Mustang racers were in abundance at the event, and the number-one qualifier was Peter Champani (7.72 at 187). Mustangs made up seven of the top 10 qualifying positions. The sleeper in the group was Dwayne "Big Daddy" Gutridge who has a proven mid-7-second chariot, but played it conservatively and hung back in qualifying with an 8.26 effort.
Once eliminations got underway, it quickly became clear that Champani and Gutridge were the front-runners. Champani ran 7.71 at 188 in Round 1, and Gutridge answered back with a 7.70 at 193-both advanced to Round 2. Champani got into the semifinals by way of a 7.76/189-mph performance. Gutridge dropped a 7.55 at 194 mph to firmly announce his presence in the field. That run would stand as low e.t. and top speed of the event.
As luck would have it, Gutridge and Champani met in the semifinals, removing the drama of the two quickest cars meeting in the final for all the money and glory. Champani knew he needed to step up his program, so he went into the Big Stuff 3 fuel injection system and added some more timing. He then reprogrammed his multistage boost controller to dial up the boost some more. If the silver coupe's tires held, then Champani would make a race of it. Things didn't go as planned, though, and the M/T tires started barking for mercy as the Turbonetics 106mm turbo came on strong. Gutridge won the semifinals with a 7.65 at 194 mph.
Facing Gutridge in the finals was Scott Bitzer and his wheelstanding '81 Malibu. The Bow Tie featured a monster 632ci engine that was enhanced with a few hits of nitrous oxide. Bitzer was a model of consistency in eliminations as his first-round win came by a 7.91/176-mph blast. He followed that up with a 7.91/176-mph in the quarterfinals. The semifinal win over Mike King came from a 7.93/175-mph run.
Gutridge proved that Ford is better than Chevy in the Drag Radial final, as he took the win over Bitzer with a 7.66/194-mph run to Bitzer's 7.93 at 177 mph. Like so many times before, Gutridge was in the winner's circle at Englishtown. It was only fitting as he was one of the pioneers of radial-tire racing, and it all began at Englishtown's Friday Night Mustang Shootouts.