Blog racing well represented at Thunder Valley in Bristol owner and founder Chip Lofton checks Audrey Worm's car before a race. was well represented during the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals June 14-16 at one of the most scenic stops on the NHRA trail — historic Bristol Dragway nestled in the mountains of eastern Tennessee countryside. newest driver Audrey Worm

Audrey Worm of  Grantville PA qualified 13th in the Top Fuel Dragster from the shops of Leverich Family Racing.  This left her with a first-round match up with fourth-fastest qualifier Antron Brown, a former NHRA champion with 50 Top Fuel victories.

Worm had a solid reaction time of .096 seconds at the start, but Brown got the advantage with a .064-second RT and won with a pass at 3.863 seconds and 318.24 miles an hour.  Worm averted a skirmish with the wall on the bumpy Bristol track and pulled out a 4.082-second run.  She hit a top speed of 271.79 miles an hour before shutting it down early in the 1000-foot race.

“We found some things after that run and I know we can go a lot faster,” said Worm during an autograph session with throngs of fans in attendance.  “We are encouraged that our time would have been good enough to win in several of the other first round matchups, but you have to give Antron and his team credit.  Proud of all our team.  They did an awesome job.  We are knocking on the door of winning some rounds.”

Mike Salinas of San Jose, CA topped reigning series champion Steve Torrence of Longview, TX in the Top Fuel event finals at Bristol.  Salinas hit 325.69 miles an hour, completing the final pass in 3.836 seconds.

Johnny Pluchino makes his 1/4 mile debut

Second generation driver Johnny Pluchino made his quarter-mile debut in the Ford Mustang in an exhibition of Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars at Bristol.  The Mountain Motor cars are hence named for their massive engines – ranging from 818 to 840 inches of cubic displacement.  The regular NHRA Pro Stock Class features engines at 500 cid.

Pluchino qualified third in a stellar field at Bristol with a quarter-mile pass at 6.364 seconds, just over 220 miles an hour.   The New York native had a mechanical issue just seconds prior to his first elimination run that prevented him from showing his hand.

“We were so disappointed for all the folks at,” said Pluchino.  “We were extremely happy with how consistent the car was in qualifying.  We ran 220 miles an hour both times we completed a run.  As it turned out, that would have been fast enough to be in the hunt for a victory here today.”

The 2018 PDRA Pro Outlaw 632 World Champion added:  “We learned a ton of things this weekend.  Once we get it all put together, we are confident we can be a factor at this level.”

Virginia driver Todd Hoerner prevailed in the Mountain Motor Pro Stock event at Bristol with a pass at 6.425 seconds at 219.36 miles an hour.

The “Nitro Granny” shows support for her Strutmasters family

The Nitro Granny, Janette Thornley of Statesville, was in attendance at Bristol, but did not participate in the Top Fuel Harley event for the fastest motorcycles that race in NHRA.

“Just here learning and gathering as many details as we can,” said Thornley, who is seeking to become the first female rider in the Top Fuel Harley class with backing from  “We’re going to continue chasing wins on our Pro Fuel bike and test some with the Top Fuel bike.  The Top Fuel bikes are 25 to 30 miles an hour faster, but I look forward to the challenge.”

Til Tharpe of East Bend, NC, prevailed at Bristol in the Top Fuel Harley class with a run at 6.426 seconds and 218.90 miles an hour.

5 really good reasons to add air shocks to your Harley-Davidson

a lowered harley with air shocks on

Air shocks used to be a bit of a rigged solution for Harley riders. In order to get that air ride feel, many owners were stripping air suspension components off of old Chevys and other vehicles. Then they would modify them to fit their Harley.

Now, suspension industry leader Strutmasters is offering its signature engineering touch in the world of motorcycle air suspensions. The EZ Rider air shocks line gives riders the choice of installing premium air shocks that are engineered specifically for their motorcycle.

These easy-to-install kits offer many benefits to Harley owners. Let’s take look at some of them here.

5. Adjustable ride height for your Harley

Although no two people are built exactly alike, you’d think everyone was based on how motorcycles are built.

