With inclement weather forecasted for Sunday, race officials at the U.S. Street Nationals presented by M&M Transmission opted to start qualifying a day early with one session on Thursday evening at Bradenton Motorsports Park. M&M Transmission’s own Mark Micke was ready for the schedule adjustment, though, as he took his twin-turbocharged ’69 Camaro to the provisional No. 1 spot with a 3.628-second pass at 220.08 MPH to lead a field of more than 32 entries in PJS Racing Outlaw Pro Mod presented by FuelTech.
The U.S. Street Nationals also features several other outlaw classes as the season opener for the FuelTech Radial Outlaws Racing Series. The provisional No. 1 qualifiers in those classes are Jason Collins in PST Driveshafts Pro 275 presented by Pro Line Racing, Eric LaFerriere in Mickey Thompson Tires X275 presented by Precision Turbo & Engine, Mitch Mika in Energy Manufacturing Limited Drag Radial presented by Callies Performance, Shawn Pevlor in TRZ Motorsports Ultra Street presented by Motion Raceworks, and Louie Filippides in SP Tools Limited 235 presented by ICE Ignition. Jacob Naumann is the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Summit Racing Outlaw 632 presented by Rife Sensors.
The last time Mark Micke was racing at Bradenton, his twin-turbo ’69 Camaro made the world’s quickest quarter-mile doorslammer pass, a 5.359, with Jose Gonzalez driving during pre-race testing at the Snowbird Outlaw Nationals in early December 2023. That record was topped by “Turbo Todd” Moyer’s 5.144-second blast during testing for the U.S. Street Nationals on Wednesday. While Micke admits he was tempted to join in the record chasing, he decided to instead focus on dialing in a consistent package for race day. His strategy paid off Thursday night when he continued a string of low-3.60-second passes with a 3.628 at 220.08 MPH to sit atop the qualifying order.
Along with racing in the U.S. Street Nationals, Micke is also looking to wrap up the Snowbird Outlaw Nationals competition with a win. He reached the semifinals in December before rain forced the postponement of the semifinals and finals to qualifying at the U.S. Street Nationals. Micke, who set low E.T. of eliminations at the Snowbirds, will take on Lyle Barnett in the semifinals during Friday’s second qualifying session.
“We’ve been down here testing all week and focusing on consistency,” Micke said. “Looking at the big picture, there’s two races here to win, and honestly, we’re looking at that big one coming up. That’s the one in the back of my mind. I really want to get a good baseline and get everything solid here so that really sets us up good for when we come back down here for the World Series of Pro Mod [March 1-3].”
Micke had to fight the urge to go into record-chasing mode during pre-race testing when Moyer and Jason Scruggs made some of the quickest passes in the history of doorslammer drag racing.
“When those guys started going for numbers, man, your drag racer brain takes over,” Micke said. “My guys were on my ass, and finally I’m like, ‘No, let’s stop, pump the brakes, and let’s just watch. It was so much fun to watch what those guys were doing. Of course, we want to do that too, but we made up our mind. We’re focused. We want to win this year. Last year was a new car, back into Pro Mod after being gone for so long. We had some stumbles. We ended the year solid, and I think we’ve got one of the fastest, best, consistent, legal cars in the country right now.”
Though Micke switched to Hart’s Turbos for the 2024 season, he didn’t make any other major changes to his Camaro. His team is looking to build on the success he had last year. Success can be measured in several ways, but for Micke, parking in the winner’s circle is the marker he’s chasing.
“We just don’t want to screw it up,” Micke said. “These cars are so finicky. One little thing can go wrong. You’ve just got to stay focused. That’s our goal. We’re just laser focused this year to win races. That’s what we want. Records are great – we held the record – but they’re made to be set. A win, that’s mine forever. You can’t take that away from me ever. That’s our mindset this year.”
Sixteen other drivers behind Micke recorded 3.60-second passes in Thursday’s lone qualifying session. Derek Ward, the 2023 Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association (NEOPMA) champion, qualified No. 2 with a 3.632 at 208.17 in his screw-blown ’68 Firebird. Multi-time PDRA Pro Boost world champion Kevin Rivenbark drove Stan Shelton’s screw-blown Culp Lumber ’19 Mustang to a 3.646 at 208.26 to sit third. Travis “The Carolina Kid” Harvey posted a 3.646 at 206.92 in his new screw-blown ’17 Camaro to qualify fourth. Two-time NEOPMA champion Mike Decker Jr. rounded out the top five with his 3.647 at 205.66 in his screw-blown Decker’s Salvage ’17 Camaro.
Twenty-three entries rolled through the water box for the first qualifying session in Pro 275, with reigning class champion Jason Collins topping the sheet. He used a 3.738 at 201.37 in the ProCharged Scott Tidwell Racing ’69 Camaro to hold off chargers like Brylon Holder and Manny Buginga. California-based Holder ran a 3.745 at 198.12 in his ProCharged ’15 Camaro for the No. 2 spot. Buginga, returning to the seat of his ProCharged “Fred” ’01 Mustang that NHRA Top Fuel star Antron Brown drove to victory at the 2023 Snowbirds, posted a 3.753 at 196.96 to hold on to the No. 3 spot.
Driving Duy Bui’s turbocharged ’97 Nissan 240SX known as “White Rice,” Eric LaFerriere rocketed to the top of the X275 qualifying order with a 4.144 at 181.11. Florida’s own Frank Mewshaw fired off a 4.211 at 173.61 in his turbocharged ’89 Mustang to qualify second. Grady Underwood is third with a 4.229 at 171.51 in his turbocharged ’98 Mustang.
LIMITED DRAG RADIAL
A trio of ProCharged ’69 Camaros top the Limited Drag Radial qualifying sheet after one session. Mitch Mika leads the way with a 3.87 at 189.47, followed by Greg Blevins Jr. and his 3.904 at 191.51 and Paul Gargus with his 3.923 at 189.95.
Perennial Ultra Street contender Shawn Pevlor is one step closer to another No. 1 qualifier award in his nitrous-fed ’93 Mustang, as the Ohioan used a 4.455 at 154.67 to hold the provisional No. 1 position. Two Florida drivers, Brian Keep and Jason Spina, followed with Keep’s 4.498 at 155.08 and Spina’s 4.509 at 156.79 in second and third, respectively.
Limited 235 saw numerous drivers make strong first qualifying attempts, but it was Louie Filippides in his turbocharged ’86 Cutlass that jumped to the top of the heap with a 4.938 at 143.29. Dean Fluhart ran a 4.945 at 139.73 in his ’68 Mustang to slide into the No. 2 spot, while Bill Kubiac recorded a 4.965 at 139.82 in his ’90 Mustang to sit third.
Jacob Naumann and Kyle Salminen were the only two drivers in Outlaw 632 to run in the 4.20s in the opening qualifying session. Both utilizing nitrous oxide, Naumann recorded a 4.234 at 170.04 in his ’70 Nova to qualify No. 1, while Salminen ran a 4.254 at 165.88 in his ’03 Cavalier to sit second. Mike Fiorelli in his ’68 Camaro is third with a 4.358 at 161.83.
Qualifying at the U.S. Street Nationals will continue Friday at 10 a.m. beginning with Outlaw 632. Two qualifying sessions are on the schedule, which will also include the completion of eliminations from the 2023 Snowbird Outlaw Nationals.
Single-day admissions tickets are available online or at the gate for $30 each day. Active military and children 11 and under get in free. Fans can also watch the race through the official event livestream on www.FloRacing.com.