Justin Cyrnek drove his turbocharged ’13 Mustang to a win in the Outlaw 8.5 Heads-Up Shootout exhibition held on Friday during the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park. Cyrnek, of Rockville, Ill., gained a big starting-line lead against his friend and teammate Brian Edwards in the final round and held on for the win with a 4.887, 131.60 on the eighth-mile course. Edwards, behind the wheel of his ’93 Mustang, trailed with a 5.044, 156.19.
“That was a lot of fun,” said Cyrnek. “I don’t think I’ve run in front of this many people before and it was cool to have all the [NHRA pro racers] watching us. I ran my teammate in the final round. We’re friends and we use the same tune-up. I knew I had to be good to beat him. I had my best reaction time of the race and made a pretty good run. It moved towards the wall near the finish line so I lifted but I didn’t see him. I had hoped we’d put on a better show in the final but it worked out.”
The special exhibition event featured eight of the best small tire racers in the Mid-west. Cyrnek’s Mustang is powered by a 351-cid Ford Mod Motor with a 94-mm turbocharger. The car makes as much, or possibly more horsepower than a Pro Stock car but it’s limited to a tiny 8.5-inch rear tire, which presents a unique tuning and driving challenge.
“This track was tough for us,” Cyrnek said. “It’s a good track but the prep is much different than we’re used to. At most small tire races they use a lot of glue and it’s like fly paper. We had to take a lot of power out of out of it for this race and it’s just very different.”
Cyrnek did not get down the track on Friday’s lone qualifying run but he quickly recovered with a 4.805, 161.09 in his win against Brad Medlock, who trailed with a 5.028, 155.35 in his Arkansas-based ’95 Mustang. Cyrnek advanced to the final with a 4.694, 162.72 after Jason Collins broke on the starting line. For his win, Cyrnek received a special edition acrylic NHRA Wally trophy.
Edwards, the No. 4 qualifier, advanced to the final round with wins over Pete Llamas, who fouled, and Philip Reichardt. Against Reichardt, Edwards held on for a 4.825 to 4.932 victory.
Cyrnek, Edwards, and the rest of the invitees for the Gateway exhibition, normally race at tracks across the Midwest including Gateway Motorsports Park, which hosts a pair of Street Car Super Nationals races each year.
“Everyone wants to earn a Wally at some point in their career and we're honored to be able to bring our Outlaw 8.5 class to Gateway to show drag racing fans on a huge stage what the Street Car Super Nationals are all about,” said SCSN promoter Mel Roth. “We've been coming to Gateway for a couple years now and we've never failed to provide great drag racing to the great drag racing fans of the St. Louis region. We’re beyond stoked for this.”