NHRA Tire Kingdom Gatornationals Event Recap
Del Worsham became the 15th driver in NHRA history to win races in Top Fuel and Funny Car when he defeated seven-time champion Tony Schumacher in the Top Fuel final round of the 42nd annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals Sunday at Gainesville Raceway. The other winners at the second of 22 races in NHRA’s 60th anniversary season were Mike Neff (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
Worsham was four-thousandths slower (.044 to .040) on the tree in his Al-Anabi dragster and eight-thousands quicker (3.858 to 3.866) on the track for a finish-line winning margin of an almost imperceptible .004. It was the first win in Top Fuel for Worsham after compiling 25 wins in a Funny Car career that dates to 1990. “It feels great (to have won in both classes). I actually had a chance at the U.S. Nationals in 1993, could have won in Top Fuel, and I made a huge mistake, red light against Kenny Bernstein, and he went on to win. I felt bad about that and it’s kind of weighed on me for 20 years…” Worsham said half seriously.
“It is almost surreal, I’m driving (2010 Top Fuel champion and teammate) Larry (Dixon)’s car from last year, it won 12 races last year, now it’s won 13. It shouldn’t surprise anyone (that it’s back in the winner’s circle but) it surprises me,” he said. Worsham entered eliminations from the bottom half of the ladder but quickly got his day off a solid start by downing #7 qualifier Brandon Bernstein in the opening round, then taking out DAR teammates Antron Brown and Spencer Massey to advance to his first ever Top Fuel final.
In Funny Car, Cruz Pedregon (7.819, 99.32) spun the tires on his Snap-on Tools Toyota at the hit of the throttle and was no match for Neff (4.092, 310.48), whose Castrol GTX Ford Mustang was the best performing car in the class all day. “Just a great day for our whole team. We needed this to keep the Force string going, that’s four in a row for Team Force,” said Neff, who’s in John Force’s car that won the 2010 championship. “The hardest part is just trying not to mess it up as a driver.” Neff qualified a solid 12th, pairing him with veteran Jim Head in the opening round. Equal reaction times and a 4.09 to 4.15 edge sealed the deal, and Neff then used low ET of eliminations, a 4.05, to best Bob Tasca, and defeated a tire smoking Jack Beckman to advance into the money round.
In Pro Stock, Line (6.554, 211.96) defeated Summit Racing teammate Greg Anderson (6.545, 212.43) to win his second straight to open the 2011 season and second straight at Gainesville. It was, almost, a perfect weekend: “We could have got the record,” Line said. Jason concluded a record-setting two days of qualifying in the fourth slot with a career best 6.496, and used defeats of Vincent Nobile, Erica Enders, and new national record holder Rodger Brogdon to enter his second straight final round.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Karen Stoffer red-lighted to hand the event title to Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson rider Krawiec, who nonetheless ran a near-perfect 6.847 at 197.08. The win came on a blistering quick track on which Hector Arana set the national record for elapsed time (6.777) and Krawiec set the national record for speed (199.26). “Gainesville, when you come here, you know you’re going to go fast,” said Krawiec, who won his second straight Gatornationals. “This track had some killer, some killer conditions, it was meant to go fast.”
Khalid Balooshi ran the table at the opening race of the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Series, following up his No. 1 qualifier award with the race win. Balooshi, from Doha, Qatar, defeated 2010 Series runner-up Danny Rowe by 13-thousandths of a second in the final round, 5.912 (with .074 RT) to 5.943 (with .056 RT). Balooshi, who drives a ’68 Camaro, defeated Mike Knowles, Brad Personett, and Kenny Lang – last year’s winner at this event – before finishing off Rowe to open the second season of the Get Screened America Pro Mod Series with the victory.
The No. 1 qualifiers at the second of 22 races in the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season were unchanged from Friday’s provisionals: Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Rodger Brogdon (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
In Top Fuel, seven-time champion Tony Schumacher earned the top spot with a 3.814-second pass at a track-record 325.45 mph in the U.S. Army dragster. “We wanted to see if we could go faster and you know what, we couldn’t,” said Schumacher, who spun the wheels twice on Saturday. The No. 1 was the 62nd overall for Schumacher, who has been to five final rounds at the Gatornationals with event titles in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010. DSR nailed down the top three spots in qualifying as Antron Brown and Spencer Massey trailed Schumacher in second and third, with Larry Dixon and Steve Torrence rounding out the top five.
Hagan, who will match up with Bob Bode in R1 as he seeks to make is fifth final round in the last six races, secured his second straight No. 1 at Gainesville Raceway with a track-record 4.030-second pass at 309.84 mph in his DieHard Dodge Charger. “Florida’s been kind to us,” Hagan said. “It’s nice to come out here and reset our own track record.” Hagan’s teammate Jack Beckman concluded qualifying in second, followed by Mike Neff, Johnny Gray, and Cruz Pedregon.
