Michigan’s Milan Dragway, home to one of the strongest heads-up doorslammer drag racing programs in the country, played host once again to the JE Pistons NMCA Muscle Car Nationals and all of the cars and stars of the Flowmaster NMCA series over the weekend — the sixth such time that the series has visited the popular facility near Detroit.
Chris Rini, who qualified No. 1 in Pro Street with a great 5.99, collected his third win of the season and some valuable points toward collecting another series championship when he downed first-time finalist Jim Widener. Widener, driving the Cougar owned by longtime NMCA racer Tony Bischoff, was forced to lift early, allowing Rini to capture the win with an off-pace 6.72.
In Super Street 10.5W, reigning champion Mike Murillo overcame engine woes during qualifying to reach yet another final round, but it was the resurgent Tim Essick, back from a hard crash earlier this season in Maryland, that earned the victory and the NHRA Unleashed “Wally” when Murillo fouled at the tree. Eric LeFerriere, who was red hot after back-to-back wins in Chicago and Bowling Green, dropped his second round matchup with Steve Summers in his bid for a three-peat.
Nostalgia Pro Street kingpin Dave Beeson, who had done virtually everything one could do in Nostalgia Pro Street but win a race before collecting the hardware a few weeks ago in Bowling Green, notched his second win in a row from a position he’s not very familiar with: the No. 6 slot on the qualifying sheet. That didn’t deter Beeson, however, as he marched through eliminations to meet Kevin Parent in the final, where his 7.31 was just enough to outdistance Parent’s 7.35.
Phil “Corndog” Smith, in his 2002 Pontiac Trans Am, also scored his second win of the season in Xtreme Street over David Hutnick, running a 7.95 in the final to Hutnick’s 8.33. In the opening round, Smith had disposed of class points leader Bill Trovato.
In 275 Drag Radial, runaway points leader and reigning series champion Jason Lee showed his vulnerability as he fell in the second round at the hands of Dan Kroll. Kroll advanced on to the final round to meet newcomer Sean Ashe and had the best seat in the house to view Ashe win his first-ever NMCA race, 7.45 to a slowing 11-second lap. Interestingly, it was former Xtreme Stret champ Jamie Stanton who qualified atop the Drag Radial field with his Camaro, scorching to a near-record 7.39.
With Mean Street points leader and no. 1 qualifier Jeremy Gillam out of competition after failing a post-qualifying inspection, it opened the door for another face to grace the winners circle, and as it were, NMRA alumnus Brandon Alsept cruised from the No. 2 spot to the victory, defeating the very-quick Brian Campbell in the final round.
The Flowmaster NMCA Muscle car Nationals series will return to the track October 11-14 for the Fuelab NMCA World Street Finals in Indianapolis.