Ron Muenks could not have envisioned a better start to his 2020 Summit Racing Equipment Mid-West Pro Mod Series (MWPMS) schedule, winning two of three events held so far in a Coronavirus-interrupted seven-race season.
“It does feel pretty good after waiting so long to go racing,” the Stafford, MO-based driver said upon beating Tommy Cunningham in the MWPMS “Heads Up Hootenanny” Pro Mod final June 20, to back up his second consecutive race title since last month in Texas. “But there are a lot of other good teams out here, too, so we’ve still got a big job to do. We’re already looking forward to the next one.”
Also picking up Hootenanny wins at World Wide Technology Raceway, directly across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, were Jeff Rudolf in the unique MWPMS Slammers class for Pro Mod non-qualifiers and first round runners-up, Mark McDonald in Top Sportsman, Phillip Oakley in Top Dragster, and Earl Stanley in X275, with both Brianna Chancey and Tyler Wells doubling up in Friday and Saturday night races for Pro Jr. Dragster and Sportsman Jr. Dragster, respectively.
“On this Father’s Day weekend it was great to see so many dads with their families out enjoying Mid-West Series drag racing, as competitors and fans alike,” MWPMS Events Director Ellen Eschenbacher said. “Almost all of our teams are family owned and operated, with dads supporting sons or daughters and sons and daughters supporting their dads. It makes for a great, fun atmosphere at the track every race weekend.”
Muenks ran 3.74 at 200.83 mph in qualifying to open his Hootenanny campaign from the number-five position, with defending class champion Aaron Wells taking the number-one spot over the 16-car field with a 3.69-seconds blast at 205.04 mph.
The opening round of racing saw Muenks and his nitrous-fed ’68 Camaro get past Wayne Roberts to set up a meeting with Judd Coffman, himself coming off a 209.79-mph win over Chad Green that set top speed for the meet. It turned out to be a close contest, with a .011 holeshot by Muenks making the difference as both drivers posted 3.69-second elapsed times over the eighth-mile distance.
That sent Muenks and his Dave Pierce-owned “Purple Gorilla” team to the semis against Wells, who suffered a big engine explosion while Muenks motored to a career-best 3.67-seconds pass that set low ET for the weekend at an also career-best 205.07 mph.
“It cost us though, because the motor expired at the end of that run,” Muenks said. “But Jeff (Pierce, crew chief) is so prepared, he saw that happen on the top end and already had a fresh motor ready to go in by the time I got towed back to our pits. From the time we crossed the finish line to the time we were ready for the finals, in one hour he had a new bullet in and ready to go.”
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the ladder Tommy Cunningham of Murray, KY, was busy getting his blown ’67 Mustang ready after rising from 11th-place with wins over Rudolf, third-place starter Bubba Stanton and second-place qualifier Hank Stubbs.
“I knew Tommy was running mid-.70s all day, so if I did my job on the tree we should have him covered with a .70, .71, something like that,” Muenks said.
It turned out to be a valid assumption. With a .020 light, Cunningham earned a .013 head start for the final, but a 3.70-seconds pass at 203.95 mph gave Muenks the event win over a 3.74 at 199.35 in Cunningham’s lane.
“I think up to about 60 foot I could see him, but I lost him after that, he wasn’t in my peripheral vision anymore,” the two-time 2020 winner added. “But it was a great race, those guys did a great job.”
The Summit Racing Equipment Mid-West Pro Mod Series will next see action July 10-11, at Xtreme Raceway Park in Ferris, TX, where for the first time the J&A Service Alcohol Funny Cars will join the MWPMS as an official class.