Saturday Coverage—9th Annual NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by Steeda Autosports

After an unseasonably chilly (and windy) day yesterday, we’re expecting both the temperatures and the racing to heat up today. We’ll be starting the final qualifying rounds shortly, and then we’ll move straight into eliminations. Stay tuned for more updates!

One of the unique features of the All-Star Nationals is the inclusion of the NMCA categories, of which includes Pro Modified. One of the two Mustang entries in the field of 15 belongs to Mark Lutton of MMR. The slick 2015 Mustang GT sports a twin turbocharged Coyote engine, using the company’s tall-deck billet engine block. Displacing 351ci, the engine benefits from a pair of Garrett GTX55-88mm turbochargers. With noted turbo racer Brad Personett as crew chief, Lutton drove the race-bred S550 to a best of 3.90 at 199 mph and he is sitting fifth in the field, through two rounds of qualifying.

Rocketing to the top of qualifying in Edelbrock Renegade was Aaron Bates, the 2016 class champion and record holder. It is the first race back for the champ and he unleashed a 7.43 at 185 mph to sit on top of the field. Sliding up right behind him is Frank Varela in the Hellion Turbo B-Team hot rod with a 7.51 at 180 mph, slightly slower than his 7.45 run last month during the Spring Break Shootout. There is one more round of qualifying coming up today with eliminations began tonight.

As some may or may not know, helmets carrying a SFI SA2005 tag on it have expired as of January 1, 2017. The NMRA tech department has collected several helmets that are not up-to-date, in order to prevent racers from competing on track with sub-par safety gear. They will get the helmets back at the conclusion of the race weekend. Several manufacturers on the midway are carrying new equipment, including belts and helmets.

You break it, you buy it. The ’88 Mustang known as “Pumpkin Spice” has a new wheelman for the season, as car owner Adam Arndt will soon be deploying to serve his country. In the meantime, longtime NMRA racer Brian Mitchell will pilot the chassis in Edelbrock Renegade. The new ProCharged “390 ci-ish” engine from Mike Curcio Race Products and a transmission from Frank Lupo and Sean Wiley belong to Mitchell, and he plans to spend the season dialing in the combination so he can drop it into his own car for 2018 and simply focus on the chassis tuning at that point. Mitchell is aiming to re-debut his original ’91 Mustang that raced at the first-ever NMRA Maple Grove event, and the new and improved “Wizard 1.5” will come out as a Tim Lyons’ “masterpiece” stock style-suspension 25.3 chassis.

Although he’s gone as quick as 10.24 at Palm Beach International Raceway just one month ago, G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock contender Tyler Eichhorn ran a new “NMRA Personal Best” earlier in qualifying of just 10.29-seconds. Eichhorn’s MPR Racing Engines-powered ’93 Mustang has had a few quick adjustments made to the clutch and shocks, and Eichhorn is looking to wind up on top of the ladder with faster runs coming during the third qualifying session today.

Everyone loves NMRA’s Official Starter, TJ “El Prepe” Bailey and Detroit Locker Truck & Lightning racer Vinnie Telesco put this little message to him on the window of his ’87 Ranger.

This is what we call commitment! The sponsor shout out was spotted on the Edelbrock Renegade entry of Robert Rodgers and Eric Kenward.

Back in the pits after Q2, John Urist’s gorgeous Turn 14-backed VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw S550 Mustang has all four wheels and tires firmly planted on the ground and that’s where the Hellion Turbo “B-Team” driver is hoping it’ll stay for the third qualifying session. The turbocharged, MMR Gen X Coyote-equipped Mustang reared up earlier with an impressive wheelie, but the guys have added weight to the front end, reduced the travel in the front suspension, and adjusted the four-link to try and compensate for the unexpected air time.

Andy Warren is doubling up this weekend, as he’s running his 1971 Caprice in NMCA Detroit Truetrac Nostalgia Muscle Car and his 2013 Mustang in NMRA Race Pages Ford Muscle. While the multi-time NMCA Detroit Truetrac Nostalgia Muscle Car champion discovered a crack in the trans pan under his Caprice and had to replace it with a new pan early in the weekend, he has since run a 10.09 on his 10.00 index in the car to qualify ninth in a field of 20. In the Mustang, he posted a 13.95, a tick under his 14.00 index, and is currently qualified eighth in a field of 9. For a recent story on Warren and his cars, click HERE

The Sealed Stock Shootout is part of the All-Star Nationals theme–racing officials took four G-Force Racing Transmission Coyote Stock and paired them against four Chevrolet Performance Sealed Stockers. The top three point earners from the past seven events made up each team with a fourth being randomly chosen from the racers present at the race. Shane Stymiest and Tim Matherly combined to take down the four baddest CP Stock racers to meet each other in the final round. Stymiest took the stripe with a 10.31 at 128 mph to Matherly’s 10.33 effort.

After hurting his engine at the NMRA season opener and having a hard start to the season, Edelbrock Renegade racer Alton Clements has got his mojo back. Clements tried a new 1.60 first gear in his turbo 400 transmission this weekend but it just wasn’t working the way he wanted, so he kept at it, changed to a 2.10 first, made some tuning and suspension changes, and his Vortech YSi supercharged ’89 Mustang has started to come around to the tune of a 7.454 at 183.92 mph hit in qualifying which ranked him third in the field of fourteen.

Hellion Turbo “B-Team” driver Frank Varela fixed a few issues with his boosted ’89 Mustang GT during the offseason, including few suspension items and the addition of a new adjustable lower torque box. The heavy hitter is running well once again in Edelbrock Renegade, and Varela credits his new Powerglide from Mark Micke’s M&M Transmission for helping him get back in the game as his MMR-built engine had plenty of power but wasn’t able to get it to the ground effectively. Additionally, the switch from his old Precision turbo to a new unit from Work produced a killer 7.445 at 182.90 mph run during qualifying to put Varela back near the top of the pack in second.

After torching a head on his ProCharged ’85 Mustang, 2016 ProCharger Coyote Modified champion Joe Guertin and crew chief Chet Caminita looked through the data and discovered a longstanding fuel injector issue was the cause. What could have been a $400 upgrade translated into a much more expensive repair, but Guertin is back and better than ever with a new “Tim Eichhorn Specialty” engine from MPR Racing Engines. Although he’s got plenty of power on tap now and can access it safely due to the new injectors and tune (which Cal Hartline of Hartline Performance is consulting on), Guertin’s actually more excited about a different new toy – his shiny new 30’ Intech trailer from Overkill Motorsports, complete with all the bells and whistles. Ironically, the purchase was spurred on by Guertin’s need to keep his beloved dog, Titus, safe, happy, and comfortable.

After struggling a bit in 2016, Matt Amrine (left) and crew chief Chuck Carter (right) are back on the right track. The Richmond Gear Factory Stock racer recently upgraded from his factory ECU to an AEM standalone unit and has been busy working the bugs out of it, but missed the NMRA season opener race at Bradenton as a result. Master tuner Eric Holliday of JPC Racing has been helping tune Amrine’s BES Racing Engines-powered and ACT clutch-equipped ’98 Mustang known as “The Black Pickle,” and he qualified sixth as a result with a 10.781 at 124.05 mph hit.


The first round of eliminations is underway. For results as each category has completed a round, click HERE