The track is hot at the 11th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl here at Route 66 Raceway. The action was intense yesterday despite the inclement weather and we’ve got hundreds of cars to run today. We’ll be starting off the day with the third round of Index qualifying followed by the heads-up classes.
Edelbrock Xtreme Street driver Ray Cox has been chasing issues in his Trans Am since the season opener in March, and was forced to lift to a 17-second pass in yesterday’s qualifying, but he and his crew chief and son, Brad Cox, think they may have identified the problem. “We’re not entirely sure, but we think our problems may be the relay on the nitrous system,” said Cox, who’s been running his 470 cubic-inch Pontiac engine rather than his 535 cubic-inch Pontiac engine as of late. “We’ll find out here in a little while.”
MagnaFuel Open Comp driver Kelly Pierce posted a perfect 0.000 to land in the lead spot in the first round of qualifying yesterday, and while he had done that before on a sportsman tree, this is the first time he pulled it off on a pro tree. He then drove to a 10.39 courtesy of his 434 cubic-inch big-block Chevy and RPM Transmissions-build Powerglide, and while he said that’s a little slower than usual, he’s not surprised considering the heat and humidity.
As usual, Dwight Ausmus is flying at both ends of the track, as he leapt off the starting line with his front tires in the air and then trapped an 8.05 in his 568 cubic-inch BES-built Pontiac-powered ’72 Firebird. The LaFollette, Tennessee-based driver, who comes to this race with the lead in Quick Lane at Downs Ford NA 10.5 points, recently swapped his MSD 7531 for an MSD Power Grid, is currently qualified second and said he plans to treat his fan-favorite car to a little more power for today’s qualifying. Here to experience just what he’s capable of are his brother, Aaron Ausmus, and nephews, Max and Bo, who made the trip all the way from California as a complete surprise to Ausmus.
Gardner Stone’s 2014 Cobra Jet attracts a lot of attention in Holley EFI Factory Super Cars competition, and for good reason, as the stunning car featuring a Ford Coyote engine and Whipple supercharger usually delivers the Vermont-based driver to steady 8.50s. It is, however, slightly down in power at the top end of the track this weekend, but Stone, his crew and the experts at Watson Racing, are looking into and he’s confident they’ll have it ironed out sooner rather than later. “We’ll get right back to where we need to be,” said Stone, who gets additional thrills from the seat of a highly modified, four-engine tractor in the National Tractor Pullers Association.
Mike DeMayo, Jr., who comes to this race second in Quick Lane at Downs Ford NA 10.5 points, earned the top spot in the first round of qualifying after stopping the timers at an 8.02 in his Mustang, which pounds pavement with an EIC Motorsports small-block Ford. “I should have run a 7.97, but there’s a lot of water in the air,” said DeMayo, Jr., who indeed measured 132 grains. “We’ll get a little more aggressive with the tune for the next round of qualifying.”
While Jeff Frees had been racing his ’64 Belvedere in ATI Nostalgia Super Stock for several years, his son, Corimac Frees, joined the class in his ’68 ‘Cuda just two years ago. Father relies on his 572 Wedge engine for competition in the category’s 9.75 index and is currently qualified fifth while son uses his 446 Wedge engine for going rounds in the 10.00 index and is currently qualified second. “The family fun aspect of all of this is amazing,” said Jeff, whose wife, Tracy, is also part of the team.
MagnaFuel Open Comp driver Joy Neuenschwander had a bit of excitement of the unwanted kind during qualifying yesterday, as the fuel pump feeding nourishment to the Coyote engine in her Mustang failed, preventing her from making the pass. She’s ready to roll into eliminations now, though, as she and her husband, Quick Lane at Dows Ford NA 10.5 driver Chad Neuenschwander, and their son and soon-to-be racer Dylan, purchased a new Weldon pump in the manufacturers’ midway, and installed it. Joy, who’s been as quick as 10.77, is known to hammer the tree before rowing the gears of her Tremec TKO 500 by Bob Hanlon with G-Force internals, so she’ll be one to watch when eliminations fire up.
