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Friday Coverage — 14th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing, Coverage Presented By Edelbrock

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Today the 14th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing Presented by FST Carburetors kicks it up a notch as racers lock and load for the first round of qualifying. Competitors will begin to see just how their cars stack up against the competition as they jockey for position on the ladder. With the eventual goal of heading to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle, racers will be experimenting in this early round to see just how quickly they can run this weekend to bring home the hardware. You can keep up with all the action here and live over on SpeedVideo.com.

Here’s a look at how the the action will unfold today, as qualifying gets underway at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois.

Back in the day Grand Nationals were the street machines to fear. They aren’t commonplace in 2019, but Steve Pitts brought his clean 1987 example out for its second track outing of the year at the 14th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing. With only 42,000 miles on the clock, this MagnaFuel Open Comp machine runs a Stage 2 88mm turbo, a built Turbo 400 trans, and a 9-inch rear. Pitts just earned his license, so he will hold back to keep the car in the 10-second zone.

After breaking a timing chain at the last race, Edelbrock Renegade competitor Haley James was back in business at Route 66. With Riccardi Racing facilitating a new set of heads ported by Dave Jack, crew chief Dwayne James upgraded the combo with dual roller chains, a new Jason Teixeira-ported intake, and the aforementioned heads. The new combo is definitely more efficient, and the Hellion B-Team is hoping it will shine in the first round of qualifying.

Steve Chechak hopes to follow up last year’s success with his 1980 Camaro. Running in the Chevrolet Performance Street Car Challenge class, the car is powered by a 408-cube engine fitted with a Brian Tooley Racing camshaft and GM Performance CNC-ported heads. It’s only his third time out with the new engine combo, but with boost from a 94mm ball-bearing turbo and control from a Holley EFI setup, the combo runs mid-eights on the wastegates.

If you love Fox Mustangs, you have to have a soft spot for the 1982 Mustang GT. Mike Winters is the original owner of this 11,254-mile  T-top car, which he converted into a drag machine back in 2005. The 64-year-old runs low 10s in MagnaFuel Open Comp in the car thanks to a built 347 stroker.

A racer who thought he had things figured out until testing yesterday was Richmond Gear Factory Stock racer John Leslie Jr. After his big wheelie met the wall in Commerce, Georgia, he assured us the car’s days of sky-high wheelstands were over. Well, he ended up rowing through four gears on the back tires yesterday, so he hopes to get it reined in during qualifying.

Multi-time NMRA champion John Urist was performing an engine swap on Friday evening as it was time to drop in a fresh bullet. His Coyote engine has been consistently raced since the middle of last year, so he had a fresh power plant ready to go in for this event.

Dennis Butt of Elwood Illinois, caught our eye when he pulled into the staging lanes with a Fox-Body Mustang that wore the LME Street King designation. Street King is a class that’s part of the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series, which is run this weekend in conjunction with the Super Bowl event, and entries must run an LS- or LT-based engine combination so we had to see what was under the hood. What we found was a truck-based, 5.3-liter LS engine that is stock from the valve covers down. It’s boosted by an On3 88mm turbo that’s plumbed using eBay turbo kit parts, and has made 714 rwhp on E85 while running out of injector.

Competing in his first NMCA race in the Coan Engineering Stock/Super Stock Combo class is Wayne Larsen, who is driving his brother Jack’s 1972 Mercury Comet. Jack, a resident of nearby Cropsey, Illinois, competed last year in the class and was nice enough to let his older brother Wayne—who traveled up from Louisiana—race his Underdog, 302-powered and Jerico-4-speed-equipped Comet this weekend.

A Thursday tradition is the Nitto Tire Racer Appreciation Party held in the pits from 5-7pm. The cold beverages flowed as did the bench racing.

FST Carburetors NA 10.5 racer Dave Thiesen made the trip to Route 66 Raceway missing a major piece to the racing puzzle. His 1969 Pontiac Firebird was sitting high in the front-end due to a missing bullet. We caught up with Dave to get the scoop and he told us that last month they went testing and broke a connecting rod in the 611ci big-block Chevy engine. He pulled it brought down to Uratchko Racing Engines only to find out that the manufacturer of the aluminum rod had a bit of a waiting list to get it made. The rods were finish the other day, putting the engine build on the clock. Chris Uratchko gave him instructions to hit the road and get setup at the track this weekend as he would drove from Michigan Friday morning to deliver it. The team is thrashing right now to install it and be ready for the first round of qualifying later this today.

