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Long Clinches NA 10.5 Championship in Final Round of 2022 Season

Posted By: Mary Lendzion
Written by Mary Lendzion
Photos by NMCA Staff

 
Leonard Long doesn’t give up.
 
As the owner of G-Force Racing Transmissions and Long Shifters in Pennsylvania, he continues to design and develop dependable transmissions and shifters. 
 
And as a multi-time champion in NMCA Dart NA 10.5, he continues to evolve and explore ways in which he can have the best possible car, the best possible combination and the best chance to win.
 
He is always all-in. Even when he turns on the red light in eliminations, he stays in the throttle so that he can gather and go over the data from that pass and apply it to his next pass.
 
When Long started the 2022 race season, he was already a five-time Dart NA 10.5 champion, but he was prepared, and planning to, give it everything he had to achieve another championship in his Mustang with a small-block Ford with machine work by Ray Barton Racing Engines and assembly by Jay Zolko, Visner Engine Development-prepared D3 heads, Holley fuel injection and a G-Force Racing Transmissions’ GF2000 clutchless five-speed transmission.


 
To get things going, he qualified in the second spot with a 7.85 at the NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem presented by Holbrook Racing Engines in March at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida in his car cruising on Mickey Thompson tires. He won the first and second rounds of eliminations with a 7.83. He then posted an 8.75 on a solo pass in the semifinal round of eliminations, followed by a 7.83 to defeat Joe Clemente and take a trip to the NMCA Winner’s Circle.
 
Long then qualified in the fourth spot with a 7.82 at the Scoggin Dickey Parts Center NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by MAHLE Motorsport in April at Rockingham Dragway in North Carolina, and won the first round of eliminations with a 7.80. He got by the second and third rounds of eliminations with a 7.79 and 7.85, and earned another event win, this time with a 7.79 against Tony Petrovski.
 
Unfortunately, the next two races didn’t go as he hoped they would. He qualified in the fourth spot with a 7.92 at the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing presented by Fuelab in May at World Wide Technology Raceway in Illinois, and rolled through the beams and activated the red light in the first round of eliminations. Then, he qualified in the fifth spot with a 7.95 at the Arrington Performance NMRA/NMCA Power Festival presented by TorqStorm Superchargers in July at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Michigan, and turned on the red light in the first round of eliminations.
 
Long shook off the red light starts and headed to the NMCA All-American Nationals presented by Sick the Magazine in August at Summit Motorsports Park in Ohio, where he qualified in the third spot with a 7.81. He kept his foot planted to a 7.80, even though his opponent had trouble, and won the first round of eliminations, and he recorded an 8.42 after his opponent went red in the second round of eliminations. He exited in the semifinal round of eliminations with an 8.11.


 
Going into the NMCA World Street Finals presented by Chevrolet Performance in September at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in Indiana, Long knew he had a substantial amount of work ahead of him to be able to capture the championship.
 
“Joe Clemente had the lead in points at that race, and it was going to take a lot to get past him, but I had to at least try,” said Long. “Unfortunately, we had clutch trouble and changed everything in the car twice during qualifying to try to get down track, and at 8 p.m. Saturday night, I told my team that we had to tear everything apart one more time. They looked at me like I was crazy, but I had another clutch assembly in the trailer that I wanted to try, and we buckled it up at about 11 p.m. Saturday night.”
 
The work paid off, as Long qualified in the fifth spot with a 7.73, won the first round of eliminations with a 7.83, and was able to defeat points leader Joe Clemente in the second round of eliminations with a 7.85. He then won the third round of eliminations with a 7.79 and won the event with a 7.73. Even more momentously, he captured his sixth NMCA Dart NA 10.5 championship.
 
“I really wanted to do well, for myself and my team, and I told them we were going to throw everything at this thing, and we did,” said Long. “It took the last round at the last race to win the championship, and that shows how close the competition is. I don’t know if everyone realizes how much work we all put into our cars to race in Dart NA 10.5, and to be able to earn a championship among such tough competition makes this worthwhile.” 
 
The NMCA family looks forward to celebrating Long and his fellow champions at the Red Line Oil NMCA Muscle Car Nationals Awards Ceremony, held during the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show, Dec. 9, 2022, at the Indiana Convention Center, and in the upcoming Champions Issue of Fastest Street Car.



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