Gainesville: Final eliminations report

TASCA, DIXON, LINE AND ARANA WIN ACDELCO NHRA GATORNATIONALS GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Bob Tasca completed a dream weekend Sunday by racing to his first career victory at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals. Larry Dixon, Jason Line and Hector Arana also...

TASCA, DIXON, LINE AND ARANA WIN ACDELCO NHRA GATORNATIONALS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Bob Tasca completed a dream weekend Sunday by racing to his first career victory at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals.

Larry Dixon, Jason Line and Hector Arana also were winners at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event at historic Gainesville Raceway.

Tasca, who earned his first No. 1 qualifying position on Saturday, finished the job Sunday by powering his Motorcraft Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang to a final-round performance of 4.200 seconds at 280.72 mph to hold off defending Gatornationals winner Tony Pedregon, whose Q Horsepower Chevy Impala trailed with a 4.536 at 210.90.

"I'm speechless," said Tasca, who defeated Jim Head, Tim Wilkerson and John Force to advance to the final round.

"It's one of those weekends where you qualify No. 1 and then have to beat John Force and Tony Pedregon to get your first win," Tasca continued. "Today is a culmination of 27 races and we've had our struggles as a team, including me as a driver. We're just determined to do well, and I can assure you that this won't be our last trophy. We have a championship-caliber program. What a special place this is and there's just a lot of energy here with the huge crowds. If you've got to pick a place to win your first race, I couldn't think of a better place to do it."

Points leader Ron Capps lost in the first round in his bid to win the first three races of the season, but maintained a 38-point lead over Tasca, who moved to second overall with the win.

Dixon raced to his first Top Fuel victory of the season and fourth at this event, posting a 3.898 at 311.05 in his Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing dragster to defeat Cory McClenathan, whose FRAM dragster lost traction early in the run and crossed the finish line in 4.570 at 192.60.

"It's hard to win these races, especially with a brand-new team," said Dixon, who beat Doug Kalitta, Morgan Lucas and Brandon Bernstein in earlier rounds. "They can have all the notes they want from last season but you don't have the same parts they had last season. They don't have the same blowers or the same clutch discs, and anyone who runs a fuel car will tell you that each of those parts has its own personality and you have to learn that personality and understand it, and they've been able to do that."

It is Dixon's first win for new team owner Alan Johnson. Dixon's first 43 wins came as driver for Don "The Snake" Prudhomme from 1995-'07.

"I know how hard it is to make these cars go down the track, but they make it look easy," Dixon said. "It's an a amazing group. Alan Johnson is a genius and (crew chief) Jason McCulloch is working right underneath him, and I'm happy for him to get his first win. I'm also happy for sheik [team co-owner Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Thani] and to be able to get his first win the third race out. I'm honored to be driving the car."

Despite a second round upset to part-time racer Bobby Lagana, Antron Brown held on to the series lead in Top Fuel.

Line earned his second win of the season in Pro Stock by outrunning Allen Johnson in the final round. Line used a quicker reaction time to take the win, powering his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP to a 6.614 at 209.20 to hold off the quicker but losing J&J Racing/Team Mopar Dodge Stratus of Johnson, which finished in 6.607 at 209.01.

"The engine guy side of me is really upset that I had to win on a holeshot," said Line, who also won the Gatornationals in 2005. "We've really struggled all weekend. We did not run good. (Top qualifier Mike) Edwards made us look bad. Hats off to him, he's driving really good. But it was a great win, and I'm very excited. For me to do this good this early in the year, it hasn't happened before so I'm excited. I've been driving pretty good, and knock on wood, it stays that way."

In the first three rounds, Line outran Jim Yates, Kurt Johnson and Rickie Jones. He says it was a great confidence boost to get the win despite not feeling like he had the best car.

"The guys did a good job because we did not have the best car this weekend," said Line, who extended his series lead with his 17th career win. "I was thinking to myself before the weekend started, the guy who drives the yellow car, Mr. Coughlin (Jeg Coughlin), very seldom does he win having the best car and we need to do the same thing because you're not going to have the best car every weekend and you'll have to step up some other part of it, and for me, it's the driving part. I'm doing the best I can and I thank the guys for working with me at the shop because they really do try to help me."

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana raced to his second career victory with a 6.977 at 191.40 on his Lucas Oil Buell, to hold off final round opponent and event top qualifier Matt Smith, whose Nitro Fish Ultimate Gear Suzuki slowed to a 7.133 at 185.51. With the win, Arana moved into the series points lead for the first time in his career. He beat Junior Pippin, defending world champ Eddie Krawiec and Shawn Gann to advance to his fourth career final round.

"It's really great to win this event, I've been coming here for a long time," said Arana, who won his first career race last June in Norwalk, Ohio after 18 seasons of trying. "I did it again. The first one wasn't a fluke and I'm going to win some more."

The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series continues March 27-29 with the 22nd annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park, Baytown, Texas.

-credit: nhra

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Kurt Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Shawn Gann , Cory McClenathan , Tim Wilkerson , Brandon Bernstein , Allen Johnson , Morgan Lucas , Jason Line , Rickie Jones , Matt Smith , Eddie Krawiec