No matter how tall or short you are, the seat on your Harley is fixed at the same height. For tall folks, that means keeping your legs in uncomfortable positions while riding. For shorter folks, that means not always being able to put their feet down. That’s not just uncomfortable, it’s downright dangerous.

Air shocks, like the EZ Rider system, allow Harley owners to quickly adjust the ride height on their motorcycle. This means a more comfortable and safer ride for everyone.

4. Better ride comfort

If you’ve ever driven a car with air shocks, you know what that ride feels like. It’s smooth, almost like you’re floating on a cloud.

As anyone who’s spent more than a little time on a motorcycle knows, the shock of the road can start to take its toll pretty quickly.

With EZ Rider air shocks, Harley owners can enjoy a much smoother, more comfortable ride. While they’re great for Sunday drivers, the effect is maximized for riders who like to put in long hours on the road.

Strutmasters’ exclusive design includes a rubber bump stop inside to eliminate a harsh ride when the air shocks are fully compressed.

3. Adjustable firmness

Just as not all riders are built the same, not all Harley riders drive the same either.

Some drivers prefer a softer suspension that makes their ride feel smooth and easy. Others prefer a firmer, sportier suspension.

But what if you didn’t have to choose just one? Once installed, drivers can adjust the firmness of the suspension to their preference. This essentially means a different suspension for different situations.

2. Better for passengers

Air shocks aren’t just more comfortable for you, they’re more comfortable for your passengers, too.

The EZ Rider air shock system offers additional support for motorcycle passengers. This can potentially save you tons in wear and tear on your Harley if you put a lot of miles in.

Air shocks also offer the same adjustability benefits to passengers as they do drivers.

1. Looks cool

Okay, let’s face it. This is why a lot of you are here.

There is no doubt that lowered Harleys look just about as boss as anything else on the road. With the EZ Rider Harley kit, you can lower your bike whenever you want to, and raise it back up whenever you need to.

With these kits, you can appreciate the good looks of a lowered bike whenever you want without sacrificing your ride control or scraping the bottom of your bike.

Order your easy-to-install kit today and enjoy all the benefits EZ Rider air shocks have to offer!

Johnny Pluchino ready to take on NHRA Mountain Motor Pro Stock

johnny pluchino drives a ford mustang

Just a little more than a month after his surprise Extreme Pro Stock debut at the PDRA North-South Shootout in Maryland, Johnny Pluchino has his sights set on the NHRA Mountain Motor Pro Stock field. The second-generation driver will make his quarter-mile debut in the Mountain Motor Pro Stock exhibition rounds at the Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, June 14-16.

Pluchino, the son of 2016 PDRA Extreme Pro Stock world champion John Pluchino, will drive his father’s ‘13 Ford Mustang at Bristol Speedway.

“This is a really big race for us,” said Pluchino. “There’s so many things going into this race. I’m preparing for it like it’s one of the biggest races of my life because it might be.”

Johnny Pluchino earns his spot

Pluchino got the opportunity to enter the Extreme Pro Stock competition after several test runs in the Mustang at the PDRA Virginia race. He was notified of the decision just hours before qualifying races began. Once he accepted the opportunity, he qualified at No. 4.

“I was actually a little torn,” said Pluchino. “I’ve been waiting to get in that car for, realistically, the last three years. I was also torn because my dad was the points leader going into that race and he pulled himself out of the championship hunt to allow me to race. From the team standpoint and as my father’s son, I was upset, but as the driver about to get in this awesome Pro Stock car, I was happy. My emotions were going in both directions, but at that point I understood why my dad made the decision he made. It was a long-term decision and I’m really grateful for it. It was a very unselfish decision and it got me a little more prepared to go to the quarter mile come Bristol.”

Not Johnny Pluchino’s first time around at Bristol

However, this won’t be Pluchino’s first race at Bristol. He actually competed nearly 15 years ago. At that time, he was racing in a Junior Dragster at the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League’s Eastern Conference Finals. He’ll now have the chance to compete in a championship-level vehicle.

