Gainesville EVENT RECAP

GAINESVILLE FL - SUMMIT FastNews - Final eliminations at the 30th annual Mac Tools Gatornationals started out in the worst-possible way, rain bringing things to a halt 10 minutes before the first pair of Top Fuel dragsters was scheduled to...

GAINESVILLE FL - SUMMIT FastNews - Final eliminations at the 30th annual Mac Tools Gatornationals started out in the worst-possible way, rain bringing things to a halt 10 minutes before the first pair of Top Fuel dragsters was scheduled to run, but by day's end the capacity crowd had witnessed record-breaking, close competition in all the competition categories. Rain delayed the start of eliminations by about an hour, but by then the weather conditions were almost perfect and the race teams took advantage of the conditions. Eight of ten national records (elapsed time and speed in the five Professional categories) were reset during eliminations. The only category escaping the blitzkrieg attack on records was Top Fuel, where Winston points leader Mike Dunn marched through eliminations in Darrell Gwynn's Team Mopar dragster with four runs in the 4.50s, meeting Doug Herbert in the final round. Herbert, driving the Snap-On Tools dragster crew-chiefed by Dick LaHaie, showed surprising strength and consistency through all four rounds of eliminations and their final round race was a fitting conclusion to the event. Dunn's 4.550-second, 319.98 mph effort got him to the finish line just 0.015 seconds ahead of Herbert's 4.563 at 318.62 mph. Winston points leader John Force dominated Funny Car eliminations in the Castrol GTX Mustang, making four runs in the low 4.80s or better and resetting both ends of the national record in the process. Force reset the national elapsed time record to 4.799 seconds in the first round of eliminations and the national speed mark to 324.05 mph in the semifinals. In the finals Force met Cory Lee, driver of the Pioneer Electronics Avenger. Force went on to victory with an elapsed time of 4.819 seconds at 311.92 mph, while Lee smoked the tires and slowed. Though Force reset the national records, the honor of making the quickest Funny Car run in history went to Force's teammate, Tony Pedregon, clocked at 4.779 seconds in the opening round of eliminations. Pedregon lost to his brother Frank in the second round and failed to make the required backup run to establish his elapsed time as a national record. In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson piloted his GM Goodwrench Service Plus Firebird to a national-record elapsed time of 6.866 seconds and a national record speed of 201.37 mph in the second round of eliminations. In the finals he faced son Kurt, in the AC Delco Camaro. The two left as one, but then Kurt's car slipped to the right, out of the groove, and he had to slow while Warren went on to win at 6.971 seconds and 199.37 mph. As the number-one qualifier, Warren earned maximum points for winning the event and setting a national ET record, moving up to third in the Winston points. Points-leader Kurt retained the number-one position by making it to the finals. In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Angelle Seeling drove the Team Winston Suzuki to a national record elapsed time of 7.212 seconds in the second round of eliminations. She faced John Smith, on the Anoka-Ramsey Racing Suzuki, in the final round. Smith reset the national speed mark to 192.22 mph in the semifinals and gave Seeling a very close race in the finals, leaving the starting line well before Seeling. However, Seeling's 7.224 at 185.79 was enough to edge out Smith's 7.269 at 189.18 for a narrow victory. In Pro Stock Truck, Mark Osborne, in the RCL Components S-10, took home both the national elapsed time record and the event win, posting an elapsed time of 7.529 seconds in the semifinals to set the national record. He faced Todd Patterson, in the Team Mopar Dakota, in the final round, prevailing with marks of 7.535 and 177.60 to Patterson's 7.594 at 175.50. Brad Jeter captured the speed mark, posting a speed of 179.09 mph in a losing effort against Osborne in the semifinals. A record crowd of 132,500 witnessed the four-day event. The next event on the $40-million, 22-event NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series is the O'Reilly Nationals in Houston Texas, April 8-11.

Results provided by the FastNews Network, courtesy of Summit Racing Equipment ** http://www.summitracing.com/ **

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Mike Dunn , Brad Jeter , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , John Force , Dick LaHaie , Cory Lee