Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
September 1, 2008

We don't think Steve Gifford and John Leslie Jr. had it planned at Reynolds, but both racers had an interesting weekend. As part of the race-within-a-race format in the NMRA, it was Factory Stock's chance at extra cash to make up for increased fuel prices. The shootout gave qualifying a new meaning. Instead of running for position, Factory Stock racers wanted that money. Though Steve showed he had the power with 118- to 119-mph trap speeds, John took the shootout. However, Steve redeemed himself in eliminations, gaining a tenth over his qualifying times. That may not sound like much in the real world, but in drag racing, it's everything. In the Factory Stock final, Steve and John once again lined up against each other, but Steve saved his best run of the weekend for the final with an 11.46 to exact revenge from the shootout.

John Leslie Jr. has thrown a wrench into the otherwise happy-go-lucky Factory Stock class. The JPC Racing crew figured 2008 would be its year with Tommy Godfrey at the wheel of Michael Washington's whip once again in a battle with Steve Gifford. However, John, with Rich Groh Racing handling the engine-building duties, has stepped up in a big way. Speaking of the JPC crew, Justin Burcham wasn't too happy when John squeaked by Tommy in the shootout thanks to a holeshot, but what's worse is that John beat Tommy again in eliminations even though Tommy had a tenth on John thanks to his own holeshot. John was able to beat Steve in the Factory Stock Shootout to make the ride home more manageable, but unlike Tommy, Steve would turn the tables on John in the final to win the event.