Brian McClanahan clinches family run with Lucas Oil Stock Eliminator title

The family that drag races together enjoys the benefits of winning.

Take the McClanahan clan of Rancho Cucamonga. When Brian McClanahan won the Lucas Oil Stock Eliminator title last weekend at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at a Pacific Divisional meet, he joined his father Jerry and son Ryan as world champions.

Jerry won the Stock championship in 1973, 1974 and 1978. Ryan took top honors in Super Stock in 2010.

Brian entered the weekend with a one-point lead over 2017 titlist Justin Lamb. However, in the first round, McClanahan scored a win while Lamb suffered a loss.

McClanahan reached the finals five times in the 2018 season. He scored an early win in the division event at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz., at Sonoma and the AAA Texas Fall Nationals in Ennis. He was second at the Arizona Nationals and at a divisional meet at Auto Club Dragway in Fontana.

Devin Isenhower, Paul Nero, Ronnie Proctor and Lamb all clinched titles. Lamb successfully defended his Super Stock with a runner-up finish; Isenhower was out of events to claim toward his points championship so he looked on as Michael Miller lost in round three; Nero led Top Dragster over Mark Jones, who lost in round two; in Top Sportsman, Proctor was being chased by JR Lobner and Douglas Crumlich and won the first two rounds while Lobner lost in round one and Crumlich in round two.

A pair of titles will be decided this weekend at Pomona. Frank Aragona leads the Comp Eliminator chase by 19 points over Clink Neff. In Super Comp, Steve Williams will battle Don Nichols and Mark Grame.

Oval Nationals

Perris Auto Speedway is hosting the 28th Budweiser Oval Nationals this weekend, with the main event Saturday. With a purse of more than $130,000, it is the most prestigious sprint car race in the West and has drawn at least 46 drivers from seven states. Defending champion Kevin Thomas Jr., locked in the USAC Sprint Car championship points battle with Tyler Courtney, is from Cullen, Ala., and ahead by two points. Last year’s PAS winner Chris Windom is third, 50 points behind.

It’s among the tightest contests in USAC’s rich history. In 1965, Johnny Rutherford defeated Greg Weld by 2.5 points while Windom was a six-point winner over Justin Grant last year.

The event will determine the USAC/CRA title. Four-time Bud Nationals winner Damion Gardner leads the standings by five points over Brody Roa.

The total purse is $131,380, with $25,000 to win the A main Saturday.

Gates open at 4 p.m. Friday, with cars on the half-mile clay oval at 5:30. On Saturday, the doors open at 3 p.m, with an autograph session until 4. The cars will be on the oval at 5:15.

New track boss

Auto Club Speedway president Dave Allen has named Charlie Harmon as the new general manager of the drag strip. In his position, Harmon will be responsible for venue management, business development and sponsorship sales. He replaces Tracy Fischle, who held the position since 2014.

“Tracy has been an integral part of the growth of Auto Club Speedway for the past five years. During his tenure, we’ve seen positive and substantial growth. His dedication to the success of our facility cannot be overlooked,” Allen said. “As Charlie takes the reins, we will look for him to continue that growth and look to his leadership and vision in building new market opportunities and expanding customer and business partner relationships.

“We are excited to bring him on board in this important role.”

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Harmon’s NHRA experience includes a seven-year stint as West Central Division director and general manager, overseeing NHRA activities in Glendora, Kansas City, Mo., Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis. He was successful at growing market share and increases in sanctioned events, member tracks, licenses and sponsorship sales, establishing a record revenue numbers in sales for all NHRA-owned single-use facilities.

He is the owner of ProMark performance consulting, based in Bradenton, Fla., which was founded with a strong emphasis on impacting the automotive performance and motorsports market and co-owner of ProMedia LLC in Santa Ana.

Pit stops

— NHRA has changed the dates of the 2019 Texas Fall Nationals, Nevada Nationals and the Auto Club Nationals. The Dallas-Las Vegas-Pomona trio will conclude the season. The four-day Las Vegas event, originally scheduled for Oct. 24-27, will now take place Oct. 31-Nov. 3 and will lead into the season-ending Auto Club Finals from Nov. 14-17 in Pomona. The Ennis, Texas, event has been moved to Oct. 17-20.

— Hailie Deegan, the 17-year-old NASCAR driver from Temecula, was selected as the K&N Pro Series West rookie of the year in her first full year racing on pavement. She previously competed off-road, thus it was a big transitional year for her. “I lack experience compared to some of these guys racing stock cars who have raced on pavement for a while,” she recently said. “I started racing at 8 years old. The dirt racing definitely helps the learning curve. But in the end, I lack experience since this is technically my first whole year in a stock car. I think once we get more experience, we will get better and better.”

— Auto Club Speedway will host the third NHRA Pacific Division race of the 2018 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series on May 18-19. The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will host a pair of races, April 12-14 and Nov. 7-10. “The series offers some of the most intense competition in drag racing and we are excited to showcase this talented group of drivers at tracks across the country for another action-packed season,” NHRA president Glen Cromwell said. “The Lucas family has demonstrated incredible dedication to sportsman racers and we are thrilled to continue that partnership.”

— The 2019 Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series will start March 16 at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, the first of two such events at the venue. The second date is Oct. 5, also a Saturday night. The LOORRS and Lucas Oil Midwest Short Course League will remain separate series, but the schedules have been coordinated to enable participation in both series. “Some teams have expressed interest in competing in both the LOORRS and LOMSCL and I think this schedule will allow teams the opportunity to do so,” said Bill Smith, series director for both LOORRS and LOMSCL.

— Bobby Santos III set the fastest qualifying time and won his heat race and the 40-lap King of the Wing winged sprint car feature Saturday at Irwindale Speedway in front of 3,500 spectators.

Louis Brewster can be reached at brewsterl1949@gmail.com.

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