NORWALK, Ohio -- Wes Neely loves racing at Memphis International Raceway.
The Florence, Mississippi native visited the Tennessee track three times in 2013, winning every time he unloaded the car. The first two wins helped him clinch the Division 4 championship on the Summit Pro-Am Tour in convincing fashion.
And his third win at the track? Well, that only handed him his very first IHRA World Championship in Stock by winning the Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions at the Summit World Finals.
With nothing to lose, Neely attacked the tree and took a convincing holeshot with a .010 reaction time to Longhany's .057 light and turned that into a very close double-breakout win at the stripe. Neely crossed the finish line first with a 12.369 second elapsed time at 104.35 miles per hour on a 12.37 dial, while Longhany produced a 10.549 on a 10.56 dial at 120.10 mph in the runner-up effort.
"I went into the final with nothing to lose. I was just glad to be in the finals that it didn't really matter to me, win lose or draw," Neely said. "Once I realized I had won it really hit me what it meant. It means that I won, not only in my state and division, but out of the entire country I am the last one standing. That is a big honor."
McGrath was late off the line in round one by a considerable margin - a .016 light by Neely to McGrath's .075 bulb - while Taylor and Darroch both went red in rounds two and three. Taylor went red by -.004, while Darroch lit the red bulb by -.019.
Even with the mistakes by his opponents, Neely ran well enough to earn his spot in the final and further proved his worth by taking the win.
"It was an exciting weekend. Long and drawn out, yes, but it was exciting," Neely said. "We had a lot of close races, but there are a lot of good racers out here. You know, Stock Eliminator is a tough class to be in. A lot of people around the world can foot brake, so it is tough. And to be the best out of that group, that is really amazing."
In the runner-up spot, Jeff Longhany, the runner-up in Division 9 on the Summit Pro-Am Tour, had wins over Lee Truell and Sam Pourciau and received a bye in round one to reach the final.
Now the veteran of 17 years can add world champion to his resume after producing once again at his new favorite track in IHRA.
While Division 4 typically takes some heat with fewer Super Stock and Stock participants than other IHRA divisions, both world champions in the two Stock categories arose from the Renegades Division. A fact that Neely is very proud of.
"Division 4 is a tough place to race, no matter what," Neely said. "It is a great place to race and I am proud to call D4 home."
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