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NMRAPaul
07-25-2008, 02:26 PM
My Kind of Town
Third time’s a charm for the Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing

Once again, Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois became the epicenter of the doorslammer world as the NMRA and NMCA converged for the Third Annual Motive Gear Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing, presented by Nitto Tire, on July 17-20. Once again, the Midwest summer weather played a factor, with rain shortening the qualifying for all but the top classes from three rounds to two, and once again the amazing Route 66 staff showed why their track may just be the very best in the world, quickly recovering from each cloudburst and getting racers back into action. By the end of the NMRA versus NMCA shootout on Sunday, the program finished up a mere two minutes behind schedule, testament to both the track staff and the cooperative racers who always make this event a breeze.

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The Turbonetics Pro Outlaw 10.5 class has been dominated in its first full season by Conrad Scarry, undefeated in the previous three races. But Joliet would prove that Scarry wasn’t invincible – in qualifying, class newcomer Ron Lummus had the field covered by almost a tenth, running an amazing 6.861 in his second try, and backing it up with a 6.890 on the third hit to claim the new Pro Outlaw record. Scarry was the only other driver to crack the seven second barrier in qualifying, with a 6.942, while the rest of the seven car field stretched out into the mid-sevens. In the opening round of eliminations, both frontrunners got a single; Lummus courtesy of the odd field, and Scarry getting a freebie when Keith Neal couldn’t make the call. Second round paired Scarry against Dan Millen, but an aborted pass from the Desert Eagle left Scarry unchallenged, running out to a 6.933 on his way to the finals. Meanwhile, Lummus advanced in his first actual NMRA race, getting past Jerry Morgano 7.113 to 7.423. The final round promised to be epic, but the actual drama was far greater than anyone imagined. At the tree, Lummus lit the top bulb first and starting bringing his turbos up, while Scarry, who unbeknownst to anyone outside the team was in no condition to make a full pass, sat idling outside the beams. Finally edging into position, Scarry lit his own prestage bulb, and Lummus immediately bumped the rest of the way in, followed moments later by Scarry. As the ambers flashed, Lummus got a big holeshot with a .032 to Scarry’s .190, and took off down-track as Scarry eased out of the hole. It looked like a sure thing for Lummus, until a transmission line let go at the 100-foot mark and the Garrett-sponsored Mustang began a series of wild pendulum swings as Lummus fought to keep the car off the wall and away from the centerline. At the stripe, it was Lummus across first, 9.590 at 97.24 mph to Scarry’s 11.326 at 114.62, and as the vaporized ATF cleared from the air, Lummus’ tire tracks showed he’d kept it off the paint and earned his first NMRA win.

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It was also a record-breaking weekend for ProCharger Super Street Outlaw class, with AJ Powell leading qualifying with an unprecedented 7.425 at a mere 185.56 mph. Jarrett Halfacre was right behind at 7.434, with another 11 mph through the traps, while Don Burton took third at 7.436. John Urist also dipped into the seven-forties, batting cleanup in the 16-car field with a 7.489. With two blowers, a turbo, and a big-block nitrous car all in the top four, it was anybody’s guess who’d come out on top. In the first round of eliminations, Halfacre wasted no time at all taking the record away from Powell, nailing a 7.382 against Mike McKay. Powell took a holeshotting from Urist teammate Dwayne James, who was then on the receiving end of a 7.688-to-7.904 defeat at the hand of Richard Lelsz in the second round. In turn, Lelsz went home after an obviously-hurt pass gave the win to Sam Vincent, absent all this season up to this point. With that side of the ladder set, Halfacre was doing his best to make his second final round appearance of the year, driving around a .004 light by Mike Trimandilis, but his semi-final matchup with Urist would prove to be his undoing. At the tree, a perfect triple-zero reaction put Fireball a tenth ahead from the word go (as well as earning him the right to shave Race Pages associate editor Greg “Donut” Acosta’s head), and down-track a 7.535 to Halfacre’s 7.684 sealed the deal. In the final round, it was number four qualified Urist facing down Vincent, who had worked his way up from 15th spot. The pair were nearly dead even at the tree, but on the big end Urist made his move and pulled away, keeping his title as the only SSO driver to win at the Super Bowl, 7.531 to 7.782.