“Bristol is a very exciting track with a lot of history, especially in Mountain Motor Pro Stock,” Pluchino said. “It’s a beautiful facility, but it also presents its challenges. We’re excited to go there and to face these challenges. I’m excited for this race because of the history of the track and being able to say I raced Pro Stock at an NHRA race after racing Jr. Dragsters there years ago, but I’m more focused on what we have to do to make sure we’re successful.”

Getting support from

It wasn’t until signing a partnership with Chip Lofton and his brand that the Pluchino Racing Team decided to dive into the NHRA Mountain Pro Stock field. Lofton, who started the suspension manufacturing company in 1999, has been adding pieces to his racing portfolio. He signed a partnership with Pluchino earlier this year, providing the team with financial support and brand support. Lofton and others from Strutmasters will be at the Thunder Valley Nationals. There, they will support The Pluchino Racing team as well as several other teams which they sponsor.

“Honestly, we wouldn’t be at this Bristol race if it wasn’t for Chip’s support,” Pluchino said. “It will be nice to have Chip there and it gives us a little more motivation to come out on top and get a trophy. It would be awesome to be in the final round and be able to hold the trophy in the winner’s circle with my dad, my crew and my sponsor.”

Johnny Pluchino and the Mountain Motor Pro Stock team will make qualifying runs on Friday and Saturday. The eliminations are set for Sunday.

Ever dream of having your name on a Top Fuel racer? Here’s your chance.

audrey worm racing for

After getting a big boost from, Audrey Worm is looking to add a few more names to her car. Could one of them be yours?

We are offering racing fans a unique chance to be a part of Audrey Worm’s racing team. For $200, you can sponsor the exciting up-and-coming driver. Millions of people will see your name on national television this weekend at the NHRA Thundervalley Nationals in Bristol, Tennessee.

Clicking this button will take you directly to Audrey Worm Racing’s PayPal account, where you can make the payment. Please include any instructions for the text in the “message” field.

Audrey Worm making a name for herself

Last season, Worm competed on in a limited number of NHRA Mello Yello Series. She finished 18th overall in the points standings.

Worm’s team is made up of all volunteers and she uses second-hand parts from other teams. In the early stages of her career she has shown remarkable heart and fortitude behind the wheel.

Her goal at Bristol is to make three qualifying runs and at least one semi final run.

This season, she is looking to continue her rise. To do so, she is breaking new ground in fan interaction. In addition to the name sponsorship opportunity, Worm is also offering fans a new way to keep in touch.

For the 2019 run, Audrey Worm Racing has a dedicated SMS system to send content and unique fan opportunities direct to her fans’ phones.

In addition to news and exclusive behind-the-scenes content, subscribers will be entered to win weekend ticket packages. These drawings will happen for every race in which Audrey Worm Racing competes. Winners will also be a special guest in the team’s pits.

Fans will also be offered subscriber-only deals from team sponsors and Audrey Worm Racing merchandise.

Audrey Worm Racing fans just need to text ‘RACEFAN’ to 555888 to join the team.

Why your Infiniti QX56 suspension fails, and how to fix it for good

Infiniti QX56 with no suspension issues. Fix your suspension today with Strutmasters.

Infiniti’s QX56 was the Japenese luxury automaker’s update to the Nissan Armada. Based off the same platform, the QX56 offered refinement and class in the crowded full-size SUV market. With finishing touches like a Bose sound system and adaptive cruise control, the Infiniti QX56 competed with luxury brands from around the world.

Despite its refinements, many QX56 owners have reported issues with a failing suspension. Often times this comes in the form of a sagging rear end of the vehicle. However, it can also appear in the form of increased stopping distance, “squatting” when coming to a stop, or the vehicle not being able to maintain proper ride height.

There are a number of reasons why this issue is so prevalent among Infiniti QX56 owners. Let’s explore why.

Infiniti QX56 and its air suspension system

Beginning in 2004, the Infiniti QX56 was outfitted with an active air suspension. This system allowed for a super comfortable ride.

