Sunday of the Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing is different than most elimination days. For one, the first round went down last night <<HERE>>, we have both sanctioning bodies (NMRA and NMCA) with 24 total category eliminators, and finally the match-ups that makes this event the most unique in the world of drag racing—the Nitto Tire Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing. The final component to our weekend pits the NMRA class winners against the NMCA victors in a battle royale with cash bonuses and Nitto Tire Diamond Tree rings that hang in the balance. As a side note, this event has more final rounds than any other drag race in the world (special thanks to Bret Kepner for the statistic).
There’s always something going on in the pits after the on-track action stops, and Mark Menscer of Menscer Motorsports was busy servicing customers long into the evening. Menscer has his mobile service center here this weekend as he has a huge amount of customers racing at Route 66 Raceway, not to mention the Super Bowl is a good opportunity to bring in some new business.
VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw hot-shoe Manny Buginga had a handful of steering wheel in the first round of qualifying when his Mustang made a mad move toward the wall, but the legendary driver saved it, and he and his team promptly made chassis adjustments with help from Mark Menscer of Menscer Motorsports. He went on to qualify sixth with a 4.54, and then defeated Henry Schneider with a 4.50 in yesterday’s first round of eliminations, and is ready for today’s second round of eliminations. “I went up to the lanes for the first round of eliminations with a tune that I knew would get me from A to B, and now we have something to work with for the second round of eliminations,” said Buginga, who relies on a DiSomma Racing Engines-built 400 cubic-inch bullet fronted by a 98mm Precision turbo and has help in the tuning department from Nick and Rich Bruder. “I’m getting there, with a lot of help from my team.”
The 2015 NMRA Coyote Stock points champion (and current points leader) Drew Lyons has a target on his back. After taking the number one spot in qualifying with a great 10.395 at 127.98 mph pass, he enjoyed a bye run in round one of eliminations where he went even quicker and faster with a 10.261 at 129.50 mph. Lyons credits the good evening air, but had also adjusted his ACE Racing clutch in his ’88 Mustang so it was softer at the hit. Along with a lowered launch RPM and resolved shift light issue, Lyons laid down a warning shot for his fellow CS contenders. He’ll face off against Charlie Booze Jr in round two, and knows he has his work cut out for him in that pairing so his strategy is to be as quick on the tree as possible and to never look back.
Running in NMRA Coyote Stock, number six qualifier John McGowan’s 10.394 at 128.07 mph run in round one of eliminations earned him the win, and some attention. The big speed came as a result of swapping to a new G-Force transmission, and some hard work. McGowan cleared up some traction issues that plagued his ’92 Mustang earlier this weekend and hit it hard when it mattered most. His best friend who has since passed away used to own the car, and McGowan is hoping to get the win this weekend in his honor as his birthday would have been yesterday.
Current points leader in ProCharger Coyote Modified Joe Guertin struggled earlier this weekend with tire spin, but fixed the issue through education. After talking with Edelbrock Renegade racer Adam Arndt and former NMCA champion Brad Schehr, both of whom are also ProCharger guys, Guertin realized that he was leaning too heavily on rpm for his launch. He massaged the ECU a little rather than trying to just launch harder and was immediately rewarded with a big performance improvement. In qualifying, Guertin bested an 8.133 at 168.14 mph pass from his ’85 Mustang but thanks to the advice of veterans, he went 7.948 at 170.86 mph in eliminations and got the win to boot.
Hotshoe Haley James has been zeroing in on her consistency thanks to the help of her Hellion Turbo team mates. James used her first round qualifying run simple to get data on the one-two shift of her turbocharged Coyote Modified entry, then went all out in the second session. It wasn’t as fast as she wanted with an 8.260 at 165.58 mph posted on the scoreboard. Her team buckled down to do a converter swap (powered by “tuning juice” aka Bud Light) and the change helped significantly; James ran 8.061 at 168.72 in the first round of eliminations and took out Joe Cram in the process. Chris Groves at Dyno Edge has also been a big part of James finding her mojo again, as her car spent a lot of time at Groves’ shop on the dyno getting dialed in.
Racing for the first time since last year, Ron Cullember is happy to be bck in G-Force Pure Street. Despite the downtime, he showed up in a big way. His 311 ci Rich Groh Racing-built engine helped propel his JPC Racing-backed Mustang to the number one qualifier position with a big 9.879 at 134.64 mph hit which also made him the only driver in the bunch to break into the 9s. Fellow NMRA racer Bruce Hemminger has been helping out, and together, the two tightened up the suspension to help keep the wheels down a bit. Cullember had earned a bye for the first round of eliminations.
Each year, G-Force Pure Street driver Shawn Johnson puts a different slogan on the back of his Mustang. For 2016, it’s “going full potato” which is a more politically correct way of referencing the famous “you never go full…” quote from the movie “Tropic Thunder”. He’s living up to the mantra this weekend – he scored the number two spot in qualifying with a 10.010 at 130.13 mph run and got the win over Mike Gucciardo in round one when he dipped into the 9s with a 9.915 at 134.90 mph hit.
While his grandfather, Don Bowles, and father, Donnie Bowles, have been killing it in NMRA and NMCA competition for years, Donnie’s 18-year-old son, Cameron, is new to NMRA Flex-A-Lite Open Comp and NMCA MagnaFuel Open Comp. Adding to the cool factor is the fact that he’s in the driver’s seat of his grandfather’s well-known ’72 Maverick, “Little Coal Digger VII,” which features a 358 cubic-inch small-block Ford built by Roush but freshened by Phillip Oakley and a Turbo 400. After making his NHRA competition licensing passes, he got his feet wet at the NMCA/NMRA race in Georgia in April, where he ran Bracket 2, and this weekend, he dove into NMRA Flex-A-Lite Open Comp, where he held his own by posting an .018 to qualify 13th in the field of 33, and advanced to the second round before bowing out of competition in the car which currently runs mid-nines. When we asked Cameron whether he was nervous considering he’s following in the footsteps of two racing greats, he smiled and said “No, because this is something I’ve been wanting to do my whole life, and now that I’m doing it, it feels great.”
Eliminations are underway!!! Results updated throughout the day. Get them <<<<HERE>>>>