McKinney back in Win Mode

With defending Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) Pro Extreme Motorcycle world champion Travis Davis unqualified on raceday, three-time champ Eric McKinney had an opportunity to make a run despite his own last place qualifier at the Professional PDRA Summer Drags at US 131 Motorsports Park.

McKinney scored a holeshot victory over first-time No. 1 qualifier Ehren Litten in a 4.08-to-4.05 first-round race, then defeated Chris Garner-Jones’s 4.056 with a 4.029. On the other side of the ladder, his tuner and teammate—Ashley Owens—rode his Suzuki to round wins over Brunson Grothus and Ronnie “Pro Mod” Smith.

So McKinney was set to run Owens in the final, but a potential costly engine issue (insert Scott McKinney’s voice here…) prevented Owens from bringing his motorcycle to the staging lanes. McKinney, the No. 8 qualifier, took advantage of the free pass to show what he could do, and fired off a 3.994 at 178.36 miles per hour.

“We’re really happy with the way things are going,” said McKinney, who won the last event in Maryland after skipping the opener to attend the Manufacturers Cup in Valdosta. “I really wanted to run Ashley in the final. I think we could’ve run a pair of 3-second passes. Whoever wins doesn’t matter to me. But his bike was smoking and we just had to park it. The crankshafts are expensive, hard to get, and they wipe out everything when they go. It was a tough call, but we had to do it. The whole team worked hard this weekend, so it feels good to leave with a win.”

Litten was the first to build a bike specifically for PDRA’s new rules allowing turbos. His Pete Browne chassis, turbocharged Suzuki Hayabusa made history on Friday night when he recorded a 3.999 at 182.78, which was his career-best, the quickest pass for a turbocharged entry, and the quickest pass for a Hayabusa-powered motorcycle.

“It’s awesome,” said Litten, who had never ridden a Pro Mod-style motorcycle before this season. “This is the result of a lot of years of working on stuff like this and getting to this level.

“We do a lot of radial (street tire) racing. I’ve been as close as No. 2 in the world on a radial (street tire) bike, right behind my teammate, Rodney Williford. Doing that felt good, but this feels good too. It’s something different. The (wheelie) bar boys said we couldn’t come out here and do it, so we just decided to come out here and play a little bit.”

Litten didn’t receive an easy draw for his efforts, and lost to McKinney in the first round of eliminations.

photos by Roger Richards, story by Nate Van Wagnen with additions by Tim Hailey

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