GAINESVILLE, Fla., April 21, 2001 - For the second consecutive race, Chevy drivers carried the red bowtie into the winner's circle in three professional categories, this time at the 32nd annual Mac Tools Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.
GAINESVILLE, Fla., April 21, 2001 - For the second consecutive race, Chevy drivers carried the red bowtie into the winner's circle in three professional categories, this time at the 32nd annual Mac Tools Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. Originally postponed on March 18 because of rain, Chevy racers returned to the Sunshine State and captured titles in Pro Stock Truck, Pro Stock and Top Fuel.
Jeg Coughlin Jr. snared his second consecutive national event, and his 22nd career win moving him into a tie for fifth place with Jim Yates on the NHRA list for all-time wins by a Pro Stock driver. Coughlin drove his Chevy Cavalier past Tom Martino in round one, Warren Johnson in round two and Kurt Johnson in the semifinal. In the championship match, Coughlin utilized a holeshot at the starting line to hold off Mark Osborne. The Jeg's Mail Order Chevy Cavalier crossed the finish line with a 6.935 elapsed time at 199.40 mph with Osborne following in 6.928 seconds at 199.58 mph. The margin of victory was 25-thousandth's of a second.
"We had some offseason things that didn't pan out for us, but the Cavaliers have given us a shot in the arm and a breath of new life," Coughlin said. "We've regrouped and have a lot of great harmony on the team and that's very important. This is a big win for us and we're extremely proud to be able to add this Gainesville trophy to our shelves."
Coughlin's performance over the last two events has now moved the defending Pro Stock champion into second place in the Winston standings, just 12 points behind the leader Warren Johnson. By winning today, Coughlin also posted the third win of the season for the new Chevy Cavalier.
"Dick Maskin's making great power and the new Cavalier has been just phenomenal," Coughlin said. "We've tweaked it, and tweaked it, and got a little assistance from Jerry Bickel. After we won Vegas we stopped at his shop, did some refinements there and came here. We've done a good job of communicating these last few weeks. It came together a little bit more in Houston, a little bit more in Vegas and it's still coming together here. We're still not entirely where we want to be. We'll take the wins on holeshots, but at the same time we want to outrun you as well."
In Pro Stock Truck, Greg Stanfield won his first race of the year by defeating Randy Daniels in a final-round battle of Chevy S-10s. Stanfield eliminated Joe Pigford in round one, Bart Price in round two and defending Pro Stock Truck champion Bob Panella Jr. in round three. The title race pitted Stanfield against current points leader Randy Daniels. Stanfield's Chevy crossed the finish line in 7.492 seconds at 181.23 mph with Daniels' S-10 following with an elapsed time of 7.503 seconds at 180.62 mph.
"I think the luck finally went our way today," Stanfield said. "Starting off this year we struggled a little bit, and we were pretty discouraged but we've come full circle and put this Chevy S-10 in the winner's circle. We made some good calls to get down the bad lane and made a good run, so we stuck with it for the final round and it paid off. We're pretty happy."
This race marked the third time this season that Stanfield had raced in a final round. At Pomona he lost to Daniels in the final round and two weeks ago at Las Vegas he fell to Bob Panella Jr. The win today secures Stanfield's hold on second place in the Pro Stock Truck standings and moves him within just seven points of Randy Daniels.
"The truck was consistent all weekend long," Stanfield said. "It's just a matter of getting everything working together at the right time and playing off our opponents' mistakes. My philosophy on the points race is if you keep winning these trophies, the championship will take care of itself. Randy (Daniels), Bobby (Panella), they're both very, very tough. It's going to get interesting. We're going to keep working hard and try to keep up with them."
Larry Dixon completed the Chevy victory triumvirate by charging through the Top Fuel field with the Miller Lite/Chevrolet nitro dragster. Dixon defeated Bobby Baldwin in round one, David Grubnic in round two and Tony Schumacher in round three before squaring off against Gary Scelzi in the finals. The title race was never in doubt with Dixon's dragster charging ahead to the finish line with a 4.661 elapsed time at 313.95 mph. Scelzi followed in 4.727 seconds at 313.95 mph.
"This was such a different racetrack than what we had here last month," explained Dixon. "Then it seemed like you could fire off 4.50s at will, but this time it was like going to one of our summer races. With the sun on the racetrack the rubber wasn't as tight. After Darrell Russell ran the 4.60s yesterday, and was the only one who made it down the track, we realized those were the kind of numbers it would take to win today. LaHaie changed the tuneup around on our Miller Lite/Chevy dragster and got the job done."
