Reflecting back on a trying and rewarding 2008 NMRA season, the ROUSH Drag Racing Team saw just how well they rolled through adversity and finished up a very successful season. Beech Bend Raceway hosted the final event for the NMRA racers and as soon as the smell of high-octane fuel graced the air, the ROUSH team geared for action–and action they received. With almost everyone on the team trying to conquer challenges with parts breakages and other technical issues, they kept their heads up and pushed forward into the competition after wrenching through the first few days of drag racing. Susan Roush-McClenaghan took the wheel and entered the battle for the title in the Performance Modular Muscle class. We’ve talked about the ROUSH racing teams (both drag and road) all year and are happy to let you in on the details from the season finale. Keep reading to see how Susan fared in the season-closing event!
ROUSH® DRAG RACERS FINISH THE NMRA SEASON IN BOWLING GREEN
ROUSH®/Valvoline Post-Race Report – NMRA Drag Racing Series @ Beech Bend Raceway
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (October 7, 2008) – After a long NMRA season, highlighted with team wins and final round appearances, the ROUSH® Drag Racing Team rolled into the season-finale at Beech Bend Raceway with an opportunity to win two championships and improve on their points standings from last season. Right from the moment the gates opened, nearly everyone on the team struggled with parts breakage and other issues which hampered their racing efforts during the October 2-5 race days.
Susan Roush-McClenaghan entered the event with an opportunity to take home the title in the ROUSH Performance Modular Muscle class. In order to do so, she would need to outperform one of the NMRA’s longtime players, and her 2008 nemesis, Tom Motycka. The two drivers had been trading places in the standings all season, and her hopes were high as the race began as the championship would simply come down to whoever went the farthest on race day.
After the qualifying sessions were complete, it was evident that the all the racers had brought their “A” game – Susan’s 0.033-second reaction time in qualifying, typically a stout number, only placed her 12th out of 21 contestants this weekend. When the Sunday morning elimination rounds began, Susan lined up against experienced competitor E.L. Smith. Susan got to leave the starting line first in this index-based class, and her 0.029 reaction time gave her the advantage on the big end. Unfortunately, weather changes play a huge part in this style of racing, and the weather was just that much better than it was during her qualifying attempts and she broke out, running 0.047 under her dial, thus ending her weekend in the Modular Muscle class along with her hopes for the championship.
Not to be deterred, Susan decided to enter the Bracket Two class where she went five rounds before finally losing to her competition on another breakout, this one by the slimmest of margins – 0.001-seconds. Susan explained, “I just wanted to race this weekend. When I lost in Modular Muscle, I decided to cash in the voucher I had from the rained-out Atco race and enter the brackets. I did well and had a great time racing this weekend.”
Fellow ROUSH Modular Muscle competitor and teammate Donnie Bowles entered this event just behind Susan in the point race. Although he has had his challenges, a win in the third event at Milan (Mich.) Dragway gave him a taste of success, and his goal all year has been one simple thing – to improve every time out on the track. At the end of the qualifying sessions, Donnie’s hard work paid off with a 0.007 reaction time, good for the fifth position. Although the class championship was out of reach for Donnie, he had the opportunity to move up against his closest competitor – Susan Roush-McClenaghan. In the first round of competition, he lined up against local racer Brad Elander. The lights came down and Donnie’s weekend ended as a parts failure prevented him from even moving off the starting line. Later in the afternoon, however, he was his usual upbeat self, mentioning that he’d be heading to the NMCA World Finals next weekend at Memphis Motorsports Park with one goal in mind – to finish out the season on a high note.
The other half of the Roush-McClenaghan family, Susan’s husband Dale, had his work cut out for him as well. Campaigning his 1962 Falcon in the NMRA’s Open Comp class, Dale entered the race just two-and-a-half rounds of competition out of the points lead. With 30 competitors on the property, Dale had the opportunity to take home the class championship and did his part during qualifying, with a 0.028 reaction time placing him 13th on the list. After points leader Johnny Wellen exited in the first round by breaking out, Dale’s opportunity was at hand. Taking the tree later in the round, Dale had some mechanical issues on the starting line, preventing him from achieving the reaction time necessary to win his race, ending his weekend much sooner than he had hoped along with dashing his championship hopes.
Don Bowles Sr. entered this race in the fourth position in the Open Comp point chase, just behind last year’s champion Randy Conway, with an opportunity to move up in the standings. Don struggled with mechanical issues of his own during the qualifying sessions, forcing the crew to thrash hard to figure out what the problems were and get them repaired in time. After three transmission changes, a new clutch, and lots of carburetor tuning Don uncorked one of his typical stellar launches to qualify fourth with a 0.008 reaction time. In the first round of competition, Don had to line up against one of the NMRA’s perennial contenders in Larry Geddes, a former Open Comp champion. With Geddes getting the leave, Don knew he’d have to hit the tree hard to have an opportunity to chase Larry down. Geddes got away with a stout 0.022 reaction time, and when Don let the clutch out on his Liberty-shifted 2006 Mustang, he was just eight thousandths of a second too early, lighting up the red bulb at the bottom of the tree and ending his weekend.
The four cars carry sponsorship from ROUSH Performance, Valvoline and Mickey Thompson Tires. The next event on the NMRA schedule will take place March at Bradenton (Fla.) Motorsports Park at the 2009 season-opener.
Based in Livonia, Mich., “The Art of Performance Engineering” takes place at ROUSH Performance. To get a look behind the scenes at what goes on at ROUSH and how the vehicles are designed, manufactured and produced logon to www.ROUSHtv.com. In addition to the array of Ford Mustang and F-150 styling, handling and performance upgrades, a complete line of performance parts and crate engines are offered. For more information see your local ROUSH dealer, visit www.ROUSHperformance.com or telephone toll-free (800) 59-ROUSH.
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