Race Wrap – Inaugural NMRA Gateway Rumble Presented by HPJ Performance | Coverage presented by Edelbrock
(May 20, 2019 Santa Ana CA) The World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway has been host to some storied performances, and when the Keystone Automotive NMRA Series arrived for the third stop in its 2019 season at the facility, racers and spectators answered the call, looking for the next chapter to be written in impressive performances. What car and driver combination could negotiate the warm temperatures to stand in the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle to grab the exclusive Edelbrock Victor trophy?
Vinny Palazzolo and his turbocharged 2009 GT500 have been the combination to beat thus far in VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw, and Palazzolo qualified atop the field here with a 4.44 at 166 mph, followed closely by Lebanon, Ohio’s Phil Hines at 4.46 at 160 mph. Those two made their way to the final round, with Palazzolo holding lane choice on the strength of his 4.42 to 4.44 advantage over Hines. The final round started with Hines strapping a sizable .042 to .129 holeshot on Palazzolo, and despite Palazzolo running a quicker 4.41 at 161 mph, he couldn’t catch the 4.48 at 160 mph from Hines’ ProCharger-fed 2001 Mustang before the finish line first, giving Hines the win.
Current points leader Haley James grabbed the top spot on the qualifying sheet in Edelbrock Renegade thanks to a 4.81 at 148 mph. A pair of 4.8-performances from the Albuquerque, New Mexico-based driver landed her and the boosted Hellion B-Team Fox body Mustang in their second final of the season to face off with the 2003 Cobra of Keith Ciborowski. The pair left the starting line nearly together to start the final round battle, but James’s performance advantage gave her a sizable lead and her second win of the year thanks to a 4.83 at 147.91 mph, getting the nod over a 5.01 at 141 mph from Ciborowski.
ProCharger Modified Street was paced in qualifying by Martin Connelley, as driver from Salyersville, Kentucky delivered a 7.72 at 177 mph blast. Connelley rode that performance edge to the final round to face Brad Schehr who had qualified second at 7.88 with his ’89 Mustang. What could have been an all 7-second final round bout fizzled when Schehr ran into problems, slowing to a 10-second run that fell to the 8.01 at 165 mph from Connelley’s turbocharged 1986 Mustang.
Class champion Michael Ciborowski qualified number one in the Advanced Fuel Dynamics Limited Street class with an 8.74 at 155 mph. Problems for Ciborowski would be his undoing in the semifinals against Michael Lewandowski, who would advance his ’79 Mustang on to face Sondra Leslie’s ’85 model in the title bout. A nitrous versus supercharger battle came down to a holeshot, as Leslie’s 7-hundredths better reaction time combined with an 8.80 at 154 mph held off the 8.77 at 154 mph charge of Lewandowski, giving Demotte, Indiana racer her first win of the season after a hectic weekend.
The competition in G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock was as hot as the weather, but Clair Stewart II would be the lone entry into the 10.teen range, clocking a 10.19 at 129.88 mph for the top rung on the qualifying sheet. Stewart ended his own day with a semifinal round red light against Jacob Lamb, moving his ’86 Mustang to the final round to face the potent ’93 Cobra of Darin Hendricks. Both cars rolled deep in the staging beams, and the move turned up a red light for Hendricks, giving Lawrenceburg, Kentucky’s Lamb a 10.40 at 129 mph ride to victory and a trip to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle.
2019 has been the year of Dan Ryntz in Richmond Gear Factory Stock, as the Waynesboro, Pennsylvania-based driver has not lost in competition to this point in the season. Ryntz put his ’89 Mustang in the top qualifying spot here with a 10.41 at 127 mph, and he advanced to yet another final to face the blue ’79 Mustang of number two qualifier Bryan Gardner. The final was all Ryntz, getting the holeshot over Gardner and stretching the advantage to the finish line where the scoreboards confirmed the win was his via a 10.38 to 10.49 count over Gardner.
Donnie Bowles’s near-perfect .001-second reaction time led the field in qualifying for Exedy Racing Clutch Modular Muscle, but after four rounds of competition, the final round would match defending class champ Jason Henson and his 2003 Mach 1 Mustang against Livonia, Michigan’s Susan Roush-McClenaghan. Only thousandths of a second separated the two in reaction times in a titanic final round, and a close double break out result found Roush-McClenaghan’s 2010 Mustang the victor, as her .006-under 9.444 just edged out the .01-under 12.06 from Henson.
Nailing a perfect reaction time in qualifying can score a top qualifying spot, as it did for Terry Haynal in the ARP Open Comp class. Haynal lost in round one to current class champion Gordon Harlow, who advanced to the final round to face off with 2017 class champion Dennis Corn. At the green Harlow’s Mustang left first on the 10.12 to 9.32 index handicap difference, but a .06-under 10.06 break out pass from Harlow meant the .01-above 9.33 of Corn got his ’88 Thunderbird the win to savor on his ride back to Northville, Michigan.
