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NMRAPaul
06-18-2006, 10:08 PM
The 22nd Annual Toyo Tires NMRA Ford Motorsports Nationals, the third stop on the 2006 tour, met with clear skies overhead all weekend, a pleasant change from years past when rain put a damper on the festivities at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania. Of course, every silver lining has a cloud, and this weekend it was temperatures in the nineties coupled with high humidity that made just moving around outdoors a test of willpower. By final eliminations on Sunday, the track temperature was topping 120 degrees, making every pass a challenge for the drivers and crew chiefs. Still, despite the heat and the fact that Father's Day fell on Sunday, the crowds were large and enthusiastic over the weekend and the racing was some of the best we've seen so far this year.

Read on for details from each class...

NMRAPaul
06-18-2006, 11:00 PM
http://promediapub.com/filehost/files/3/winpro.jpgDiabloSport Pro 5.0 started with a bang on Friday in qualifying, and ended with more of a whimper on Sunday. Eight cars filled out the field, topped by Chuck DeMory with an appropriately diabolical 6.666-second pass, but had a little trouble along the way. During his first qualifying attempt on Saturday, DeMory was on a good pass when the car began to wander at the 330-foot mark, then crossed the center line and vaporized the half-track reflector blocks before DeMory could reign it back in. Defending champ Don Walsh, Jr. had a less-dramatic qualifying session, coming in second on the ladder with a 6.691 best effort, and Michael Hauf came back from a wild pass of his own to post a 6.723, good for third. In all, six of the eight would have a six-second pass in the bag when qualifying closed out on Saturday afternoon.

With the ladder set, DeMory paired up first with Dave Hance in the opening round and drove around Hance's holeshot to advance. That wasn't the end of Hance's weekend, though, as he was once again pulling a double shift in both Pro 5.0 and Vortech Outlaw 10.5. The semi-finals pitted DeMory against Burt Kelkboom, and the Battle of the IHRA Vets was over before it really began with a -.014 redlight for Team Aruba. That left just one race to go between DeMory and his first NMRA victory, but standing in the way was the one racer you don't want to face in a Pro 5.0 final - Don Walsh.

For his part, Walsh had gotten a pass in the first round when newcomer Chris Saddler redlit to the tune of -.028, then survived a very strange race against Michael Hauf. Off the line, Hauf notched a -.002 redlight, and Walsh, apparently turned up to "kill" as well, left with a .004 reaction of his own. Problems took hold immediately, though; with the win light on in his lane, Walsh fought through monster tire shake that rattled his Mustang like a coffee can full of marbles and broke something in the transmission. The damage left Walsh stranded at half-track and scrambling to put things right back in the pits. Unfortunately, the team never quite diagnosed the problem and the clock ran out, leaving DeMory to take the uncontested win and make the third champion in three races for DiabloSport Pro 5.0.

NMRAPaul
06-19-2006, 08:28 AM
http://promediapub.com/filehost/files/3/winsso.jpgGoing into Maple Grove, nitrous-boosted racer Sam Vincent had gone two-for-two, and the question was whether he'd continue his hot streak to become the first bottle-fed MSD Ignition SSO champion. Though off to a great start, Vincent's early lead in the points wasn't the result of his own hard work alone - some bad luck in the other lane had come in handy as well, and there are a half-dozen drivers who are poised to seize any opportunity to knock Vincent out of first.

At the Grove, it was no surprise to find John "Fireball" Urist at the top of that list at the end of qualifying, posting a scorching 7.561 at 189.47 mph. Tucked in right on his tail were Mike Trimandilis, Don Burton, Billy Laskowski, and Sam Vincent rounded out the top five. In all, eight of the lucky 13 SSO field found sevens on Friday and Saturday.

By virtue of the odd field, Urist got a top-qualifier single on Sunday morning, then paired with Vincent in round two. Despite getting a holeshot on Urist, Vincent had to pedal his green monster at half-track and his day ended right there. That left just one obstacle between Urist and the final round, and as luck would have it, that obstacle would be another nitrous racer, Don "Burndown" Burton. That paring would give Urist his first close call of the day, again losing the holeshot .061 to .055 to Burton, but catching him down-track with another 7.6.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ladder, 2005 SSO champ Manny Buginga had been working his way through the other half of the field, starting with Chris Ketler in the opening round, then getting past AJ Powell in the second. That put him up against Phil Hines in the semis, and Buginga notched an end-to-end win, beating Hines on reaction time and stretching the gap down-track.

