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Five Takeaways from ‘No Prep Kings’ at Beech Bend Raceway Park

Just one week after crowning its first repeat winner of 2024, Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings saw another repeat winner at Beech Bend Raceway Park as Shawn Ellington – better known as Murder Nova – scored his second Invitational victory of the season.

The capacity crowd in Bowling Green, Kentucky was also treated to a new winner in the second-chance bracket, intriguing disqualifications, impressive performances from some surprising faces, power adder changes for multiple drivers, and even “Daddy Dave” Comstock breaking the rear end in a Tesla.  

With no shortage of action over the weekend, let’s jump right in to my five key takeaways from No Prep Kings at Beech Bend Raceway Park.      

Murder Nova Wins his Second Invitational of 2024

Heading into season 7 of NPK, Shawn Ellington was still searching for the first Invitational event win of his career. With his victory in Bowling Green, Ellington now has two trophies in just seven races this season. 

The win earned Ellington $30,000 and vaulted him to fourth in points, just 28 points behind co-leaders Giuseppe Gentile and Justin Swanstrom. According to “Stat Guy” Chris LeCLoux, it also moves him up to 11th all-time in NPK round wins. I would argue that no driver in the series has improved their program more over the past couple years than Murder Nova.   

“I don’t think people realize what it takes to come here and get a win,” Ellington said after the final round. “There’s all kinds of things that come into play. We’ve said it a bunch – a hundred things have to go perfect for you to win one of these. Only one thing’s gotta go wrong for you to lose.”

Ellington started off the weekend by defeating Kayla Morton in Friday night’s bracket-setting round. On Saturday, he defeated Scott Taylor and Bobby Ducote to set up a semifinal match-up with Ryan Martin. The two were side-by-side until Martin suffered an engine explosion halfway through the run. 

 In the finals, Murder Nova lined up against “Disco Dean” Karns in his Stinky Pinky Cadillac. Karns was searching for his first-ever Invitational win, but Ellington continued to show why he’s a top contender for the championship this year. Over the course of the entire weekend, Ellington never had to abort a pass.  

“For us to string together that many runs and be that consistent, that’s what we set out to do,” said Ellington. “When we swapped over from twin turbo to ProCharger, that is what we had in mind – consistency. We’re not always the fastest on the property, but we made it happen today.”  

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Paige Coughlin Notches First Second-Chance Victory

Paige Coughlin has steadily been improving her program in 2024 after joining the Invitational class partway through last season. She added another notch to her belt on Saturday by winning the second-chance bracket, pocketing $5,000 and earning 12 points.  

“I am super excited and proud of our win in the second-chance bracket this weekend,” Coughlin said. “It might not have been the winner’s bracket, but this is a huge step in the right direction for my team. No matter what bracket it’s in, a win is a win!”

With her Camaro struggling to run, Coughlin fell to Chris Rankin in Friday’s qualification round, putting her in the “loser’s bracket.” The team found a sensor had gone bad in the car, fixed the issue, and came out guns blazing on Saturday.

She defeated Jerry Bird and “Dominator” Joe Woods on her way to the finals, where she met “B-Rad” Brad Eglian, who was making his first final round in only his second race of the season. Coughlin had little trouble with her competition throughout eliminations, proving that when the car is healthy, she’s capable of beating anyone in the field.  

“After our struggles on Friday, we came back strong,” said Coughlin. “That Camaro was a beast and my team gave me a bad ass hot rod to drive. We gained some points which moves us up three spots. I have a whole new level of confidence going into Brainerd in two weeks. This car and this team will be a force to be reckoned with this season.”

Jim Howe DQ’d After Protest

For the first time this season, a driver was disqualified from the Invitational for breaking a “no testing” rule set forth by NPK. The rule states, “During the two-week period before any event race, no participant or vehicle is permitted to test, make exhibition runs, or appearances at any racetrack within 200 miles of the track hosting the NPK event race.”

Jim Howe tested at London Dragway, which is roughly 160 miles away from Beech Bend Raceway Park, 10 days prior. He was protested by Jeff Lutz ahead of Friday’s chip draw, and disqualified from the Invitational by the NPK production team. 

“I went testing at London,” Howe admitted. “It was 214 miles from Columbus (the location of the NPK event the week before Bowling Green) and we knew we were good. I knew the rule; however, I messed up. I knew we had a week off, but I thought the week off was after Columbus. And that’s my fault. I’ll own it.”

The reasoning behind the rule is to prevent drivers from making paid appearances at a facility close to where No Prep Kings is scheduled, thus potentially hurting attendance at NPK. However, the rule is worded to encompass any type of testing, including private testing like Howe participated in. 

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Fellow Invitational driver Jimmy Taylor also tested at London, and after both drivers informed production of their error ahead of the event, Taylor opted not to make the trip to Kentucky. Howe, meanwhile, potentially got the last laugh as he decided to enter Outlaw Big Tire, and defeated Nate Sayler in the finals to win the class. 

Disco Dean’s Impressive Outing

There are a lot of NPK drivers who have stepped it up in 2024, and “Disco Dean” Karns is officially on that list after a final-round appearance in Bowling Green. 

After falling to Kye Kelley in Friday’s bracket-setting round, Karns drew a lucky chip to insert himself back into the winner’s bracket on Saturday. He scored wins against Jeff Lutz, James “Birdman” Finney, and Robin Roberts before losing a close race to Murder Nova in the finals. 

“I thought we had enough to win,” Karns said after the final round. “The car ran a great pass. It just got really loose down track and made a move to the right. I stayed in it, the car was sashaying, and he just drove right around me.” 

A longtime veteran of NPK, the always-smiling Karns had a difficult season last year, finishing 28th in Invitational points. But he has routinely gone rounds this season, moving up to sixth in points, and nearly added the first Invitational win of his career in Kentucky. 

“I just wish I knew how much one of them trophies weighed,” joked Karns. “I’ve never picked one up. But I told these guys, if we could runner-up every weekend, without winning a race, we could win this points championship.”  

Daddy Dave, Scott Taylor Switching to ProCharger 

At the beginning of 2024, both “Daddy Dave” Comstock and Scott Taylor traded their ProCharger setups for twin turbos. The decision lasted just six races for the two drivers, as they each announced last week they’d be switching back to a ProCharger combination.

Taylor managed to get his Camaro swapped in less than a week for Bowling Green, but unfortunately Comstock is still waiting on a few parts and couldn’t get his Audi quite ready in time. While he still made the trip to Beech Bend Raceway Park – and tore up a Tesla in the Daily Driver class – he was unable to defend his Invitational title from the event last year.  

“I went twin turbo and couldn’t quite get a handle on it,” Comstock said on social media. “So I’m coming back home to ProCharger. I’m coming back to them because I’ve had a lot of success with the ProCharger deal.”

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Taylor, meanwhile, suffered from a severe case of chip draw-itis. He drew Ryan Martin in Friday’s qualification round, with Martin taking the victory. Things looked up for a bit as he then drew a lucky chip back into the winner’s bracket; unfortunately, he drew eventual event winner Murder Nova in the first round. Despite the losses, Taylor’s car appeared to be much more consistent than at previous races, and should be in good shape moving forward.    

Next Up: No Prep Kings will take a much-needed week off during Father’s Day weekend before heading to Brainerd International Raceway on June 21-22.

This story was originally published on June 11, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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