While Route 66 Raceway was rocking yesterday with the first rounds of eliminations for the 13th Annual Nitto NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing presented by Fuel Systems Technology, things are about to get even rowdier today as competitors gun it to try to get to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle and the runoff between NMCA and NMRA winners. Awaiting those who seal the deal are the incredibly impressive Nitto Diamond Tree Rings.
NMRA Race Star Wheels Ford Muscle will get things in gear at 8:45 a.m. on this final day of the 13th Annual Nitto Tire Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing presented by Fuel Systems Technology.
Frank Varela was on his way to an easy round one victory over a troubled Brian Mitchell in Edelbrock Renegade last night, but things changed at the 1000 foot mark. “It nosed over,” said Varela, and upon returning to the pits, the damage was discovered. “We blew half the motor off,” said Dwayne James. But a new engine was in the trailer, and although it was destined to go into Haley James’ car, Dwayne made the call for a thrash. Fueled by adrenaline and Bud Light, the team completed the swap just before 6 this morning. “It sounds nasty,” said Varela of the new bullet, and the B Team will get a few hours of sleep before lining Varela up for his final round match with Tony Hobson.
Phillip McAllister has switched gears from Procharger Coyote Modified last season to the new Steeda Limited Street class in 2018. Joliet marks his first appearance in the class, as MPR Racing Engines’ Tim Eichhorn handled the machine work and McAllister assembled the powerplant just in time for this event. A Procharger D-1SC blower provides the extra atmosphere, but with McAllister arriving at Route 66 with no time on the combination before qualifying, a 10.82 best put him opposite Kelly Shotwell for round one, where problems sidelined McAllister before the run.
After winning the first three races of the season in Steeda Limited Street, Kelli Shotwell experienced motor trouble during qualifying at the most recent NMRA event in Ohio. A replacement short block, slightly smaller at 321 cubic inches, showed up in Joliet wearing the previously used Trick Flow heads and intake, Precision turbocharger, and a JW Powerglide backing it all up. “I’ve only made three passes on it, so we’re still figuring out the tune up,” said Shotwell. He replaced a blown head gasket after the second qualifying session, but got a round one victory with a 9.22 at 149 mph to advance to today’s final eliminations.
A past champion in QA1 True Street competition, Randy Thomas brought his 2010 Shelby to Joliet looking for a shot at the top spot. A healthy field of cars and trucks descended on Route 66 Dragway for True Street, and the cruise was moved to Chicagoland Speedway where cars went four wide around the track. Back on the drag strip, Thomas showed the upper hand, using an 8.40 at 164 mph best on the way to an 8.78 average and the True Street win yesterday. “I finally get a shot at a Super Bowl ring,” said Thomas, which will happen later today when the NMCA and NMRA winners battle it out for the Super Bowl team title.
Jason Henson comes to this race with the lead in Exedy Racing Clutch Modular Muscle points, and he’s doing everything he can to stay there. He qualified in the fourth position with a .004 in his Mustang Mach 1, and he’s currently going rounds in the 12-second machine. “This race season has really been a dream come true, and I’m really happy to be leading Modular Muscle points right now, but I’d really like to seal the championship deal,” said Henson, whose teammates include fellow racers Joe and Becki Cram and their daughter, Maci, Lloyd Mikeska and family. As though competing in one class wasn’t enough, he’s also competing — and going rounds — in NMCA MagnaFuel Open Comp in Mikeska’s Mustang this weekend.
See NMRA eliminations results HERE