When Urist and Buginga paired up to see who'd be only the second SSO winner so far in 2006, both drivers caught near-identical lights, with a .001 second advantage going to the Fireball. Urist added to that meager head start as the pair shot down-track, crossing the line with a 7.626 to Buginga's 7.977 and taking the win.

NMRAPaul
06-19-2006, 08:50 AM
http://promediapub.com/filehost/files/3/winvo.jpgMaple Grove brought together another meeting of the Vortech Outlaw 10.5W class, and seven drivers took a shot at the tree in qualifying, led by Gene Giroud, who ran 7.248 at 201 and change, an amazing performance considering the conditions. Only two other drivers, Jim Monson and Tim Essick, found a seven in their tune-ups on Friday and Saturday, with the rest of the field stretching out into the eights and beyond.

When eliminations began on Sunday, Giroud was out of the picture, and Essick was taking on sixth-qualified Jim Briante. Though giving up the holeshot, Essick's 7.871 was just too much for Briante, who could only manage an 8.442. In the second round, Essick caught the odd-field single and took a leisurely 13-second pass right into the finals, where he'd face David Hance.

Hance's day began with a race against Jim Monson, where Hance, who was doing double-duty in both 10.5 and Pro 5.0, gave up the holeshot but caught and passed Monson through the top end, running 7.534 to Monson's slowing 7.760. In the second round, both Hance and Chuck Bartholme caught less-than-spectacular lights and struggled down-track, but Hance made the best of a bad situation, crossing the stripe ahead and advancing into the final round.

In the deciding round, Hance again gave up the move to Essick, .156 to .084, but quickly jumped ahead by mid-track. Essick's top-end charge came on strong and Hance slowed, but Hance's advantage on the short end was just too much to overcome, and Hance took his first NMRA Outlaw 10.5 win with a 7.524 to Essick's 7.745 despite running almost 10 mph slower through the traps.

NMRAPaul
06-19-2006, 01:36 PM
http://promediapub.com/filehost/files/3/winren.jpgTo say that ProCharger EFI Renegade was a popular class at Maple Grove would be an understatement; eighteen cars filled the lanes for qualifying, and leading them was perhaps the most unexpected entry of all, Zoop Zellonis. Not only did Zoop manage to get his car back into shape after a devastating garage fire, but he managed to do it in time to pull in to Maple Grove Raceway on Friday night after the gates had closed, then get up the next morning, slap on some stickers, and bust out an 8.720 to take the top rung on the ladder. Right behind him was Aaron Stapleton's gorgeous red and white S197, pulling 8.72 with a four. In all, the top half of the field qualified in the eights, making it not just one of the biggest classes, but also one of the most competitive as well.

In the first round, Stapleton got around eleventh-qualified Pennsylvanian Chris Van Gilder with relative ease, then got a freebie when his next opponent, Jay Mingolelli, couldn't make the call. Yet another single, this time as a result of the ladder, got Stapleton effortlessly through the third round, and an off-pace 9.662 pass from Joel Howard gave Stapleton (and his 8.928) all the daylight he needed to get into the final.

There, he would meet George Seeger, who had qualified third, then advanced against 12th-seeded James King in the opening round. Seeger advanced again, largely on the strength of a holeshot, against Bart Tobener in the second round, then trailered Rich Groh in an 8.944-to-8.995 squeaker in the third. The semi-finals gave Seeger a competition bye of his own straight into the final confrontation with Stapleton.

When the tree came down on the Renegade final, Seeger was away first with a .052 light to Stapleton's .123 and never looked back, extending his lead to a 9.067-to-9.353 victory, Seeger's first in Renegade competition and a fitting cherry on the top for the team's first anniversary with the NMRA.

