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21st Annual NMCA World Street Finals Presented By Chevrolet Performance — Saturday Coverage

Championship hopes dashed? Not according to Carter


 
“Three seconds into my run on Thursday, we broke a (cylinder) sleeve and yeah, I though we were all done for the weekend,” said Tripp Carter. “Then, I came up with a plan, which might or might not work. I’ve had a brand-new Drag Pak Challenger sitting in Chuck Watson’s shop for more than a year. It was pretty much ready to run but it had never been down a dragstrip. That’s about the only thing I could think of that would hopefully save our season.”
 
Carter enlisted a member of fellow racer Jim Betz’s crew to drive to Michigan to retrieve the car and he made his first runs on in Friday. “We had to do a lot of work to get this car ready to run,” said Carter. “It was mostly little stuff like seat belts and things like that. We worked until about 11 p.m. getting it ready. I did make sure we had time to put the ‘Chicken Man’ lettering on the door. I didn’t want to make a run until we’d done that.
 
“On my first run, I forgot to turn the headlight switch on which doesn’t seem like a big deal except that it also activates the two-step so the car left immediately. On the second run, it was quite a bit better with an 8.29. Its still slow, but at least we’ve got something to race with. We just need to keep picking away at this car and trying to make it quicker because that’s our only option. It’s a half-second slower than our Cobra Jet but we’ve got no other options.”
 
When it comes to the championship, Carter isn’t exactly out of the woods yet. He’s going to lose a big chunk of his points lead to Watson based on qualifying results, and Sunday’s final eliminations remain a bit of a mystery. “We might need a little help from the drag racing Gods to pull this off but we’re not giving up,” Carter said. “It would be something to start the season in a Cobra Jet and then go on and win the championship with a Dodge. That’s not something I would have expected. I’ve been No. 2 for the last two years and I’d like to improve upon that.” Going forward, Carter definitely plans to repair his Cobra Jet since it’s one of the quickest Factory Stockers in the country. He’s also planning to continue working on the Challengers. In 2023, he might just have the option to race either car.
 
“I’ve got a stacker trailer so hauling two cars isn’t an issue,” Carter said. “These cars aren’t cheap and they are a lot of work but some things are worth it.”






Joe (not Becki) Cram Ready to Tackle Edelbrock Xtreme Street


 
Joe Cram would be the first to admit that when he comes to choosing between driver or crew chief, he prefers the latter. It’s not that Cram isn’t a capable driver, but he knows that his true talent comes as a mechanic, trouble-shooter, and tuner and he’s proven it time and time again. Cram has guided his wife, Becki, to multiple NMRA victories and has also provided guidance and assistance to a number of successful NMCA/NMRA racers including Jason Henson, Lloyd Mikeska, and Kevin McKenna. 
 
This weekend, Cram has returned to the driver’s seat of his Holbrook Racing-prepared Mustang for a one-off appearance in Edelbrock Xtreme Street at the NMCA World Street Finals presented by Chevrolet Performance. “I’m just here testing before we go to Bowling Green next week [for the NMRA Ford World Finals]. Becki couldn’t make due to work so I guess I’m the reserve driver. We’ve got a new engine from Chris Holbrook, and I just wanted to be able to try a few things.” Most people would be thrilled to drive a race car capable of running in the 4.6s at over 160 mph, but when it comes to donning a firesuit and helmet, Cram is indifferent.
 
“I don’t really miss driving one bit; well maybe just a little,” said Cram. “I don’t miss the anxiety of driving. Maybe it’s being the driver and the crew chief that’s a bit too much. When you have to think about everything that goes on with the race car and then think about all the things you need to focus on when it comes to driving, that’s a lot to digest. “Becki has become a really good driver and if you’ve seen me outside the race car, you know that I get more excited when she makes a good run or wins a round than I ever did when I was driving. I’m just fine with the view from outside the car.” Becki Cram is ranked among the Top 5 drivers in Edelbrock Xtreme Street and she’s second in the NMRA Edelbrock Renegade class so it would be hard to argue that she hasn’t had a successful season. Next week in Bowling Green, the Crams are just hoping to break the stranglehold of runaway leader Joel Greathouse, who has won every event and has already clinched the season championship. 
 
“We’d love to sneak in a win to end the season but I’m also trying to run in the 4.50s for the first time,” said Cram. “That’s been our goal all season long with this car. We’re real close. We just haven’t gotten there yet.”






 



A Half-Century later, Al Corda is Looking to Make More Indy Memories


 
In 1971, a then twenty-something Al Corda first came to Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park and earned drag racing’s biggest prize when he won the Stock title at the prestigious NHRA U.S. Nationals. Corda added a second Indy win in 1993 so it’s not surprising to know that he was feeling a bit nostalgic as he returns to Indy for this weekend’s NMCA World Street Finals presented by Chevrolet. 
 
