Horse Sense: The Factory Stock class had a race within a race at Reynolds during qualifying, and Steve Gifford came out on top. He beat Alan Cann, Jeff "What's That" Schmell, and Eric Holliday in the final to win the shootout. Eric rallied on Sunday to beat Steve in round two of eliminations.
You've read our bellyaches about the traffic woes we've endured throughout the years getting from our Tampa offices to the NMRA race in Reynolds, Georgia. Every year, the race coincides with the not-so-mad rush of all the snowbirds returning north. For the '07 event, we did the responsible thing-we left early to get a jump on the northerners heading home to Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, among other places. It's a good thing we did, because we made it just in time for round-one qualifying. At the time, the weather was picture perfect. Sunday afternoon brought with it clouds, rain, and some more rain. Thanks to the weather, every heads-up class in the finals-save for Hot Street-will be finished at the Milan, Michigan, event June 15-17. Read on for the action leading up to the final rounds.
A lot goes into moving a car to another class, and there are plenty of racers who have had trouble making the transition. Shawn Johnson made the move from Factory Stock to our own Real Street class. He must have grown bored with beating Michael Washington every time, so he wanted to take on new challengers. Unfortunately, new combo gremlins and Michael-he also moved up to Real Street-teamed up to end Shawn's weekend in round two. To make sure the car is ironed out for the next race, he dropped it off at MV Performance on the way home to Michigan to get it tuned and performing the way it should be.
When we heard J.R. Granatelli coming to the line during Saturday's qualifying, we had a feeling Raphael Morkvenas' LX Super Street Outlaw was going to do something big. As you can see, we were right. JR began building boost as he brought the car to the line. Once it got in the lights, a line let go, sending fluid on the exhaust and setting the car on fire. As bad as this looks, the team worked on the car and made first round with it not looking much worse for wear. It was off pace with an 8.36, which couldn't get JR past John Urist. These guys deserve a lot of credit for even making the call in the first place, but to run an 8.30 after a fire is huge.
Teddy Weaver canned his old Fox GT in favor of this New Edge GT body wearing chameleon paint and featuring his existing McKeown Motorsport Engineering-built Pure Street 310ci combo. MV Performance got the call for the suspension setup on the new car, as well. At the Reynolds race, Teddy qualified Fifth with a 10.51 at 128 mph, which showed he was a couple of tenths and a couple of mph off the top spot. Speaking of the top spot, number-one qualifier Jimmy Wilson ended Teddy's weekend in round two. Teddy was still having some electrical and suspension problems with the new car, but during testing after Reynolds, MV's Tim Matherly helped sort out the suspension, and the electrical gremlins have been corrected. Don't be surprised to see Teddy in the 10.20s at Milan.
Steve Matukas from Matukas Motorsports Race Cars [(270) 842-4409, www.matukasmotorsports.com] has become a big name in Mustang chassis work. Steve constructed Joel Greathouse's '05 GT 10.5W. He's always at an NMRA event helping Sam Vincent, Donnie "Burndown" Burton, and Hot Street racer Tim Eichorn, among others. Steve began his career in chassis work in Southern California, but now he's located in Alvaton, Kentucky. Mustangs aren't the only vehicles he performs his magic on; any race car needing chassis work is allowed at MMRC.
The Pro 5.0 Team of Joe Morgan and Tom Sanders has relied on nitrous from Edelbrock's Steve Johnson for a couple of years now. At Reynolds, the Georgia-based team took advantage of home cooking with a stellar 6.62 at 211.86 mph. The ".86" is important, because that earned Joe the fastest pass in qualifying, even though he barely missed being the quickest. On Sunday, Tony Bischoff was quicker to the stripe against Joe, ending his weekend.
With Bert Kelkboom and the Aruba team suffering terminal engine damage, the rest of the Pro 5.0 field had to step up to put on a great show. Michael Hauf held up his end of the deal with a wicked 6.56/211.56-mph pass to take the top-qualifying spot and make a run at the Pro-5.0 record. Since he ran quicker than the required 6.633 with his first round 6.58, he scored the record. He'll have to wait until the Milan, Michigan, race to see if he can score the victory against Tony Bischoff.
Though he closed out 2006 with a string of victories, Pro 5.0 racer Tony Bischoff hasn't yet enjoyed that same success in 2007. The team is still testing several ideas, and it probably doesn't help the racing program when the shop is so busy, as is Tony's case with his company BES Racing Engines. Tony still ran well at Reynolds with a 6.60 in qualifying, and another 6.60 in round one against Joe Morgan. He won't know if he can get back to his winning ways until the Milan, Michigan, race.