Thanks to the team at Mickey Thompson for being on-site here at Route 66 Raceway to provide expert service and tire tech for all our NMRA and NMCA racers.

Illinois local Mike Sanders has a pretty neat piece of history ready to run in NMRA QA1 True Street. His opal frost ’95 Mustang GTS is only 1 of 7 in its configuration (technically, 1 of 1 if you count the factory high-altitude calibration) and looks like it just rolled off the dealership floor. Stripped of all options, his first-ever Ford has a cloth interior, no ABS, manual crank windows, no rear defroster, no spoiler, no fog lights, and many other missing features. Other than the Edelbrock heads and intake, rear gear, and clutch, the car is mostly in its original stock form. Sanders found the car in Arizona in February and hasn’t even launched it once yet, so this weekend will be his first time seeing what it can do and what it will run.

After hustling to make ends meet, everyone’s favorite joker from New Jersey, Carlos Sobrino, was able to get it together in time to attend this weekend’s race thanks to help from several sponsors including Palm Beach Dyno, Jersey Seal Coating, Taos Performance, Rock Our Vets, and Woodbine Motorsports while Eat My Balls (stop laughing, it’s a food truck) will hopefully be joining the team soon. The car hasn’t been touched since Mr. Sobrino won the NMRA G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock class at Maple Grove, Pennsylvania, and he credits the fact that he’s running 28” tall tires when others are running 26”s.

Miranda Alley and Jay Biondo happened to pull their 1967 Novas into the staging lanes at the same time, and the clean machines captured our attention. Alley’s, the blue one, is powered by a naturally-aspirated small-block Chevy and runs 10s, and Biondo’s, the red one, is powered by a ProCharger-fronted small-block Chevy and runs 8.30s, and both can be seen in MagnaFuel Open Comp this weekend. Alley, who recently had a baby, is back is competition for the first time this year, and Biondo, who raced in NMCA Gear Vendors True Street in 2007 and has been racing locally, will pull a little power out of his car to bring it closer to MagnaFuel Open Comp’s 8.50 cap.

Joel Greathouse and his KBX Performacne and Bennett Racing Ultra Street MustangFor the second race of the year the Edelbrock Xtreme Street/Renegade field will have to contend with Joel Greathouse and his powerhouse 1993 Mustang LX. The KBX Performance built machine features a 400ci small-block Ford with a single Forced Inductions turbocharger. Greathouse has been run 4.70s in NMCA competition and for those unaware, he is a three-time NMCA champion spanning over the last twenty years.

Pat Musi and Popeye II NMCA Pro StreetPat Musi is reunited with his famed Popeye II, a 1998 Pontiac Firebird that terrorized the Pro Street scene back in the late 1990s earning him a few championships in NMCA and big money outlaw shootouts. The car belongs to Mike Bankston and Musi’s daughter, Tricia Musi, is the driver! Popeye II is entered in ARP Nitrous Pro Street, a category that is a throwback to a time when cars like Popeye were dominating the street-legal drag racing scene.

Many fans may remember Paul Osipoff, also known as “Handlebars,” driving his Nova is Detroit Truetrac Nostalgia Muscle Car until he passed away four years ago, but since then, his son, also named Paul Osipoff, has taken good care of the car in his father’s memory and in his father’s honor. Under its hood is a 408 cubic-inch small-block Chevy built by fellow racer Tim Knieriem and previously owned by fellow racers the Warrens, and because this is only Osipoff’s second time entering the car in competition, with the first being in 2017, he was going to make a pass before picking an index in Detroit Truetrac Nostalgia Muscle Car. Helping him are his mother, Jean, and crew chief Joe Anderson, pictured, as well as his wife, Monica, and son, PJ. “It’s pretty bittersweet to be running my dad’s car,” said Osipoff. “I hope to make him proud.”

