johnnyAs one of the aftermarket’s leading tuning solutions, the folks at SCT Performance like to give back to the racing community, and they do so by sponsoring some of the industry’s more well-known racers. Those racers had some fun in the sun in March at the NMRA and NMCA’s season-opening events at Bradenton Motorsports Park down in Florida. As the season opener for the NMRA is over the second weekend in March, it’s often the first time on the track for many of the northern-based competitors, and knocking off the rust is just as important as making it through the weekend without breaking any parts.

valThe SCT-backed competitor who fared best is Pennsylvania-based Johnny Lightning, who, not coincidentally, was also there competing in his Cobra Jet, and is the defending NMRA Truck and Lightning champion. Johnny qualified 13th in a tough field of competitors, and managed to outlast nearly everyone at the event, going all the way to the final round before taking a loss to Fred Wade.

SCT backs a couple of other competitors in the Truck and Lightning class — Brad Gusler and Kennady Jones. Gusler suffered through transmission issues with his race truck and ended up entering his tow vehicle into the fray, but the lack of experience on-track with the diesel beast would prove to be his undoing in the second round. And Floridian Kennady Jones also took her chance in Truck and Lightning, but ended up breaking out in the first round to her grandfather, Jim Roberts, in a veteran-versus-newbie “push” on the top end.

murilloIn the heads-up categories of the NMRA, Valerie Clements was sporting new SCT colors in the Renegade class. Valerie ran into some mechanical issues, qualifying fifth with an 8.61. She improved during eliminations to an 8.45 but did not have enough to get around number-one-qualifier Scott Grove in the first round. She can take away the fact that she was the second-quickest car through all of eliminations into the next event, and can count on older brother (and former class champion) Alton Clements Jr. to help her get back to where she needs to be.

Meanwhile, at the NMCA season opener just a few weeks later, longtime SCT-sponsored racer Mike Murillo made the long trek from San Antonio, Texas to Florida to take the first shot at defending his 2012 Outlaw 10.5 title. He qualified third with a 6.71-second blast at over 221 MPH, but a broken fuel rail mount took him out in the first round against Willard Kinzer. Murillo vows to be back and ready for the second event of the season, a dual NMRA/NMCA event in Atlanta.

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