, Harper and his 2000 Dodge Viper were listed in fifth.
Entering into the first round of eliminations, Harper was already pleased with his team's performance. "We have had a great weekend so far. With 37 pro mods here this weekend, I am really proud that we clocked the fifth fastest qualifying time. Regardless of how things work out in elminations, I would call this weekend a success."
Harper was paired for the first round of eliminations against Troy Critchley who was driving a 1953 Corvette. Despite beating Critchley off the line, Harper couldn't hold off the Corvette's advances and was eliminated.
The weekend's events enabled Harper to get warmed up for this weekend's
National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) event to be held at Indianapolis Raceway
Park. The 48th Annual U.S. Nationals will be held August 28 through September 2,
with the first round of pro modified qualifying taking place on Friday, August
Harper Makes Strong Showing in
7/24 - Harper Will Feel Right at Home at Michigan
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