NMRA veteran Johnny “Lightning” Wiker qualified first in Detroit Locker Truck & Lightning field with a great .012 reaction time, but he met his demise in the semifinals against former NMCA champion Mike Roup. The turbocharged 2001 Lightning of Bob Dill would provide competition for Lockhart, Texas’s own Roup in a new versus classic truck battle, and Roup emerged victorious when the ’70 Ranchero posted an .08-over 11.32 to best the .12-over 9.56 of Dill.
Bryan Newburn nabbed the top spot in qualifying for the ROUSH Performance Super Stang class thanks to his .018 reaction time and he advanced to round two before losing to Bobby Barrick. The Kentuckian would run Port Saint Lucie, Florida’s Robert Ball and his 2015 Mustang in the final round, and a big holeshot for Ball paid off in a double break out finish when Ball was the less offensive with a .06-under 10.74 pass getting the win over Barrick’s .16-under 11.64 run from his 2013 Mustang.
The field in Race Star Wheels Ford Muscle was led by Lloyd Mikeska courtesy of a 12.02 against his 12.00 I/FM index, but by the time the final round rolled around, a battle of classic steeds had materialized. Defending class champion Bryan Parker made the drive from Centerburg, Ohio with his ’68 Mustang fastback count, as he staged up with the ’72 Mach 1 of Clyde Dunphy. When the final pass complete, it would be Parker using a holeshot-aided .03-over 11.53 to turn away the closer .02-over 10.52 of Dunphy for the win.
More than 50 drivers arrived at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway to participate in the QA1 True Street class, and the street test would be a combination of road and track, as drivers pounded the streets of Madison, Illinois before returning to the track and making laps on the famed oval. When the drag strips runs were complete and the results tabulated, Randy Thomas from Paducah, Kentucky, and his 2010 Shelby Mustang stood atop the field courtesy of an impressive 8.60 average to score the coveted Edelbrock Victor trophy. Troy Eaton was the runner-up thanks to a 9.95 average, Bill Unkel scored the 9-second hardware with a 9.75, a near-perfect 10.001 average meant the 10-second title went to Rick Baun, and Trevor Thome picked up the 11-second hardware. Mike Baker was the 12-second winner, Robert Conwell earned the 13-second plaque, the best of the 14-second group was Eddie Schoenfeld, and Mason Blosser rounded out the winners with the 15-second title.
The top sixteen averages from Saturday’s QA1 True Street competition were eligible to enter the first-ever Stifflers Chassis and Suspension Gateway Rumble class. The focus turns from averages in True Street to a heads-up, first-to-the-finish-line mentality, and top qualifier Randy Thomas made his way to the final round to match up with number two qualifier Troy Eaton and his turbocharged ’89 Mustang. The pair of Kentucky racers staged up, and at the green Thomas took a sizeable holeshot when Eaton wasn’t able to build enough turbo boost. Thomas crossed the finish line first in his 2010 Shelby, but his 8.43 pass proved too quick for his NHRA safety limit of 8.50, and the resulting disqualification gave the win to Harrodsburg, Kentucky’s Eaton, who clocked a 9.07 at 160 mph blast.
In the NMRA Bracket One category, St. Louis, Missouri-based Greg Rice had quite a weekend. Piloting a 2015 Profab-built dragster, Rice scored the win on Saturday afternoon over NMRA Modular Muscle-racer Charlie McCulloch. Then Rice repeated the feat on Sunday, turning back Caileb Beaird in an all-dragster final to earn a pair of Edelbrock Victor trophies for his efforts.
Bracket Two was an all-Fox chassis final on Saturday, but a heartbreaking -.001 red light from Jeffery Whitaker meant John Westhoff’s 1982 Capri got the win. Whitaker made the most of his chances on Sunday though, getting a win over Bob Westhoff for the accolades and cheers from his crew.
Bracket Three found a famous name in the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle on Saturday, as Bret Kepner scored a holeshot-aided victory over Ralph Beaver. Sunday pitted Aaron Worstell against Paul Kluesner, and a better reaction time paved the way to victory for Worstell.
The NMRA thanks everyone who made the Inaugural NMRA Gateway Rumble Presented by HPJ Performance a success by attending in person or checking out the action online courtesy of Speedvideo.com’s livestream broadcast. Our congratulations to those that celebrated victory in the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle, earning the desired Edelbrock Victor trophy.
The next stop on the 2019 NMRA schedule is Pennsylvania’s-own Maple Grove Raceway, home to the 19thAnnual NMRA Ford Motorsport Nationals, contested June 27th through the 30th.