Mother Nature tried her best to prevent the race with tons of rain delays, but the NMCA staff was patient and eventually the storms passed and cars were able to get down the track at the 16th Annual NMCA QuickFuel Technology Bluegrass Nationals featuring the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series at Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky. A monumental effort was made by all to get the race in before the weather turned once again, and, incredibly, all was said and done just before 4:00pm on Sunday as winners headed to the Aerospace Components Winners’ Circle.
The three power adders of the VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod category were all well represented, but it was Steve Summers whose twin-turbocharged ’16 Camaro took top honors after qualifying on a 3.810 at 214.45 mph hit. Daniel Pharris of Sikeston, Missouri, had a few minor issues with his gorgeous new Mustang during the weekend, but it wasn’t enough to keep him from squaring off against Billy Harper in the finals. There, Harper fouled at the start and opened the door for Pharris to take the win; Pharris had problems getting down the track, but got it done and made the victory official.
In Dart Pro Stock, Kevin Lawrence was the number-one qualifier on a 7.125-second hit in his ’10 Cobalt. Several highly-competitive drivers all gave it their best shot in eliminations, and Kevin Lawrence and Rob Pearce were ready to run in the finals, but the two men mutually decided to pack it up early and finish the race that the 12th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing in Joliet, Illinois in late July instead.
Josh Klugger of Fiscus/Klugger Racing had the field covered in qualifying and rocketed to the front of the Mickey Thompson Radial Wars field with his turbocharged ’93 Mustang. The class featured many of the nation’s quickest and fastest radial-tire entries, but it was Marty Stinnett of Kuttawa, Kentucky, and Dave Adkins in the all-small-block final round as the last men standing. Ultimately, it was Stinnett who got to the finish first, and he picked up his first win of the season behind the wheel of his ’93 Mustang.
Meanwhile, VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw had a tight field take on qualifying and it was Charlie Cooper who came out ahead when he ran 4.466 at 172.67 mph in his ’91 Mustang. By the end of the weekend, only Nathan Stinson and Rob Goss were still in the game. During the last round, Goss had the holeshot advantage, but Stinson of Greenbrier, Tennessee, was far quicker in his ’74 Nova and picked up his first win, as well as a new personal best 4.57 elapsed time along the way.
Watson Racing’s Chuck Watson was the number-one qualifier in Holley EFI Factory Super Cars when his ’16 Cobra Jet went 8.211 at 165.15 mph. Watson worked his way to the last pairing of the weekend, but Scott Libersher of Wilmington, Illinois, and his ’15 Camaro got to the finish first on a holeshot victory, despite a slightly slower elapsed time of 8.317 at 164.81 mph to Watson’s 8.265 at 165.23 mph.
The exciting nitrous oxide powered action of ARP Nitrous Pro Street had five drivers battling it out for bragging rights, and Jeff Rudolf led the group thanks to a 7.331 at 186.07 mph run from his ’69 Nova. Rudolf rode it out through eliminations all the way to the finals, but Don Baskin of Covington, Tennessee, and his ’10 Camaro wound up taking the win with a quick 7.462 at 188.28 mph pass.
The Edelbrock Xtreme Street class is always hotly contested, but Jessie Coulter made it look easy when he ran 7.502 at 186.30 mph and had the lead in qualifying by two-tenths of a second. Bart Tobener of Winder, Georgia, and his S550 Mustang were also giving it their all, and Tobener’s efforts were rewarded with a trip to the final round where he defeated Louie Filippides by nearly a full second.
All-motor power is the name of the game in Boninfante Racing NA 10.5 and Leonard Long had his ’95 Mustang set on hill when he clicked off an 8.000 at 172.06 mph hit during qualifying to earn the number-one position. It wound up being Dwight Ausmus against T.J. Strange in the finals, and LaFollette, Tennessee-based Ausmus took the win light with an 8.080 at 168.56 mph run from his ’72 Firebird.
Glenn Pushis pushed his ’13 Camaro to a 10.246 at 128.77 mph run during Chevrolet Performance Stock qualifying, and his name was positioned at the top of the list as a result. Pushis’s name was also published on the ladder for the final elimination run, but it was Jesse Wilson who pushed past Pushis when he ran 10.196 at 130.48 mph and claimed the win for Muncie, Indiana in his ’14 Camaro.
The big stocker Fastest Street Car Stock/Super Stock Combo class saw 24 entries take to the track in hopes of winning it big, but ultimately it was Rick Pennington and Mike Morris who stuck it out to the end. A -0.004 light for Morris meant he headed back to the trailer, while Pennington detoured to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle before heading back to Mt. Olive, Alabama, with his ’81 Malibu.
With a massive field of 51 car and driver pairs entered for the ATI Nostalgia Super Stock category, it was anyone’s guess as to who would take the win. In qualifying, though, Joe Ewing ran closest to his dial in when he ran just 0.005-seconds over with a 10.505-second hit. The last pairing of the weekend saw Brent Wheeler take on Jim Netherland, and both men dialed 10.50 for their rides. A double break-out situation ensued, but Wheeler of Watkinsville, Georgia, had the lesser of two evils and turned the win lights on in his lane courtesy of his ’66 Coronet.
The classic muscle cars were out in force for the Detroit True Trac Nostalgia Muscle Car category, but the number-one qualifying run belong to the ’66 Mustang of Mike Roup when it put down a 13.502-second hit on a 13.50 dial in. Only Jerry Stamps and Andy Warren were able to get to the incredible final round, though, and it was one of the closest races of the weekend. Stamps cut a 0.046-second light to Warren’s 0.048-second one, and Stamps ran dead on his dial with a 12.000 at 110.75 mph trip to take the win over Warren’s 10.008 at 132.17 mph effort on his 10.00 dial.
With an absolutely perfect 0.000-second reaction time in MagnaFuel Open Comp qualifying, Norman Crane and his ’93 Mustang were the number one to beat going into eliminations. For the finals, it was Donnie Bowles of Madisonville, Kentucky, and his ’05 Mustang against Kurt Neighbor. The two heavy hitters duked it out with a close race, but were a little too eager as the double break-out situation worked out in Bowles’ favor.
Gear Vendors True Street was filled with a wide variety of wicked street cars. After the requisite cruise and three hits on the drag strip, it was hometown hero Doug Flynn whose 8.538-second average earned him the overall win with his ’72 Nova. Randy Thomas was the runner up as he averaged 8.952-seconds between his three hits, and Kevin McCotter took the win in the 9-second category. For the 10-second group, Richard Doyle was deemed a winner while Jeff Brady did the deed in the 11-second group. Andy Warren won the 12-second showdown, and Jason Stephenson earned top honors in the 13-second section.
Don’t miss the next stop in the NMCA E3 Spark Plugs Drag Racing Series, the 12th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois on July 27-30, 2016!