In Pro Stock, Brogdon earned the No. 1 with a 6.495-second pass at 213.47 mph in his Attitude Apparel Pontiac GXP. This was the first No. 1 qualifier in Brogdon’s career that spans 62 races. “It is a little bit special, this is the first national event I ever went to when I started drag racing (Super Stock in 1994). There’s only one race bigger, Indy, so it feels good, it feels real good,” Brogdon said. Brogdon’s qualifying efforts earned him a new national record that only bettered on speed the equal runs of 6.496-seconds of Mike Edwards and Greg Anderson, with Jason Line and Erica Enders trailing just behind with personal best runs.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana remained No. 1 with the national-record time of 6.777 at 195.36 mph that he set on Friday aboard the Lucas Oil Buell. “Qualifying No. 1 is great, it means you did the best, you were the best in qualifying, but when it comes to Sunday, that doesn’t mean anything … on raceday, of course, anything can happen,” said Arana, who will open with Joe DeSantis Sunday. Also of note in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class, the field will include three women and one of those three, Angie Smith, will square off against her husband, Matt. New MPH record holder Eddie Krawiec heads into eliminations in the second slot, with teammate Andrew Hines, Karen Stoffer, and Matt Smith also in the top five.
Khalid Balooshi earned the No. 1 qualifier and he also advanced to the quarterfinals in the season-opener for the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series at Gainesville Raceway on Saturday. Balooshi, from Doha, Qatar, set the No. 1 qualifying mark of 5.846 seconds at 243.24 mph on Friday in his 1968 Camaro and it held up in the final qualifying pass on Saturday. Then he delivered a solid 5.959 at 241.80 (with a 0.069 reaction time) to win convincingly over Mike Knowles’ 6.145 at 240.94 (with a 0.104). He’ll match up in the quarterfinals, which resume on Sunday, against Brad Personett, who defeated defending Series champion Von Smith in the marquee first-round pairing. The other quarterfinal matchups are: Roger Burgess vs. Kenny Lang; Danny Rowe vs. Ed Hoover; and Rickie Smith vs. Ray Commisso.
Matt Hagan continued his torrid run dating back to the end of last year by earning the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car on the first day of qualifying at the 42nd annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals Friday. The other provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the second of 22 races in the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season were Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Rodger Brogdon (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
In Top Fuel, seven-time champion Tony Schumacher earned the provisional top spot with a 3.814-second pass at a track-record 325.45 mph in the U.S. Army dragster. “I thought we’d go quicker; I thought everyone would go quicker. If someone would have told me the No. 1 qualifier would run a 3.81 I would have been surprised,” Schumacher said. “We didn’t get down the track our first pass so we had to be cautious on that run. It was soft. It chattered (the tires) but made it down the track, and when we looked at the data on the computer, we could see there’s a lot left.”
Hagan, who has been to the final round at four of the last five races including his runner-up at the 2011 season-opening Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals, secured the provisional No. 1 with a track-record 4.030-second pass at 309.84 mph in his DieHard Dodge Charger. “I’m excited, coming off of a runner up (at Pomona) and coming here and being No. 1 … we’ve got a strong race car and a strong team and I’m really looking forward to having some fun out here,” Hagan said.
In Pro Stock, Brogdon earned the provisional No. 1 with a 6.495-second pass at 213.47 mph in his Attitude Apparel Pontiac GXP. This would be the first No. 1 of Brogdon’s career that spans 62 races. “There’s a lot of fast guys out there, we just happened to go a little bit faster than them,” Brogdon said. Mike Edwards (213.47) and Greg Anderson (212.86) also ran 6.495s, but theirs were slightly slower and therefore behind Brogdon in the qualifying order. Also, Erica Enders recorded the fastest-ever Pro Stock run with a top speed of 213.57 in her ZaZa Energy Chevy Cobalt.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana set the pace in his Lucas Oil Buell with a national-record time of 6.777 at 195.36 mph. “Unbelievable, when they give me a 6.77, that’s great, it felt slow …” Arana said.
Khalid Balooshi raced to the qualifying lead Friday at Gainesville Raceway in the season-opener for the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. Balooshi, from Doha, Qatar, covered the quarter-mile distance in 5.846 seconds at 243.24 mph in his 1968 Camaro. Rickie Smith (5.878, 241.67) and Roger Burgess (5.881, 255.10) qualified second and third, respectively. Defending Series champion Von Smith opened the year with a 5.928 at 246.80 that has him in seventh position entering Saturday’s final qualifying session.
Words compiled from news releases via NHRA Communications