Ever the experimenter, Michael Washington [far lane] is always looking for ways to lower his '88 Saleen's elapsed times. In the search for more power before the Joliet race, he blew two slicks on the dyno. Then his car took over the R&D department during qualifying, thinking it wouldn't need a driveshaft to make a full pass. The car didn't go far that time, but a driveshaft isn't a big deal these days, and he was able to make eliminations. Michael was close to making his first Real Street pass in the 9s, but a 10.0 wasn't enough; nor was it enough to make it past Tim Matherly in round two.
Joliet is one of the races usually attended by Pure Street racer Ron Anderson. He qualified right on the heels of Brad Meadows with a 10.37, but at only 124 mph. We say "only" because every racer on the qualifying sheet was up around 128-129 mph and change. That trend continued in eliminations when the wily racing veteran seemingly toyed with his younger competitors. We wouldn't be able to say that if Ron had to race Victor Downs, but we like Ron and Victor, so we'll leave that alone. It didn't appear anyone would've been able to take out Ron unless he made a mistake, which he didn't.
Pure Street racer Jimmy Wilson also played the clutch-swap game at Joliet, and the changes he had made there didn't seem to go the way he had in mind. His 10.40s in qualifying came around to 10.30s for eliminations, and he ran 130 mph just about every pass, so the power is definitely there. Unlike Jimmy's favorite team, the Florida Gators [Yuck! -Associate Editor Johnson], he was unable to take it to the house at Joliet. He was well on his way to racing glory, but a hair-too-quick reaction time in the final against Ron Anderson kept him from getting the win.
Jeffrey Schmell's Factory Stock car was up on jackstands a few times during the weekend, but that's to be expected with a class that relies on the fine line of traction and clutch slippage. Steve Gifford and Jeff had a tenth on the class when qualifying was over, but Jeff made the least mistakes and kept up the quick times in eliminations. In the final against Alan Cann, Jeff ran another 11.50-something pass at 117 mph to take the event win. He also won the Super Bowl shootout for some extra cash.
Among many racers with a rabbit's foot or some kind of good luck charm in his pocket, Factory Stock racer Alan Cann was almost a half-second slower than top qualifier Steve Gifford, but his journey to the finals against Jeffrey Schmell is another example of why we line it up. In round one, Alan made it past John Leslie, whose car was apart most of the weekend. In round two, Alan got the jump on Tommy Godfrey, and he never looked back, barely staying out front for the win. Alan survived the semifinal round against Steve for a chance at Jeffrey, but his fairy tale race didn't feature an event win this time.
Even though Brandon Peterson's '99 GT wasn't even close to being the quickest Modular Muscle competitor, it doesn't really matter since the class is decided by reaction times and running closest to the dial-in. Modular Muscle qualifies by reaction time, and Brandon proved he had what it took to get the job done by coming in with a 0.511 reaction time (0.500 is perfect). His worst light during eliminations was in the final to keep Mike Zamboni from getting the win, and that was 0.562 light. This time Brandon's reaction time didn't matter because Mike redlighted, handing the Peoria, Illinois, resident the win.
With no bracket classes at Joliet, many racers entered the Open Comp class instead. Eventual winner Andy Blackmon [near lane] qualified in the Fourth spot with a 0.504 reaction time. Similar to Modular Muscle, Open Comp also qualifies according to reaction time, and the top three qualifiers had perfect 0.500 lights. The interesting thing is that Andy didn't come close to that reaction time during eliminations, but he still won the Open Comp class. In the Super Bowl Shootout, he was unable to take out Vince Brown and his big-block '68 Camaro.
Truck And Lightning
Dave Cole ran the table in the Truck and Lightning class by qualifying number one in his Ranger, and his was the only one to race in the class at Joliet. Cole and his 347-powered Ranger ran over the Truck and Lightning class by doing exactly what made him number-one qualifier: quick reaction times. That, and running on his dial allowed him to take home the cash, but he left some cash on the table when he was unable to take out Heath Shemwell in the Super Bowl Shootout