DAY FOUR: THUN­DER VAL­LEY, TEN­NESSEE

Street Machine - - Legend -

DE­SPITE be­ing pic­turesque, the Thun­der Val­ley track’s higher el­e­va­tion kept com­peti­tors on their toes for the penul­ti­mate day’s rac­ing. Right out of the gate, Ben Neal and Mark Ar­blaster went head-to-head in what looked like an evenly matched bout. The Cresta got the holeshot, and while Arby looked to be run­ning him down, a huge fire­ball blasted out from the bot­tom of the Valiant – not a good sign. The 5.3-litre LS had lunched a head gas­ket and done a fair bit of dam­age to the block in the process, putting an end to Arby’s week just a day short of the fin­ish line. Ben had man­aged to run a [email protected], and that would be his best of the day.

John Faraone was main­tain­ing a se­ri­ously im­pres­sive av­er­age ET, de­spite a few hic­cups and sev­eral fried ro­tor but­tons along the way. Thun­der Val­ley was no dif­fer­ent, and with a solid [email protected], his av­er­age of 7.76 looked good to take third place in Un­lim­ited – if he could make it back to At­lanta in one piece.

The Chev­elle had been go­ing through the wars lately too, and af­ter dam­aged front shocks hurt the car’s abil­ity to leave the line how Harry in­tended, a quick trip to a lo­cal parts store yielded new shocks and some fresh 315 ra­di­als for the orange mon­ster. An [email protected] ce­mented Harry’s third place in his class, with the po­ten­tial to pos­si­bly jump to sec­ond on the fi­nal day if he could run the right big num­ber.

Robby Ab­bott ran only one pass at Thun­der Val­ley in or­der to sur­vive the week rather than fall short, man­ag­ing a slower [email protected] – per­haps due to the el­e­va­tion – but oth­er­wise had a trou­ble-free day. Also in the one-and-done crew, Bren­ton Gault ran an [email protected] while still a lit­tle rich on the tune and Brian in the LX hatch kept a good grip on third in his class with a [email protected]

Jamie and the Fox-body crew spent a few hours overnight re­plac­ing a rat­tly roller lifter, en­sur­ing the mill stayed in one piece for a [email protected] at Bris­tol.

Out­side the Aus­tralian camps, the bat­tle for top spot was se­ri­ously heat­ing up lead­ing into the fi­nal day. Tom Bai­ley and his ’69 Ca­maro had a nice gap com­ing into Day Four, with Bryant Gold­stone’s twin-turbo AMC Javelin and Dave Schroeder’s nitrous Corvette nip­ping at his heels. Bai­ley and his me­chanic Steve Mor­ris had re­placed a hurt pis­ton overnight, and de­spite run­ning sixes at ev­ery other track were only able to bust out a 7.46 at Bris­tol, their lead over Bryant tight­en­ing to only one tenth of a sec­ond. Schroeder was a mere fourhun­dredths back from that by stumps, too.

With the Drag Week rodeo fi­nally pointed away from Hur­ri­cane Florence, a manda­tory 209-mile road sec­tion with two check­points would test the re­main­ing strength and en­durance of both driv­ers and ve­hi­cles on the road back to Hot-lanta for the last day.

BE­LOW: Ben, Alan and Woody from The Skid Fac­tory shipped out their turbo Barra-pow­ered Toy­ota Cresta (left) for their first crack at Drag Week. With the goal of low nines, a mid-nine av­er­age – not to men­tion trou­ble-free bulk road miles – was a great re­sult for the rookie team

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