Meet the 2014 IHRA Sportsman Champions, Part 1 – Super Rod, Hot Rod, Top Eliminator, Modified, and Jr. Dragster

TONY JONES – HOT ROD

In June, Tony Jones celebrated his very first Ironman trophy in IHRA competition by winning a Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour event at Memphis International Raceway in a thriller over Greg Fowler. Almost four months later to the day, Jones was back in the winner's circle at the very same track with a win over the very same person.

Only this time, there was much, much more at stake.

Jones secured his second ever victory in IHRA competition at the IHRA Summit Racing Equipment World Finals at Memphis International Raceway earlier this month, clinching the Hot Rod World Championship in the process when he bested Fowler for the second time in as many tries during the Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions presented by AMSOIL.

With a championship on the line, Jones, a newcomer to IHRA competition, bested Fowler with a .024 reaction time paired with a 10.911-second pass in the 10.90 index class at 140.39 mph while Fowler, who had been spot-on all afternoon, ran a tick too quick with a 10.898 at 142.81 mph.

The win gave Jones a championship in his first season out with the IHRA after finishing third in Division 4, capping off what can only be described as a dream season for Jones.

"I have pinched myself a couple of times, but it still really hasn't sunk in just yet that I won it," Jones said. "All afternoon I just took it a round at a time. After every round we kept thinking it is just three more rounds, just two more rounds and then just one more round. In the winner's circle, my buddy looked at me and simply said 'zero more rounds' and it sort of clicked that we had just won it."

After a long afternoon that included wins over the best-of-the-best in IHRA's Hot Rod category, the irony did not escape Jones as he went up against Fowler for the second time this season in Memphis.

"I really didn't think I could beat him twice. The first time we went to Memphis and beat him, he treed me. This time he stuck me in the left lane and I ended up treeing him. It was a great race, there were a lot of nerves, but the good Lord took the anxiety away from me and we were able to get the win," Jones said.