By Mary Lendzion
For the past few years, John Butsko has set his sights on moving up a notch, or two, in NMRA Race Star Wheels Ford Muscle points, and for the past few years, he has done just that.
He finished in eighth place in 2016, sixth place in 2017 and fourth place in 2018 before belting into his very cool and classic Falcon for 2019.
In the car powered by a 302 cubic-inch engine and topped with a Quick Fuel Technology carburetor, he proceeded to qualify in the fourth spot with a 12.26 on a 12.25 index and earned a runner-up finish with a 12.37 against Bill Lee Jr. at the season-opening 25th Annual Nitto NMRA Spring Break Shootout in March at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida.
Then, the driver out of Ohio qualified in the fourth spot with a 12.259 on a 12.25 index and made it to the semifinal round of eliminations before exiting with a breakout time of 12.24 against David Mormann at the 11th Annual Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by Mahle Motorsport in April at Atlanta Dragway.
He qualified in the ninth spot with a 12.66 on a 12.50 index and lost in the first round of eliminations even though he ran right on his index as Bryan Parker had the holeshot advantage at the Inaugural NMRA Ford Gateway Rumble presented by HPJ Performance in May at Gateway Motorsports Park in Illinois, but he shook that off and went on to qualify in the fourth spot with a 12.31 on a 12.25 index and make it to the semifinal round of eliminations before exiting with a red light start against Carole Lissy at the 19th Annual NMRA Ford Motorsport Nationals in June at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania.
As the season started to come to a close, Butsko qualified in the tenth spot with a 12.36 on a 12.25 index and earned another runner-up finish with a 12.38 against Lloyd Mikeska at the 14th Annual Nitto NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing in July at Route 66 Raceway in Illinois.
With the hope of hauling to the lead at the final event on this year's NMRA tour, the 21st Annual Nitto NMRA All-Ford World Finals in September at Beech Bend Raceway in Kentucky, he qualified in the ninth spot with a 12.53 on a 12.50 index and exited eliminations in the second round after turning on the red light against Rodney Ward, and with that, Butsko became the 2019 NMRA Race Star Wheels Ford Muscle champion.
I would have liked to win a race this year, but I did win a lot of rounds, said Butsko. (I've been) getting better each year. You can't count anyone out at any race. They all run close to their number. You just have to show up to every race and hope to go rounds.
Butsko and his fellow champions will have the stage at the NMRA Muscle Car Nationals presented by E3 Spark Plugs Awards Ceremony presented by Aerospace Components, Dec. 13 at the Indiana Convention Center.
(Please watch for stories on all NMRA champions to be posted on the NMRA and Race Pages Digital websites and in Fastest Street Car in the days to come.)