Pontiac Doubles Up at Gatornationals With Wins in Pro Stock and Funny Car GAINESVILLE, Fla., March 21, 2004 - Pontiac delivered a "one-two" punch to the competition when Greg Anderson in his Grand Am and Del Worsham in a Firebird captured NHRA...
Pontiac Doubles Up at Gatornationals With Wins in Pro Stock and Funny Car
GAINESVILLE, Fla., March 21, 2004 - Pontiac delivered a "one-two" punch to the competition when Greg Anderson in his Grand Am and Del Worsham in a Firebird captured NHRA Pro Stock and Funny Car titles, respectively, in today's Final Eliminations at the 35th annual Mac Tools Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. Anderson matched his season-opening win at Pomona (Calif.), and the 2003 NHRA POWERade champion leads the Pro Stock standings over Chevy Cavalier driver Kurt Johnson. Worsham made it back-to-back wins in Funny Car, matching his win two weeks ago at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix, and the California native also leaves Gainesville Raceway as the Funny Car points leader.
Anderson came into today's eliminator qualified in the No. 1 position, capturing his third pole of the year and extending his streak of capturing the top spot in Pro Stock qualifying to eight consecutive races dating back to last year. He defeated Steve Schmidt in round one, nine-time Gatornationals champ Warren Johnson in round two, and Rickie Smith in round three before facing off against Jeg Coughlin in the finals.
In the championship heat, Anderson matched the always-tough Coughlin in reaction time and his Vegas Construction Pontiac powered to a winning run of 6.742 seconds at 204.91 mph. Coughlin's Chevy Cavalier had a final-round pass of 6.790 seconds at 204.08 mph.
"This track just seems to suit Pro Stock perfectly and we love coming down here," said Anderson. "It's always smooth, it's always fast, and you can put every bit of power to the track, and that's what we did today. I was a little worried going up against Jeggy (Coughlin) in the finals. He had kind of been cutting everybody on the tree all day long and I had been a little slack, but I got the light and I got away from him."
Jim Yates drove his SeaRay Pontiac Grand Am to the Pro Stock semifinals from the 15th qualifying position, defeating Larry Morgan in a Dodge in round one and Kurt Johnson's ACDelco Chevy Cavalier in round two, both on holeshots, before losing to Jeg Coughlin in a Chevy Cavalier in the semifinals.
"I'm excited about how the program's working right now," said Yates. "We were just a little down on power today. We changed some thing's yesterday and the car wasn't as fast as it should've been, but it was consistent every run and it's getting down the track where other cars were shaking and spinning. I'll take what we got. We gained some rounds and got back in the top 10, and that's where we ended last year and where we're going to start this year right away."
Worsham qualified his Pontiac Firebird Funny Car in the No. 11 position and defeated Gary Densham's Ford in round one, Jerry Toliver's Toyota in round two and Cory Lee's Pontiac Firebird in the semifinals before squaring off with 12-time NHRA POWERade champ John Force. In the championship round, Worsham's CSK Firebird took the win light with a 4.979 e.t. at 296.05 mph to Force's quicker 4.977 e.t. at 304.36 mph. Worsham's .063 reaction time to Force's .083 was enough to make the difference. Team CSK will debut a new Chevy Monte Carlo at the next NHRA POWERade race at Las Vegas.
"Any time you beat John Force, even in qualifying, you get excited," said Worsham. "His record just proves how great he is. So to beat him here in the finals of the Gatornationals is a big deal to my dad, and myself and the entire organization. I kind of feel bad about the old Pontiac - it's been good so good to me, but they tell me the Monte Carlo's even better, so we'll see."
Tim Wilkerson claimed the No. 1 qualifying position in Funny Car in his first time out with the new Chevy Monte Carlo, and he had an added challenge in defeating Cruz Pedregon in round two when his parachute deployed as he launched from the starting line. He eventually lost to John Force in the semis by a scant .005 seconds.
"We tried our best," said Wilkerson. "The Monte Carlo did us well I think. Looks like it's going to be a good body. We know what it does when it drags a parachute for a thousand feet anyway. Things are looking okay. We lost to John (Force) on a holeshot, and we're going to put that behind us and go to Vegas, and maybe next time we can do a little better."