Haney Reaches Semis at Sweet 16
TULSA, OK (March 27, 2018) – For veteran drag radial competitor Keith Haney of Broken Arrow, OK, a top-10 start plus a semi-finals finish added up to a successful outing Mar. 22-24, in promoter Donald “Duck” Long’s inaugural Sweet 16 event at South Georgia Motorsports Park (SGMP).
With a then-career-best 3.74 at 200.74 mph, Haney qualified “Enigma,” his
nitrous-boosted 2016 Camaro, 10th of 34 entries in the quickest and fastest Radial vs. the World (RvW) field ever assembled. Six drivers, led by eventual race winner Mark Micke, made unprecedented runs in the 3.60s to pace the field, which was going after a $101,000 winner-take-all prize fund.
“This was a great, great event. I applaud Donald on trying something a little different that turned out to be very cool and special,” Haney said of the event which featured two classes of racing, nine rounds of qualifying, and only 500 spectator ticket sales, though a live online feed shared the action with the masses. “I think the Sweet 16 overall is a great concept. It’s something just for the racers; it’s Donald just giving back to the guys that support his Lights Out and No Mercy events. He did a great job here.”
In the opening round of racing Haney squared off against fellow nitrous racer Jeff Naiser and his ’69 Camaro. After leaving with an impressive .020 reaction time, Haney led stripe-to-stripe with a 3.74-seconds run at 200.56 mph that further lowered his career-best elapsed time by six-thousandths of a second.
Round two saw him go to the line with number-two qualifier Daniel Pharris in a
twin-turbocharged ’15 Corvette, which encountered traction trouble on the SGMP eighth mile while Haney ran another solid 3.78 at 195.96 mph. However, when Haney’s crew saw flames shoot out of both header pipes as he crossed the finish line they feared broken rods or burned pistons might be waiting for them back in the pits.
Prior to the start of eliminations, Long had announced all Sweet 16 semi-finalists and finalists would be allowed "as long as it takes" to make repairs, if necessary. That proclamation paid off for Haney, as it turned out his car suffered no engine damage, but all the bolts holding its flywheel in place had sheared off, requiring a lengthy, painstaking procedure of drilling them out for removal and replacement.
Remarkably, fellow competitors including Naiser, Travis, Mark Woodruff, Kenny Hubbard, Jack Barbee, Rodney Whatley, Taylor Lastor and “Stevie Fast” Jackson, among others, congregated in Haney’s pit, providing parts, labor and expertise to get him ready to take on fellow Oklahoman DeWayne Mills in the semi-finals.
“You know, to have people from at least six different teams over here helping us has to be one of the better moments of the weekend for me,” Haney said. “It was very gratifying to see.”
With repairs finished, Haney rolled Enigma to the SGMP starting line, ready to take on Mills and his twin-turbo “Golden Gorilla” ‘68 Camaro. When the lights came down Mills left with a .041 reaction in the left lane, while Haney turned on the dreaded red bulb, leaving just two-thousandths of a second too soon.
“I knew I had to push it, but I'd rather lose like that than with a .080 light or something," Haney said. "I want to add that I appreciate Duck and especially DeWayne Mills for waiting on us to get the car ready.
“We may not have been the fastest here—but we will get there, make no mistake about that—but we don’t hurt parts and that’s a big deal,” he added. “I mean, there were 34 total cars here, 16 made it into the main event, and I made it down to four, so I’d say that’s a pretty good outcome.”
The Sweet 16 result continued what’s turned out to be a great start this year for Tulsa-based Keith Haney Racing. Haney opened his 2018 campaign in February with an RvW runner-up finish at Long’s huge Lights Out 9 event at SGMP.
Then the team struck success a week later with another RvW final-round appearance in the season opener for the Frankenstein Engine Dynamics Mid-West Pro Mod Series (MWPMS) at the Texas Motorplex, with “Daddy Dave” Comstock of Street Outlaws TV fame at the controls of Enigma that time. Meanwhile, Haney steered “Notorious,” a second, nearly identical-appearing Camaro, to a quarter-final finish in Pro Mod at the Motorplex, again with career-best performance numbers.
“The great thing is we haven’t changed our program from last year when we won two championships in the Mid-West Pro Mod Series.