Kaase was next in the cell with a four-valve Ford Mod motor. Kaase had stunned the crowd in the staging area when his engine was uncrated. The appearance of the Kaase engine was as beautiful as it was intimidating, detailed to perfection with smoothed and chromed valve covers, fitted with a radically reworked GT-R induction, and a simply amazing 16-pipe, four-merge, custom-built header system. Discussion of this Kaase-built header system had those in the UNOH staging area awestruck, and photos of the arrangement had automotive Internet sites across the country on fire. At 409 ci, the Kaase engine was the largest four-valve cobra engine ever built—but now nothing mattered but the number to be recorded on the dyno.

Kaase coolly worked through qualifying eliminations, again proving the validity of the four-valve Ford. Topping out at 720 hp and 666 lb-ft of torque and achieving a score of 2,916.9, Kaase's engine confirmed the domination of this engine type. Though not quite catching the performance of Accufab, Kaase seemed unconcerned, telling his crew that the score achieved was enough to be assured a spot in the finals, and electing to complete the qualifying elimination with very few extraneous pulls.

Bischoff followed with the third and final four-valve Ford in the competition. The AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge had often come down to a battle between Bischoff and Kaase, and they came into this year's event with exactly matching records for previous wins, Second, and Third Place finishes. Bischoff's Ford differed from the other two by having a single-plane–style intake manifold with a central throttle body, as opposed to the Plenum Ram Cobra R intake used by Kaase and Mihovetz. In terms of outright peak power, Bischoff's engine just sizzled, with an unreal 775 peak horsepower and 632 lb-ft of torque, however, when the score was added up, the low-end torque advantage of the other two Mod Fords put Bischoff in Third Place in the qualifying standings with 2,867 points.

After the pair of four-valve engines ran, we had Mod fours in the top three qualifying spots with just two more engines to run: the 417 Gen III Hemi of Bradley Nagel, and the LS Chevy from the School of Automotive Machinists (SAM). Both of these have been highly competitive engine types in the past, and both of these competitors have been previous AMSOIL EMC event winners. Bradley's Hemi put on an impressive display of this modern engine's capabilities, pulling 778 peak horsepower and 642 lb-ft of torque, scoring an impressive 2,807.4 points. As last year's champions, the SAM LS would be the last engine to run in qualifying eliminations. The 436-cube LS proved to be an incredible piece of work, topping out with 775 hp and 677 lb-ft of torque. The SAM engine's enormous power curve put it at the top of the two-valve engines in competition, scoring 2,844.8 points, and qualifying in the number four position behind the four-valve Fords.

Into The Finals

Final eliminations in the AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge are run in a sequence determined by a random drawing, with the top five qualifiers making the final field. Kaase's Ford four-valve would run first, followed by SAMs with their LS, Lahone and the Also BES team with an LS, Accufab with their leading Ford, and then finishing with Bischoff's BES Racing Ford four-valve.

Kaase took center stage as the finals kicked off, going in significantly behind the qualifying score posted by the Accufab entry. Kaase knew he had to tune in some serious power to meet the top place mark, and what followed was pure magic. It seemed Kaase could do no wrong, with the mod motor responding to every tuning move by piling on the score. Torque production down low was just off the charts, twisting an unbelievable 630 lb-ft at just 3,300 rpm down low, and running up from there. If there was ever doubt about a four-valve making torque, Kaase buried that myth. Kaase left the cell with a score of 2,961.7, a gain of over 42 points from his qualifying number. Kaase was clearly going to be hard to beat.

The LS from SAM was strongly at the top of the two-valve engines in qualifying, and their crew was intent upon hanging onto that position through the final eliminations. Working their Holley EFI system, the team methodically added to the score with perfect precision, finishing 14 numbers above their qualifying mark. SAM clearly played their hand well. The only pushrod engine that had a chance to catch them was the LS from Lahone and the one from Also BES, but the SAM effort had extended their lead substantially. It was going to come down to the Also BES team's ability to tune in more power via their MegaSquirt engine management system. Lahone and the rest of the crew did a fine job in the final elimination pulls, tuning in a substantial 16.6 points. Even with the increase in score to 2,853.7, it was just a little short of the SAM LS.

Top qualifier Accufab was next into the test cell. The Kaase effort in final eliminations put the pressure on; they had to find power to stay in the game for the win. Taking note of Kaase's air entry stack in qualifying, the team scrambled early Friday morning to build a makeshift air bucket to help direct the air from the dyno chute to the front-mounted throttle body. This kind of device was judged legal by event officials, and Accufab was looking for any possible edge. Despite the improvised air bucket, the score seemed to lag the team's qualifying numbers. Working the tune with the air bucket in place, it became clear that they were not going to meet Kaase's score. As a last ditch attempt, the bucket was removed, but that only resulted in a loss of about 10 points in score. As the clock wound down, there was no chance of replacing the device and trying to retune, sealing their fate to a best of Second Place with just Bischoff yet to run. Accufab completed final eliminations with a score of 2,931.