By Mary Lendzion
After achieving two runner-up finishes in NMCA ARP Nitrous Pro Street last year, Randy Dolensek was determined to achieve a win in the category this year.
Over winter, the Wisconsin-based driver with the fan-favorite 1969 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler clone asked his tuner and standout NMRA Pro 5.0 driver Chuck Samuel to freshen his nitrous-enhanced 632 cubic-inch Ford engine, while Dolensek installed an air dam under the front bumper of his car for aerodynamics and personally lost weight because he said it would be easier than asking the car to lose weight.
With no testing under his belt, he and his crew members, Steven Michael and Jeff Seemann, loaded his gorgeous green machine into his trailer and headed to the 12th Annual Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals in late June at Atlanta Dragway. While Samuel couldn’t be there to tackle the tune-up with the Holley EFI system and RacePak, he had offered invaluable input before the event, and Dolensek, Michael and Seemann had him on speed-dial during the event.
It was very hot and very humid, but that didn’t stop Dolensek, who had never been on Atlanta Dragway’s race surface before, from driving to a 4.60 in the first round of qualifying.
“After the first round of qualifying, we raised the wheelie bar on the car a quarter of an inch because Steven saw a little dip in the driveshaft on the graph and he felt that raising the wheelie bar so that the tires would hit harder would help smooth the dip out,” said Dolensek.
It worked, as Dolensek picked up to a 4.545 followed by a consistent 4.543 in the second and third rounds of qualifying.
“In addition to raising the wheelie bar after the first round of qualifying, we set our second stage of nitrous to come in at .043 seconds instead of .045 seconds because there was a bit of a hiccup at the transition from the launch pad to the asphalt, and we thought it would help settle the car down, and it did,” said Dolensek, who had led all three rounds of qualifying. “Other than that, and reading the spark plugs, we didn’t really do much to the car during qualifying. It went pretty smoothly.”
Dolensek went on to win the first round of eliminations with a 4.52 over Kyle Salminen, who stopped the clocks at 4.57 in his father Matt Salminen’s Camaro. Then later in the weekend, he wheeled to a 4.56 against Vince Khoury to take his first trip to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle.
“We were bummed that Chuck wasn’t there to go to the winner’s circle with us because he worked so hard to help us get there, but it was great when he called us while we were still on the return road after the pass to congratulate us,” said Dolensek. “I have been racing in this series for several years, and earning a win was on my bucket list, so when we finally did, it was pretty special.”
Dolensek and his committed crew are now gearing up for the Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl presented by HPJ Performance, July 30-Aug. 2 at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois.
“After we change the oil and adjust the valves, we’ll be ready to race,” said Dolensek. “Not to be greedy, but now that we have a win, we sure would like to earn another one.”