BRAINERD, Minn. -- Six years is a long time to be away from drag racing, but that didn't slow down Tom Jones, who won his second consecutive Real Street Unlimited crown and appears to be on his way to winning a series championship.
Jones was among 377 racers competing this weekend during the 26th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Show & Go at Brainerd International Raceway. It was also the second leg of the three-race Muscle Car Series and a pivotal race for those battling for a series championship. The final race is Labor Day weekend during the 24th Muscle Car Shootout.
Jones used to race in the Pro Outlaw Class at BIR during the Show & Go and Muscle Car Shootout but he sold his car six years ago and started building his 1978 Malibu Wagon. "I really wanted to take my time and do it right," Jones said after the race. "Fans are kind of baffled by a seven-second station wagon."
Jones seems to have gotten it right. He drove the wagon to a finals win during the first series race Memorial Day weekend and again this weekend during the Show & Go. He ran a consistent 7.9 seconds and 181 mph all weekend, including a 7.953-second 181.03 mph run in the finals against Jim Ripley, who came up short with a pass of 8.506 seconds and 171.40 mph.
"We were getting pretty lucky all weekend but you need some luck (in this sport)," he said.
The Winner's Circle for the Pro Outlaw and Outlaw classes had a very familiar look to it today. The father-son combination of Mike and Dean Bauerly won the two fastest classes again. Mike has now won the Outlaw Class in four of the last five races, which includes a series championship last year. He's looking for a sweep this season with a win during the Muscle Car Shootout.
Driving his 2006 Corvette, Mike dominated the class as the No. 1 qualifier and posted the fastest speed of 199.97 mph and quickest time of 6.984 seconds. He met Vern Laurin Jr. in the finals, winning with a time of 7.235 seconds and 192.91 mph. Laurin ran 8.036 seconds and 171.25 mph.
Meanwhile, Mike's son, Dean, found his way back into the Winner's Circle after teammate Luke Volk won the Pro Outlaw class during the Street Car Showdown. Dean won the series championship last year and has a shot at repeating this year.
Although Craig Braun was the No. 1 qualifier in Pro Outlaw with fastest speed of any racer all weekend (212.13 mph) and the lowest time (6.467 seconds), he still couldn't get by Bauerly in the semifinals. Bauerly faced Ray Fuchs in the finals, nipping Fuchs at the finish line for the win. Bauerly ran 6.971 seconds at 199.43 mph while Fuchs ran 6.925 seconds at 199.67 mph. Bauerly won the race on the starting line, though, launching 56/1,000ths sooner than Fuchs.
Brian Mahnke also found his way back to the Winner's Circle this weekend. After winning the King Street Class in five of six races during the last two seasons, he lost in the third round of the Street Car Showdown Memorial Day weekend. In today's finals, he beat Jason Geiger, who broke.
The Real Street Natural final was nearly identical to the final in the Street Car Showdown. Matt Sathre and Todd Malik faced off again, with Malik beating Sathre off the starting line. But Malik couldn't hold Sathre off, again, as Sathre caught him at the finish line, winning with a time of 8.717 seconds and 132.11 mph to Malik's 9.158 seconds and 146.88 mph.
In the first series race this year, Dan Gefre lost to eventual winner Nick Hively in the True Street semifinals. This weekend was different. Gefre ran the table. He faced off with Jason King in the finals and snuck by King at the finish line with a time of 9.451 seconds and 142.85 mph. King's time was 9.389 seconds and 149.05 mph, but the race was won at the starting line, where Gefre was 66/1,000ths better. The different at the finish line was 5/1,000ths of a second.
In addition to the Muscle Car Series drag racing program, the NAPA Auto Parts Show & Go also featured Central Roadracing Association Superbike Racing on BIR's 2.5-mile Competition Road Course. A classic car show, fireworks and live music rounded out the weekend.
The grand finale of the Muscle Car Series is Labor Day weekend, with time trials and qualifying on Friday and Saturday, and eliminations on Sunday. On the Competition Road Course that weekend, the SCCA Trans-Am Series brings a double-race event to BIR, with racing both Saturday and Sunday. When the Trans-Am Series isn't on the track, the regional chapter of the SCCA will be hosting its annual Jack Pine Sprints.
