Branch misses win by .001 in Vegas LAS VEGAS - Many times over the past few years, NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car driver Tate Branch has been referred to as the 'best driver in Top Alcohol Funny Car not to have won a national event.' During this ...
Branch misses win by .001 in Vegas
LAS VEGAS - Many times over the past few years, NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car driver Tate Branch has been referred to as the 'best driver in Top Alcohol Funny Car not to have won a national event.' During this past weekend's SummitRacing.com Nationals at 'The Strip' in Las Vegas, Branch and the Bar's Leaks Repair It/ Branch-Etterman Racing team came just .001 of a second away from losing that title when Branch left .001 of a second too soon, giving his opponent Steve Gasparrelli the final round victory.
Branch, from Artesia, N.M., qualified his Dave Scheelk tuned Camaro tenth in the tough field with a 5.775 second elapsed time at 247.07 mph. In round one, he used a 5.803 at 247.47 mph to defeat Hank Coolidge and then a 5.830 at 245.72 mph to take out Bernie Harrington. After that round Scheelk found a problem in the tune-up that turned immediate results by dispatching Larry Miner in the semifinals with a 5.718 at 253.66 mph.
In his final round bout with Gasparrelli, Branch reacted just .001 of a second too soon, redlighting away a 5.750 at 253.61 mph. Gasparrelli ran a quicker 5.732 at 251.81, but had a much later .072 reaction time. Had Branch cut a perfect light (.000) he could have ran as slow as a 5.804 and won.
"I'm really disappointed I let the team down by redlighting," said Branch. "Dave [Scheelk], George [Etterman] and the team gave me a great hot rod. I don't really know why I redlighted. I was cutting good lights all day, then that light in the final. Maybe I rolled in a touch deeper. I've relived the run a 1000 times since Sunday, but I'm putting it behind me now. We're looking at it in a positive light. To make the finals after qualifying tenth in that field was really something. After the second round, Dave found something that was slowing us down, and just like that, it picked up a tenth. So we're pretty excited about that, and we're focusing on our next race in Dallas in a few weeks."
The next event for the Bar's Leaks Repair It/ Branch-Etterman Racing team will be race two in the Division 4 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series at the Texas Motorplex just south of Dallas, April 29-May 1. Branch enters the event hot off a win at the season opener at Houston Raceway Park. Stay tuned to InsideTopAlcohol.com for the latest news in alcohol racing.