As expected, the cars were flying and the competition was fierce for the NMCA Muscle Car Nationals presented by E3 Spark Plugs from the first race of the season in March through the last race of the season, the 16th Annual SDPC Raceshop NMCA World Street Finals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indiana in September.
That’s where, in addition to trips to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle, championships in the series’ very competitive classes were on the line, and among those laying it down to lead the pack was VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod driver Steve Summers.
He qualified in the third position with a 3.88, won the event with a 3.80 and captured the class championship in his Bickel-built Camaro with just 95 points more than Jason Hamstra. The Illinois-based driver also earned a runner-up finish at the event in Georgia and holds the current VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod top speed record with a 216.06 mph.
In Mickey Thompson Radial Wars, Josh Klugger of Fiscus/Klugger Racing qualified in the third position with a 3.99 in his Mustang, and picked up to a 3.97 to runner-up and earn the class championship with just 65 points more than Marty Stinnett. The Florida-based driver also earned a runner-up finish at the event in Georgia, a win at the event in Ohio and holds the current Mickey Thompson Radial Wars top speed record with a 199.91 mph.
“We started out this season with one goal, and it was to win our first NMCA championship,” said Klugger. “We struggled really bad for the first half of the season and weren’t really able to do what we wanted. In Norwalk, we made some chassis changes and the car came around instantly. We did not abort one elimination or qualifying pass from Norwalk through Indy. Once we clinched the championship in the semifinals, all the weight and stress was lifted immediately.”
Charlie Cooper cruised his Mustang to a 4.45 to qualify in the fifth position in VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw, and laid down another 4.45 to runner-up and catch the class championship with just 200 points more than Manny Buginga. The New Jersey-based driver also earned a win at the event in Florida.
In ARP Nitrous Pro Street, Don Baskin drove his Camaro to a 7.43 to qualify in the fifth position, and despite losing in the first round of eliminations, he claimed the class championship with just 65 points more than Jeff Rudolf. The Tennessee-based driver also earned a win at the event in Kentucky and holds the current ARP Nitrous Pro Street elapsed time and top speed records with a 7.289 and 180.61 mph.
Jessie Coulter cruised his Camaro to a 4.76 to lead Edelbrock Xtreme Street qualifying, and he made it to the final round, where he ran into issues, wasn’t able to race and finished as runner-up. Regardless, he earned the class championship, as well as the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series Holley EFI Real Street championship. The Kentucky-based driver also achieved a runner-up finish at the event in Georgia, wins at the events in Illinois and Ohio in Edelbrock Xtreme Street and holds the current Edelbrock Xtreme Street elapsed time and top speed records with a 4.714 and 150.15 mph.
In Boninfante Racing NA 10.5, Leonard Long qualified sixth with an 8.17 in his Mustang, and lost in the second round of eliminations, but managed to take the championship with just 205 points more than Dwight Ausmus. The Pennsylvania-based driver also secured runners-up at the events in Georgia and Ohio, a win at the event in Illinois and holds the current Boninfante Racing NA 10.5 top speed record with a 174.62 mph.
Dart Pro Stock saw Rob Pearce qualify in the second position with a 7.27 and go on to win with a 7.32 in his Studebaker, and the feat was enough for him to firm up a championship. The Illinois-based driver also won at the events in Illinois and Ohio.
In Holley EFI Factory Super Cars, where drivers with Ford Mustang Cobra Jets, Chevrolet COPO Camaros and Dodge Challenger Drag Paks showcase Detroit-made muscle, Scott Libersher qualified in the third position with an 8.31 in his COPO Camaro, and even though he exited competition in the semifinal, he pulled off the class championship with just 205 points more than Chuck Watson, Sr. The Illinois-based driver also earned wins at the events in Georgia, Kentucky and Illinois.
“It was a battle all season,” said Libersher. “There are a lot of good competitors in the class, and if you look at the qualifying and elimination sheets, you’ll see that everyone was running very close. It’s funny because we all get along and have good camaraderie away from the track, but it was every man for himself on the starting line.”
Jesse Wilson wheeled Kelly Pierce’s Camaro to a 10.25 to lead Chevrolet Performance Stock presented by Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center qualifying, and he made it to the final round, where he achieved a runner-up finish and cemented the class championship. The Indiana-based driver, who won at the events in Kentucky, Illinois and Ohio, doubled-up on the deed as he also captured the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series Chevrolet Performance Stock championship.
Another driver competing in more than one class is Ricky Pennington, who was equally focused on FSC Stock/Super Stock Combo and MagnaFuel Open Comp. In FSC Stock/Super Stock Combo, he qualified in the second spot in his Mustang Cobra Jet, advanced to the third round and collected the class championship with just 50 points more than Doug Duell. In MagnaFuel Open Comp in his other car, a Chevelle, he won and wound up with the class championship. Alabama-based Pennington, who made his NMCA debut this year, also earned wins in Open Comp at the events in Florida and Illinois, and a runner-up finish in Stock/Super Stock Combo at the event in Ohio.
“Between the two classes and the two different cars, I was racing opposite ends of the spectrum, and it was very unpredictable, but also very exciting,” said Pennington. “The day after the race, all my dad, Rick, and I could think about was how everything worked out, and how we had won two championships. It was amazing.”
In ATI Nostalgia Super Stock, Doug Duell went five rounds in his Fury wagon, and that was enough for him to earn his fifth championship in the class. Indiana-based Duell also earned wins at the events in Florida, Georgia and Illinois.
“Every year, you wonder if you still got it, and to find out that you do is very satisfying,” said Duell. “I race with a great group of racers who really study racing and practice. They’re very, very hard to beat, and they keep me sharp.”
Despite losing in the second round in Detroit TrueTrac Nostalgia Muscle Car, Andy Warren wheeled his Caprice to his sixth championship in the class. Kentucky-based Warren also earned a runner-up at the event in Kentucky and wins at the events in Illinois and Ohio.
The NMCA congratulates each of these champions and their crew members, who will be the stars of the NMCA awards ceremony presented by Aerospace Components, December 8, at the Indiana Convention Center, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
(Stories about NMRA and Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series champions will follow this story.)