During a test session at Summit Motorpsorts Park in Norwalk, Ohio last weekend, Edelbrock Xtreme Street standout Bill Trovato and his team made converter and suspension changes that were well-received by his 5th Gen Camaro powered by a BTR-built 440 cubic-inch engine on an aluminum Dart block. As a result, he has so far laid down a 7.70 this weekend and is currently qualified fourth in a field of 15. “When the car left on that 7.70 pass, it felt like it needed a kick in the ass because it dead-hooked,” said Trovato. “The track is working, and we’re happy with how the car is responding. We’ll throw more at it for the next qualifying session.”
Fresh off of winning the Australian National Drag Racing Association’s 2016 Pro Stock championship, Nino Cavallo has traveled all the way from Melbourne, Australia to Joliet, Illinois to join the Dart Pro Stock ranks at this weekend’s race. His Jerry Haas-built 2012 Avenger is the replacement for the Stratus he recently sold, and it boasts the small but mighty 6.93-second-proven, 400ci Bob Book-built bullet from that car, topped with not one but two Bob Book-massaged Holley carburetors. In the driver’s seat, Cavallo rows the stick of a Liberty’s Transmissions 5-speed gearbox, and while he only has three runs on his new car, he’s going places. He recorded a 7.01 at 197 mph in testing last week, and he has recorded a 7.11 at 187 mph in qualifying this weekend, despite a concern with the carb on the starting line in the second round of qualifying—an issue he has since remedied. Helping Cavallo this weekend are his crew chief, Adam Drzayich, wife, Amanda, daughter, Laura, son, Dion, and Allan Hutchinson, and Kevin Lawrence loaned the team his trailer and tools. “The track is unbelievable this weekend, and this will be a good bracket for us to run in,” said Cavallo.
So, this is happening in Michael Roemer’s pit area minutes before tonight’s first round of eliminations, but the Redline Motorsports MX235 driver out of Wadsworth, Illinois is rolling with it. He calmly explained that he’s experiencing chassis concerns after recently ridding his S10 pick-up of 140 pounds of unwanted weight by moving to an Innovative Racecraft K-member, fiberglass components and a new Induction Solutions nitrous setup to complement his Bennett Racing Engines-built small-block Chevy, but on the case and helping with a fresh chassis tune is Mark Menscer of Menscer Motorsports. “We were 330 pounds overweight for the class, and we’re getting closer to the class weight limit, but we still have more weight to remove,” said Roemer.
While we’re used to seeing the always-personable Joe DeDona in Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series’ JE Pistons Drag Radial ranks, where he’s currently in second place in points, he’s running his C5 Corvette in Wiseco Street Outlaw this weekend. It’s mostly to shake down a new combination consisting of a 441 cubic-inch engine on a Dart LS Next2 block which he bought from fellow racer and Power Auto Media founder James Lawrence and had freshened by fellow racer and BTR Performance owner Bill Trovato. It’s topped with Edelbrock LS Pro-Port heads and fronted by a ProCharger F1X-12-R, and an RPM Transmissions-built Turbo 400 with a billet gear set handles the transferring of power to the track. DeDona has so far posted a best of 5.23 this weekend as he makes strides toward dialing in for 15th Annual NMCA World Street Finals featuring the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series, Aug. 25-28 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
What do you do when you’re at a race and you aren’t old enough to drive? Well, for the kids of the Phil Smith/Billy Adams and Joe Bucaro camps, you get to work! These adorable youngsters are learning the ins and outs of entrepreneurial business by selling cherry, blue raspberry, and grape slushies for $1. Macy, Sofia, Cody, and Dylan plan to put their hard-earned funds towards some cool new toys, including “a racecar engine for $1,000.”
West coast racer and 2015 NMCA Stainless Works Street Outlaw champion Eric Gustafson has made several big changes to his ’89 Mustang. He’s moved up to larger Mickey Thompson 315 drag radial tires and added a larger ProCharger F-3R-136 blower to the front of his 457 ci LSX motor that he acknowledges is probably too big but he wanted to try out anyway “just for fun”. Gustafson also dropped one hundred pounds of weight from the car by replacing the fiberglass front end with a carbon fiber one from Schoneck Composites, added a Lexan windshield, and put himself on a diet as well.
Richard Holt officially introduced himself and his ’69 Camaro to VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod at last month’s race in Indiana, and is already making himself at home. In the car motivated by a 521 Hemi and a Roots-style blower, he qualified fourth with a 3.98 and won first round tonight before climbing under it with his crew to take rear-steer out in preparation of tomorrow’s second round of eliminations. They’ll follow that with adjustments to the valves and fuel curve.
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