The active suspension works by constantly taking readings of the ride height at each wheel. It then transmits this information to a central computer, or control module. The computer decides how much each corner of the vehicle needs to be raised or lowered. Once it does this, it sends a signal to an air compressor. This compressor pumps air through the system and into each airbag, inflating or deflating the corner to its proper ride height.

All this complexity makes for a wonderful, responsive, cloud-like ride. The problem is, it also leads to almost certain failure of the system.

Why Infiniti QX56 air suspensions fail

There are two main reasons air suspensions fail and the Infiniti QX56 is no different.

The first is due to just what we mentioned above. Air suspensions are incredibly complex. They are made up of many components, all of which depend on each other to work.

If, for example, there is a leak in an air line, the compressor will work much harder to keep the system inflated. Even something as small as a poorly-aligned gasket can throw the whole system out of whack.

The other big reason that air suspensions fail consistently is that many of the components are either moving parts or are made of flexible (and therefore flimsy) materials.

Components such as the ride height sensor are constantly moving and rubbing up against themselves and other components. No matter how well-constructed a part is, this will always result in eventual failure.

Other parts, like the airbags, need to be flexible to serve their purpose. These components have a very high risk of tearing, being punctured, or dry-rotting in bad weather and storage conditions.

Put together, failure of the system in some way, shape, or form is completely inevitable.

How to fix your Infiniti QX56 suspension

The Infiniti dealership will probably recommend that you just replace your air suspension components with OEM parts. This nets them both a sale and some serious time under the hood, leaving your wallet looking slim.

To add insult to injury, the failure rate of air suspensions means you’ll probably be back to fix another component soon.

Here’s another option for you to consider. Why keep bothering with that air suspension at all?

Surely it has served you well during its useful lifetime. However, at this point in your QX64 lifetime, do you really want to spend thousands of dollars and countless hours at the shop to keep it? You don’t have to.

The Infiniti QX56 suspension solution

Rather than continue to fuss with that air suspension, you can just ditch it entirely and replace it.

This kit from Strutmasters will allow you to replace your rear air suspension for under $400. That’s less than half of what it would cost you to replace it with air suspension components from the factory.

Instead of rubber sacks filled with air, this traditional suspension uses mechanical resistance to keep your car at its proper ride height. Engineered with Strutmasters’ patented GlideRide Technology, these properly rated springs ensure your new ride feels as close to the original as possible.

Unlike those complex air suspension systems, this suspension kit is so simple you can install it yourself with tools you probably already have. Most QX56 owners find that they can replace their suspensions in about one hour per wheel.

Every kit comes packaged with detailed instructions to help even the most novice DIYer install their own suspension. If that doesn’t work, Strutmasters’ YouTube channel also has videos to guide you through the process:

Best of all, each Infiniti QX56 suspension replacement kit comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty. This means that your suspension is guaranteed as long as your vehicle is on the road under most circumstances.

Are you ready to make the switch and end your Infiniti QX56 suspension problems for good? Order online or give one of our Suspension Experts a call at (866) 715-6013 to get exactly what you need today!

How to end your Dodge Ram suspension problems today for cheap


Since 1981, the Dodge Ram has been one of the top-selling and top-rated pickup trucks in America. The Chrysler-made trucks have been named Motor Trend magazine’s “Truck of the Year” six times.

Known for their brawny build and raw power, Ram trucks have become a favorite amongst people looking for a large, capable pickup.

With the implementation of an active air suspension in 2013, drivers were treated to adjustable ride heights and a smoother ride than before. However, all this came with a price tag.

Known Dodge Ram Suspension Issues

The main problem is that those expensive air suspensions have a limited lifetime. Ram owners all around the country have begun experiencing problems with their air suspensions.

Some of those problems include the truck not being able to maintain its ride height. Others report that their Dodge Ram sags in the rear or at one of the corners. Many others have reported a compressor that is suspiciously noisy or runs for far too long.

Whatever the issue, many owners are shocked to see the estimate for repairing their air suspension. Those costs can climb into the thousands depending on what needs to be replaced. Unfortunately, with air suspensions most of the components will eventually need to be replaced.