NMRAPaul
06-20-2006, 02:55 PM
http://promediapub.com/filehost/files/3/winhs.jpgOut of all the classes in NMRA competition at Maple Grove, it was the Edelbrock Hot Street competitors who had the biggest hurdle to overcome when it came to dealing with the weather. Not only did they have traction issues to contend with in the blazing heat; their naturally-aspirated powerplants would suffer from the warm, wet air as well. Nevertheless, a full field of eight was in place by the close of qualifying on Saturday, led by Charlie Booze, Jr. with an 8.965 at 151.17 mph. Just three thousandths of a second behind him was Andy Schmidt, and Bob Hanlon's Amish Buggy was right there with a nine-oh-oh-seven, too. From first to worst, the entire field covered just .141 seconds, giving an hint of just how competitive the class would be on Sunday.

In the opening round of eliminations, Booze dispatched Randy Henry, with both drivers well off their qualifying pace, then met up with Bangin' Bob Hanlon in the semi-finals. Despite losing the holeshot, Booze drove around the Buggy and into the finals, running 9.047 to Hanlon's 9.172. On the other side of the ladder, second-qualified Schmidt escaped by the skin of his teeth in the first round against Mike Curcio, losing the reaction time battle .094 to .068 but crossing the line a scant .008 seconds ahead (about 21 inches, give or take). After that near-death experience, Schmidt caught a bye when Mike DeMayo broke and gave him the go-ahead into the finals.

There, Booze took an end-to-end victory, catching a slight lead off the tree and running it out to a 9.008-to-9.101 win over Schmidt, bookending his top qualifier spot with a trip to the winner's circle in Maple Grove.

NMRAPaul
06-20-2006, 03:45 PM
http://promediapub.com/filehost/files/3/windr.jpgIf you happened on the BFGoodrich Tires Drag Radial cars in the staging lanes for qualifying, you could be forgiven for assuming that you were looking at Open Comp or Mod Muscle instead - that's how many entries the class drew at Maple Grove. In all, 19 different drivers took a hit at the tree on Friday and Saturday, and 17 of them found an eight-second tuneup in their combinations in the process. At the head of the pack was Chad Doyle, and by a health margin, running 8.132 to second-qualified Jason Lee's 8.243.

That speed came at a cost, though - the first round was a story of attrition with Shane Jennings, Eric Laferriere, Jon Bowles, and Rodger Little all unable to break the beams. Combined with Doyle's first round bye, fully half of the matches were non-events. In the second round, Doyle trailered sixth-qualified Steve Thompson, then came up against Chris Tuten in the quarter-finals. Tuten took the holeshot, .047 to .178, but past the thousand foot mark Doyle had caught the defending champ and crossed the stripe .064 seconds ahead. That put Doyle up against Alex Vrettos, who was bringing a knife to a gunfight - after blowing up a turbo in the previous round and borrowing a spare from John Kolivas, his Cobra still wasn't quite right, and could only limp down-track as Doyle got small in the distance.

In the finals, Doyle would face Dave Hopper, who began his day with a single of his own when Laferriere couldn't make the call in the first round. Second round saw an end-to-end win against Chris Evans, and a hurt pass from opponent Mauro Vitale in the third advanced Hopper yet again. Inheriting the semi-final single, Hopper broke the beams but chose not to make a pass and save what he had left for when it counted. Even so, in the final round against Doyle, both drivers left hard but Hopper was almost immediately off the gas and out of the running, handing the win to Doyle.

NMRAPaul
06-20-2006, 04:05 PM
http://promediapub.com/filehost/files/3/winrs.jpgWhile 5.0 Mustang Real Street wasn't as stuffed full of entries at the Grove as some of the other classes, the half-dozen drivers were undoubtedly the best in the business, with last year's first through fourth place points finishers duking it out. The defending champ, Brian Meyer, led the pack in qualifying with a 10.055 at 132.39, followed by "Uncle" Robin Lawrence, Jim Breese, and Tim Matherly batting cleanup.

Lawrence, still in search of his first Real Street event win, put away fifth-qualified Bruce Hemminger in the opening round despite giving up the leave, then did the same in the semi-finals against Jim Breese, moving him one step closer to finally realizing his elusive goal. He'd have to face Tim Matherly to make it a reality, though, and Matherly had already gotten around polesitter Meyer in the first round when the champ had something go away on the top end and coasted through the traps. That gave Matherly what would have been Meyer's second round bye, and he wisely chose to save his mojo for the finals, cruising through a sixteen second quarter mile.

