Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
December 22, 2011

Each year the Columbus stop on the NMRA tour is where championships are won and lost. If you aren't in the hunt for a championship by Columbus, chances are you won't be when the race is over. However, if you are in the hunt, you're at Columbus battling for every point you can get any way you can get it.

Carlos Sobrino came to Columbus with an improved chassis to improve his chances of getting his first NMRA championship. Terry "Beefcake" Reeves borrowed a car to keep himself in the points chase in Super 'Stang. It's this time of year when racers pull out all the stops to make one last push for a championship.

Unfortunately, many racers had to wait until the Bowling Green race to decide the Columbus winner since rain moved in on Sunday to postpone the final rounds till the World Finals. Only Drag Radial was able to finish the event at Columbus, with Jason Lee continuing his mastery of the National Trail Raceway surface. As for the rest of the classes, read on to see how they turned out.

Horse Sense: Joe Cram was driving the '06 GT convertible owned by Dave Bachota of Bachota Performance. A far cry of Joe's usual whip, his Columbus ride ran low-14s, but Joe ended his weekend by going red in Round 1 against Brent White.

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Super Street Outlaw
Filthy Phil Hines has stuck with the NMRA through thick and thin. He just keeps battling, and never gives up. Another thing about Phil is that he's consistent. He usually runs in the 7.30-to-7.40 range every pass. At Columbus, Phil qualified with a 7.40 and ran a 7.36 in Round 1 to get past Johnny Mac. In Round 2 he was able to get past an ailing Kenjo Kelley. For the final round, which was continued at Bowling Green, Phil was able to get the win against hometown boy, Kentucky Sam Vincent.

Xtreme Drag Radial
Historically, National Trail Raceway has been hard to figure out for the drag radial guys. As usual, Jason Lee was best able to figure out what the track needed as far as power application. Jason was able to qualify at the top spot with a 7.85 at 178 mph. He then used his experience to get through eliminations and past Sean Lyon, who was never able to put together a solid run at Columbus. Then in the final, Andy Manson went red, handing the win to Jason. This pretty much sealed another championship season for Jason, even with one race left to go.

EFI Renegade
Alton Clements was running a modular powerplant for a while, but he's back to the push-rod combination. At Columbus, Alton showed why he went back to the Vortech-boosted 311ci combo by qualifying at the top with an 8.58 at 157 mph. He continued the 8.50-express with an 8.51 against Joel Howard's clean '86 GT in Round 2. For the final at Bowling Green, Alton took out Brian Mitchell for the winHarci

Hot Street
Charlie Booze Jr., Robbie Blankenship, and Don Bowles have been fighting it out hard this year in Hot Street--they've been going back and forth, trading Number 1 qualifiers, wins, and the like. At Columbus, it first appeared to be Robbie's turn, but Charlie had other ideas once eliminations began. Of course, they each took care of their side of the ladder, ensuring a meeting in the final. This time Charlie took the win over Robbie as they finished up at Bowling Green.

Real Street
Unfortunately, there were only three Real Street racers at Columbus. Thanks to the Midwest contingent, more usually show up, but a few cars were broken when Columbus came around. However, quantity was made up by the quality of Real Street racers who did show up. We had Bruce Hemminger, Tim Matherly, and Jim Breese on the property and ready for battle. Tim and Bruce were scraping for every point, and every round counted. Tim was able to get past Jim in Round 1. Jim just couldn't catch a break at Columbus, and was having clutch problems. That meant Tim and Bruce would meet at Bowling Green to decide the race. Tim decided to go back to his New Edge chassis for Bowling Green, but he also picked up some power, which threw off the chassis setup, and Bruce was able to get the Columbus win.

Pure Street
It's been the Shawn Johnson and Brandon Alsept show for 2011 in Pure Street. With Jimmy Wilson sitting out a few races this year and Ryan Hecox "retired," Shawn and Brandon have gone back and forth, and it was more of the same at Columbus. Both guys made it through their side of the ladder to meet in the final at Bowling Green, where Shawn was able to take the win.

Factory Stock
Leading up to Columbus all the talk was about Carlos Sobrino and the supposed new car he was bringing. Well, the car wasn't new so much, but the chassis he chose to house his combination was better than his Trooper car. We had hoped it would be one color. It wasn't, but we should've expected nothing less from the Factory Stock madman. However, Carlos was unable to take his "new" ride to victory lane. That is Brian Campbell at the wheel of Matt Amrine's GT. Brian's done quite well in 2011, and he has the chassis working really well, which enabled him to take the win over Louis Sylvester in the final.

Modular Muscle
One of the classes we never try to predict is Modular Muscle. There are so many skilled racers in the class that we could guess five different winners and still be wrong. However, one racer that is starting to separate himself from the pack is Gary Parker. At Columbus, Gary was able to get through eliminations to meet another Modular Muscle standout in Reggie Burnette Jr. This time around, though, Gary took the win.

Open Comp
Mr. Open Comp Larry Geddes was able to get the win for the Columbus event. He's always good at the tree, and his 347-powered '90 LX hatch is usually good for low 11s. At Columbus his index was an 11.23, and he was able to get the win over Dale McClenaghan in the final.

Super 'Stang
We're not really sure the number of Mustangs owned by Super 'Stang racer Pete Espeut. We've seen him race at least two different Mustangs this year. At Columbus, he was behind the wheel of this '10 Shelby GT500. We already know Pete's an accomplished racer, but at Columbus, he was on his game and able to carry it on to the finals at Bowling Green with a win over Miles Wagoner.

Truck and Lightning
In Truck and Lightning, qualifying order is decided by reaction time. Joseph Matthews clicked a 0.501 light. Since a 0.500 light is perfect, Joseph was almost perfect and the top qualifier. For the Columbus race, Joseph was able to carry that good fortune through to Bowling Green and win the Columbus event over Johnny Lightning in the final.