Modified Mustangs & Fords
18th Annual Texas Thunder Fun Ford Weekend Nationals - Big Crowds, Big Fun
Although many talk about feeling the gas pinch these days, you'd never have guessed it from attending the Texas Thunder Nats this year
With a few date changes required due to conflicting schedules, the traditional second race on the FFW calendar, the Peach State Nationals, was pushed back to June. So the second race of the season occurred at Houston Raceway Park, as the FFW gang rolled into town for the Texas Thunder Nationals the first weekend in May.
There was a lot of excitement in the air as the stands, pits, midway, and show field started filling up with fans, cars, drivers, race crews, and vendors. In Houston, the heavy hitters could be found in the Street Outlaw class. To make things even more interesting, this race saw a full-on battle of the brands. So besides Fords, there were a number of Chevys on the grounds and, sure enough, a full Blue Oval-versus-Bowtie grudge match got under way. However, the quickest two cars in qualifying were both Ford-based machines, driven by Grant McCrary and Conrad Scarry, respectively.
Let The Battle Begin
When the eliminations got under way, Round One saw a number of casualties: Mark Luton was dispatched by Kevin Hargett, while Tim Rivette-driving a Camaro-based car, of all things-won over Orlando Mendoza. Both Scarry and McCrary, the two fastest qualifiers, made it through the first round, with McCrary putting his challenger, Brandon Dominy, on the trailer whilst Scarry caught a bye. The other driver to make it through was another Camaro man, Dennis Suervu, who managed to drive around Jason White.
In Round Two, the Ford guys really started piling on the pressure. Scarry, facing off against Rivette, sent the Chevy driver packing while Suervu, in the other Camaro, was outgunned by a good run from Hargett. That meant that going into the semis, we had an all-Ford field in Street Outlaw. And it was here that McCrary really wowed the crowd with arguably his best run of the weekend-a superb 0.019 light meant that Hargett didn't stand a chance. With Scarry catching yet another bye, the stage was set. In the finals, it appeared that Scarry had the advantage with an out-of-the-hole sling shot, but then McCrary turned up the boost, motoring past the '06 champ to seal the victory-a 6.882, while Scarry, struggling to maintain a good level of speed, trailed with an 8.8831.
Over in Street Renegade, it was great to see Ronnie Wilson back in action. The former class champion managed to put his car in Third Place during qualifying, behind Richard Lelsz and Kenjo Kelly. With the fastest cars running well into the 7-second range, there was plenty of excitement in this heads-up class. For Wilson, however, things went a bit pear shaped in the first round on Sunday, as he was out, along with Kelly and Mike Modesto. Lelsz, meanwhile, was having a great weekend despite some slow reaction times, making up for them with some excellent speed by mid-track, picking away until the last challenger left standing was Angel Padilla. These two met in the final, but Lelsz's sluggish off-the-line driving continued. As a result, Padilla walked away with this one, putting his gorgeous '70 Mustang SportsRoof firmly in the winner's circle.
The 10.60 Street Bandit boys also got down to some fine racing with a packed field of cars, which was very nice to see, along with some old favorites and new contenders. The final round saw Gary Miller and his amazing '53 Ford pickup square off against Brian Warwas. It appeared that, as the race got under way, Miller had it in the bag, running a closer e.t. to the class index (a 10.62 against Warwas' 10.67), but it's often at the tree where it counts and this time Brian cut a quicker light and, in doing so, won.
Street 'Stang regular James Meredith and his Mach 1 were in very good form. In fact, the only thing stopping the march of the Meredith Machine was Cliff Nelson. Still, ol' Nelson had his work cut out for him in the final and couldn't quite match the pace of Meredith and the Mach, who went straight to victory lane with a 12.16 e.t. versus a 12.34 for Nelson.