4V or 2, Suzuki and Savoie on Top at zMAX

The zMAX NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle pits weren’t buzzing about this week’s approval by NHRA (for 2020) of the 4-valve Monster head as much one thought they might be, but that didn’t stop me from talking to Monster’s Mitch Brown about it.

“The old die-hard Suzuki guys are going ‘Yeah! Finally, yeah!’ said Mitch, who has not gotten any orders since the approval news broke, but did after Indy—where the buzz was in the pits and Eatmyink first reported the head was gonna be approved. “I did get orders before the news broke. I think most of those guys were in the know before I was.”

Mitch Brown at a recent PRI show

Mitch can’t talk about who these orders are for, though. “I had to sign non-disclosure agreements with three guys. I didn’t even know that was something they did. One guy invited me into his trailer at Indy, and I felt like I was in an FBI interrogation. He’s like ‘Another guy’s gonna join us.’ I said ‘Who’s that?’ And he didn’t answer my question. So the guy got there and introduced himself—someone I’ve never heard of. He must’ve been a car guy. They had all these questions for me, and I felt like I was in the movies. They didn’t waterboard me, and I got out alive, but it was a different experience. It was an exciting weekend. I was on fire (while riding Red Rhea’s Top Fuel Harley) and had an FBI interrogation all in the same weekend.”

Brown felt lucky not to have been dismembered and transported out of the embassy in multiple suitcases…..

He insists this will not be a financial windfall for his small company. “I sell that cylinder head for nothing for the time it takes to make it.

“I sell some complete and have for the last couple of years, but the ones that are on order now, I’m selling all of them as basically the bare head—it’s a builder kit. When George (Bryce) and I designed it, one of the things I fought for was—’cause George could only see ‘Big as you can go’—and I said ‘George, we can’t do that. If we’re gonna do this, we have to make it where it’s small, so that each engine builder can port it and build it the way they want it.’ He agreed to that and we built it.”

“A lot of guys are gonna have their own personal choices about air/fuel volume and mixture,” someone told me in the pits, but I can’t for the life of me remember who…..Ryan Oehler? Tim Kulungian?

“It’s ready to press guides and seats in, and it hauls ass,” continued Brown.” Jeff House (Pro Mod racer) has been 4.04 or 4.05 with no port work, right off of the machine, and he’s the only 1640 in the class. So he’s really as fast as anybody else. If he had a stroker crank, he would be.

“But guys are gonna buy them and do what they want with them. Rick Ward has done three of my heads for customers in the past”

Monster will face a competing product, as Vance & Hines WILL have a 4V Suzuki head and you can bet your house that it will get approved. But the approval opens the door to a company like Brown’s Monster Race Products to have a presence and future in NHRA Mello Yello drag racing.

It will get Suzuki up to 200 mph and is a great talking point for the class.

Some think that the main purpose NHRA has in legalizing the 4V is to open up the door to bigger riders who are Suzuki die-hards. “Give us more power and add 15 pounds so I can eat like a normal person, gain 5 pounds, and we can add 10 to the bike,” Jerry Savoie told me at Indy and again in Friday’s provisional #1 qualifier press conference, which you can watch here:

Savoie raced to the top spot on his White Alligator Racing Suzuki, going 6.801 at 196.85 in Q1 before double-clutching in Q2. It would be his first No. 1 qualifier of the season if it holds.

Tim Kulungian

Savoie’s tuner Tim Kulungian is ready to get started on a 4V. “We have to take this seriously,” he said

Kulungian knows there’s gobs of testing to be done, but he has some general cam profiles in mind. “It’s a whole different ballgame than a 2 valve.”

I asked Kulungian if he’s one who’s already ordered one. “I don’t want to talk about that,” he answered.

He did talk about Savoie’s Q2 pass and how it set their schedule behind. “We have a process that involves trying things out before moving onto the next thing, and we’re usually ready to go fast in Q4. But that set us one round behind. We still have to complete that pass before we can move on to the next thing.”

Ervin “Jock” Allen

Steve Johnson’s right hand man Ervin “Jock” Allen figures that Johnson’s budget team will stick with the 2V for a while. “We’re making good power right now,” said Jock, and indeed they are. Johnson is qualified 6th with a 6.88 despite flubbing a shift in Q2.

Jock credits Johnson’s recent success to the team’s DIY process—assembling their own motor. “It’s 100% Vance & Hines stuff, but we found something while putting it all together. You could say we’ve massaged it.”

Matt Smith’s Q2 pass…
….and the resulting broken clutch basket

Matt Smith had not one but two flubbed passes. His EBR would not shift out of fifth in Q1, then sheared the welds on the clutch basket in Q2. “In all by years of racing, I’ve never broken a clutch basket before,” said Smith.

Eddie Krawiec’s helmet

As you’ve no doubt read in the Eatmyink Facebook Group by now, the Vance & Hines team will remain on Harley-Davidsons in 2020 as their contract with The Motor Company is still good through then. Eddie Krawiec is currently qualified second with a pass of 6.818 at 198.47 and his teammate Andrew Hines sits in third with a 6.837 at 198.41.

