Toyota Nationals SS Winner– Ryan McClanahan

Words/Photos Phil Hutchison

At the 2007 version of the Toyota Nationals Ryan McClanahan was in his second ever Super Stock final at an NHRA national event. Driving his SS/BM Private Ryan Cobalt and thanks to a foul start by his opponent, McClanahan won his first Super Stock Wally. He had won before in Stock but this was his first of what would be five wins in Super Stock along with a Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series World Championship in Super Stock in 2010.

Fast forward to 2017 and as McClanahan tells it, ”It was pretty weird in the finals this year. I was in the same lane and same eliminator as the 2007 finals and the same thing happened. My competition fouled giving me the win.”

This time it was the FSS/C 2010 Mustang of Darrell Dietz from Canada leaving early with a 0.020 red light as McClanahan took the easy win with a shutting off 10.305.

The first round McClanahan was racing the GT/OA Mustang of Jim Rau from Sacramento CA.  Rau’s Ford was second off the line with a 0.057 light to McClanahan’s 0.040 and the starting line advantage was the difference as Rau ran closer to his dial but McClanahan was going to round two.  “I race Jim on a division level quite a lot and he has got the better of me more than once,” McClanahan said. “In round two it was similar to the first round with me racing a slower car but we had a big headwind and it was hard for everyone to predict a time so I decided to soften my dial racing the El Camino of Dennis Paz so I could get there first as his car is much slower than mine. I went down there and I tried to make it as close as I could.” Paz’s SS/NA Chevy ran an 11.961 on an 11.88 dial to McClanahan’s winning 8.645 on an 8.63.

“Having a faster car is an advantage as long as you are consistent,” McClanahan said. “Racing Paz, who is a former JEGS Allstar and races quite a lot and is very consistent, but he was on the brakes on the top end and missed his dial. In round three racing against Charlene Gullett I know she was going to dial close to her time and she was going to be 0.020 or better on the tree so I knew I had to be on and not trust the car but my ability.”

McClanahan hit the tree with a 0.008 to Gullett’s 0.026 and although she ran closer to her dial with a 10.751 on a 10.74, again McClanahan’s better reaction time was the difference as McClanahan ran a 8.653 on a 8.63 dial for the win.

Round four had McClanahan up against one of his Division 7 rivals, the SS/FA ’68 Dart of Darren Smith. Smith had the better light but was off his dial putting McClanahan into round five. “It was really hot out by now and I have probably raced Darren, who builds my transmissions, over a dozen times and with the heat he slowed and me having the faster car, seeing what was happening in front of me, I could control what was going to happen and take the win.”

That win had McClanahan racing the Division 3 GT/GA Cavalier of Irvin Johns from Indiana in round five, and as in round four, his competition got the better light but this time broke out by 0.004. “It was the last run on Saturday and the winner would get the bye to the final. The wind had died down and we were going to run better. We both dialed what we ran the round before and I knew he was holding probably 0.020, so I tried to not mess up. I had a terrible 0.031 light and ran down there, hit a good dump spot and hit the brakes hoping he would go under his dial. And he was hitting the brakes too!”

McClanahan ran an 8.693 on an 8.68 dial as Johns broke out with a 9.706 on his 9.71 dial. “My reaction times were not as good as I would have liked this weekend but I was just lucky.”

“We made a couple of changes in the car for Sunday and used the bye run as a time run to see how the car would run in the finals. Didn’t really matter as he went red and I just cruised down there and savored the moment.

“In January we decided to change the look on the car and get away from the blue camo and try something different. I had been driving a blue Private Ryan car since my Jr Dragster days. I’m 28-years old now and have had the same paint job since I was nine; it was time for a change. We got a beautiful paint job on the car by Levi at Low Riders. One of my guys is into Low Riders and they did a super job and did the car between the end of the 2016 season and the Winternationals so we didn’t miss a race.

“First off, I would like to thank my parents Brian and Susan for all their love and support along with my sister Alex, my girlfriend Kelsey and her daughter Paisley, McClanahan said. In addition, I want to thank the Torres Family along with the Galati Family for their friendship and support. Also John Richardson who prepares my motors along with Gary Hansen at Hansen Race Cars who built the Cobalt. And finally I want to thank my sponsors Total Trucking Service, Hoosier Tires, and Titan Tire Service. “