03-13-07: The Roush Performance Development Team is off to a rousing start for the 2007 drag racing season. The season opener, the 6th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA Spring Ford Nationals in Bradenton, FL was the stage for team driver Don Bowles to win the title in the Open Comp class. This is the first Roush team victory since entering NMRA competition last season. Bowles ran a 9.302-second pass at 140.75 mph in his winning effort against David Woodside.
Congratulations also goes to Derek Kernodle for his victory in the ROUSH Modular Muscle class. He took the trophy when opponent Roxanne Shephard red lit on the starting line and was disqualified.
Team members Susan Roush-McCleneghan and Dale McCleneghan had first round wins in their elimination rounds, and in the second pairing the duo both left early and red lighted. Donnie Bowles had two round wins and was sidelined in the third round when an alternator issue forced him to withdraw from competition.
Though it has been nearly five months that the Roush Performance drag team had been sidelined, the drivers were more than anxious to return to action. Susan Roush-McCleneghan, daughter of motorsports legend Jack Roush, competed in the Roush Modular Muscle class, moving up from the Open Comp ladder. Her car, a 2003 Ford Mustang, has been repainted over the winter and now sports a blue and silver scheme with flames across the base.
Her husband, Dale McCleneghan, also entered the Roush Modular Muscle division for the 2007 season. However, he is trading the 1967 Mercury Cougar he drove last season for the wheel of a 1962 Ford Falcon. This vehicle is a near-perfect recreation of a car that Jack Roush owned.
"I am really excited for the 2007 drag racing season and will be watching closely to see how Susan and Dale perform," said Jack Roush. "I spent quite a bit of time back in the shop helping the team prepare those two cars and I think that having the one year of competition under their belts will help them to be better prepared for what to expect this season. Susan is really quick on the lights so if she can keep that up this year I anticipate her qualifying really well and going quite deep into the field on elimination day."
Last year Susan tallied several .001-second reaction times, remarkable considering that a "perfect" light is .000-seconds and this time is just two-thousands of a second from being disqualified. The Roush Modular Muscle class is ranked based on the reaction time so Susan could have an advantage during the qualifying sessions.
The RoushPerformance team once again has a partnership with Don Bowles and his son Donnie. Don's car, a 650-horsepower monster, was featured on the cover of the January, 2007 issue of 5.0 Mustang & Super Ford magazine.
During 2006, Roush Performance used the NMRA Series as a "research and development" program to create a line of Competition Parts and Modular Engines. Many of these products, designed for durability under the tremendous stress loads of drag racing, are now available and for sale to racers looking for the best components available for their Ford Mustang
Additionally, the positive experiences the company had while working with the NMRA staff and fellow competitors led them to further expand their relationship in 2007 with the sponsorship of the entire Modular Muscle class.
"The NMRA offered all that we wanted and more," said Ryan Bunn, Roush Performance parts marketing manager. "They race strictly Ford products and high performance Mustangs which is a target market for our Roush products, and the staff has done all we have asked and more which made them one of the easiest organizations we have ever worked with. When we were approached about sponsoring the Modular Muscle class it took no thought before we said 'yes.'"
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