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Oct 18, 2011
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Battle in Bradenton
The quickest EcoBoost Fords fought to the finish at the NMRA opener
By Steve Turner

At last year’s NMRA World Finals in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Livernois Motorsports joined forces with the NMRA and your friends at SVTP to host the first-ever EcoBoost Battle. The response was so overwhelmingly positive, that all the parties involved decided it was worthy of expanding into three events this season and the first of 2016 went down at the season opener in Bradenton, Florida.

“We decided to expand EcoBoost Battle into three events due to demand. For the past three years we have worked very hard to stay in constant contact with NMRA enthusiasts and keep an eye on the market in order to make decisions that make sense. The response leaving Bowling Green last year was overwhelming for this class and that buzz continued through the winter,” NMRA Event Director Rollie Miller recently told us.

That buzz was readily apparent as 11 EcoBoost Fords—including a Focus ST and a Taurus SHO—arrived at Bradenton Motorsports Park to battle for the title of quickest EcoBoost machine in the land.

It looked as though reigning record holder Brad Gusler, of BG Racing, was in the driver seat as he qualified well ahead of the field, but anything can happen when two cars line up on the quarter mile. The story that developed was a near repeat of the clash at the World Finals, but it set the stage for an exciting follow-up at the NMRA’s NMRA Ford SuperNationals at National Trail Raceway in Hebron, Ohio, on June 9-12, 2016.

We can’t wait for round two, but for now let’s see how the turbocharged crowd clashed at the season opener.


One of the quickest stock turbo/stock engine EcoBoost Mustangs around, Bill Putnam’s 2015 qualified in the second spot with an 11.14 at 122 and he took out Erik Vogel and Josh Beasley en route to a final-round clash with Brad Gusler. That was a repeat of the final at the inaugural race in Bowling Green last year. Bill got the jump and Brad had issues, so Bill took his second EcoBoost Battle win in a row with a blistering 10.87 at 125 pass—his best yet.


Featuring a new wrap and some new sponsorship from Mountune, Brad Gusler was looking for redemption at Bradenton in his 2015 Mustang. He wasn’t looking to set records, rather just to use his e.t. advantage to go rounds. That worked well, as he qualified in the top spot thanks to a 10.73 at 138 hit. From there he blasted past Reginald Maxwell and Jason Justi to ensure a rematch with Bill Putnam. Unfortunately, Brad broke his transmission, handing Bill the easy win.


Jason Justi qualified his MAPerformance-tweaked machine in the middle of the pack with an 11.93/112 hit, which put him on Brad Gusler’s side of the ladder. It turned out to be an easy path, as two competitors didn’t make the staging lanes, so Jason took easy single passes leading into the clash with Brad. Unfortunately, once he got there, Brad laid two seconds on him to take the win.


Josh Beasley of Spring Grove, Virgina, made the trip down to Bradenton and qualified his bolt-on daily driver in the tenth spot thanks to a 13.16 at 107 pass. Unfortunately that meant he had to face Bill Putnam in the second round. Bill left first and poured on an 11.59 to best Josh’s 12.77. Josh doesn’t plan to take his ride off the street, but he is eyeballing a turbo upgrade.


With a 3.5-liter EcoBoost and all-wheel drive, the SHO is no joke. Reginald Maxwell’s tuned-up Taurus qualified in the ninth spot with a 12.42 at 111 mph, but he fell to Brad Gusler’s 11.47 in the second round.


After qualifying his Triple Yellow 2015 Mustang in the eight spot thanks to a 12.28/111 hit, Lonnie Aspinwall edged an off-pace Alexis Fruggiero in the first round before failing to make the call in the second round.


Bringing a stout competitor into the mix was Alexis Fruggiero, whose 500-horsepower 2015 Mustang features an engine built and tuned by class sponsor, Livernois Motorsports. In addition that prep, the car is injected with methanol and gets a dose of nitrous in top. She qualified in third place with an 11.23 at 118, but fell to Lonnie Aspinawall in round one when her transmission had shifting issues.


It was truly cool to see Erik Vogel’s Deadhook Motorsports-backed Focus ST competing favorably with the EcoBoost Mustang crowd. Eric qualified in the seventh spot right on the verge of 11s with a 12.08/99 pass. Unfortunately that meant he had to face Bill Putnam in the first round and Erik’s off-pace 15.68 was no match.


We are quite familiar with BJ McCarty’s daily driver, which features an FFtec turbo upgrade, an AEM methanol injection system, and tuning delivered via a Cobb Tuning handheld. His car is quick, and it qualified in the fourth spot with an 11.26 at 118, but he didn’t stage in time against Reginald Maxwell and was disqualified in round one.


Adam Brunson’s Comp Orange machine looked like it would be a player in the class thanks to its Full Race Motorsports turbo upgrade and Steeda suspension bits. Adam qualified fifth thanks to an 11.62 at 119 mph, but he didn’t make the call in round one, handing Josh Beasley the easy win.


MAK Performance’s Willie Diaz clicked off a 13.34 at 102 to qualify in the 11th spot, but he didn’t make the call in round one, giving Jason Justi the free pass into round two.

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