There are several big stories coming out of the NMRA Spring Break Shootout from last weekend. One of our favorites was the performances in the EcoBoost shootout class. The final came down to the UPR EcoBoost Mustang piloted by Bill Putnam, and the BG Racing Mustang, owned and driven by Brad Gusler. Both cars had been on a tear running their best all weekend long in the mild Florida air.
Setting The Record
Sporting a new wrap, and the addition of a new Nitrous Xpress kit for the 2016 season Gusler looked to have things all wrapped up in Sunday’s competition. The car had run a best ET of 10.73 at 127 mph in competition, but Gusler told us he’d been 10.60s during testing in the days before the race. The car still sports the 58mm turbo and built short block from the end of the 2015 racing season, and Gusler says the cylinder head ports and camshafts remain stock.
Gusler tells us there’s more in the combination, but he’s been concerned for some time that the stock (other than an upgraded torque converter) 6R80 transmission wouldn’t take the abuse. “This car has a lot of passes and hard use on it. Consider that I bought it and drove it 70 miles before sending it to Watson Racing for conversion, then raced it, and drove about 100 miles at Mustang Week. The odometer shows 530 miles right now.” Doing the math, and accounting for return road and dyno trips, that’s over 1,000 passes on the car and the transmission.
Hot on the heels of Gusler all weekend was the team from UPR Products, lead by Bill Putnam wheeling the bright yellow Team UPR EcoBoost Mustang. The UPR car still utilizes a stock turbo, stock long block, and sports bolt-on upgrades only. The team was putting the pieces together all weekend long, and had run low 11s leading up to the final round.
Racing on their home turf, and looking to defend their win at the NMRA World Finals five months ago, the UPR team set their car on kill for the final round against Gusler.
The final came down to the bolt-on car verses the built car. When it was all said and done, Gusler’s Race Star sponsored machine suffered transmission troubles from the start, and Putnam pulled off the win, in what might have been a close race his winning ET a 10.87 at 125.83 mph. Gusler said “We’d suspected transmission problems all weekend and when we tried to launch, the car felt like it was spinning, but it had no second or third gear. We’re going to have the transmission rebuilt and be ready for the next race.”
UPR’s Steve Gelles told us, “This was a big win for us, we really feel that Brad Gusler sets the standard in this class, so to go to the final round against him again, and to win, when we know he probably has more in his combination, it’s a big deal to us. It’s a fun class to race with, and we love the camaraderie that’s been built. We can’t wait to race again, and hopefully meet Brad in another final round.”
Gusler holds the record, and the power to go much faster, but UPR's combination managed to stay together and take home the win for the second time.
Things are just heating up in the EcoBoost world. “This is one of the best ways for anyone to get into heads up racing. If you want to be competitive with a bolt-on car, you could spend $15,000 or less and run low 11s, maybe even high 10s, putting you right in the thick of it,” Gusler said. The EcoBoost shootout is just getting started this season, and we’re hoping to see more cars come out to the next shootout when it comes to Maple Grove in April.