O'Bannon runs career numbers en route to quarterfinals
POMONA, Calif. - While NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car rookie Sean O'Bannon would have liked to cap his season with a win at his home track, he posted career best numbers en route to a quarterfinal finish during this past weekend's Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif. O'Bannon wheeled the Tequila Patron/Forest River RV's Dodge Charger to a 5.59 second blast before parts failure derailed his efforts in round two.
O'Bannon, who lives just miles from the track in Ontario, Calif., qualified the Sam Shockley tuned machine second with a career-best 5.593 second pass at 256.21 mph. In round one, he experienced heavy tireshake, but was still able to take the win over John Patton with a 5.849 at 255.87 mph. In his quarterfinal bout with Brian Hough, O'Bannon once again experienced tireshake in low gear, but had a part failure end any hopes of him catching Hough's 5.767 at 253.04.
"It was an up and down weekend," said O'Bannon. "When we ran the 5.71 in qualifying after pedaling it, we knew it would run a good number if we could get it to the finish line without pedaling it. It was a big boost for this Tequila Patron/Forest River RV's team to get the car into the 5.50's and qualify No. 2 for such a tough field."
"It was pretty warm in the first round," O'Bannon continued. "It shook pretty hard, but we took the win. It shook again in round two, but it quit in the middle of the shake. It's hard to say what we would have ran, but we would have made a race out of it. This weekend's performance has the team very excited about our chances next year. It was also great to do it at our home track. We had a lot of friends, guests and customers up in our Fontana Wood Products skybox cheering us on and I'm glad we gave them a good car to cheer for."
After starting the year in the Top Alcohol Dragster category, O'Bannon notched two semifinal finishes and one quarterfinal finish on the national level in his rookie season. O'Bannon and his teammate Alexis De Joria are looking forward to building on their progress in 2008.