Why Dodge Ram air suspensions fail

The truth is that it is not a problem that is unique to the Dodge Ram. In fact, the Ram’s air suspension is very sophisticated and well-engineered.

Unfortunately the problem is just the nature of air suspensions. They are complex systems that have lots of interdependent parts. In addition, they rely on moving parts and electronic components–the two types of components most likely to fail–in order to get the job done.

Here’s how your Dodge Ram air suspension works.

Your truck has ride height sensors mounted at each corner. Those sensors read how high up off the ground that corner of the vehicle is and then report that information to the control module. This is essentially a small computer.

The control module then decides if that corner needs to be raised or lowered. Once it does this, it sends a signal to the air compressor to pump air into or out of the airbag. These airbags, made of flexible rubber, are what support the weight of your vehicle.

This cycle happens constantly while the car is on, meaning it happens thousands of times every time you drive the car!

While it provides an unparalleled ride, all that complexity means it is all but guaranteed to fail.

What are my options?

Most people will first take their truck to the Dodge dealership to get it looked at. Typically, the dealership will offer to replace the air suspension components with OEM parts. This will result in a very expensive estimate.

In order to save a little money, others might look for aftermarket air suspension components. But even these are expensive and complicated to install. After parts and labor, the repair bill will still seem pretty high.

Fortunately, there is another way.

Convert your Ram to coil suspension

This may seem a little counter-intuitive. After all, you did pay for and probably enjoy that air suspension. But is it really worth the expense of keeping it if you don’t have to?

Strutmasters has engineered the perfect air-to-coil conversion kit for your Dodge Ram. Rather than air and electronics, this traditional suspension supports your truck with good old-fashioned mechanical resistance.

While you won’t see much of a difference in your ride, you will see a huge difference in price. Rather than the thousands it would cost you to fully replace your air suspension, this kit will replace all four wheels for under $900.

Our engineers have researched the specific needs of your Dodge Ram to make sure this kit comes as close to the original air ride as possible. The premium springs included in this kit have been tuned and rated to give you the perfect balance between stability and comfort.

The simplicity of this suspension makes it a breeze to install at home. You probably already have all the tools you need to do it yourself, even if you’re not the most capable handyman in the world. It takes most people about one hour per wheel to install these kits at home.

Best of all, this kit, like all Strutmasters air-to-coil kits, comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty. That means as long is your vehicle is on the road, we guarantee you a working suspension in almost every case. T

Don’t Wait

The longer you wait, the more the rest of your car will suffer. A bad suspension affects the entire vehicle.

Order online or call one of our Suspension Experts at (866) 676-4457 today to get help with your order! Enjoy driving your Dodge Ram once again!

Look: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s #88 Chevy on display

As if the Carolina Collector Auto Fest wasn’t exciting enough, Strutmasters had another trick up its sleeve during the weekend of May 17-19.

As guests walked into the Livin’ the Dream Cafe, they were greeted by a car driven by one of NASCAR’s most beloved drivers, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Jr. doesn’t need any introduction for anyone with even a passing familiarity with NASCAR. In addition to his own illustrious career, Earnhardt Jr. bears the namesake of perhaps the sport’s most legendary driver.

Buying Earnhardt Jr’s car an easy decision

Strutmasters founder and owner Chip Lofton said the decision to buy the vehicle was a no-brainer.

“When you get a chance at something like this it’s hard to pass it up,” said Lofton. “Dale Jr. is an icon of racing, just like his father. When you love racing as much as we do and as much as our customers do, you just have to go for it.”

Earnhardt Jr. drove this particular number 88 Chevy just once before donating it. Since then, the car has been on display across the country. This has allowed racing fans a view inside the cockpit.

Reactions from the CCAF

Guests of the Carolina Collector Auto Fest were ecstatic to see the famous #8 car driven by “The Pied Piper of Daytona.”

“It’s really cool to see Dale Jr.’s car up close and personal like this,” said David Straughan, a CCAF attendee. “Normally on TV these cars are going so fast you don’t really get a good look at them. I am also surprised to see how simple they are on the inside.”

