PRO MOD 5.0
The proverbial "spoils of victory" for this year's Pro Mod 5.0 champion came in the form of a $40,000 check, payable to Chuck Samuel. Chuck topped a field of 11 other drivers competing for the big payday, by scoring round-wins over Randy Eakins (first round), a redlighting Frank Gugliotta (semis), and Team Aruba's Bert Kelkboom in the final round. Chuck says his crew played a huge role in this, the team's second WFC Pro Mod 5.0 title-he also won at WFC 7-by setting up the car for consistency each round on a track that many racers had a hard time navigating all weekend.
Burt Kelkboom slayed a few giants on his side of the ladder, including WFC1 winner Doug Mangrum and defending Pro Mod 5.0 champ John Nobile. But he came up short of winning it all in his final-round showdown with Chuck Samuel. Despite the loss, Team Aruba's WFC showing can arguably be considered one of its best performances since its debut on the Mustang racing scene in 2004. "We underestimated the track in the final and went with a conservative clutch tune-up," says Crew Chief Andre Loonstra. "The track could've held more power, but we didn't put it out there. Despite that, we're happy about our finish at WFC this year, and we're definitely here to stay."
If there was ever a crowd favorite in Pro Outlaw, it's Billy Glidden. Whiteland, Indiana's native son gave WFC fans-many of them fellow Hoosiers-plenty to cheer about with his systematic dismantling of the field. This was highlighted by a seesaw battle with the Keen brothers for Top Qualifier honors and a "blast-from-the-past" showdown versus the '07 WFC Lifetime Achievement Award winners in the semifinals. The final round had Billly's '90 GT-turned-LX paired against Ed Rice's critically wounded 'Stang, with Billy making what amounted to a single pass for the win, and a WFC record low e.t./top mph (in Pro Outlaw) of 6.90/202.
Ed Rice found himself on the lucky side of drag racing, thanks a red-light disqualification of Ray "Hollywood" Johnson's LX in the second round. With a hurt piston making his '85 hatchback a virtual sitting duck at the line, Ed moved on to a semi-final bye-and subsequent final-round appearance-when Ray failed to stage his '93 notch before AutoStart's seven-second staging timer expired. "I can't figure out why he didn't stage in time, because we told them my engine was broken," says Ed. "This runner-up money will help pay for the rebuild."
NMRA Super Street Outlaw racer Sam Vincent put on what resembled a clinic in WFC's version of the always popular "True 10.5" category. With Crew Chief Steve Matukas making chassis calls, Sam's '88 coupe ran straight as a string and busted off mid 7.40 e.t.'s throughout eliminations, while others took the long way to the finish line on the inconsistent racing surface. "There's no doubt this was the biggest win of my career," says Sam, who credits eighth-mile testing as one of the main reasons things went so smoothly.
A veteran of all 10 WFCs, Travis Franklin rolled into Indy as one of the true darkhorse favorites to win it all in Street Outlaw. While he had the ability to get down the track early on-overcoming challenges from Phil Hines and Jarret Halfacre, who battled traction gremlins in rounds one and two-the tables turned on Travis in the final. After grabbing the holeshot, Sam Vincent's green coupe shot by and pulled away as Travis found himself fighting to corral his Pony's wayward rear wheels.
OUTLAW DRAG RADIAL
Nick Owens' journey from the war zones of Afghanistan to the winner's circle in Outlaw Drag Radial has to be one of the coolest stories in WFC history. Nick, a military contractor from Louisiana, made the most his leave time; competing in WFC was the first time he had ever driven the car-it was built while he was away. A 7.90/172 in qualifying earned Nick the number-two spot on the super-competitive ladder in the category. "I have to thank my family, friends, and Hellion Power Systems for this," he says. "The car was only a shell on January 1. Without those folks; my crew chief, Matt Case; and engine builder, Earl Schexnayder, there's no way I would've had any chance of doing this."
Corey Berry and Crew Chief Chad Hitt dropped the crowd's-and fellow competitors'-jaws when their twin-turbocharged '03 Mustang posted an off-the-meter e.t. and mph (7.76/192) for the number-one spot in Outlaw Drag Radial. An easy path to the final came courtesy of a first-round win over Dan Zylstra, Jim Mills' DNF, and a bye, but traction woes thwarted the team's chances of running the table. "Believe it or not, we'd been spinning the tires through the traps on every lap," Chad says. "The twins make too much power for our car, so we'll probably go back to a single turbo."