Running a gorgeous, new G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock machine this weekend at Route 66 is Randy Soper. Fellow Coyote Stock pilot Clair Stewart talked him into joining the class with his 2004 Mustang Mach 1. From there his plan to go fast had him inducted into the Team Timmy crew headed by Tim Donathen, who also helped put together Stewart’s Coyote Stocker. Soper’s Mach 1 runs a full Team Z suspension, cage, and subframe connectors, and relies on Bennett Performance for chassis tuning support at the track. The Gen2 Coyote-powered New Edge had no dyno time or shakedown runs prior to the race, so Soper is still getting a handle on the combo, which ran a 10.87 at 128 on its maiden voyage.

This trio of racers is set up for a fun weekend running in the Dodge // Mopar HEMI Shootout. Dan Helmsing, Jack Titone, John Ridings all came together and are running a 2014 Charger, a 2011 Challenger, and a 2018 Demon, respectively. Helmsing’s family owns the Schicker Auto Group and he had been away from drag racing since the ’60s. He dove back in and this is the second event he has attended with our series they year and says he loves it. If one or more of the group runs in well enough tomorrow in the shootout, they might just earn a trip to the Arrington Performance HEMI Quick 8 Presented by Red Line Oil on Sunday.

Another rare machine making laps at the 14th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing is Anatol Denysenko’s 1986 Mercury Capri. Because of its one-year EFI 5.0 combo, people doubted he could make the Fox Mustang’s cousin competitive in the stocker ranks, but he has done so. Born out of his late father’s Moneymaker Racing business specializing in small-block Fords, it is powered by a legit 302 and backed by a C4 trans. It puts the power down via a 28.5×9-inch tire. Running on a 13.45 index this weekend in the Coan Stock/Super Stock Combo class, Denysenko would be happy with 12.40-second passes.

John Stanley’s 2014 Cadillac CTS-V is running ‘angry’ in VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod. Patriarch Camp Stanley told us the team is running a new converter and they added a bit of compression with fresh head gaskets. In testing yesterday it ran the quickest 60-foot so far with the current combo, so if it can hold the hook down the track, it just might ride in qualifying.

You don’t see too many AMCs anymore, especially at the race track, but TD Holland fell in love with the brand when his dad bought a AMC Matador as his first car. Try as he might with teenage stunts, he couldn’t break it, so he locked in the AMCs as durable race machines. His 1968 AMC AMX has been in the family for 15 years, but he started racing five years ago. Powered by a 428 stroker with a single Edelbrock carb, it runs a Powerglide and a Ford 9-inch rear. This weekend Holland is running in the Quick Fuel Nostalgia Super Stock class on a 10-flat index, but he has run with the NMCA for decades.

Crew chief Nick Bacalis wrenched away on Craig Sullivan’s 1970 Dodge Daytona, which competes in VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod. The team is trying a new stator in the trans and is still working out the combo. It showed promise in testing with a 4.05 run in which Sullivan had to pedal it twice.

Tuner Chris Spall was all smiles when we asked about Kevin White’s 1972 Chevy Nova. The MagnaFuel Open Comp racer stepped up to a new BES 584ci engine and the start of the season, and the team recently stepped down the rearend gear ratio as the car was too touchy off the line. The combo is much happier now, and White is sharpening his work on the tree in qualifying.

Right out of the gate Kevin Rowan blasted off an 11.02-second run on an 11.0 index in the Proform Rumble class. The 60-year-old pilots this clean, 2008 Corvette that runs a hotter cam, a performance converter, and nitrous. He is also running in the Chevrolet Performance Street Car Challenge, so Rowan will have two shots to make a trip to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle.

When Matt Chitwood ran MagnaFuel Open Comp for the first time at the NMCA race last fall at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indiana, he discovered just how competitive the drivers in the category are, but that was one of the things that made the Indiana-based driver want to give it another go, so, he is, this weekend at Route 66 Raceway in Illinois. Up to the task is his 1966 Chevelle which is powered by a 468 cubic-inch big-block Chevy and helps him average 9.70s. “I know it’s going to be tough, but if I could go a couple rounds in this class, I’ll feel good,” said Chitwood, who plans to make the rest of the races on this year’s NMCA tour.