“I do have a lot of great memories here from the last 50 years,” said Corda, who is also a two-time NHRA Stock Eliminator world champion. “Indy has always been a special place for anyone who is into drag racing and I’m certainly no different. 
 
“I remember buying my first Max Wedge Dodge in 1968 for $900. It was a real Max Wedge. I’d hate to think about what that car would be worth today. Back then, there were maybe 1,100 or more cars at Indy and you had to be in line before sunrise if you wanted to get your runs in early. You had to win your class just to make it into the eliminator for Monday, but it paid very well. Thankfully, I still enjoy what I’m doing all these years later.”
 
This weekend, Corda has two chances to add to his lofty win total. He’s racing his ’15 COPO Camaro in the Proform Rumble class and his got his latest entry, a very clean ’62 Dodge Dart, entered in Quick Fuel Tech Nostalgia Super Stock. Heading into Saturday, Corda is the No. 1 qualifier in Proform Rumble and he’s No. 51 out of 74 cars in the massive Nostalgia Super Stock field. There are a lot of differences in those two classes, beginning with the Christmas Tree, but Corda likes the diversity. “A lot of class racers won’t go near the .500 Pro Tree that we use in the Rumble class but I like it. It’s a very different challenge,” said Corda. “Of course, I also like the Nostalgia Super Stock class. That’s much more traditional and closer than what I’m used to.”
 
Corda built his ’62 Dodge as a multi-purpose car. It fits in NMCA Nostalgia Super Stock as well as NHRA Super Stock, and it can also race in the Victory Nostalgia Super Stock class where entries are required to have multiple carburetors. “This is a 413-cid Wedge but it doesn’t have the crossram intake that most people associate with these cars. This has an inline intake with two four-barrel carburetors. It’s a pretty rare combination and we’re still working the bugs out of it. I ran 10.23 yesterday and I’d like to be in the 10.0 range so we’re not that far off.”




 


Joe Clemente On the Verge of first Dart NA 10.5 Title


 
When Leonard Long won the first two races of the season in the Dart N/A 10.5 class, Joe Clemente didn’t panic, he simply continued to work hard and stay focused. Now, as the season draws to a close at the NMRA World Street Finals presented by Chevrolet Performance, Clemente finds himself on the verge of his first NMCA world championship.
 
“We’ve been able to hold our own this year and from day one, we’ve just told ourselves to keep doing what we’re doing,” said Clemente, who owns an authentic Italian delicatessen in Burlington Township, N.J. “I hate to toot our own horn but I don’t think you’ll find a harder working team out here. We don’t stop. We’ve just kept moving forward and I think that’s why were in the position we’re in now.”

Clemente’s race car is a ’93 Mustang that is maintained by Bruce Blair of Xtreme Fabrication. Blair is also responsible for the chassis and engine tuning, while the power comes from a 408-cid small block Chevy built by former NHRA Pro Stock driver Tom Martino. Clemente kicked off the season with a runner-up finish in Bradenton, but really hit his stride in the second half of the season when he went to the final of the Martin race and then followed with a victory at the NMCA All-American Nationals in Norwalk. Both events were completed in Norwalk after the Martin finals were delayed by weather.
 
“That race is what really made our season,” said Clemente. “We got a win and a runner-up on the same weekend and that’s why we’re in first place. Now, we just need to stay there.” Clemente also notes that a mid-season switch to a Liberty transmission has improved his operation from both a performance and a reliability standpoint. “Honestly, I think that if we had started the year with this the engine and transmission package that’s in the car now, this battle would be just about over. I don’t think it would be as close as it is now.” Coming into Indy, Clemente has a 205 point lead over second-place Long and he’s 375 points clear of third-ranked David Theisen. On Friday, Clemente ran a 7.70 at 177.21, which is currently good for the No. 4 spot in the 14 car field. While his first championship is far from a given, he likes his chances.
 
“Honestly, we don’t really even count the points,” Clemente said. “We don’t talk about it too much. We just try to go out and do the best job we can at every event and the points will take care of themselves. I finished No. 3 last year so if it happens, this [championship] would be a big deal for us as a team. It would help to validate all the hard work we’ve done.”











In addition to great drag racing, NMCA offers a fun car show with awards and prizes on Saturdays and Sundays. The Saturday Indy show is filling up with hot rods, classic muscle cars, modern muscle and some unique vehicles. If you're at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, take a look behind the tower and find your favorite.



























 

Of the hundreds of cars in competition at the 21st Annual NMCA World Street Finals presented by Chevrolet Performance, there are ton of Muscle Cars, but here are a few that you don't often see.














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