Acquiring a legendary driver’s race car is just another in a series of moves Strutmasters has made to build up their racing credentials. The company is quickly becoming a well-recognized name among fans of the sport.

Chad Finley is back and “super happy” to be part of the Strutmasters team


Chad Finley returned to action at the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series after nearly seven weeks away from racing. Finley finished 15th at the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Before the race, Finley expressed his eagerness to get on the track.

“It feels like forever since I’ve been back in the Truck Series,” said Finley. “So I’m eager to get to the track this week and get down to business,”

Finley secures crucial marketing partnerships

After securing a number of marketing partners, the Michigan native has taken the wheel of the Chad Finley Racing (CFR) team’s No. 42 Chevrolet Silverado. The North Carolina Education Lottery 200 was his second race of the season.

Finley credited his sponsors for making everything possible.

“I’m super happy to have the support of, Air Lift Company and Auto Value Certified Service Centers a part of my Charlotte debut.”

Right at home in Charlotte

Charlotte was an ideal location for Finley to make his return. Charlotte Motor Speedway is just a quick 45-minute drive from the Chad Finley Racing team headquarters in Mooresville, NC. The race presented a solid opportunity for Finley & Co. to get back in the water.

“Everyone wants to run well at Charlotte, including us,” added Finley. “It’s important race because it’s in the backyard of where a lot of the teams are based, and the race certainly draws a lot of attention for those reasons. But for us, we want to draw attention for ourselves this weekend with our on-track performance and not necessarily where we come from.”

Finley made sure to credit his crew’s role in readying the truck for the upcoming races.

“Bruce and the guys have worked methodically on our No. 42 | Air Lift Company | Auto Value Certified Service Centers Chevrolet Silverado to make sure we can go out there and be competitive. A top-10 run would certainly feel like a victory for us and give us some much-needed momentum into the summer.”

Shortened season for the best

Chad Finley is the son of former NASCAR driver and ARCA winner Jeff Finley. The elder Finley now serves as team principal.

Although outside circumstances caused the team to adjust their expectations for the Truck Series this season, Jeff Finley said that the decision to skip some events was for the best.

“We’ve could have gone out and run every race this season,” explained the elder Finley. “But it would not have been up to the standard we set forth every time we leave the shop and head to the race track.”

“Chad Finley Racing prides itself on putting competitive equipment with an opportunity to run up front,” he continued. “Now, that we’re able to pick and choose our races and we’re confident in our capabilities and look forward to the chance to showcase that not only at Charlotte but in future races no matter who is behind the wheel.”

A whole host of new sponsors

The team was able to secure primary marketing partnerships with Auto Value Certified Service Centers, Air Lift Company and for the race.

Strutmasters has been an industry leader in suspension parts and air to non-air suspension conversion kits since 1999. The company has recently been aggressively expanding its racing partnership portfolio.
Finley’s team also earned support from and XLT Engineering as well for the race in Charlotte.

After a top 15 finish, it would appear that Chad Finley is back and ready for more action.

Look: Carolina Collector Auto Fest Gallery

By all accounts the 2019 Spring Carolina Collector Auto Fest was a smash success.

Car owners got to show off their prized automobiles, and some even made a sale. Unlike many car collector shows, the Carolina Collector Auto Fest was not limited to cars of a certain era or type.

Everyone’s Welcome at the Carolina Collector Auto Fest

Everyone was welcome. The result was a vibrant mix of cars and people and a little something for everyone.

Guests from near and far enjoyed browsing an outstanding collection of classic automobiles along with food, music and plenty of fun.

Vendors also had a huge presence at the show, with all sorts of interesting car parts, folk art and brand paraphernalia.

A Great Day for Everyone

All in all, it was a great day for all in attendance. Some folks made some money, others won some prizes. However, nobody walked away with an empty stomach thanks to all the delicious food options on site!

The Strutmasters team is already gearing up for the next one this fall. Stay tuned here to be the first to know any new information!

Check the gallery below to see some of our favorite photos from the Spring 2019 Carolina Collector Auto Fest!

Carolina Collector Auto Fest Gallery

All photos by David C. Straughan for Strutmasters, LLC.