After a three-year absence, Dave “The Sprinter” Ginter (right) is back and has a whole new combination that he’s busy shaking down with wrenchman Sebastian Mion (left). Now based out of Tennessee, Ginter hasn’t wasted any time surrounding himself with top names to help get a handle on his new 5.4 L engine built by AES. Matt Bell of Redline Motorsports helped finish the engine and get a base tune, while Derek Craft at Speedcraft Racing helped with wiring and now manages tuning duties of the Holley EFI system. A ProTorque EV1 converter sits inside a Turbo 400 transmission, and Team Z 9” rear end help put the power to the ground which comes courtesy of one of the biggest changes – gone is Ginter’s old blower and in its place sits a turbo mounted to a Tobener Motorsports-built turbo kit. He’s still getting used to the snail’s characteristics but made a good go of it in the first qualifying session as he’s already run 5.360 at 135.70 mph to put him tenth in the NMRA Edelbrock Renegade/Xtreme Street combo class.


A turbocharged Coyote engine built by the fine folks at MPR Racing Engines powers Larry Starost’s Roush Stage 3 ’13 Mustang in NMRA Advanced Fuel Dynamics Limited Street. Multi-time champion Brandon Alsept of BA Motorsports is on hand acting as crew chief and head tuner of the AEM Infinity system, and Starost ran 8.990 at 152.71 mph so far in qualifying today in the first qualifying session. DeatschWerks injectors are also on board, along with UPR Products suspension components and Moser axles.


Exedy Racing Clutches Modular Muscle competitor Roxanne Shepard may be down, but she’s definitely not out. We aren’t pointing fingers or placing blame, but someone forgot to put the hood pins in before her second test pass yesterday and her Vortech-supercharged Mustang’s hood blew off around the eighth-mile mark at nearly 100 mph. It destroyed her windshield, but a local ABRA technician is on his way to the track right now with a replacement that should be installed shortly so that she can make a qualifying pass tomorrow. Making the most of a bad situation, Roxanne is enjoying a leisurely day hanging out at the track with her husband, Barry.


“Oh, it’s bad. The car hates me,” laughed NMRA Edelbrock Renegade racer Bart Tobener as he reviewed the data numbers with crew man Derek Craft of Speedcraft Racing. A first run with “new everything” for the S550 – specifically, a new Proformance transmission and new stator in the ProTorque converter along with a converter charge valve – meant there were a lot of post-pass adjustments to be made after his 5.083 at 141.43 mph effort.

Kentuckian Danny Whitford took a break from racing back in 1979 before joining Quick Fuel Technology Nostalgia Super Stock three years ago, and he fits right in with his 1967 Chevelle. The 555 cubic-inch big-block Chevy under its hood helps deliver Whitford to 10.00s for the category’s 10.00 index, and he hopes that it also helps deliver him to his first win in the category soon. “I love racing in Nostalgia Super Stock,” said Whitford. “It’s a good group of  people, and a lot of them are now friends, including Kevin Gass.”

VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod racer Jim Widener clicked off a new personal best at Route 66 today. After a nitrous issue in Norwalk, he freshened the engine and added another 10 cubes while they were at it. The Corvette runs a whopping six kits on its 954-cube BES engine, and all the particulars are under the command of a Holley EFI system. Widener hopes to run a 3.75 by the end of the weekend.

Some people regret selling their first car. An NMCA racer for the past six years, Don Fenlon is not one of those people. He picked up this 1973 Camaro when he was in high school, and it is still putting a smile on his face all these years later. His stock-suspension machine is powered by a pump-gas 498-cube big-block Chevy, built by Ruben Hernandez, backed by an APT-built trans. The MagnaFuel Open Comp ride runs 10.30s on a good day.

Pro Stock star Larry Morgan is on the property at the 14th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing Presented by FST Carburetors. Acting as car chief on Eric Gustafson’s VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod 1969 Camaro, he was doing his consulting in a hands-on fashion as he helped make adjustments to the rear suspension in search of more hook.

A bad vibration all of a sudden has thrown NMRA Detroit Locker Truck & Lightning’s Randy Conway for a loop. It’s definitely in the rear somewhere, but not in the Weld wheels or tires. The guys were busy trying to nail down the source of the shimmy before the next session was called, and last season’s champ had a quick 0.038-second reaction time in his ’84 Ranger to wind up seventh after the section round of qualifying.


Qualifying is underway here at the 14th Annual Nitto NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing, featuring the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series, at Route 66 Raceway. For NMCA results as we receive them, click HERE, and see separate link for NMRA results HERE.

Tomorrow the action starts heating up, so here’s how the action will unfold at the 14th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing Presented by FST Carburetors on Saturday.


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