Friday qualifying results in Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.801, 196.85; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.818, 198.47; 3. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.837, 198.41; 4. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.842, 196.64; 5. Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 6.860, 196.50; 6. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.883, 194.52; 7. Hector Arana, EBR, 6.886, 197.22; 8. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.886, 197.13; 9. Scotty Pollacheck, EBR, 6.892, 195.62; 10. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.897, 194.74; 11. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.956, 193.32; 12. Michael Ray, Victory, 6.977, 191.65; 13. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.031, 192.36; 14. Matt Smith, EBR, 7.076, 162.49; 15. Andie Rawlings, Suzuki, 7.214, 182.26; 16. Jianna Salinas, Suzuki, 7.276, 187.47.

Jack Beckman went 3.873-seconds at 334.07 mph in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. If his pass holds, he’ll snag his second Funny Car No. 1 qualifier of 2019 and 26th of his career. In the provisional second qualifying spot is Robert Hight with a run of 3.878 at 334.07. Beckman’s teammate Ron Capps is in the No. 3 spot after running 3.882 at 330.55.

“I was a little surprised at the E.T.,” said Beckman. “We did a lot of things at the last minute there. (John) Medlen (Crew Chief) will get on the radio and say, ‘Here’s the deal. There’s a couple bald spots; we are going to put you over on the right side of the lane.’ He says, ‘You can’t let the car get to the right anymore. You’ve got to drive it back over toward the middle.’ The point is, I just didn’t get to enjoy any part of that run. It just didn’t feel that fast to me because I was thinking so much about the things that I needed to do right. And when the 87 came up there it was awesome. We were in and we were in solid. There’s no way I thought that was going to hold simply because you had six more pairs of cars behind us that just saw what the race track was capable of.”

Funny Car — 1. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.873, 334.07; 2. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.878, 334.07; 3. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.882, 330.55; 4. John Force, Camaro, 3.890, 331.45; 5. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.906, 328.22; 6. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.939, 324.20; 7. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.945, 318.99; 8. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.972, 308.43; 9. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.976, 326.08; 10. Jim Campbell, Charger, 3.988, 316.75; 11. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 4.000, 322.50; 12. Dave Richards, Mustang, 4.071, 297.16; 13. Mike McIntire, Camry, 4.219, 256.99; 14. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.233, 219.08; 15. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, 4.598, 182.11; 16. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 5.442, 127.92. Not Qualified: 17. Shawn Langdon, 5.871, 121.08; 18. Bob Gilbertson, 7.810, 88.09.

Current Top Fuel world champion Steve Torrence put down an impressive 3.711 at 325.53 in his Capco Contractors dragster. It would give Torrence his third No. 1 qualifier this year and 23rd in his career if it holds. Richie Crampton is currently in second place after his run of 3.742 at 328.06 followed by Antron Brown who ran 3.758 at 328.94 to snag the third spot.

Top Fuel — 1. Steve Torrence, 3.711 seconds, 325.53 mph; 2. Richie Crampton, 3.742, 328.06; 3. Antron Brown, 3.758, 328.94; 4. Billy Torrence, 3.765, 325.77; 5. Doug Kalitta, 3.777, 326.48; 6. Mike Salinas, 3.793, 329.91; 7. Pat Dakin, 3.798, 320.28; 8. Terry McMillen, 3.806, 318.24; 9. Brittany Force, 3.829, 271.46; 10. Justin Ashley, 3.831, 319.67; 11. Clay Millican, 4.467, 173.14; 12. Chris Karamesines, 4.773, 163.93; 13. Cameron Ferre, 5.014, 147.79; 14. Austin Prock, 5.646, 122.60; 15. Leah Pritchett, 6.346, 95.64; 16. Smax Smith, 7.577, 73.07. Not Qualified: 17. Todd Paton, 11.622, 89.25; 18. Lex Joon, 15.893, 48.20.

In Pro Stock Car, Erica Enders’ 6.506 at 211.86 rocketed her to the provisional No. 1 spot in her Melling Performance / Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. Enders is after her third consecutive No. 1 qualifier in the Countdown to the Championship. Her teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. is currently in second with his pass of 6.524 at 210.37 and Jason Line rounds out the provisional top three with a run of 6.534 at 211.53.

Pro Stock Car — 1. Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.506, 211.86; 2. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.524, 210.37; 3. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.534, 211.53; 4. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.546, 211.00; 5. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.548, 209.92; 6. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.560, 210.64; 7. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.562, 210.21; 8. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.566, 210.67; 9. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.572, 211.13; 10. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.572, 211.00; 11. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Camaro, 6.582, 214.93; 12. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.598, 210.14; 13. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.598, 209.04; 14. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.606, 209.46; 15. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.609, 209.95; 16. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.611, 209.20. Not Qualified: 17. Alan Prusiensky, 6.626, 208.94; 18. Wally Stroupe, 6.647, 207.91; 19. Jeremy Martorella, 6.818, 201.34.

story, video and photos by Tim Hailey with help from NHRA

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