Agustin Jimenez
Technical Editor
August 5, 2015
Photos By: Courtesy Of The NMRA

One of the greatest automotive battles took place at the 10th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing and when the dust settled, it was team NMRA who took home the coveted Nitto Tire Diamond Tree ring. Over 600 race cars were in attendance at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois on Thursday to begin the four days of all out competition between the two sanctioning bodies. Each series competed separately with three rounds of qualifying and elimination runs. Once the NMRA Keystone Automotive and NMCA Flowmaster event champions were crowned through 23 categories, including both HP Tuners True Street and Gear Vendors True Street, the competition officials paired up the winners with their corresponding category from the other series.

The wild conclusion of the Super Bowl Shootout isn’t an easy or equal crossover and this year featured twelve pairings. The tiebreaker was the final match with the Strange Engineering Coyote Stock lining up against the Chevrolet Performance Stock; the winner of that final pair would be rewarded two points in the Shootout to eliminate any tie. Not surprisingly, the Super Bowl Shootout was action packed, with the overall win coming in the final pairing as Drew Lyons and his Coyote Stock car shut down the Chevrolet Performance Camaro of Glen Pushis with a 10.45 at 127 mph. Lyons was the hero of the day after Team NMRA battled back and forth before going behind by one point heading into the finals. It was practically a scripted finale between both teams with NMRA walking away with the Nitto Tire Diamond Tree ring for the eighth time in the past ten years.

Prior to the dramatic Shootout, the NMRA Keystone Automotive Drag Racing Series was red hot with quick action and tight racing for the fifth stop on the six-race tour. There was no more popular category than the VP Racing Fuels/Stainless Works Street Outlaw class as pre-race hype indicated a large turnout and when tech inspections concluded, twenty-eight racers were registered with twenty-seven of them taking the tree in qualifying. It came down to the Mustang of the Bruder Brothers and their small-block Ford powerplant against the LS-powered Fox-body Mustang of Eric Gustafson. The California-based Gustafson was deadly all weekend long but an oil line came off in the final round, Bruder streaked to a 4.53 at 163 mph for the win and emerged the victor in the largest field in nearly a decade.

The Edelbrock Renegade class was also action packed with the supercharged camp proving to be consistent and fast with Alton Clements Jr. taking his second straight win after shutting down the rookie Aaron Bates with a 7.66 at 179 mph to Bates’ 7.80 at 177 mph.

Haley James of Hellion Racing faced class rival Johnny “Lightning” Wiker in the final round of ProCharger Coyote Modified for the fourth time this season. Both racers traded low ET of the weekend back and forth and by Sunday night James grabbed her third win this year with an 8.39 at 162 mph to Wiker’s 8.46 at 163 mph.

The naturally aspirated division put ACT Pure Street at the top with Jimmy Wilson going to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle for the fourth straight event as he seemed to have Teddy Weaver’s number in final rounds. This time it took a 9.73 at 138 mph from Wilson to beat the defending champ, who had posted a 9.75 at 138 mph. The Strange Engineering Coyote Stock class, with Ford Performance sealed Coyote 5.0 engines, watched Drew Lyons regain his winning composure as he topped Darrin Hendricks in a close battle—10.46 at 127 mph to a 10.48 at 128 mph. James Meredith eliminated the last undefeated racer this season when he beat Matt Amrine in the finals of American Racing Headers Factory Stock. Amrine ripped the handle off the shifter and James got to the stripe first with an 11.04 at 117 mph.

The index categories had near record turnouts for the season and Flex-a-lite Open Comp saw teammates from the Blackson Arrow team beat out the field. Mel White worked the finish line stripe to beat Steven Daniels. It was a heads-up race, with a breakout, as both carried a 10.95 index. White ran 10.99 while Daniels posted an 11.02, earning the Georgia-based racer a chance to celebrate in the illustrious and glamorous Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle. The Detroit Locker Truck & Lightning class came down to Bob Dill who scored his first major class win in thirty-years of drag racing! The turbocharged Coyote engine powered his Gen II Lightning truck into the Aerospace Component’s Winner Circle as he beat Kennady Jones who broke out, handing the win to Dill.

The Roush Performance Super Stang class was huge and featured over twenty competitors in the street-oriented category. The finals came down to Larry Firestone and his Roush-supercharged 2008 Mustang GT and John Mummery, the Canadian racer who was extremely consistent despite rowing his own gears with a Tremec transmission. Firestone jumped on the brakes to prevent a breakout, his 11.93 was accomplished with just a 93 mph charge. The final class, Exedy Racing Modular Muscle saw Donnie Bowles win yet another Illinois title with his propane-powered hot rod as he was the victor over Indiana’s Brad Phoenix.

For the second year in a row the HP Tuners True Street competition was held on Saturday and a combined 78 competitors were registered. When the dust settled from the 30-mile cruise and three consecutive runs, Kevin McCotter of Michigan was crowned the Overall Winner thanks to his 9.87 average. Matt Caldwell was rewarded with the Overall Runner-Up honors as his 10.33 average was more than enough to hold off the rest of the field. Other winners included David Decker (11-second Winner), Fred Stickovich (12-second Winner), Jason Epstein (13-second Winner), Mike Baker (14-second Winner), and David Schenn (15-second Winner).

The thrilling conclusion to the four-day event was the Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing Shootout and as mentioned earlier, Team NMRA continued its domination of the special showdown with an eighth victory. The pairing winners received bonus money and the winning team took home the Nitto Tire Diamond Tree win.

The 2015 NMRA Keystone Automotive drag racing season will conclude October 1-4 at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, KY with the 17th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA All-Ford World Finals. See you there!