Renegade newcomer Chris Beary parlayed having more racer's luck than others, all the way to his first-ever final. Things were looking good for him in round one when he drove away from defending points champ Brian Mitchell's problem-plagued LX. In the second stanza, a catastrophic driveline failure ended Sal Arena's race day, and the final-and biggest-stroke of luck came in round three, when Tony Orts redlighted and guaranteed Chris' uncontested trip to the final.
Ben Mens showed the most Father's Day emotion after taking the top prize for Milan's Hot Street eliminator in a photo-finish final with Robbie Blankenship. After claiming class-champion honors in the Reynolds redux, Ben used a special Dad's Day card as his inspiration on Sunday and "never looked back," he says. "From number-one qualifier to double-event winner, [Ben also built the engine in runner-up Robbie's 'Stang] I couldn't ask for a better weekend." The victory puts him on top of the points heap in a category that's shaping up to be one of the NMRA's most competitive.
Robbie Blankenship, this year's Bradenton Hot Street champ, installed his new Ben Mens-built Roush 400 days prior to the event and tested it on Wednesday at Milan. "We worked on getting the chassis to handle the new power," says Robbie. That "new power" earned him a number-two spot on the ladder and carried him to round wins against David Murray, Justin Curry, and Mike Curcio. Robbie says lane choice ultimately played the biggest role in his loss to Ben Mens in the Milan final: "I Tree'd him, but he just got by me. The left lane was better, but with that kind of finish-where you have no idea who won or lost-it was definitely a great drag race."
Chris "Two-Timer" Tuten was another double-event winner at Milan Dragway, capturing gold in the Reynolds final and blazing through a stacked ladder (that included pairings versus Bob Kurgan and Dave Hopper) in the Toyo Tires NMRA Ford Nationals. "The car won this one," says Chris, expressing a sentiment similar to that of Renegade winner Joel Howard. "It never spun the tires all weekend, and it made us enough money for an engine rebuild." The back-to-back victories bring BMF Racing's total to five wins thus far in 2007 (three in other sanctions) and push Chris ahead of Iceman John Kolivas in the Drag Radial points chase.
First race, first final. Class newcomer, Kevin Fiscus, took his "I'm here" message (a 179-mph qualifying speed) a step further in eliminations when he sent the usually automatic John Kolivas packing in round two. Traction issues prevailed in the final versus Chris Tuten, cutting short Kevin's hope of bagging his first victory in NMRA Drag Radial.
Bruce Hemminger spent his weekend duking it out with Tim Matherly for Real Street supremacy. Bruce runnered-up to Tim in the Reynolds final and let him experience how Second Place feels in the final round of the Milan race. "We put down the quickest-ever Real Street 60-foot (1.29) in qualifying, but struggled throughout eliminations trying to get a handle on the track and the weather," Bruce says. "I called Billy Glidden just before the final, and he gave me the tuning advice I needed to pull off this win." Bruce's 9.92 e.t. leaves a lot on the table (Tim's blown Bullitt went 9.94), as the Internet debate over increasing jet sizes for Real Street nitrous 'Stangs continues.
The "welcome back" award goes to Scott "Swill" Lovell and Craig Baldwin. The two NMRA veterans teamed up and brought Craig's '88 coupe out of retirement to mix it up in Real Street. Transmission issues made their return less glorious than they hoped, as Scott was forced to take a seat in the stands courtesy of Don Bosley in round one.