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Ed Bennett Crowned Coyote Stock Champion

Posted By: Mary Lendzion
Written by Mary Lendzion
Photos by Fastest Street Car Staff
As a successful NHRA racer, Ed Bennett understands that it takes commitment and consistency to have a chance at winning.
He works hard to come up with combinations that will help him repeat and go rounds, and plenty of fellow racers have relied on him to set them up for success as well.
Bennett is interested in what it takes to put power down, and he is inspired when he, or racers he is helping, apply all of that to the programs and push forward.
That is why he wholeheartedly accepted NMRA Coyote Stock racer Clair Stewart’s invitation to climb into the cockpit of his Mustang for NMRA Coyote Stock competition at a few races in 2022, and at all races in 2023. The car features a Coyote Stock engine and a G-Force Racing Transmissions-built G101A four-speed with an H-pattern shifter. It has stock-style suspension with torque boxes, anti-roll bar and rear end housing from Team Z Motorsports and Strange shocks and struts.
“Clair is busy with work, and doing a lot of traveling for work, and when he asked if I wanted to drive his car, I jumped at the offer,” said Bennett. “We decided we would go to the season opener in Florida, see how it goes and work from that.”
A little while later, Bennett was on the road to the Ryno Classifieds NMRA Spring Break Shootout presented by Nitto in March at Orlando Speed World Dragway in Florida. He qualified in the fourth spot with a 9.83, and won the first and second rounds with a pair of 9.79s. He excited eliminations in the semifinal with a 9.81.

“We felt we definitely had something to work with,” said Bennett.
Focused on going a further, he went to the NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by MAHLE Motorsport in April at Rockingham Dragway in North Carolina, where he qualified in the fourth spot out of 17 cars with a 9.77. He won the second through fourth rounds with a 9.78, 9.80 and 9.76, and he earned a runner-up finish against Frank Paultanis with a 9.76 to Paultanis’ close 9.77
“We do a lot of the work on the car ourselves, so it feels good to be consistent and go rounds,” said Bennett.
Next up was the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Muscle Car Drag Racing in May at World Wide Technology Raceway in Illinois, where he qualified in the third spot out of 15 racers with a 9.70. He proceeded to win the first round with a better reaction time than his opponent and a 9.75, and the second and third rounds with a 9.85 and 9.89. He ceremoniously captured his first win in the category with a 9.85 to Vinny Dastra’s 9.90.
“The competition is pretty fierce,” said Bennett. “We all have the same combination and we are all trying things to get the power to the ground, and any one of us could win at any time. I am trying to apply what I have learned by helping Clair Stewart and Frank Paultanis and others to this racing program, and I think it is working.”
With continued confidence, Bennett was focused on earning another win at the 3rd Annual Mickey Thompson NMRA Ford Homecoming in June at Summit Motorsports Park in Ohio. He qualified in the third spot with a 9.77, and won first through third rounds with a 9.80, 9.75 and 9.77. Then, he returned to the NMRA Winner’s Circle with a 9.76, this time against Chad Stephens, who turned in a 9.88.
“We had made the change to a Team Z Motorsports rear end housing for the race in Ohio, as the previous one has been in the car for 20 years, and then we ran consistent 1.29 60-foots,” said Bennett. “That is where we needed to be. Dave Zimmerman from Team Z Motorsports helped me out big time, and we knew that was going to very positively change the course of the car at future races.”
The following month, Bennett traveled to the TorqStorm NMRA/NMCA Power Festival presented by Paul’s High Performance in July at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Michigan. He led qualifying with a 9.74, and won the first through third rounds with a 9.78, 9.83 and 9.81. He then had a captivating race against Shane Stymiest, and pulled off the win with a 9.812 Stymiest’s close 9.815.

Ready to give it everything he had to hit it out of the park, Bennet pulled into the last points event of the year, the Whipple Superchargers NMRA World Finals presented by Competition Clutch featuring the Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival in late September, early October at Beech Bend Raceway in Kentucky. He set the pace in qualifying with a 9.71, trapped a 9.73 on a solo pass in the first round and got by the second round when the racer in the other lane turned on the red light. He advanced past the third and fourth rounds with a 9.69 and 9.72 before staging alongside Frank Paultanis and pulling off another win, this time with a 9.778 to Paultanis’ incredibly close 9.779. It was intense, nose-to-nose racing.
“The starter broke right before the third round of qualifying, and Tim Donathen had a spare starter and the tools to swap it to get us running,” said Bennett. “If it hadn’t been for Tim, we would not have been able to make the call to the lanes for the first round of eliminations and gone on to win the race.”
Following his powerful performance all season long, Bennett was crowned 2023 NMRA Coyote Stock champion.
“It was definitely a dream season, and I feel a great sense of pride and joy in being able to earn this championship among the fierce competition in Coyote Stock,” said Bennett. “We just kept working at it. I really want to thank Clair Stewart for giving me this opportunity, my girlfriend, Gwen Pedersen, for being so supportive, my dad, Ed, for going to every race with me, my mom, Cathy Bennett, Matt and Shannon Harget, Frank and Dawn Paultanis, Andy Ransford, Tim Jacobsen, Tim Donathen and Junior and Lisa McKenzie. This is our crew, and we are family. We race together, help each other and celebrate each other. I also want to thank our sponsors including Lucas Oil, Stifflers, Nationals Parts Depot, Team Z Motorsports, Fidanza Flywheels, Advanced Clutch Technology, Livernois Motorsports, Weldon Fuel Pumps, Indy Gear, NGK Spark Plugs, Jason Dietsche Trailer Sales, Optic Armor and Laris Motorsports Insurance. After all of this, we are already putting a plan together for next year.”
Bennett will be lauded among his fellow racers at the Holley NMRA Ford Nationals Awards, held during the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show, Dec. 8, 2023, at the Indiana Convention Center, and in the upcoming Champions Issue of Fastest Street Car.

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