Slate Cummings Earns First NHRA National Event Victory
Whereas most racers dream of the opportunity and relish the thought of achieving glory at the NHRA Full Throttle National Event level, Louisiana racer Slate Cummings saw his final round win light at last week’s NHRA O’Reilly Spring Nationals as more of a relief than anything. Cummings is far from unaccomplished on the race track. After growing up watching his father Larry (a former member of the famed Team Budweiser in the 1980’s) and older brother Britt (former IHRA Quick Rod World Champion) compete, Slate took to the wheel and enjoyed success almost immediately. He’s accrued a pair of IHRA World Championships himself (in Top Dragster and Super Stock), and along the way compiled dozens of IHRA National Event victories (including a double win at last season’s Mardi Gras Nationals in Baton Rouge). He’s earned a multitude of divisional wins and championships. He’s won several big dollar bracket races. He’s won NHRA LODRS events, and even represented Division 4 in last season’s JEGS All-Stars competition (in which he was runner-up). But coming into last weekend’s event in Houston, “NHRA National Event Winner” was a noticeable void on his career checklist.
“Finally!” Exclaimed Cummings after his Super Stock victory. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m really happy and believe me; I’ve waited for one of these long enough to appreciate it. Without trying to be cocky, initially I figured I’d have won several of these by now. We’ve had success in every venue we’ve ever run. But, for whatever reason, I just couldn’t make this (an NHRA national event win) happen. Britt has won one, and I’ve been close a bunch, but I’ve been waiting for this day for awhile!”
In Houston, Slate Cummings drove his familiar Moser Engineering backed Cavalier to the Super Stock victory on the strength of a phenomenal performance behind the wheel at both ends of the track. He started eliminations with a respectable .028 reaction time (which would be his worst in six rounds of competition), and took a scant .004 finish margin to dispense former U.S. Nationals winner Bob Dennis. In round two, his .009 reaction was for naught when Allen Wade red lighted. In round three, he faced a similar outcome as Jim Hale went red (Cummings was .024 on the tree). Cummings then survived epic quarterfinal and semi-final bouts; as either could qualify as the race of the event.
In round 4, Cummings squared off with former Super Gas World Champion Jonathan Womack. There, Womack’s stellar .005 reaction time was trumped by Cummings’ .002. At the finish line, Cummings got on the brakes to run a safe 8.947 on his 8.93 target, while Womack narrowly broke out by .005. Slate’s road didn’t get any easier, as semi-final opponent Joel Covington put up a very respectable .022 package (.021 and dead-on his 9.78 dial in with a 9.781). Cummings was once again up to the challenge, however, posting his second consecutive .002 reaction time, and running dead-on with an 8.941 ET of his own to throw down a monster .003 package. In the final round, Cummings once again left the tree with the starting line advantage (as he did in every round of the event) over Chris Chaney (.015 to .021) and took just .008 finish margin to win with a 8.979 on his 8.96 target.
“I’m just so happy,” said Cummings. “This is certainly a big win for me personally, but I’m so happy to win for my Dad, my brother, our whole family, all the guys at Moser Engineering: our entire team. The best part is that I don’t feel like anyone can take this away from me: I feel like I drove really well. That makes it that much more special. Britt was waiting on the return road with a celebratory drink-he just knew Sunday was the day. It was awesome.”
Cummings nearly had his second national event victory follow his first by a matter of minutes. In addition to his win in Super Stock, he also advanced to the quarterfinal round of Super Comp, a class he rarely ever competes in (Stock Eliminator, Cummings’ normal category, was not contested in Houston). There, former Million Dollar Race winner Stephen Hughes ended his hopes of a double victory with a stellar .012 and dead-on 8.908.
The Cummings team enjoyed a great weekend aside from Slate’s first victory. Britt Cummings earned the Best Engineered Car award for his new Moser Engineering backed Phantom Race Cars built Top Dragster machine, then drove the car to a semi-final finish in TD. Britt lost to John Garner, who went on to win the Top Dragster category.
The Moser Engineering backed Cummings Motorsports team will be competing on the IHRA scene for the next three weeks, as they attend a Pro-Am event in Lufkin, TX followed by an IHRA Nitro Jam event in Dallas. Then they’ll make the trek back to Rockingham, NC for an IHRA Nitro Jam and the conclusion of the 2009 IHRA Tournament of Champions, in which they have five opportunities to claim IHRA World Championships.
In addition to Moser Engineering, the Cummings team would like to thank the following marketing partners for their continued support: Reher & Morrison, River Parrish RV, Meguiars, Trick Switch Panels, CSR Performance Products, B&M Performance, Borla, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Mickey Thompson Tires, K&N, Holley Performance, Amalie Oil, Weld Wheels, Richmond Gear, Altronics, Harwood, Nitroplate, Edelbrock, Mr. Gasket, Wegner Racing Engines, Biondo Racing Products, Auto Meter, Phantom Race Cars, Simpson Safety Equipment, Sullivan Transmissions, The Race Shop, H&F Performance, Folk Race Cars, and Milodon.
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