Tyler Wudarczyk became the latest driver to nearly double up when he scored a win in Stock and a runner-up in Super Stock at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals in St. Louis. Tommy Phillips also landed in the winner’s circle for the 39th time in his Hall of Fame career with a victory in Super Comp. In the shadow of the famed Gateway Arch, they were joined by fellow event champions Shawn Vincent (Comp), Slate Cummings (Super Stock), Dwight Nuest (Super Gas), Danny Nelson (Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs), and Rich Smith (Top Sportsman presented by Racing RVs).
Wudarczyk missed out on the win in Super Stock, but he quickly composed himself and returned to earn the Stock title. Driving Gary Stinnett’s clean B/SA ’69 Camaro, Wudarczyk overcame opponent Matt Lund’s .003 start with a competitive .027 light of his own. At the finish line, Wudarczyk made the wise move to cut Lund loose, and that resulted in a 10.209 breakout on his 10.30 dial. Wudarczyk, who won 12 of the possible 13 rounds in St. Louis, cut a .001 light in the quarterfinals against Brett Candies and defeated Mike McGinley in a heads-up B/SA race in the first round. Wudarczyk has now appeared in six final rounds and has two wins, both coming at Gateway Motorsports Park. [Watch video]
The only thing that prevented Wudarczyk from a perfect weekend was Cummings, who celebrated his 40th birthday with a win in Super Stock. Cummings put an exclamation point on the win with a perfect .000 reaction time in the final round. Cummings was also perfect at the stripe with a 9.339 on his 9.33 dial. Wudarczyk broke out by .001-second and still didn’t get to the finish line first. Cummings, who finished eighth last year in Super Stock but has admittedly struggled this season, reached the final by beating Korey Mawhee in the semi’s. He also tallied wins against Fred Allen, Brina Splingaire, and Jeff Gillman on race day. [Watch video]
For the 39th time in his career, Phillips claimed a national event Wally after driving his CBS ArcSafe dragster to a final-round win against Division 7 ace Ryan Herem. In a typically close Super Comp race, both drivers had .003 reaction times, and Phillips turned on the win light with an 8.915 after Herem broke out with an 8.890. Phillips retired as a touring Pro last season but has vowed to maintain a reduced schedule, primarily racing at the events closest to his home in Forney, Texas. Phillips managed to overcome a .001 by Austin Richardson in the second round and defeated Ross Laris, Madison Ellison, and George Caheely. [Watch video]
Comp featured a robust 32-car field, which had to make Vincent’s win even more gratifying than usual. Vincent added a third title to his previous wins in 2013 after opponent David Billingsley red-lighted by four-thousandths in the final. Vincent was the No. 17 qualifier in his C/TA Chevy S-10 but caught a huge break when low qualifier Doug Engels fouled in round one. Vincent managed to remain clean throughout eliminations with wins against Matt Harris, Chad Voges, and former world champ Craig Bourgeois. Unlike Vincent, Billingsley had been hit hard with Competition Index Control penalties, dropping his index from 8.82 to 8.64 before the final round. [Watch video]
Nuest and his Dodge Rampage Super Gasser have been familiar sights in Division 3 for many years, and he finally got his first national event victory in Super Gas. Racing against fellow first-time finalist Randy Shipp, Nuest left first and grabbed the win, 9.921 to 9.924. Nuest did not have an easy path to the final round because he had to take out former national champion Jacob Elrod and national event winners Roger Warren and Steve Collier. Shipp also had his work cut out for himself with races against national champ Edmond Richardson and Super Comp winner Phillips. [Watch video]
The St. Louis event also hosted the quickest 32-car field in Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs and when the smoke cleared, Nelson was holding the much sought-after Wally trophy. In the final, Nelson was paired with Mike Coughlin’s JEGS dragster, and with respective dials of 6.03 and 6.01, Nelson left first again. At the finish line, Nelson matched his 6.03 dial while Coughlin trailed with a 6.031 on his 6.01 dial. Incredibly, Nelson’s slowest opponent was dialed a 6.09. [Watch video]
The Top Sportsman presented by Racing RVs class also produced a first-time winner in Smith, who wheeled his six-second ’68 Camaro to a final-round win against defending St. Louis winner Tom Schmidt. Both drivers were competitive off the starting line, but Schmidt’s car slowed, allowing Smith to take the win with a slowing 6.725 on his 6.67 dial. Smith’s side of the ladder was like a who’s who of Top Sportsman racing, including Keith Raftery, Bob Gulitti, and last year’s third-ranked driver, Sandy Wilkins. [Watch video]