Branch just misses first national win in Dallas ENNIS, Texas - Defending three-time NHRA Division 4 Top Alcohol Funny Car Champion Tate Branch just missed picking up his first career national event win during this past weekend's O'Reilly Fall ...
Branch just misses first national win in Dallas
ENNIS, Texas - Defending three-time NHRA Division 4 Top Alcohol Funny Car Champion Tate Branch just missed picking up his first career national event win during this past weekend's O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec at the Texas Motorplex just south of Dallas. Branch narrowly missed defeating Jay Payne in the final when both driver's engine's blew at nearly the same point on the track, with Payne coasting across the finish line just ahead of Branch.
Branch, from Artesia, N.M., qualified the Bar's Leaks sponsored Camaro second with a 5.658 second elapsed time at 253.88 mph. In round one, he defeated Kris Hool with a 5.780 at 251.86 mph, then defeated John Patton in round two with a 5.705 at 251.95 mph. In the semifinals he defeated Dennis Taylor with a 5.720 at 253.18 mph.
In what turned out to be a bizarre final, Branch took a slight starting line advantage and extended that lead by the 330 ft. mark, but a push rod failure lead to an engine explosion just past that point. His opponent Payne suffered the same fate, just slightly further down track, and coasted to the win.
"We're still looking for our first win," said Branch. "It just wasn't meant to be today. We'll just head up to Chicago and try to get our first win again. My Crew Chief Dave [Scheelk] and George [Etterman - Car Owner] really have this car turned around and back on the right track. We're disappointed we didn't get the win, but optimistic that we have a car that can go rounds on Sunday."
There will be no pause in the action for the Branch-Etterman team as they will be racing at the CARQUEST Nationals at Route 66 Raceway just outside of Chicago next weekend.
"Joliet is a fast track, and our tune-up likes good air and good racetracks," stated Branch. "Hopefully everything will work out and we can make a good showing for our sponsors Bar's Leaks, Valvoline, Haulmark, Michigan Kenworth, NRC Modifications, NGK, Rapid Temps, Petrospect and InsideTopAlcohol.com."