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Race Wrap | NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals

Rockingham, NC – Despite the challenges of rain early in the event schedule, the sun shined on the racetrack when it counted and the Holley NMRA Ford Nationals series campaign powered on at Rockingham Dragway with the NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals Presented by Sipple’s Speed & Performance and Top of the Rock Thrill Festival Presented by Innovation Performance Technologies, which delivered fast Fords and plenty of fun for all those in attendance.

“NMRA is celebrating Mustang’s 60th birthday all season long, but with our second event rolling into Rockingham just days before its birthday, a celebration was in order,” Steve Wolcott, President and CEO of NMRA, said. “We felt the power of Ford’s pony car throughout the weekend, and it was rewarding seeing so many smiling fans in the stands.”

NMRA celebrated the Mustang’s 60th birthday with special Mustang Day celebrations both on and off the racetrack, as the UPR Products All-Ford Car Show offered a Mustang-only grouping and the huge Circle D Specialties True Street class included a Mustang Day classification as well.

During downtime on the drag strip, fans enjoyed photo opportunities with the World’s Largest BIGFOOT Monster Truck, which also cruised the Top of the Rock and joined in on the BMX Freestyle Stunt Show action, where riders did tricks out of the bed and off the tires of the towering Ford pickup.

While the excitement atop The Rock kept fans engaged and entertained throughout the day, the heads-up, index, and street-car racing classes on the drag strip are the foundation of NMRA’s program. From storied categories like VP Racing Lubricants Renegade to the fresh Whatever It Takes Transmission Parts Street Bandit 10.10, there were plenty of fast Fords on the property vying for victory and coveted trips to the NMRA Winner’s Circle.

“This was our biggest Rockingham event to date, and it even exceeded the levels that we attained during the All-Star Nationals longstanding run at the now-closed Atlanta Dragway,” Rollie Miller, NMCA General Manager and National Event Director, added. “Our racers put on a great show this weekend, and the momentum of both series is strong headed into our Race for the Rings event in St. Louis.”

It is Josh Hutnick riding that wave into the next event, having qualified in the second slot in the combined NMRA VP Racing Lubricants Renegade/NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street class with a 4.55 at 162 mph. After qualifying, Hutnick powered through eliminations and was set to square off with number-three qualifier Joel Greathouse. Unfortunately for the defending champ, Greathouse, experienced breakage in the semifinals and handed the easy win to Hutnick in the finals.

In the high-flying Vengeance Clutch Coyote Stock category, Shane Stymiest posted a 9.64 at 137 rip to take the pole in qualifying over the 13 other competitors in the class. Stymiest had a strong run until he clashed with eventual runner-up Chad Stephens. In the final, Stephens and his Dirty Bird faced Charlie Booze Jr. Stephens left first but Booze drove around him for the win with a 9.68 to Stephens’s 9.78.

Class regulars Mike Bowen and Damien Stephens squared off in the Richmond Gear Factory Stock competition at The Rock. Bowen took the top qualified spot with a 10.20 at 119.40 pass. Bowen carried that advantage through to eliminations, where he got the jump at the light and powered to a win with a 10.02 at 131.85 blast over Stephens’ 10.41 at 128.83 mph hit.

Stacked with 19 entries, the Suncoast Performance 8.60 Street Race class competition was fierce, with the top 12 competitors qualifying at 8.68 or quicker. However, it was Willie Lujan hauling all the way from South Florida who nailed the top spot in qualifying with his 8.601 at 158.79 mph pass. After five fierce rounds of competition, Gavin Black faced off against Houston McClain. Both racers knew it would be close, and McClain left a bit too early, handing the easy triumph to Black, who ran an 8.75 at 143.08 mph as he cruised to the win.

A new championship category this season, Whatever It Takes Transmission Parts Street Bandit 10.10 attracted a robust field of racers. The top four qualifiers were all in striking distance of the class index limit, with Bill Wittenauer right in the mix in the third slot with a 10.13 at 132 mph. He took out Chris Hammon, Cary Shotwell, and Charlie Atchinson en route to a final-round battle with Brayden Creamer. Both ran slightly quicker than 10.10, but Wittenauer’s quick work at the tree meant the race was over right off the line.