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DiabloSport EFI Renegade also featured a full field of 16 cars, led in qualifying by Bob “The Mongoose” Cook at 8.628. Another class stalwart, Joel Howard, took second with an 8.647, while Dave “Oh, that” Guy claimed third at 8.678. Defending class champ Brian Mitchell and Bad Bart Tobener rounded out the top five, as well as the eight-sixties. Cook began eliminations by doing just that to Alton Clements, then went on to do the same to Tobener in a close, close race, despite giving up the holeshot. Next up was Scott Lovell, who gave Cook a run for his money but went down, 8.924 to 8.722. That put Cook into his second final round of the year, where he’d face Brian Tuten, making his first appearance in a deciding round in Renegade this year. Nitrous racer Tuten, in a reversal of his usual modus operandi, qualified at the bottom of the pack but went rounds, getting around a holeshot from George “4 on 4.25” Seeger in the opening round, then benefiting from an unusual redlight by Mitchell in the second. Tuten overcame another holeshot from Jason Geroulo in the semi-finals, outrunning the ‘vert 8.617 to 8.743. That left only Cook between Tuten and victory. There wasn’t much to choose from the pair at the line, with near-identical reactions, but down-track Tuten had another sixty in his car, while Cook fell off to an 8.86, relegating him to the runner-up spot and sending Tuten to Victory Lane.

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BFGoodrich Tires Drag Radial went into Joliet with the $5000 bonus for the first backed-up pass in the sevens unclaimed, and based on qualifying, BFG wouldn’t be writing any checks this weekend either. Best of the bunch in the two rounds on Friday was John Kolivas with an 8.137, followed by Joey Bridge at 8.296, while the rest of the 11-car class centered in mid-eight-second territory. The odd field gave Kolivas an opening round bye on Saturday, but smoke at the top end announced a cooked motor and his exit from competition. That left Tony Akins, who had gotten around Pete Johnson in the first round, unopposed in the quarters, and when the semis came around, a .017 light and an 8.257 were too much for third-qualified Matt Bell to overcome, sending Akins to the finals. Meanwhile Bridge was making the most of his qualifying spot, putting four tenths on Enzo Pecchini in the first round, who was sorting out a new ride, then getting away with an 8.341-to-8.394 squeaker against Tim Huspen in the second. With three cars remaining, Bridge ran out a leisurely competition bye straight through to the finals. At the tree, Bridge caught the holeshot, .019 to Akins’ .025, and the pair were too close to call all the way to the stripe. The scoreboards flashed the results – the win going to Akins, 8.268 to 8.322, giving the class its third winner in four events.

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Though the Edelbrock Hot Street field was short in Joliet, it was the cream of the crop, with every driver who’s been to a final so far this year in attendance, save for Ben Mens, who was still putting things back together after a crash in testing prior to Milan. Qualifying saw Charlie Booze, Jr. rise to the top with an 8.809, followed by Robbie Blankenship at 8.836, Mike DeMayo with an 8.858, Keith Courtney at 8.902, and Mike Abdalla rounding things out with a 9.036. In competition, Booze hammered out an 8.827 in his opening odd-field bye, then drove around a holeshot from DeMayo to a narrow 8.810-8.850 victory that earned him a slot in the finals. There, he’d pair with Blankenship, who got a freebie in the opener when Courtney redlit, then took his own competition bye out to an 8.878 in the semi-finals. The last Hot Street race of the day started off with a killer .005 light for Blankenship, but Booze’s .029 wasn’t a deal-breaker, and down-track the Freight Train caught and passed Blankenship, taking Booze to his second win of the season, 8.831 to 8.953.

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5.0 Magazine Real Street put nine drivers in the lanes at Joliet, and once again, Bruce Hemminger was the man to beat, running 9.634 in qualifying to earn top rung on the ladder. Defending champ Tim Matherly was second at 9.704, while Brian McCormick found a 9.708, good for third. The pole position gave Hemminger a bye in the opener, straight into the second round against Matt Bell. Bell was no match for Hemminger’s blue-striped coupe, giving Hemminger the go-ahead into the semis against Matherly. A huge -.208 redlight ended Matherly’s weekend, sending Hemminger to his second final round in two tries this year. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Jim Breese was carrying the front wheels through his side of the ladder, dispatching Jim Coger in the first round, 9.807 to 9.970, then getting a free one when McCormick redlit in the second. With three cars left, the remaining bye fell to Breese, who cruised straight into the finals. There, the crimson bulb of despair would appear once more, a huge -.210 redlight gave Hemminger the win, but giving Breese a third runner-up this season as a consolation prize.

