JOLIET, Ill. – The ROUSH® Drag Racing Team has been working hard this season to make a statement in the NMRA Ford Nationals Drag Racing Series, but during the Sunday, July 20 eliminations at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., those efforts were thwarted by some of the top competitors in the country. After putting two racers in the winner’s circle at the previous event, the four-car team all suffered early losses at the NMRA/NMCA "Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing."
With a pair of runner-up finishes in the first three events, Susan Roush-McClenaghan headed into the season’s fourth race with a slim 85-point lead over teammate Donnie Bowles and the rest of the ROUSH® Performance Modular Muscle field. At Joliet, she qualified seventh out of 29 competitors with a 0.030-second reaction time. Unfortunately, nasty weather blew into town, and the ROUSH® Performance Modular Muscle class only had the opportunity for two qualifying sessions which prevented the team from gathering much-needed tuning information.
In the first round, Roush-McClenaghan faced off against Andrew Ford, gained a .120 advantage right off the starting line, and ran a 10.892 on a 10.87 dial-in and moved on to the next round. There, she would be paired up with seasoned veteran racer and former Fun Ford Weekend champion Reggie Burnette, Jr. Roush-McClenaghan had a better reaction time, leaving the starting line .005 better than Burnette, but she ran two ticks of the clock faster than her index. In this form of drag racing, a breakout ends your weekend.
ROUSH® teammate Donnie Bowles also competes in the ROUSH® Performance Modular Muscle class with his 2005 ROUSH® Stage 3TM Mustang tuned by guru Don Carver. During qualifying, Bowles carded a .044 reaction time, placing him 13th out of the 29 competitors on the property. Bowles faced the same issues as Roush-McClenaghan, with the rain-shortened qualifying sessions making it more difficult to get the car ready for the changing weather conditions.
In the first round of competition, Bowles had to race his 2005 Mustang against local driver Jason Hertel. He left the starting line with a quicker reaction time, chased down Hertel, and ran closer to his index to move on to the next round. Round two brought another local Illinois racer to the opposite lane, and this time the results were reversed. Jason Epstein launched a stellar .017 reaction time and ran closer to his index, sending Bowles home for the weekend.
The other half of the ROUSH® Drag Racing Team competes in the NMRA’s Open Comp class. Dale McClenaghan had put his ’62 Falcon into the winner’s circle at the NMRA’s previous event and headed into this event, the fourth stop on the NMRA tour, with the points lead over his competition. Out of a tough field of 39 of the NMRA’s finest racers in Illinois, McClenaghan was able to qualify fifth with a stout .013 reaction time. Unfortunately, in the first round of competition, he had to face off against Steve Gasich, one of the very few racers who could force him to take the leave, rather than making the chase. McClenaghan pushed the tree just a touch too hard, turning on the red bulb with a -.012 reaction time to end his weekend.
Team patriarch Don Bowles, Sr. qualified seventh in his 2006 ROUSH® Stage 3TM Mustang in the Open Comp class, knocking down the tree with a stout .020 reaction time. That shows just how difficult the competition in this class is – two hundredths of a second reaction time placed Bowles behind six other racers on this occasion. Unfortunately for Bowles, sometimes the local racers have an advantage. In the first round of competition, he was paired up with local racer Matt O’Connell. O’Connell reacted first, and ran a 10.85 on his 10.83 index to put together a stellar .076 package and end Bowles’ weekend.
The four cars carry sponsorship from ROUSH Performance, Valvoline, and Mickey Thompson. The next event on the NMRA schedule will take place August 8-10 at Atco Raceway in Atco, New Jersey.
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.