Keith Neal brought his Straightline Chassis-built '04 Cobra to Reynolds for its first race since buying the car in October 2006. Straightline built the car for Keith in 2004; he sold it, only to buy it back. Brad Brand tunes the twin 88mm Garrett-turbocharged 458ci small-block combo that boasts a Neal Chance Powerglide and a Marty Chance converter. Keith and his crew were late for qualifying; they spent a lot of time on the dyno working on the combination. The car shook the tires in the second and third rounds of qualifying, but for eliminations, Keith and the crew moved some stuff around. With just "monkeying around," they ran a 7.14 in round two of eliminations. Keith will meet Tim Essick in the final at Milan.
Tim Essick's only issue was some tire shake out of the hole. Because of that problem, he couldn't put anymore power into it in the first 330 feet. Tim wished they could've run the finals at Reynolds so he and Keith Neal could put some money in their respective wallets, but he'll be ready at the Milan event. Tim runs Twin Turbonetics on his car, and it was in the 7.50s all last year; the car began the season the 7.10s. Tim does his own work, including engine and transmission building and maintenance. "That's the only way I can afford to race," he says.
Manny Buginga didn't think he had the fastest Super Street Outlaw car at Reynolds, but he says he has a good team with a mediocre driver. Those ingredients helped him go rounds on Sunday. Everything seemed to work right at Reynolds for Manny and his team. As far as driving his Super Street Outlaw Mustang, he says most of the drama-if any-happens in the first 60 feet. After that point, it's usually a controlled spin for the rest of the track. "Just keep it pointed semi-straight, and you're done in no time," Manny says. Spoken like a NASCAR racer, Manny would be remiss to thank his sponsors: Desantis Ford, Neal Chance Converters, DMC Racing, Route 28 Collision Center, Turbonetics, Dynamic Racing Transmissions, Turbo People, and wicked power from Nelson Competition Engines.
In the race within a race, Don "Burndown" Burton took the Nitto Tire shootout win over Zack Posey during qualifying. Unlike many Reynolds competitors, Don left with a check in hand to celebrate fellow JPC member Rich Groh's birthday at Applebee's. With a Gene Fulton 500ci engine underhood supplied by two big bottles full of nitrous, Don is no stranger near the top of the qualifying order, but Reynolds left him in the lucky Seventh spot with a 7.65/189-mph blast. He got down to business in eliminations with consistent 7.50s to get past Billy Laskowski, Zach, and Mike "Punk" Trimandilis. In the final, Don is paired against Manny Buginga.
Chris Tuten has been the bridesmaid so far in '07. At Bradenton, he qualified second to John Kolivas and finished in the runner-up position to John. At Reynolds, Chris had to settle for the second qualifying position to John. During Sunday's eliminations Chris was the quicker of the two, albeit by ever-so-narrow margins. Both guys know how to cut a light, so every thousandth will be important for their match-up in Milan.
John Kolivas' '95 Cobra sported a new front bumper cover from Schoneck Composites, and although it did nothing for the car's aesthetics, the new cover picked up 1 mph on the top end. If you've ever seen a top-end photo of John's Cobra, you know the factory cover would basically collapse at speed, causing aerodynamic drag. The composite material of the new bumper cover keeps it from distorting at speed, greatly cutting down on drag. With the new cover, John qualified the Bennett-powered Cobra at the top of Drag Radial with an 8.11/175-mph blast, and he ran as fast as 176 mph during qualifying. During Sunday's eliminations, John ran two 8.12s, and one of the passes again reached 176 mph. For the finals, John is paired against number-two qualifier Chris Tuten.
Longtime Mustang racer Bart Tobener was in the throes of moving from South Florida to the Atlanta area during the Reynolds race, so he was a busy man. He found the time to run an 8.82 at 154 mph to qualify Fourth in his 5.4-powered '03 Cobra. The 154-mph trap speed tells us he didn't shut it down early, which is one of Bart's traits. He doesn't want to hurt anything on the top end, so most of the time during qualifying or if he's out in front of his competition, Bart will get out of the throttle before the stripe to save equipment. He definitely didn't feather the throttle against Brian Tuten in round one, which was surprising since Brian ran into problems. He ran even quicker and faster in round two against number-one qualifier Aaron Stapleton, but he had to because the two were even out of the gate, and Aaron's no slouch. Thankfully for Bart, his 8.68 was enough to get him past Aaron's 8.77. A semifinal-round bye plucked him right into the final against Brian Mitchell. Bart will need a full pass in that race-that much we know.
Brian Mitchell has historically been one of the quickest EFI Renegade cars to the 60-foot mark. When we hear he's working hard to improve on numbers of the past, and that he's been successful at doing so, that's something to note. At Reynolds with qualifying points worth more this year, Brian hung it all out in qualifying with an 8.67 at 154 mph to secure the number-two spot behind Aaron Stapleton. During eliminations, Brian showed why his car features the number one on it. He used quick reaction times-except in round two-and consistency to make it past Rich Groh, Jason Geroulo, and Mike Roush. Brian will meet Bart Tobener in the final.