When Lawrence and Matherly paired off at the end of the day, an unusual and accidental miscue in staging had Uncle Robin double-bulbed while Matherly had yet to cross the prestage beam. It didn't seem to affect Matherly too much, though - he got away with a .076 light to Lawrence's .116, and that would almost be enough to make the difference. From the starting line, the pair appeared locked together, and when the scoreboards flashed the win light was on in Lawrence's lane, the advantage working out to just .021 seconds. Apologizing profusely for the staging faux pas to Matherly, Lawrence was still clearly ecstatic about his long-awaited first victory.

NMRAPaul
06-20-2006, 04:37 PM
http://promediapub.com/filehost/files/3/winps.jpgTremec Pure Street drew another full field of 16 cars in Maple Grove, led in qualifying by Ron Anderson with a 10.297 at 130.02 mph. You'd have to go half-way down the list to find the first eleven, promising some interesting match-ups going into Sunday's elimination rounds.

The opening round saw two drivers getting an unexpected break - one in a good way and one in a bad way, when Ryan Hecox advanced uncontested when Greg Curtis couldn't make the call. Hecox moved into the semi-finals when he won his second-round match against seventh-qualified David Hill, then caught another bit of that oh-so-important racer's luck against polesitter Ron Anderson when his motor went away at the top end and he could only muster a mid-twelve against Hecox's ten-ninety.

With the top qualifier out of the picture, Bad Brad Meadows was mowing through his half of the field, ending Shawn Hansen's day early with a first round victory, then dispatching fifth-qualified Jim Wilson in the quarter-finals. Meadows notched another solid victory against Teddy Weaver in the semis, giving him a clear shot to the finals and Hecox.

In that last pairing, Hecox worked his reaction time magic again, pulling a .017 to Meadows' .098, his best light of the day. He'd need every millisecond, too - down-track, Meadows had the faster car, running 10.628 to Hecox's 10.692, but that still left him .017 in the hole, roughly three feet too late to the finish line. Still, it wasn't all bad news for Meadows; over the course of the weekend, a teardown in tech revealed that one of his lifter guides had broken, allowing the body to rotate, and it would have only been a matter of a few passes before it wiped the cam and put a lot of metal into the oil pan. Runner up, but saved the motor. Not glamorous, but still a victory of sorts.

NMRAPaul
06-20-2006, 04:57 PM
http://promediapub.com/filehost/files/3/winfs.jpgEleven drivers turned out for K&N Factory Stock in Pennsylvania, and eleven turned out to be the magic number in qualifying - the top four drivers ran some variation on that theme, led by defending champ Shawn Johnson with an 11.589. He was followed by the man with the number two on his windshield, Jeff Schmell, while number three and four in points for 2005 switched places in qualifying with Dennis Merrow nudging past Jonathan Paulk.

In competition, Johnson began his march through the field with a polesitter's bye in the first round, then took down Paulk by the narrowest of margins in the second. Paulk, taking the .122 to .168 holeshot, saw Johnson eat up that narrow lead and pull even, nosing out Paulk by just .02 seconds at the stripe. That put Johnson against sixth-qualified Mike Washington in the semi-finals, who gave away the race with a -.027 redlight.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ladder, Schmell sent Steve Gifford home in the first round, then put the hurt on Brian Marr in the quarter-finals. As second qualifier, the next available bye went to Schmell, and he laid down an 11.697 in his semi-final single.

In the deciding round, unbeknownst to Schmell, Johnson's clutch was on its last legs, and it would take a miracle for the champ to make it into victory lane. That miracle took the form of a big redlight from Schmell, who rolled the beams before the tree hit, giving the race away before it even started. Though Johnson went red himself when he reacted to the motion in the other lane, and his car made nasty sounds and slowed precipitously at the 1-2 shift, none of it mattered. Johnson had notched the victory, proving that even champions need a little luck sometimes.

