Leaving Georgia On Their MindsNew Winners Emerge As 2005 Season Nears Its EndThe NMCA's first visit to South Georgia Motorsports produced several first-time winners during the 4th Annual Barnett Performance NMCA Hot Rod and Muscle Car Nationals, the seventh race of the NMCA Edelbrock Drag Racing Series. At an event with 101.6 degree temperatures and high humidity, racing in itself was an accomplishment.
Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, the new surface at SGMP produced several record runs highlighted by an incredible 195-mph run by Dan Millen in Nitto Tire Super Street in his first final-round win of the year over Bryan Markiewicz. Millen's win was from start to finish as he left before Markiewicz and drove his turbocharged Mustang to a 7.68 over a slower 7.88 run by the nitrous-assisted big-block of Markiewicz. It was Millen's first win in the class in nearly a year because he has spent most of this season trying to get a handle on a new combination. The emotional win was dedicated to fellow Michigan racer Tofie Haddad, who was killed a few weeks earlier in a non-racing accident near his home.
Another first-time winner came in the ranks of Pro Street as veteran racer Troy Coughlin added another event win to his list of accomplishments after capturing his first Denso Pro Street win. Coughlin and his Sonny Leonard-powered Cavalier ousted Terry Duffy and Ryan Hargett before facing Kevin McCurdy and his blown-injected Alan Johnson-powered Trans Am. McCurdy advanced to the finals with a semifinal win over Vinny Budano after Budano's engine broke a connecting rod a little past the eighth-mile.
The supercharged versus naturally aspirated mountain motor final never materialized after McCurdy had trouble with his line lock, forcing the car to lurch forward before the tree was activated, allowing Coughlin to take a leisurely 6.77 at 205 mph jaunt down the quarter-mile for his first win.
Tony Nesbitt continued his domination of Flowmaster Nostalgia Pro Street by qualifying on top of the field and then beating Mike Radnis, who had a great weekend in the final. The Lombard, Illinois driver posted a 7.72 at 183 mph in his Corvette, while Radnis pushed his all-steel '67 Camaro to a 7.82 at 177 mph.
Vortech Xtreme Street was a roller-coaster ride for several drivers, but it was Tony Orts who emerged with his second win in a row after defeating Jimmy Byrne for the second time in as many races. "That was a huge win for us," said the Oswego, Illinois driver. More important than the win was what happened before. In the first round, points leader Cameron Coble lost an engine in his race against Fred Brunn, and could only muster a 9.42 at 121 mph against Brunn's 9.20 152-mph charge. Brunn, despite running quicker and faster, was handed the losing timeslip by virtue of a horrible .351 reaction time to Coble's .123. It was a bittersweet win for Coble. Yes, he won, but at the cost of an engine. With a championship at stake, Coble and Co, along with help from countless others, took on the challenge of swapping engines between rounds-a huge task. Considering that street cars aren't designed for quick engine swaps between rounds, it was amazing that they still pulled it off in little more than 90 minutes. They were assisted by an on-track oil-down, which bought them an extra 30 minutes of time, but when the lane call came, they fired the car, and were ready to race against Jimmy Byrne. With so much time consumed swapping engines, Coble and Crew Chief Tyree Smith didn't have enough time to dial-in the tune-up. The end result was too much power at the starting line, resulting in an up-in-smoke run as Coble's Nova overpowered the track.
With Coble out of competition, both Orts and Curran needed to win in order to keep pace with Coble, the points leader. The two met in the semis with Orts coming out on top, running the low ET of the event (8.27) to Curran's losing 8.41. In the final against Byrne, Orts drilled an 8.28 to Byrne's slower 8.49. "The car was great-just like a Bracket car. The win against Bob (Curran) was huge. Not only did I tree him, I also ran low ET of the event, what more can I say? It was a huge weekend for us," said Orts.
In TCI/F.A.S.T. Pro Stock, Jamie Stanton put the squeeze on his fellow competitors after beating Steve Cagle in the final. Stanton qualified second behind a hard-charging Neal Owens, who took the top spot after pushing his big-block Firebird to a 8.99 in the oppressive heat. The pair met in the second round in what should have been a great race, but Owens overpowered the track and his run went up in tire smoke before the car reached the 60-foot clocks. Cagle was able to oust John Langer on a holeshot win, earning him a trip to the final. Cagle took a gamble on the tree in the final and lost after cutting a -.002 light, giving the win to Stanton, who cruised to a 9.05 win.
Jimmy McDonagh finally earned his first win in Car Craft Street Race after beating Mike Dezotell. McDonagh, from St. James, New York, capitalized on Dezotell's "tweaking" of a new engine combination. "Dez" qualified his Mustang on top of the short field with a 9.52 at 147 mph. "This is a brand-new engine in this car and I'm trying to figure it out. It has a lot of power, but I need to get it all to the ground. I'm still figuring it out," said the Seekonk, Massachusetts driver. In the final, Dezotell got out of the groove with his car and ended up taking the long way to the finish line, which allowed McDonagh and his Chevelle to motor to the win with a 9.74 to Dezotell's losing 9.82. "I've been waiting a while for this one," said McDonagh. "It feels good to get it," he added.
Gabe Large has known that Jeff Swanson is one tough competitor, considering Swanson's NHRA roots. Until the race in Georgia though, Large has been able to keep Swanson at arm's length. This time around it was Swanson who out-gunned Large, getting his first win of the year in the highly competitive BFGoodrich Mean Street. Large, who qualified first with a 10.56, was followed by Swanson with a 10.62, which put them on opposite sides of the ladder, resulting in the final-round showdown. In eliminations, Swanson defeated Randy Tull in the first round after Tull's engine expired in qualifying. In the second, he ousted Danny Shemwell to advance to the final. Large took out Gary Duncan in round one and then had a single to the final. Swanson scooted to a 10.61 win in the final over a 10.67 posted by Large.
In MSD True Street Competition, Brian Anderson's '64 Rambler Classic made a lot of jaws drop as he drove the twin-turbocharged car to a 9.09 average to claim the King of Georgia crown. Chris Escobar followed him in his '86 Mustang, which also ran an impressive 9.79 average. The 10-second winner was Jason Rollins. Other class winners were: David Bradford, 11-second winner; Chip Rollins, 12-second winner; Angela Zamboni, 14-second winner; and Mike Zamboni, 15-second winner.
In the Nostalgia classes Donnie Wilson took the final round win over Larry Martin in Hamburger's Performance N/SS. IN DTS Nostalgia Muscle Car, Heath Shemwell won a double breakout final over Jim Barr.
In Superchips Open Comp, Jamie Rickman used consistent reaction times and ETs to get another win and all but seal his first class title after beating Jimmy Harrell, Jr. in the final.
In Motive Gear SuperTruck action, local racer Todd Sapp ousted number-one qualifier Randy Shearin in the final after Shearin fell two-tenths off his 9.63 index. In other action, Bryan Markiewicz grabbed another ATI ProCharger Top Dog Shootout win and Phillip West won the burnout contest.
In the Stuf Surface Care Auto Show, Richard Lasseter and his '70 Buick GS won People's Choice, while Rich Gregorski won another Best of Show with his radical '41 Willys.