It had been just over 8 weeks since the final race of 2020, also at Bradenton Motorsports Park, so it was with much excitement and anticipation that racers showed up in hoards to the U.S. Street Nationals.
Over 40 Pro Mods presented during qualifying all vying for a spot in the top 32. Round 1 of Pro Mod was done Saturday night, with the remaining rounds all competed the next day with all other fields.
Hearts were broken Friday night when a tragic top-end accident took the life of Daniel “Chaps” Stone, a longtime track worker who had worked at the track for 15 years. The news stunned the racing world and BMP asked everyone the next day when attending the track to be kind and patient to make Chaps proud and to finish the race.
And what a race it was, with records and personal bests tumbling in every field. Qualifying was run Friday and Saturday with eliminations all competed on Sunday.
The car count in Pro 275 continues to climb as the popularity and competitiveness to be "the best" is raised race after race. The bar was higher with every qualifying round at the U.S. Street Nationals. It was in Q4 that Buginga dropped jaws all around the country, taking the Pro 275 record with a 3.726 and 201.10 mph in his Proline Racing Raised Cam Hemi Mustang!!
By the time the final qualifying run was over, the top 4 cars were all Proline Racing customers:
Not surprising though, it was the seasoned veteran Mark Micke who qualified 4th that made the steady march through one of the most competitive fields ever, changing engines to get the job done.
Micke took down Mewshaw and Slavens to face off against Ziff Hudson in the final. After all the excitement and thrills of this class during qualifying and racing, unfortunately Hudson spun just off the start line and Micke was able to take the win with a 3.815. Good job to everyone, such a tight field of very fast radial cars.
All 6 PLR customers arrived a little early to test the waters with the intention of trying to dial in new combinations, parts, and pieces.
By the end of testing most were more than ready to get the show happening. Qualifying presented many thrills as tires got loose, the groove tightened up and the weather got better.
During testing Jeff Rudolph in his Proline powered Raised Cam Twin Turbo Camaro had a nervous moment as he nudged the wall at about 330 ft. after a fitting broke on the transmission. A long hard night saw them fix it to come to run a 3.697 ET in Q2 and seeing the team secure the 13th qualifying spot.
Team Shelton Motorsports had a tough 2020 when they debuted their new Mustang in Pro Boost trim and raced it in the PDRA racing series. With a few changes and the switch to a new Screw driven power adder, the team has been making some serious headway. Unfortunately for them, during testing, Shelton found himself in the wrong place as his opponent had an oil line failure causing his car to cross into Shelton’s lane and strike the driver’s side of the Mustang. Needless to say, that night was long and busy as they repaired the damage to get to qualifying the next day. They were rewarded with a best of 3.70 which put them into 20th position.
The Pro Mods of Kevin Rivenbark (driving for John Strickland), Randy Weatherford and Isaias Rojas were making lap after lap of great fast passes. It was Weatherford’s Camaro that showed its hand and rose above the field early with a 3.593 and a massive speed (for a Procharger) 211.03 mph. It held until Saturday when veteran Todd Tutterow moved round Weatherford to claim the number 1 spot.
At the end of qualifying, all Proline customers qualified and went through to the first round of eliminations later Saturday.
First round winners Weatherford and Rudolph faced each other in Round 2 with Weatherford getting the win into the quarter finals. Rojas ran great but was beaten with a holeshot in Round 2 but were happy with their U.S. Street Nationals outing.
It was Weatherford that continued his consistent march through the field, going out to long time PDRA opponent Jim Halsey in the Semi finals.
Artivinco Racing and Sidnei Frigo chose the U.S. Street Nationals to debut their brand new, never run, NHRA Pro Mod – Procharged ’69 Chevelle. The car was literally finished the day before when Kevin Rivenbark (standing in for Sidnei) took it down the track for its first shake down. It didn’t disappoint, showing its potential. John Camp took over the piloting role on Saturday, however the excitement quickly turned to disappointment as an oil line broke causing damage to the engine which was unable to be fixed at the track.
There’s no doubt that PLR customers Bryan Markiewicz and Kevin Rivenbark have made headlines on more than one occasion. RvW continues to throw its challenges but both teams were determined to finish at the top of the qualifying sheet. It was Markiewicz that put up the best time with a 3.570 to Rivenbark’s 3.585 putting them in 2nd and 3rd respectively.
With a field of only 11 cars, the number 1 qualifier got a bye run into the next round while Markiewicz and Rivenbark fronted to take the wins into the 2nd Round.
Rivenbark got around PDRA opponent Jamie Hancock in Round 2 running a 3.58 while Markiewicz’s opponent did not record a time which enabled him to get a bye in the Semi-final and automatic place in the final.
Rivenbark couldn’t get around Daniel Ray in the Semifinals losing to a very slim holeshot. It was a strong drag race in the final round with Markiewicz clocking his quickest time of the weekend and grabbing the win.
All in all it was an action packed and busy few days for our Proline customers and for our Proline staff! We are already looking forward to Lights Out!!