NMRAPaul
06-20-2006, 05:21 PM
http://promediapub.com/filehost/files/3/winmm.jpgThis season's new qualifying system for Vortech Modular Muscle puts a premium on quickness off the tree, and in Maple Grove Robert Hindman earned top honors in the preliminaries with a lightning-quick .002. 21 other drivers lined up behind him, with all but one cutting sub-.2 reactions to earn their spot in the program. The lone exception? None other than Justin Burcham, who made a single .576 hit in the last round. We suppose that he can be forgiven, though, considering his other redeeming qualities.

In eliminations, Hindman continued to display his mastery of the tree with a .009 against Adam Smith's also-respectable .017 in the first round, then got a bit of a breather with the odd-field bye in the second. In the third round, Hindman pulled off a perfect triple-aught light against Stacy Estel, then slowed to "only" a .025 against Jason Epstein in the semis, running an 11.613 on his 11.60 index and giving Epstein no choice but to break out trying to run him down.

In the other half of the field, Michael Bowen, who had qualified mid-pack in tenth position, was climbing the ladder, getting past Ronald Leonard in the first round and defeating Tom Motyka in the second despite losing a .051-to-.022 holeshot. The third round was a similar story, with Bowen trailering Gary Windsor though Windsor had nailed a .012 light by virtue of Bowen's 12.241 on his 12.14 index. That victory earned Bowen the bye into the finals, where he would get the lights first and leave first as well, notching a .023 to Hindman's .046, his slowest reaction of the day by a large margin. Down-track, though, it was Hindman through the beams first, running 11.742 on 11.60 to Bowen's 12.339 on 12.14 and earning him the win.

NMRAPaul
06-20-2006, 05:38 PM
http://promediapub.com/filehost/files/3/winoc.jpgNo fewer than three dozen drivers threw their helmets in the ring in Toyo Tires Open Comp, and when the qualifying ladders were set at the end of the day on Saturday, the first 27 of them had a light better than .100 to their credit. Leading the show was Pennsylvanian Claude Milhimes, with a "Hail Mary" .001 reaction in the third round that moved him from 24th place all the way up to the top.

On Sunday, the field quickly boiled down to the final pair: Robert Motyka, and Gary Beyer, Jr. Motycka had gotten a little bit of a break in the fourth round with an odd-field single, choosing to simply stage rather than make a pass, then drew Leonard Long in the semi-finals. In that match, both drivers cut nearly identical lights, but it was Motycka running closer to his index at the stripe. For his part, Beyer had made it past Mr. Open Comp himself, Larry Geddes, in the fourth round despite a .123 light to Geddes' .019. That earned Beyer the last bye, sending him straight through the semi-finals to meet Motycka.

In that final pairing, it was Motycka's race to lose - his .070 light gave him the advantage out of the gate to Beyer's .189, and through the beams Motycka nailed a 9.995 on his 9.96 index, simply too much for Beyer, who ran a 9.450 on 9.18.

NMRAPaul
06-20-2006, 05:52 PM
http://promediapub.com/filehost/files/3/wintr.jpgOn Friday, it was looking like pretty slim pickings in Detroit Locker Truck & Lightning, with just the ubiquitous Keith Kohlmann and Pennsylvanian Ned Einsig on the property in time for the first round. The situation greatly improved on Saturday, though, with a total of seven trucks in the field by the close of qualifying. Leading the convoy was Mike Motycka, cutting a .016 light in his big F-100.

That performance earned Motycka the odd-field first round bye, and he moved up to face Johnny "Lightning" Wiker in the semi-finals. Motycka's .020 light meant that the faster-indexed Wiker, with a .142 light, had to run him down, and Wiker overshot the mark at the stripe with an 11.850 breakout on his 11.88 index.

Meanwhile, second-qualified "Captain" Keith Kohlmann got to see a red bulb in the opposite lane for a change when Bob Walker pegged a heartbreaking -.001 in the opening round, then worked a little reaction time magic of his own in the second against Joe Jones. The Captain tree'd Jones with a .057 to his .152, and Jones had little choice but to break out trying to stay ahead, running 11.702 on his 11.71 index.

The Truck & Lightning final ended in an anti-climax with the slower-indexed Motycka leaving before the tree activated and giving Kohlmann an easy, uncontested win.