HEBRON, Ohio – Anchored by the solid performance of Susan Roush-McClenaghan, the ROUSH® Drag Racing Team had another strong outing at the NMRA Ford Nationals’ sixth stop at fabled National Trail Raceway during the elimination rounds on Sunday, August 31. Taking place just a week after an NMCA outing at Milan (Mich.) Dragway, the team was primed, prepped, and ready to do some damage to the competition and cement their point standings among some of the best drag racers in the country.
Coming into this event, the penultimate stop on the national tour, Susan Roush-McClenaghan sat third in points in the ROUSH® Performance-sponsored Modular Muscle class, with longtime class-killer Tom Motycka and Reggie Burnette, Jr. just ahead of her. As Susan had spent the prior weekend honing her skills at the NMCA event at Milan Dragway, she came to National Trail Raceway ready to take her shot at earning that points lead. Once the three qualifying sessions were complete, a .001 reaction time put her right into the top qualified position, with Motycka just behind her with a .009 reaction time.
Once elimination day rolled around, Susan was paired up in the first round with Ohio’s Derek Kernodle, another of the Modular Muscle heavy hitters. Susan not only beat him on the tree, but also ran closer to her dial-in to advance to the next round, where her number-one qualifier position guaranteed her a bye run into the semifinal. In that semifinal pairing, she got the easy win when opponent Vinny Barber redlit, but Susan used the pass to tune up for the final round, where she would meet up with her friend and nemesis, points leader Motycka.
Fellow Michigan resident Motycka earned a slight advantage at the starting line, his .034 reaction time just six thousandths of a second quicker than Susan’s .040; this forced her to push the car just a little too hard on the big end trying to catch him, breaking out in the process. The runner-up finish assured Susan of moving up to the second points position and within striking distance of Motycka, setting up a drama-filled final event just five weeks from now at the NMRA’s World Finals in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
ROUSH® teammate Donnie Bowles competes in the same class with Susan, showcasing the capabilities of the ROUSH®-engineered parts on his 2005 ROUSH Stage 3TM Mustang. Donnie entered the race just 20 points behind Susan in the standings, and was looking for the chance to move up as the season winds down. With a .049 reaction time during qualifying, Donnie sat in the number 10 qualified position, proving just how difficult the level of competition is in this class. Unfortunately for Donnie, once Sunday rolled around, he was paired with Louisiana’s E.L. Smith in the first round. As Donnie rolled into the beams, he was unsatisfied with the brake pressure on the car, and he attempted to re-set it. In the process, since the Pre-Stage bulb was already lit, he took too much time to do so and disqualified himself. He still maintains the fourth points position in competition, and stands to move up yet again dependent upon the final event.
The other pair of racers on the ROUSH® Drag Racing squad compete in the NMRA Open Comp class. Don Bowles Sr. was unable to make the rained-out Atco event, but spent some time testing with the rest of the team just prior to this race. As a result, he was able to card a killer .009 reaction time during qualifying. Remarkably, the top two racers on the ladder were qualified with a perfect .000 reaction time, and there were still three more racers that qualified ahead of Don. In the first round of eliminations on Sunday morning, Don took the win over Pennsylvania’s Ron Irwin after Irwin struggled on the tree. In the second round, Don came up again Brad Finneyfrock, and again took the win after running closer to his dial-in. A victory over Paul Lehman propelled Don right into the semifinal round, where Ohio’s Johnny Wellen had the quicker reaction time, and then ran just a tick closer to his dial in, ending Don Sr.’s weekend with an incredibly close .008 margin of victory, or a scant 1.69 feet at the stripe.
With the 27 cars that were entered into the Open Comp class, Dale McClenaghan had his work cut out for him. After three rounds of competition were complete, Dale’s .032 reaction time left him sandwiched in the 15 position between class stalwarts Larry Geddes and Michael Buczynski. The way that the NMRA’s Open Comp rules are written, the ladder begins when there are sixteen cars on it, which made the first round at National Trail a randomly paired event. Dale drew the short end of the stick on this occasion, drawing 2007 class champion Randy Conway as his first round opponent. Dale had the faster reaction time, getting out of the hole with a .022 leave, and at the big end of the track both racers tried to outdo the other to the stripe, and Conway came out on top when both drivers broke out. Heading into the final race in October, Dale still has a chance to come away with the Open Comp championship depending on his finish there.
The four cars carry sponsorship from ROUSH® Performance, Valvoline and Mickey Thompson Tires. The next event on the NMRA schedule will take place October 2-5 at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
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.