Gainesville: Sunday final eliminations report

SAMPEY RACES TO PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE VICTORY AT GAINESVILLE Grubnic, Capps, Martino also win ACDelco Gatornationals GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- For the first time in NHRA history, three females had a chance to win a professional drag racing title at...

SAMPEY RACES TO PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE VICTORY AT GAINESVILLE
Grubnic, Capps, Martino also win ACDelco Gatornationals

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- For the first time in NHRA history, three females had a chance to win a professional drag racing title at the same event. In the end, only Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Angelle Sampey got it done.

The most prolific female racer of all-time with 38 victories and three series titles, Sampey beat teammate Antron Brown Sunday for the trophy at the 37th annual ACDelco Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. Top Fuel racer Melanie Troxel and Pro Stock driver Erica Enders settled for runner-up honors, with Dave Grubnic and Tom Martino denying the women their chance at glory at the $2 million race, the third of 23 on the POWERade tour.

In Funny Car, a category bereft of females, Ron Capps beat John Force to stay out front in the standings, but Force took solace in the fact his daughter Ashley won the Top Alcohol Dragster sportsman title.

Sampey and Brown rode a pair of U.S. Army Suzukis to the final round. If not for his red-light start, Brown could have won the race as he ran four thousandths of a second quicker than Sampey with a 7.134 to her 7.138 at 187.73 mph.

"It was awesome to see three girls in the finals," Sampey said. "I thought Melanie and Erica would win too the way they were running. It didn't happen this time but it's going to happen, and not just one time. And once Ashley gets into Funny Car we'll have an all-girl winner's circle."

Troxel's bid was over 100 feet into the run when her Skull Gear/Torco Race Fuels dragster lost traction, allowing Australian Grubnic to take the win in 4.943 seconds at 317.90 mph in his StriVectin S-D dragster.

"Seeing all the women in the final is great for the sport," Grubnic said. "Of course, Shirley Muldowney, who is on our team, got it all started and she'll tell you just like these girls today will tell you that they just want to be thought of as competitors. That's how I look at them."

Although she lost, Troxel's run to her third final of the year and fourth final in a row padded her lead in the standings to 73 over "Hot Rod" Fuller. She started the day up just 14 markers.

Reigning series champ Tony Schumacher lost in the first round and is sixth in the standings, 101 points behind teammate Troxel.

Enders experienced severe tire shake just off the launch pad and had to shut off her Slammers Ultimate Milk Chevy Cobalt, while Martino streaked away for the win in 6.677 at 205.80 mph in his Kendall Oil Dodge Stratus R/T.

"I told Erica she'll win way more races than I ever will," Martino said. "She's a win waiting to happen. I'm just glad that first one didn't come today with me in the other lane. She's very talented and she's got a lot of pressure on her being 22 years old and driving a car with a big sponsor. She might have been pushing it too hard today but she'll get hers."

Martino is just 10 points out of the POWERade Top 10 with his win here, his first since 2001 and fifth of his career. Enders moved from eighth to third place. Greg Anderson remains the leader by 75 points over Warren Johnson and 89 over Enders.

Despite racing to the Funny Car final, Capps still found himself needing to win it all to maintain the points lead. But the Brut Dodge Stratus R/T driver rose to the occasion and took out Force with a 4.860 at 316.78 mph to Force's 4.990 at 305.49 mph, which was erased after his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang was automatically disqualified for crossing the center line.

"This is one of those races that when it comes time to retire you definitely want to look back and know that you won it," Capps said. "It's right there with Indy and Pomona as far as what it means to win here. It's a biggie, and it's awesome to add this trophy to the collection."

Capps' lead in the standings grew from 15 to 31 over Force. This was the 18th victory of his career in 39 final rounds. Force falls to 119-70 when there's a trophy on the line. This was the second final of the year for both men.

-nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Shirley Muldowney , Antron Brown , Warren Johnson , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Greg Anderson , Tom Martino , Melanie Troxel , Angelle Sampey