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Tremec Pure Street fielded ten cars, with Ryan Hecox in the lead at the end of the abbreviated qualifying session, turning in a best effort of 10.335 at 129.94 mph. Brandon Alsept found a thirty as well, running 10.366 for second, while Rocky Mason bagged third spot with a 10.408. Hecox pulled off a two-tenths win over Eric Burkhart in the first round, then claimed the odd-field bye in the second, driving straight into the semi-finals. There, he faced Mason, and pulled out a holeshot win despite running a slower 10.419 to Mason’s 10.406. On the far side of the ladder, Alsept was churning through the field, taking out Amy Sherwin first, then getting past Mark Anderson despite giving up a huge .051-to-.153 holeshot. Alsept got to rest a bit with a bye into the finals, and when he and Hecox lined up to decide Pure Street, it was over before it began – A -.011 redlight from Hecox put Alsept into the winner’s circle for the second time in 2008.

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It was a good weekend for ACT Factory Stock, with seven of nine qualifiers in the elevens, topped by Tommy Godfrey with an 11.378 at 119.19 mph. Louis Sylvester was second, an even hundredth behind, while Matt Amrine was third at 11.478 in only his second Factory Stock outing. Godfrey’s opening round bye led him up against arch-rival Steve Gifford in the second round, and Godfrey came out on top, 11.508 to 11.593. That set up a semi-final against Sylvester, and Godfrey came out on top once more, with both drivers cutting lazy lights but Godfrey making up for it with an amazing 11.289 pass. The other half of the field was witnessing a Cinderella story unfold, with Amrine first trailering Alan Cann, then dispatching Jay Dold on a true holeshot win. That led to a competition single into the finals, where the smart money was definitely on Tommy G. When the lights dropped, Godfrey did indeed have the quicker car, running 11.362 to Amrine’s 11.408, but a .086-.175 holeshot in Amrine’s favor was enough to hold off the defending champ’s charge, and give Amrine the honor of claiming victory just two races into his Factory Stock career.

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Roush Performance Modular Muscle drew its biggest field since Bradenton, with just shy of 30 cars in the lanes. At the head of qualifying was Tom Motycka, by virtue of his .004 light. Motycka fought through five rounds of eliminations to the finals, where he paired with last year’s winner Brandon Peterson, who had qualified second with a .013. By virtue of a slower index, Motycka got the green first and pulled a slight holeshot, cutting a .018 to Peterson’s .023 moments later, but Motycka stayed in it for just a little bit too long on the far end, breaking out with a 12.524 on his 12.53 dial and giving Peterson his second Joliet win.

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Steeda Open Comp was far and away the biggest championship class in Joliet, with 41 cars competing for the win. Mike McCombs took the early lead in qualifying with a .002 light, but Scott Baumgartner was right behind at .003. After the long grind down to the last pair in eliminations, McCombs was still standing, and he’d face Matt O’Connell, a mid-pack qualifier who had shown the staying power vital to success in this unforgiving class. O’Connell got the tree first thanks to his slower dial, and clipped a .045 light, followed by McCombs with a .087. At the stripe, O’Connell had it in the bag, running 10.834 on a 10.83 dial, while McCombs was forced to break out while trying to make up the reaction time deficit.

http://208.122.20.134/filehost/files/11/nmra2008/4joliet/trwjohnson.jpgAn even dozen racers filled the ranks of Detroit Locker Truck & Lighting at Route 66, with a bunch of familiar names at the top of the qualifying order. Dave Cole was first with a .013, followed by Mike Motycka with a .024, and Johnny Lightning rounded out the top three with a .062. In eliminations, things would boil down to Lightning versus fourth-qualified Ray Johnson, and it turned out to be a barn-burner. Lightning got the tree first, and put a whole tenth in his pocket thanks to a .024-to-.125 holeshot, but as Johnson gave chase, Lightning had no alternative but to keep out in front, and the result was a double breakout. Unfortunately for Lightning, his huge advantage at the tree couldn’t save him from his 11.516-on-11.66, worse than Johnson’s 10.820-on-10.90, and he’d have to settle for runner-up status for the third time this year.

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Hedman Hedders True Street, presented by Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords magazine, is always a Big Deal at Joliet, due in no small part to the fact that it’s combined with its NMCA counterpart and run as one huge class. This year was no exception, with 61 cars of all stripes gunning for gold. When the numbers were crunched, Mike Brown’s 4th gen Trans Am was the quickest, with an 8.280 average and a best pass of just 8.110. Greg “Not Stickerdude, but Stickerdude’s brother” Zoetmulder put his Jeep CJ-7 into the runner up spot with an 8.890 average. Unfortunately for the Blue Oval faithful, the quickest Ford was Mark Gallert’s Mustang, running an average of 10.423 and just missing the Ten Second honors.