Jason Grima may not have won Pro Stock at the 2013 Nitro Champs but he was able to keep his championship hopes alive by knocking out points leader Wayne Daley in the second round of eliminations and pick up an extra round of points to put his PC Group Ford Mustang back in the lead of the ANDRA Championship.
The Nitro Champs featured the fourth round of the Pro Stock Championship and Grima was hopeful of taking advantage of racing on his home track and doing well. It was back in November 2012 that the PC Group Ford Mustang reset both ends of the national Pro Stock records at the Australian Nationals with a 6.982 ET at 195.79 mph and go into the lead with 138 points.
Just as we had seen a two-car assault in Perth at the 42nd Westernationals, Jason Grima Motorsport was ready to do it all again for Sydney.
"After the Nationals we had a lead in the points over Wayne. But in Perth we lost in the semi finals and Wayne went on to win his second event and put a 11 point gap on us," said Grima.
Prior to the Nitro Champs, Grima took the opportunity to test the blue Mustang which would once again be driven by US driver and Test Dummy - Brandan Huhtala. Trialing new combinations, the first attempt saw no improvement so for the second attempt the crew went back to a familiar combo and reeled off two 7.07 ETs. The team were happy as it had bettered the cars previous best of 7.10 seconds and was also the first time over 192 mph.
Then on the Wednesday the team concentrated on the black PC Group Mustang.
Grima made two nice and straight passes with results of - 7.07 and 7.09.
The first qualifying session was not what Grima had wanted. Just as the PC Group Mustang was going into stage crew chief James Grima noticed water under the car. The order to shut the car off didn't sit well with Jason but safety was more important. Huhtala had more luck and belted out a 7.033/192.38, which placed the American in third place.
The second attempt for Grima saw a 7.047 light up the scoreboards and a speed of 194.27 while Huhtala went 7.041 at 193.29 mph. At the end of the session this put the PC Group Mustang into 6th place while Huhtala remained in No.3.
For the final session it was a mixed bag of emotions as the conditions were there to run sixes. While a 7.025 was an improvement for Grima he was a bit disappointed to have not run quicker. But following 7.019 from the blue "test car" the crew was over the moon. Huhtala especially had a huge grin. It looked like the performance of the blue car had certainly stepped up. With the qualifying ladder locked in, the two JGM cars were fifth and sixth respectively.
Sunday's eliminations produced some of the best racing ever seen in Pro Stock. We had drivers who had run into the sixes but were still beaten to the finish line. This was the case for Huhtala, when his best ever run of 6.982 at 194.49 was defeated by a slower car. Grima had better luck as his opponent red lighted and handed him the automatic win. He stayed on the pedal and recorded a 7.049 at 195.11. Huhtala had Low ET for the round and matched the new National record set by his teammate.
In round two Grima faced Wayne Daley in a repeat of the finals at the Nationals. There a red light cost him the race but this time he was determined to stay green. The PC Group Mustang got the jump on Daley and this was the deciding factor. Daley had a quicker ET (7.02) but a slower reaction.
Grima moved into the semi finals with a 7.06 ET.
"This was the race that was a pressure cooker," said Grima. With Wayne in the points lead I really needed to be on the ball at the tree and thankfully I got the job done for the team."
For the semi finals Grima had a match-up with Scott Porter. Unfortunately the race was decided before either car moved into pre-stage. The PC Group Mustang appeared to have an electrical problem with the car going silent on a number of occasions. While the crew never gave up, they were unable to restart the car in time. Porter was given the signal to solo. Back in the pits it was found that the engine had given up.
"We certainly didn't expect that to happen. The car just wasn't accelerating and on some occasions it threw us a curved ball with the ET and the speed. The end result was that we had problems with the engine and we will have make the repairs for the next round in a few weeks for the Winternationals", said Grima.
"But the good news is that I'm back in the Championship points lead and we need to do well in Queensland to try and extend that. Pro Stock is exciting at the moment as we have new cars and a few teams have stepped up in performance. It certainly makes it tougher as proven in the first round of competition in Sydney but that's what I love about this category. Better still we now currently own the two quickest Pro Stock cars in Australia."