Qualified by reaction time, Truck & SUV saw Gregory Collins ascend to the top spot before eliminations began courtesy of a .0026 at the tree. That good fortune followed him into eliminations, where he clashed with former champion Mike Roup, whose Ranchero recently survived an electrical fire. Collins chopped down the tree and ran an 11.65 on an 11.65 dial-in to vanquish Roup.

With more than 30 cars competing in the ARP Open Comp class, the competition was fierce as Charlie Atkinson qualified in the top spot with a .0001 reaction time. Atkinson fell in the first round, but defending champion Dennis Corn danced around his dial-in all day long to go rounds. His T-bird flew into the final round against Charlie McCulloch. There, Corn was a little late at the lights, but took the win on a double breakout to hold off McCulloch and take home the win.

Longtime racer Adam Cox put his experience to work in qualifying, as to bested 12 other racers to put his New Edge stallion at the head of the class in Exedy Racing Clutch Modular Muscle with a .0017 reaction time. Adam carried that momentum into the final round against the always tough Susan McClegnahan. He was running it right on the edge at the tree durng eliminations, however, and lit the red bulb in eliminations, handing her the easy win in the final.

Among the dozen cars competing in the HP Tuners Super Stang class, Ray Williams Sr. nabbed the top qualifying position with a .0013 reaction time, but he headed for the trailer in the first round of eliminations courtesy of eventual winner Rodney Ward. Ward put his S197 in the NMRA Winner’s Circle by defeating Dale Aldridge in the final round with quick work at the tree and a 12.50-second run on a 12.40 dial-in.

It was Mark Schiffner who powered to the first qualified position in CJ Pony Parts Ford Muscle on the merit of a 10.26 pass on a 10.25 index. However, as the field narrowed in eliminations, two familiar faces persevered as David Mormann clicked off a 10.745-second run on a 10.75 dial-in to best Cindee Hall’s off-pace 13.58-second pass on a 12.75 dial-in.

In the combined NMRA/NMCA Circle D Specialties True Street, several Fords triumphed to uphold NMRA’s honor. Shelly Schwemly earned runner-up honors thanks to a 9.789 average of three back-to-back runs. All the cars in the True Street class first completed a 30-mile cruise before those runs, and other Ford winners included Tyler Thornburg (10-second), John Harrell Jr. (11-second), Jerry Jones (12-second), Daniel Huth (13-second), and Mike Baker (15-second).

It was a display of pure pony power, as NMRA celebrated the Ford Mustang’s 60th birthday with a special Mustang Day Circle D Specialties True Street class. A busy Willie Lujan piloted his 1990 Mustang LX to the overall win with an 8.825 average, besting runner-up Willy Blanco’s 2016 Mustang, which clocked a 10.02 average. Other winners included Ray Roman (10-second), Kevin McCotter (11-second), Ray Williams Sr. (12-second), Rodney Ward (13-second), Elaine Moistner (14-second), and Ken Mason (15-second).
In Innovation Performance Technologies Jr. Street, which lets teens from 13 through 16 years old graduate from Jr. Dragsters into full-size race vehicles, Hunter Marshall topped Justin Jones to earn a trip to the Winner’s Circle.

It was a busy weekend for Rodney Ward as he not only took the crown in HP Tuners Super Stang, but he survived five rounds of Fastest Street Car Bracket Open competition to race Dell Britt in the finals. There, Ward won the battle at the tree and the war at the stripe with an 8.08 on and 8.04 dial-in to take home another win.

Holley NMRA Ford Nationals racers once again join forces with their friends at the Red Line Oil NMCA Muscle Car Nationals series for the 19th Annual NMRA/NMCA Race for the Rings & Thrill Festival on May 3-5 at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois, outside St. Louis.

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