MILAN, Mich. – At the third stop on the NMRA's seven-race schedule, the ROUSH® drag racing team had a stellar outing then ended by picking up a pair of wins. After a tough day on Friday, June 13, when bad weather forced the cancellation of the day's activities, the team came back strong through the weekend, qualifying well and taking the opportunity to turn those qualifying sessions into something meaningful – first time victories for Donnie Bowles and Dale McClenaghan.
Donnie Bowles, after losing to ROUSH® teammate Susan Roush-McClenaghan at the last event in Georgia, came back loaded for bear at Milan Dragway. Qualifying ninth with a 0.038 reaction time, Donnie dove into ROUSH Performance Modular Muscle eliminations confident he could take his white 2005 ROUSH® Stage 3TM Mustang through the rounds.
An easy first-round win over Jerry Fischer sent him up against E.L Smith in round two. As the weather improved throughout the afternoon, the competitors needed to find the sweet spot; Smith was unable to do so, breaking out and sending Bowles on to the third round, where he would face off against deadly Paul Svinicki of Paul's High Performance. Svinicki left the starting line 0.006-seconds early, turning on the red light, sending Bowles directly into the finals after a semifinal bye. Bowles used the bye run as a test to see exactly what the car would do, and to prepare him for the final round.
The finals saw Bowles lining up against Tom Motycka, and giving away nearly a three-second head start, Bowles gave up the advantage at the tree. However, Bowles pushed the car hard and Motycka broke out, going too fast at the big end of the track, while Bowles wheeled the supercharged '05 ROUSH® to a 9.95 on a 9.90 dial, earning his first-ever NMRA event win.
Also competing in the ROUSH® Performance Modular Muscle class, Susan Roush-McClenaghan took the runner-up spot at Bradenton Motorsports Park, and followed up with another final round appearance at Silver Dollar Raceway in April. After that race, she found herself with a comfortable points lead heading into the season's third race, in ROUSH®'s backyard racetrack in beautiful Milan, Michigan.
After a solid 0.071 reaction time qualified her in the tenth spot, Roush-McClenaghan took the track against opponent Dan Walleigh, also running out of the Paul's High Performance stables. Susan got out of the gates more quickly, using a stout 0.022 reaction time to Walleigh's 0.057 to firmly establish her lead. Unfortunately, with weather conditions that had become more favorable to performance, she broke out with a 10.84 on a 10.88 dial-in and ended her weekend prematurely.
Not to be outdone by his ROUSH® teammates, Dale McClenaghan took his 1962 Falcon powered by a ROUSH Competition Engines-built 598-cubic inch engine, straight into the winner's circle for his very first Open Comp event win. A 0.016 reaction time landed him in the sixth qualified position out of 25 cars, and showed the hard work that the team has put in this car.
"Big Thunder," the nickname given to the engine, ran strong all day, taking out Gino Cimarolli in the first round before coming up against class stalwart Larry Geddes in the second round. Just as in Modular Muscle, the weather got better and McClenaghan took advantage of it at his competition’s expense, as Geddes broke out, sending McClenaghan on to the third round. A third round win over Bob LaBove, then a fourth-round victory over Johnny Wellen sent McClenaghan into the final round against 2007 class champ Randy Conway.
McClenaghan and the ROUSH® crew had their work cut out for them in the final, and it paid off in Milan as he left the starting line just 0.001-seconds behind Conway, then ran an 8.9658 on an 8.96 dial-in, pushing Conway so hard at the stripe that he broke out, handing McClenaghan his first ever NMRA win.
Don Bowles Sr. has been working with an experimental Ford engine in his 2006 ROUSH® Stage 3TM Mustang and has put his years of drag racing experience to good use behind the wheel of the yellow screamer. A strong 0.012 reaction time set him in the fourth spot on the ladder in Open Comp, and the crew set to work readying the car for eliminations.
In the first round, he faced off against a tough ROUSH® Competition Engines-powered Andy Blackmon, taking the easy win when Blackmon red lit right out of the gates. In the second round, Bowles was bit by the improving weather, breaking out by running 9.1599, just .0001-seconds underneath his 9.16 dial-in, sending him back to the trailer.
The four cars carry sponsorship from ROUSH® Performance, Valvoline, and Mickey Thompson. The next event on the NMRA schedule will take place July 17-20 at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.
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 . In addition to the Stage 1TM, Stage 2TM and Stage 3TM 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 or telephone toll-free (800) 59-ROUSH.