Career-Best Numbers Highlight Haney’s Elite 16 Experience
TULSA, OK – Randy Merick picked up the trophy and a $50,000 check for winning the inaugural Elite 16 event presented by Elite Motorsports and the Mid-West Pro Mod Series (MWPMS), but MWPMS owner and Elite 16 promoter Keith Haney left the Texas Motorplex early this month feeling every bit as fulfilled and satisfied.
“The Elite 16 achieved exactly what we were hoping for in bringing together some of the absolute best Pro Mod racers from many different backgrounds and sanctioning bodies and putting them head-to-head on one of the fastest tracks in the country,” stated Haney, who also participated in the Elite 16 with “Notorious,” his nitrous-boosted 2014 Camaro Pro Mod.
Run before a limited-admission crowd of just 1,000 spectators, the $50K-to-win Elite 16 attracted 30 Pro Modified entries attempting to qualify for the 16-car field. After a practically unprecedented eight rounds of qualifying were in the books, MWPMS regular Brandon Pesz sat atop the Elite list with a 3.61-seconds pass at 208.75 mph over the Motorplex eighth mile, closely followed by Jonas Aleshire, Jason Hamstra, and eventual Elite 16 victor Randy Merick. A special second-chance race for Elite 16 non-qualifiers also paid out $10,000 to winner Ron Muenks.
Haney, meanwhile, ran a solid 3.77 in testing, but then drivetrain problems cropped up in the early qualifying rounds.
“We changed the transmission twice before Mark Micke fixed it and we had the rearend out of it, too. Then we put everything back together and that’s when we started to go fast,” Haney said. “I finally got qualified in Q7 with a 3.71 at 202 miles an hour, which was a career best E.T. for me.
“I had my crew chief, Brandon Switzer, tuning me remotely from another race he was at in North Carolina and next thing you know we go up there for Q8 and we go 3.70 at 203.43 miles an hour! Career best, fastest I’d ever been in the eighth with a Reher-Morrison motor and one thing about it was it really should’ve been a .69, but I deep-staged it, so that cost us a little bit in elapsed time.”
Regardless, it put Haney 14th overall in the Elite 16 and paired him up for the opening round of racing on Saturday against fellow MWPMS racer Wayne Roberts and his unique Whipple-blown C7 Corvette. Roberts was inserted into third place as first alternate after Hamstra’s engine was damaged beyond repair the previous night in the MWPMS final against winner and new Frankenstein Engine Dynamics LLC MWPMS champion Jonas Aleshire.
When the lights came down, Haney got away first and never looked back, going 3.76 at almost exactly 200 mph while Roberts was forced to shut down early.
“But then I ran up against my partner at Tulsa Raceway Park, Todd Martin, and I ended up going red. So my mistake, I ended up going faster than him, but you know what? He made a good pass and got the win,” Haney said of a 3.77 that lost to Martin’s 3.79 in his supercharged “Lethal Threat” ’68 Mustang.
“But our weekend was amazing. Between testing, qualifying and racing, we made 15 total passes that weekend, and all with the same motor, no damage other than the transmission issues,” he continued.
“In fact, I really couldn’t be any happier with the performance of the car and the way my guys performed. We went from qualifying for the Elite 16 and made it down to the Elite 8, and I owe that to my team: Dale Hancock, Andrew Arnold, Cale Hancock, Shane Goodnight, Tyler, Misty Hayes, and of course, Brandon Switzer tuning over the Internet. I can’t say enough about him. I enjoyed them all, the great camaraderie, and I saw so many smiles all weekend on so many happy people. They were all just awesome and it was just a great event, a great way for us to end the year,” Haney said.
“I also have to thank all my tremendous sponsors and partners, but I especially want to congratulate Randy Merick on getting the Elite 16 win and showing the world what our Mid-West Pro Mod guys are all about. He did a really great job, as did all the racers who showed up, and I can tell you we already have the 2nd annual Elite 16 race lined up for November 1st and 2nd next year and it’ll be even bigger and better than the first one,” he predicted.
“We’ve had a major, major sponsor get in touch with us and they’re interested in helping us raise the purse for next year, so all I can say right now is to stay tuned. Things are going to get even bigger and better.”
In the meantime, the nine-event 2019 MWPMS season will open Mar. 1-2, at the Texas Motorplex, with additional races at Tulsa; Bowling Green, KY; St. Louis; Ferris, TX; and Chicago.
Photos by Damon Steinke/E3xtreme