SWEET 16 4.0 - SHANE STACK DELIVERS THE GOODS
Driving the same '86 Monte Carlo he took to high school in Huntsville, AL, some 20-plus years ago, Shane Stack's Sweet 16 weekend began on a positive note, highlighted by a personal-best 3.98 at 192.80 mph in Friday's first Limited Drag Radial qualifying session that also marked his first three-second pass at a Duck X event. It also held up to give him a fifth-place start behind Steve Summers, who posted a record 3.93 at 192.25-mph qualifying run to lead the field into race day.
The rest of qualifying didn't go so well for Stack, though.
"At like 10:30 last night, I didn't think was going to be here," Stack admitted after a raucous victory lane appearance. "We went that 3.98 yesterday morning and then smoked the tires four times in a row. We were like, man, what is wrong with this thing?
"And then we looked at squiggly lines all night and didn't sleep thinking about what to do. And evidently we finally figured it out; we was trying to go a lot faster than we thought we was trying to go. So we turned it down quite a bit and went 3.99 in the first round (of eliminations)."
Stack sent fellow Alabama racer Neil Hawkins packing from that first round, then beat Eddie Harrison before taking on Taylor Lastor and his '98 Mustang out of Cleveland, TX, in the semi-finals.
Lastor left first with a slim .006 holeshot, but Stack's 4.019 was .007 quicker at the eighth mile stripe, adding up to a one-thousandth of a second margin of victory.
"That was my best race in quite a while," Stack said. "I saw him the whole way and really didn't know who won until I saw my win light. I mean, when we were approaching the finish line it was up for grabs. He said he never seen me until we went through the finish line."
That sent Stack to the final, where 10th-place qualifier D.J. McCain was waiting with his 2013 Cobra after beating Justin Martin, upsetting number-two starter Paul Gargus and Brian McGee, who was a no-show with engine trouble for the semis.
When the green light flashed in the LDR final, McCain gained a huge .083 advantage with a .018 light, but Stack stayed with it and powered through for a 4.03 win at 190.35 mph over McCain's 4.13 at 174.55 combo.
"I didn't realize I missed the tree that bad, but I did and he was on the tree and then he out 60-footed me, and man, he was out there a long way. I said to myself there, ain't no way I'm catching him," Stack recalled. "I mean, he was way out there. And then, he started coming back to me really fast and as he started coming back to me, I was like, I believe I got a chance to get him here. And I did."
Stack thanked CTR Race Cars, R&R Machine, Jose at Forced Induction Turbos, his crew, his stepfather, Big Eddie, and Jake for their help. He also left SGMP impressed by the collection of trophies provided by promoter Donald "Duck" Long to each of the four class winners.
"We got all kinds of stuff," he pointed out. "I don't know if Donald hit up an estate sale for all those thrones, but they're definitely different and cool. So we got chairs, crowns, shoes, sashes, and we even got some cash. Got everything."