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Taylor Wins Battle for $17,000 Racing Engine; ARC Shootout to Jake Foster

MARTIN, Mich. – Weekend rain played havoc with the 12th annual Funny Car Nationals presented by Discount Tire before three-time and reigning IHRA World Champion Jason Rupert of Yorba Linda, Calif., repeated as champion at US 131 Motorsports Park.

After rain washed out Friday qualifying, Rupert drove the “Rolling Thunder” 1969 Camaro to a time of 5.725 seconds at 252.53 miles per hour to beat John Hale of Addison, Texas in Saturday’s first round.

That relegated Michigan favorite son Shawn Bowen of Grand Blanc to the runner-up position with a best time of 5.888 seconds at 207.85 mph in his “Violator” 1970 Dodge Challenger.

Meanwhile, after losing to Rupert, Hale came back Saturday night to put up the second best number of the event (5.843 seconds at 253.09 mph) in his “One Bad Texan” Camaro.

The effect of the weather was obvious in Rupert’s performance which was well off his US 131 track and IHRA national record for quarter mile time of 5.522 seconds, a mark he set last August in the IHRA Northern Nationals.

While it was a weekend of frustration for pros like Rupert, Bowen and Top Fuel standout Dom Lagana of Scarsdale, N.Y., who failed to get his 10,000 horsepower “Nitro Ninja” dragster down the track under power, it was much more productive for sportsman racers who were able to finish their portion of the program on Sunday.

The biggest winner among them was newly-crowned Lane Automotive Top ET champion Scott Taylor of Portage who won a $17,000 racing engine in a runoff with Jeff Green of Grand Haven decided by just .007 of a second.

The difference was Taylor’s near-perfect .001 reaction time.  That gave him an almost unbeatable .002 package.  Green, who finished sixth in Modified points, was no slouch himself, though, with a dead-on track time and a .009 reaction time.

Taylor became the eighth different winner of an engine at the Funny Car Nationals courtesy of Engine Pro of Grand Rapids, Pro-filer Performance Products of New Carlisle, Ohio and Performance Engineering of Jenison.

In the American Race Cars Shootout for Jr. Dragsters, Jake Foster of White Cloud won a $1,200 gift certificate toward a purchase from the ARC chassis works in Millbury, Ohio, when rival Evan Muchler of Grass Lake was guilty of a breakout foul by .006 of a second.  However, Muchler didn’t leave empty-handed, picking up a $500 gift certificate toward purchase of an engine from Blossom Racing Engines of Sand Lake.

The Taylor-Green final wasn’t the only one decided by a margin almost indiscernible to the naked eye.

Top ET race winner Bill Swain of Ionia used a .003 reaction time to win that title by .008 of a second over Kalamazoo’s Kennan Conner and, in a final round rematch with Jr. Dragster rival Libby Ledford of Stanton, Richland’s Samuel Peterson used a starting line advantage to reverse the order of finish from last June’s PDRA Summer Nationals.

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MARTIN, Mich. – Results from the 12th annual Funny Car Nationals at US 131 Motorsports Park:

FUNNY CAR — Jason Rupert, Yorba Linda, Calif., Rupert-and-Littlefield “Rolling Thunder” 1969 Chevy Camaro, 5.725, 252.53 mph, def. John Hale, Addison, Texas, “One Bad Texan” 1969 Chevy Camaro, 5.989, 245.23 mph; Shawn Bowen, Grand Blanc, Mich., “Violator” 1970 Dodge Challenger, 5.888, 207.85 mph, def. Marc White, Chicago, Ill., “Crop Duster” 1972 Plymouth, 5.999, 226.13 mph; Mike Minick, Chicago, Ill., “Chi-Town Hustler” 1973 Dodge Charger, 6.102, 199.82 mph, def. Mark Sanders, Maple Valley, Wash., “Mr. Explosive” 1970 Mach 1 Ford Mustang, no time.

RACE FOR THE ENGINE — Scott Taylor, Portage, 2016 champion in Top ET, .001, 4.611 on a 4.610, 150.40 mph, def. Jeff Green, Grand Haven, No. 6 in Modified, .009, 5.920 on a 5.920, 115.27 mph.

AMERICAN RACE CARS SHOOTOUT (Jr. Dragster) — Jake Foster, White Cloud, 8.018 on a 7.940, 74.69 mph, def. Evan Muchler, Grass Lake, 11.894 breakout on an 11.900, 55.95 mph.

TOP ET – Bill Swain, Ionia, 4.787 on a 4.770, 140.45 mph, def. Kennan Connor, Kalamazoo, 5.087 on a 5.080, 134.69 mph.

MODIFIED – Jim Sebright, Holland, 8.944 on an 8.950, 147.35 mph, def. Brian Clapper Jr., Elida, Ohio, foul.

STREET – Rodger Smit, Jenison, 13.830 on a 13.780, 94.96 mph, def. Taylor Green, Grand Haven, 12.125 on a 12.010, 101.97 mph.

ADVANCED JR. DRAGSTER – Samuel Peterson, Richland, 8.016 on an 8.000, 80.50 mph, def. Libby Ledford, Stanton, 7.930 on a 7.920, 80.65 mph.

INTERMEDIATE JR. DRAGSTER – Jase Wanamaker, Kalamazoo, 12.018 on an 11.900, 50.27 mph, def. Conner Jensen, Vicksburg, 8.891 breakout on an 8.910, 71.60 mph.