|Las Vegas Nationals – The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
April 27th–29th , 2007
Story by Eric Lenore / Photo’s by Paul Schmitz
|The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) hosted the PSCA Deeds Performance Las Vegas Nationals over the April 27th – 29th weekend and the word on the track was “HOT”!!!!! Track temperatures approached 155 degrees during qualifying and most every competitor in the heads up classes struggled with the starting line. “It was like the middle of summer out there claimed one Outlaw 10.5 racer”. Previous 2007 event winners in the Pro, Outlaw 10.5, and Wild Street categories were put on the trailer early as were some of the big names who made their 2007 PSCA debuts.
Hughes Performance Pro Street saw the return of crowd favorites like Steve Paulauskis of WFO and Palm Desert, California’s Randy Walker. Both had missed the first two events of the year but made a statement by taking the top two qualifying positions, respectively in Vegas. Randy Hagerty and his “High Roller” Corvette landed in the #3 slot with a 6.79 @ 210 MPH while John Mihovetz and Gil Nevarez rounded out the top five. Ed Thornton, the winner of the first two events of 2007, struggled with a 7.07 @ 158 MPH and qualified down the ladder in the #7 position. Also present was former IHRA Pro Stock World Champion Mike Bell. Bell, who currently drives Roy Hill’s blown Pro Mod, was flown into Vegas to drive Steve Grebeck’s old Utley/Grebeck Firebird for its new owner Tim Henry.
Hughes Performance Pro Street Qualifying Order:
1. Steve Paulauskis 6.619/ 219.51
Things got interesting in the first round of eliminations on Sunday when the #1 qualifier Paulauskis experienced transmission troubles and lost first gear giving the #12 qualifier Jay Syvertsen a solo run. Chuck Roberts in the #11 spot upset Randy Walker who had a huge nitrous backfire at about the 60-foot mark. Kelly Bluebaugh sent home the # 3 qualifier Hagerty who also succumbed to engine trouble. With a blink of the eye the top three qualifiers were on the trailer after the first round!!! John Mihovitz’s little modular motored Cougar advanced past John Scialpi in the Pro Mod 57 while Ed Thornton got back to his baseline with a clean 6.68 @ 220 MPH. Gil Nevarez also advanced with a nice 211 MPH run to set up some tough pairings for the second round.
Syvertsen dodged another bullet in the second round when Thornton’s 57 ate a rod bearing early in the run. Mihovetz blazed to a stout 6.66 @ 213 MPH and put Bluebaugh on the trailer. Nevarez and crew chief Jon Finley continued to creep up on the new blown alcohol combination with a 213 MPH run to advance into the semis. On the other side of the ladder, Syvertsen technically had a bye all the way to the final but could not make the call in the semis due to a mortally wounded blown alcohol motor. This situation meant that the Mihovetz vs. Nevarez semifinal match-up was to be run as the final. Mihovetz’s unique 280 CI twin turbo Ford seemed physically outgunned by the brawn of Nevarez’s 526 CI BAE Hemi. However, deteriorating track conditions favored the small cubic inch turbo combination of Mihovetz. John continued to tune to the track conditions and laid down a beautiful 6.67 against Nevarez who left the line strong but was forced to lift when he got out of the groove.
The buzz among the Tom’s Differential Outlaw 10.5 ranks was who was going to slow down Ron Weems and the Toy Factory race team? Could Mother Nature have anything to say about the future success of the current points leader who was coming off of back-to-back wins and who had just set a new ET record of 7.08? Weems was definitely scratching his head after only qualifying in the #5 slot with a 7.61 @ 192 MPH. Slim Zeinaty had established his presence in the class with his first #1 qualifier at 7.35 @ 197 MPH. He was followed closely by 2006 class champ Rich Zehring and converted Pro Street racer Mary Baltzell with 7.48 and 7.49 elapsed times, respectively. Sliding in the #4 slot was up coming Arizona racer Rod Oxford who was runner-up to Weems in Fontana last month. Rounding out the field was the beautiful new twin turbo small block Nova of Greg Seth-Hunter who was beginning to dial in this high horsepower beast.