The 2019 NMCA Muscle Car Nationals season will come to a close at this weekend’s 18th annual World Street Finals presented by Chevrolet Performance. Many a driver hopes to secure a win or a class championship, and for multi-time champion Andy Warren, his battle for this year’s Detroit TrueTrac Nostalgia Muscle Car title has been one to remember. Warren made a final-round appearance at each of the first four races, losing the first two title bouts to Chad Brewer. Warren was able to shake off his bridesmaid status at the next two events, earning wins at Memphis and Joliet to take the points lead into the fifth event of the season at Norwalk, Ohio.
Arriving in Norwalk with a pair of trailer tires down for the count, Warren hoped some time on the Summit Motorsports Park quarter-mile would change his luck.
“I was running the 10.25 B/NMC index in Joliet in hot weather, so I figured the better conditions in Norwalk would enable me to run the 10.00 index,” said Warren. After a 10.13 initial pass, Warren made adjustments and changed to the 10.25 index, posting a 10.26 to qualify fourth in the 27-car field. “After the third qualifying pass was complete, I noticed smoke coming from the front of the car,” said Warren, and an inspection revealed the number one cylinder was down 100 psi in relation to the others. Despite a hurt engine, Warren needed valuable points to maintain his lead in the hopes for an eighth class championship, so he decided to risk it and staged up with Dennis Haynes. But luck wasn’t on his side, as a slowing 10.36 pass negated any chance of a round-one victory. Combined with a victory for second-place-in-points Chad Brewer, Warren’s lead was whittled down to less than a two-round margin with the finale at Lucas Oil Raceway under a month away.
Returning to Kentucky one day later, Warren had the engine out of the storied Caprice that evening, and in the hands of engine builder Tim Knieriem shortly after that. When Knieriem had finished the disassembly, five cracked pistons were discovered.
“They had several years on them, and I was planning to freshen up the engine after the World Finals,” said Warren. With a little over three weeks to get the car ready, support poured in from Ross Pistons, Air Flow Research, Competition Products, Moroso Performance, and Comp Cams. Friends Adam Cox, Jason Grimes and Robert Dover jumped in to help, and Knieriem had a freshened bullet ready for Warren just two weeks later. That gave Warren time for a test and tune on September 15th at Beech Bend Raceway Park, where he collected a 10.04 time slip in 3,600 corrected feet of air. “I feel a lot better going into Indy,” said Warren. “It’ll be a good battle with Brewer, and a deserving champion will emerge.”