Here are the final results of each class:
Pro Outlaw Finals: Dean Bauerly of Rice def. Ray Fuchs of Bowman, N.D. Semifinals: Bauerly def. Craig Braun of Hampton; Fuchs had a bye Outlaw Finals: Mike Bauerly of Rice def. Vern Laurin Jr. of Duluth Semifinals: Bauerly def. Eric Wourms of Grand Rapids; Laurin had a bye King Street Finals: Brian Mahnke of Proctor def. Jason Geiger of Hanska Semifinals: Mahnke def. Scott Lorenzen of Coon Rapids; Geiger def. Evan Boettcher of Andover Real Street Unlimited Finals: Tom Jones of Coon Rapids def. Jim Ripley of Duluth Semifinals: Jones had a bye; Ripley def. Richard Brown of Coon Rapids Real Street Natural Finals: Matt Sathre of Brooklyn Park def. Todd Malik of Andover Semifinals: Sathre had a bye; Malik def. Tim Acker of White Bear Lake True Street Finals: Dan Gefre of Anoka def. Jason King of Duluth Semifinals: Gefre def. Andy Lehner of St. Paul Park; King def. Dustin Rogers of Duluth Strip Eliminator 1 Finals: Steven Glubke of Blaine def. Erik Dethlefs of St. Cloud Semifinals: Glubke def. Tyler Linderman of Victoria; Dethlefs had a bye Strip Eliminator 2 Finals: Luke Arendts of Dalbo def. TJ Tharaldson of East Bethel Semifinals: Arendts had a bye: Tharaldson def. Keith Tursso of Mounds View Strip Eliminator 3 Finals: Dan Hyttsten of Becker def. Tim Conrad of St. Paul Park Semifinals: Hyttsten def. Wayne Madsen of Ham Lake; Conrad def. Lynne Wiita of Cloquet Truck Eliminator Finals: Pete Trombley of Cokato def. Bob Whiting of Mankato Semifinals: Trombley had a bye; Whiting def. Jerry Jablonski of Duluth Manual Transmission Finals: Jeremy Reitmeier of Crookston def. Greg Dancer of Isle Semifinals: Reitmeier had a bye; Dancer def. Tim Newton of Albertville 9.50 Index Finals: Eric Dethleff of St. Cloud def. Pat Huebner of Bloomington Semifinals: Dethleff def. Nathan Torvinen of Menahga; Huebner def. Mike Smith of Mora 10.00 Index Finals: Greg Maaninga of Menahga def. Steven Glubke of Blaine Semifinals: Maaninga had a bye; Glubke def. Jeff Danielson of Buffalo 10.50 Index Finals: Keith Sand of Cambridge def. Greg Bednar of Mankato Semifinals: Sand had a bye; Bednar def. Jen Anderson of Isanti 11.00 Index Finals: George Dinzeo of Woodbury def. Joe Howell of Champlin Semifinals: Dinzeo def. Travis Larson of Rosemount; Howell def. Logan Wesch of Hastings 11.50 Index Finals: Randy Burgraff of Brooklyn Park def. Shawn Baird of Champlin Semifinals: Burgraff def. Bill Rolow of Crosslake; Baird def. Alan Dancer of Royalton 12.00 Index Finals: Gary Olson of Sartell def. Jerry Eischens of Park Rapids Semifinals: Olson def. Robb Johnson of New Prague; Eischens had a bye 12.50 Index Finals: Dick Harnois of Brooklyn Park def. Bruce Morley of Brainerd Semifinals: Harnois had a bye; Morley def. Chad Bednar of Knapp 13.00 Index Finals: Dean Markuson of Pequot Lakes def. Jesse Backstrom of Grand Marais Semifinals: Markuson had a bye; Backstrom def. Pete Brandel of New Ulm 13.50 Index Finals: Brad Nybo of Coon Rapids def. Brett Johnson of New Market 14.00 Index Finals: David Hyttsten of Monticello def. Gary Tesar of Medina Semifinals: Hyttsten def. JoAnn Dolezalek of Stacy; Tesar def. Tim Davey of Gilbert Index Class Champion Finals: Gary Olson of Sartell def. George Dinzeo of Woodbury Semifinals: Olson had a bye; Dinzeo def. Eric Dethleff of St. Cloud