Battle Of The Heavyweights: 2017 NMRA World Finals

Sunday Highlights

Sunday morning in Bowling Green is for Ford racers to chase their dreams of winning a race–and potentially a class title–at one of the most revered dragstrips in the country. The index classes are out on the track now for their first round of eliminations, and the heads-up classes are scheduled to go hot around 11:00AM Central.

Race fuel will be put to the test, parts will be broken, and championships will be decided. This is Ford racing at its finest!

You can watch all the action as it happens on SpeedVideo’s HD video feed. Check out the video player at the top of the page!

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In the first round of eliminations, Val Clements had to face off with brother Alton in Renegade, which meant she had to heat up the tune in an attempt to get by. Although she didn’t beat him to the finish line, she did beat him to the 100-foot mark where I was standing. The car carried the wheels another 100 feet before it came down hard, which allowed Alton to get around her for the win.

Matt Amrine and Dan Ryntz are locked in a battle in the Factory Stock class. Amrine lucked out in round one of eliminations as Rob Chandler didn’t make the call; Amrine mangled the transmission downtrack and had to pull it out and swap it after the round. He has a competition bye through round two, while Ryntz is up against number-two qualifier Bart Welte. The championship battle with Ryntz will come down to who progresses further during eliminations.

Kent Nine has been on a roll in the Limited Street class. His Brenspeed-prepped Saleen blasted to a 9.73 in the first round, while opponent Matt Williams redlit his chances away. Kent faces Shawn Johnson in round two. Johnson’s car is also seriously impressive: 285 cubic inches of two-valve Modular engine and a 2,650-pound race weight equals 9.50s all weekend. Johnson says he can run at 2,350 pounds, but can’t get the car that light.

Speaking of Alton Clements, he is your 2017 Renegade champion. By outlasting Frank Varela (who went out in round two to Robert Rodgers), Clements has finally secured his second Renegade championship after three runner-up seasons in a row–and five second-place finishes overall–since he last won the class title in 2008. Congratulations!

Dom DiDonato and Chuck Wrzesniewski of C&D Autotech are rockin’ it in Coyote Modified competition and running personal bests all weekend long. His 7.43 at 187-plus put Shawn King on the trailer in round one.

Kelly Shotwell is the man to beat in the Limited Street class–he’s the only racer in the 8s and has eliminated Scott Barker to move into the semifinals.

You never know who you’re going to run into in Bowling Green. Older NMRA fans will remember Swill Scott Lovell, who won a Renegade championship in 2005? 2006? I can’t remember, as I’m almost as old as he is. But he did hint at a possible return, as he owns a car (the 1966 Mustang formerly owned by Nick Bacalis) which can fit into the Limited Street class with minimal modifications.

Event Winners

Street Outlaw: Rich Bruder, 4.38/167.28 mph

Renegade: Bart Tobener, 7.40/182.43 mph

Coyote Modified: Tom Annunziata, 7.73, 177.67 mph

Limited Street: Kelly Shotwell, 8.99/153.79 mph

Coyote Stock: Charlie Booze, Jr. 10.20/129.72 mph

Factory Stock: Matt Amrine, 10.62/126.12 mph

Open Comp: Jon Pickering, 9.43 ET/9.39 Dial

Truck & Lightning: Randy Conway, 10.39 ET/10.30 Dial

Mod Muscle: Charlie McCulloch, 10.814 ET/10.84 Dial

Super Stang: Levi Wendel, 12.86 ET/12.74 Dial

Ford Muscle: David Mormann, 13.211/11.50 Dial

EcoBoost Shootout: Alexis Fruggiero, 10.74/123.20 mph

GT500/Terminator Shootout: Ryan Aycock, 8.31/168.77 mph

Turbo Coyote Shootout: Quintin Martin, 8.27/149.48 mph

Stick Shift Shootout: Anthony Heard, 8.81/158.28 mph

TCS Vs. Terminator/GT500: Keith Rhea, 7.52/192.22 mph

Modular Xtreme: Clint Bates, 5.11/141.61 mph

The Champions Are Crowned!

Wow, what a day! If you’ve never been to Championship Day at the NMRA’s World Finals, you should put this on your bucket list of things to do. All day long, the track was packed with action. We were lucky that there were no major mishaps on the track this weekend, and the event winners are truly the best of the best in Ford-land when it comes to heads-up and bracket racing.

If you missed the event, you can head over to SpeedVideo and watch all of today’s action, as they’ve archived it for all of you Ford junkies sitting at home who couldn’t make it out to the event.

There was lots of drama during the elimination rounds, as several classes came down to the wire when it came down to crowning champions, like Truck and Lightning, where Randy Conway wrapped up his second title in a row. In Street Outlaw, Manny Buginga–who came back to NMRA action just last year after a long layoff–became the Champion again after eliminating Charlie Cooper in the semifinal round. Had Cooper won  out, he’d have been the class champ.

In the Street Outlaw final, Rich Bruder capped off a successful inaugural season in the class by taking out none other than his teammate, class Champion–and car owner–Manny Buginga, when Buginga got loose and had to lift. It’s a win for the team regardless, and sure was fun to watch!

Bart Tobener was on a roll all weekend long; not only did he set the class record, he took out the Champ in the final round. His Bullseye Power-boosted S550 is a nasty machine.

It’s been a real treat to watch Tommy Annunziata’s run in Coyote Modified. With the assistance of longtime Ford tuning guru Jim LaRocca, Annunziata cruised to an easy win over Haley James when James redlit and left before the tree came down. Annunziata has a super-successful weekend, as he re-set the class record in the process of earning his win.

Certain racers are just winners, no matter what class, what type of combination, and what type of car. Charlie Booze, Jr. is one of those. We chatted with him on Friday and he mentioned that the team felt like they were still in left field with the clutch, but after qualifying at the top of the Coyote Stock field and running through some stiff competition, Booze found himself against former class champ Jacob Lamb in the final round. So how did he win? On a holeshot, naturally.

Saturday Highlights

Lots going on today. There was a huge line of spectators and racers waiting to get into the track when I arrived at 7:15 this morning, and they’ve been piling in all day. One thing you can count on regarding the crowd here at Beech Bend Raceway Park–they always show up to pack the stands during the NMRA’s World Finals.

I was here early this morning to hang out with new Coyote Stock racer Jim Webb and shoot his car for an upcoming feature. Webb’s Fox-based machine was built by Tim Lyons at Lyons Custom Motorsports and is a complete work of art.

There is a massive field of True Street cars here this weekend. At last count there were 141 cars, which is extremely close to the NMRA’s record of 145 cars from a few years ago. Everywhere you look, there are True Street cars in the pits.

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