While Chad Wendel had been competing in NMRA Roush Super Stang for eight years, he was enticed by NMRA Steeda Limited Street when it debuted in 2017 and decided to enter the category in 2018.
To prepare for his move from index racing to heads-up racing, he decided to replace the 4.6L Modular engine that he had been running with a Coyote engine from a 2014 Mustang that had been sitting in a junkyard. He paired it with his tried-and-true Paxton supercharger.
“I used the stock heads and cams, plus a Boss intake, and I locked the MMR cams out and put good MMR oil pump gears in the engine, and I put MMR coolant crossover plates in the back,” said Wendel.
A mere seven days before he was to leave for the 24th Annual Nitto NMRA Spring Break Shootout in early March at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida, he made the trip from his home in Indiana to Complete Auto Repair and Performance in Ohio to have his Mustang put on a chassis dyno and to have his combination tuned by Tony McKinney and Todd Dennis via a Holley EFI system. Things, however, didn’t go as planned.
“We pushed the stock engine a little too far, and it blew on the dyno,” said Wendel. “So, we had to start all over with a new stock Coyote block from Ford, and within three days, Nyes Automotive had rebuilt the engine with Manley rods, Mahle pistons and a stock crank. We used the same stock heads and Boss intake from the other engine.”
After a quick date with the chassis dyno to break in the engine, Wendel loaded his Mustang, which rolls on Mickey Thompson ET Street S/S Radial tires, into his trailer and headed to the 24th Annual Nitto NMRA Spring Break Shootout, where he officially threw his hat into the Steeda Limited Street ring.
While he was confident in his car, his new engine and his RPM Transmissions-built Turbo 400, he knew going into the event that his converter was too loose to effectively work with the combination and that he would likely run off-pace 10s in the new category where other drivers would likely run 8s and 9s, but he also knew he would have help from PTC right after the race to choose an ideal converter.
“We may have lost in the first round, but we felt good about the class, and we literally ordered a new converter from PTC on the way home,” ‘said Wendel. “Then, once we had it in the car, we did a partial day of testing, and it went well.”
It was onward and upward for Wendel from there, as he went as quick as 9.17 and as far as the second round of eliminations at the 10th Annual NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals in April at Atlanta Dragway, as quick as 8.96 and as far as the semifinal at the 18th Annual CJ Pony Parts NMRA Ford Motorsport Nationals in May at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania and as quick as 9.22 and as far as the semifinal — in the race season’s first very hot and humid conditions — at the 15th Annual NMRA Ford Super Nationals in early June at National Trail Raceway in Ohio.
“I guess we still need to figure out the tuning with water grains at 165,” said Wendel, with a laugh.
Now holding down third place in Steeda Limited Street points, Wendel is preparing for the 13th Annual Nitto NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing, July 26-29 at Route 66 Raceway in Illinois.
“While we want to keep the tune-up pretty conservative because we want the combination to live, we’re making some adjustments that will pick us up a bit,” said Wendel, whose son, Shelby Wendel, nephew, Levi Weldel, and niece, Molly Wendel, all race in NMRA Roush Performance Super Stang. “For example, right now, my blower is right up against my fan shroud and taking all of its air, so we’re getting ready to put a smaller radiator fabricated by Jay Nelson in the car and move it to the side so the blower can breathe a little better, and that will make a difference in how the car runs because it will have better air. Meanwhile, I’m tickled to death that we’re sitting in the third spot in points. The season has definitely gotten better and better as it has gone on.”