Holley EFI Racers Capture Final Round Appearances In Three Of Four Sweet 16 4.0 Classes

Author: Jason Reiss | Photographer: Ainsley Jacobs | 04/05/2021 < Back to Motor Life Home

Duck X Productions' Sweet 16 race is historically the one event every season where the most talented racers hang out every last ounce of horsepower in a bid to capture one of DXP's coveted trophies and bragging rights over the competition until the following year. The 2021 event found Team Holley EFI racers in excellent positions in three of four classes after qualifying and again as the competition concluded on elimination day.

Brad Edwards had quite the weekend in his Neal Wantye-owned, Flagship Transportation-backed Holley EFI-equipped big-block twin-turbo Mustang as he tried to conquer the Radial Vs. The World class. As he slowly picked away at the tune up, he encountered a massive issue on Friday. During a qualifying run, the windshield support bent out of shape and allowed air to get between the seal and the carbon-fiber roof panel and blew the roof straight off the car and up into the air at half-track, fatally damaging the back window area in the process.

Edwards is never one to quit; he and his crew put on their thinking caps to repair the roof, then dug deep for a wad of cash and bribed Ed Rice to cut a section of the sheetmetal from the back section of his trailer (!) to use as the back window of the car, repaired the roof, and were ready into eliminations. In reality, Ed offered the panel up since it was slightly damaged, and he was planning to replace it anyway, but it sure is a more amusing story to say they paid him off. With a number-seven-qualifier spot hanging in the balance, they did what was necessary to get the car ready for the show.

"Ed's trailer section replaced the piece of carbon that was the back window— it was completely unfixable. The more I looked at it, the more I realized that it was fixable. I couldn't even tell you all of the people who offered us help," said Edwards.

"We stitched aluminum on the bottom side of the roof with aluminum sheets and rivets, closed up all the cracks, I put a bunch of extra fasteners through the windshield, attached the roof to the A-pillar with some rivets, covered it with 200 mph duct tape, and we hoped for the best."

After replacing the panel, Edwards made his way to the final round of eliminations by driving the racetrack in succession against stiff competition on a day where conditions were not optimal.

"We had a tough field. I told my guys before we went up there that the race was going to be about driving — the track was going to jump up and bite everyone. I was ready to pedal it in every round and had to drive the racecar. We've all gotten spoiled to release the button and let the car do everything else. When we had Jason Lee, they had gone a .58. The car spun; he spun three car-lengths further out than I did, and by the time he recovered, I went by him. We got very lucky," said Edwards.

In the final, Edwards faced off against the one and only Stevie "Fast" Jackson, who had been on a tear through eliminations, knocking out heavy hitters Marcus Birt and Daniel Pharris with sub-.020 reaction times in the process. Jackson also placed several high-3.5x passes on the scoreboard, showing Edwards that he had his work cut out for him. The tree dropped, Edwards had the tuneup set on kill, and the car reacted with a wheelie that caused him to lift and cede Jackson the win.

"I wasn't going to go down a sitting duck. The previous night we went a .939 60-foot on the back tires — it was a nasty tuneup. I put that tuneup in it and made some shock adjustments to hold it down. It did a wheelie, and I had to pedal it while he made a nice .61 pass to win. I was really happy with it. We fought every single round. We fought the car, fought the chassis, fought the tuneup, fought the roof and the back window, and fought the track every pass. To make the finals is a pretty good feeling," said Edwards.

DJ McCain entered the Limited Drag Radial class with his all-billet big-block nitrous-injected Mustang and fared quite well in the rapidly advancing class that has captured everyone's attention. A 4.062 blast at nearly 178 mph put him into the 10th qualified spot, solidly in the middle of a mix of names like Steve Summers, Paul Gargus, Shane Stack, and fellow Holley EFI racer Justin Martin. The ET spread from the top qualifier to #16 was just over two-tenths of a second. McCain cruised through the competition, taking out Martin, number-two qualifier Gargus, and Brian McGee before meeting up with Shane Stack in a battle of heavyweights in the final pairing of elimination day.

"We found some issues that we never did quite figure out. The car started to slow down, but we set the LDR record for 60-foot with a .998. We showed up in eliminations and tried to do the best we could. The track wasn't as good during the qualifying sessions, some guys kicked the tires, and we went A to B. In the final against Shane, I got the holeshot and went .018 on the tree, but the margin of victory was .018 — he just drove around me on the top side," said McCain.

The X275 class was quite possibly the star of the Sweet 16 4.0 show. During the qualifying sessions, we reported on Ron Rhodes and his efforts to crush the X275 class record with what many have deemed an obsolete combination. Rhodes ' small-block Chevy-powered nitrous machine keeps printing winning timeslips, with a solid team supporting his efforts.

After he qualified at the top of the quickest X275 class ever assembled, his record was eclipsed in the first round of eliminations by Holley EFI racer Dom DiDonato and then Rob Goss. But Rhodes won over Holley EFI-equipped Shane Heckel in round one, Clint Downs in round two, and DiDonato in round three before meeting up with Gary White in a battle of the top two qualifiers in the final just — just as it should be.

White had stopped the clocks with 4.1x-second, near 180-mph blasts all weekend, so Rhodes put in a hot tune up that he thought would get the job done, and it turned out to be just a little too much — he was on the back wheels and with the car going up, he needed to pedal it and get back in it. Despite Rhodes dropping a .001 reaction time in the final and earning a .049-second advantage on the tree, White went straight down Broadway and powered around him to win with a 4.19 hit.

"With the personal best and the sub-1-second 60-foot and going to the final, it was a good week. This was my third final in a row in Georgia. I lost to Blake [Copson] in the fall, I won last month, and I lost this one. I can't complain," said Rhodes.

Notable Holley EFI racers in the 16-car field in X275 included Jamie Stanton, John McDonough, Justin Curry, and Ryan McCain, who made it to the semifinals against White before fouling out on the starting line. Holley EFI racers made up 75 percent of the last four competitors standing and 44 percent of the entire field of the 16 baddest X275 racers in the land.

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