This race marked Dixon's first win of the year and the second time this season he'd raced in a final round. He was runner up to Mike Dunn last month at Houston. The victory today though moves Dixon into second place in the Top Fuel standings just five points behind Dunn.
"This was a whole team effort," Dixon said. "But I've been on both ends where I've been on and the car wasn't, and where the car's been on and I haven't. You can't win that way. You've got to have everybody on and everybody did their job today - it was a great day."
In Federal Mogul Funny Car Jay Payne won his first national event of the year driving the Valvoline Chevy Camaro past defending national champion Frank Manzo in the final round. Payne's Camaro rocketed to a 5.821 elapsed time at 248.89 mph with Manzo's Dodge following across the finish stripe in 5.831 seconds at 250.00 mph.
In Stock Eliminator Scott Welborn of West Columbia, S.C. won in a '68 Chevelle and Robert Guido of Cooper City, Fla., won in Super Gas in an '89 Corvette.
The next stop on the NHRA Winston Drag Racing tour is the Mac Tools NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on April 27 - 29 at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tenn.
Pro Stock Race Winner: Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Cavalier) 6.935ET/199.40MPH
Pro Stock Runner-Up: Mark Osborne (Dodge) 6.928ET/199.50ET
Chevrolet Pro Stock semifinalists: Kurt Johnson, Jeg Coughlin
Pro Stock Top Qualifier: Mark Pawuk (Grand Am) 6.846ET(track record)/200.68MPH
Pro Stock Top 10: 1. Warren Johnson (Grand Am) 2. Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Cavalier) 3. Kurt Johnson (Cavalier) 4. Mark Pawuk (Grand Am) 5. Jim Yates (Grand Am) 6. Darrell Alderman (Dodge) 7. Bruce Allen (Grand Am) 8. Brad Jeter (Grand Am) 9. (tie) Ron Krisher (Cavalier), Mike Edwards (Cavalier)
Pro Stock Truck Winner: Greg Stanfield (S-10) 7.492ET/181.23MPH
Pro Stock Truck Runner Up: Randy Daniels (S-10) 7.503ET/180.62MPH
Chevrolet Pro Stock Truck semifinalists: Greg Stanfield, Bob Panella Jr., Randy Daniels
Pro Stock Truck Top Qualifier: Randy Daniels (S-10) 7.431ET(track record)/181.30MPH
Pro Stock Truck Top 10: 1. Randy Daniels (Chevy S-10) 2. Greg Stanfield (Chevy S-10) 3. Bob Panella Jr. (Chevy S-10) 4. Jeff Gracia (GMC Sonoma) 5. Scott Perin (Chevy S-10) 6. Mike Corvo Jr. (GMC Sonoma) 7. Todd Patterson (Dodge) 8. Don Smith (Chevy S-10) 9. Brian Self (Chevy S-10) 10. John Lingenfelter (GMC Sonoma)
Funny Car Winner: John Force (Mustang) 5.310ET/273.27MPH
Funny Car Runner-Up: Dean Skuza (Dodge) 10.728ET/79.11MPH
Funny Car Top Qualifier: John Force (Mustang) 4.812ET/317.19MPH
Chevrolet Funny Car semifinalists: Ron Capps
Funny Car Top 10: 1.John Force (Mustang) 2. Bruce Sarver (Pontiac Firebird) 3. Tommy Johnson Jr. (Chevy Camaro) 4. Whit Bazemore (Pontiac Firebird) 5. Ron Capps (Chevy Camaro) 6. Del Worsham (Pontiac Firebird) 7. Dean Skuza (Dodge) 8. Gary Densham (Mustang) 9. Frank Pedregon (Pontiac Firebird) 10. Tony Pedregon (Mustang)
Top Fuel Winner: Larry Dixon 4.661ET/313.95MPH
Top Fuel Runner-Up: Gary Scelzi 4.727ET/313.95MPH
Chevrolet Top Fuel semifinalist: Larry Dixon
Top Fuel Top Qualifier: Gary Scelzi 4.576ET/322.58MPH
Top Fuel Top 10: 1. Mike Dunn 2. Larry Dixon 3. Kenny Bernstein 4. Doug Kalitta 5. Darrell Russell 6. Gary Scelzi 7. Tony Schumacher 8. Doug Herbert 9. Andrew Cowin 10. David Grubnic