BAYTOWN TX - SUMMIT FastNews - Final eliminations in the 12th annual O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil brought one new, smiling face to the winners' circle to join three others making repeat visits. ...
BAYTOWN TX - SUMMIT FastNews - Final eliminations in the 12th annual O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil brought one new, smiling face to the winners' circle to join three others making repeat visits. The new face was that of Doug Herbert, grinning widely because he not only won the event's Top Fuel category, he also won the $100,000 Winston "No-Bull" bonus in his Snap-On Tools Dragster. PIcked by random draw among the 32 Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers during the pre-race ceremonies, Herbert was going for the bonus for the second event in a row, losing in the final round at Gainesville by a little over a foot. Herbert faced another "new face" in the final round, Tony Schumacher in the Exide Batteries Dragster. Schumacher gained a lot of attention when he ran the sport's first-ever 330-MPH speed at the Checker-Schucks-Kragen Nationals and has been picked by many as one of the sport's rising stars. Both drivers advanced to the final round on the strength of relatively conservative performance while those who challenged the track went up in smoke and fell by the wayside. In the final round, Schumacher was too aggressive and lost traction, while Herbert's wiley crew chief, Dick Lahaie, once again chose the conservative route and Herbert's 4.657-second, 309.56 MPH effort was more than enough to win both prizes. In Funny car, points leader John Force won his third consecutive national event of the year in his Castrol GTX Mustang, facing teammate Tony Pedregon in the final stanza. Force posted a 4.878-second, 307.02 MPH run while Pedregon's Castrol Syntec Mustang lost traction and slowed. During the semifinal round of eliminations Force lowered his own national elapsed time record to 4.788 seconds. In Pro Stock, points leader Kurt Johnson, in the AC Delco Camaro, defeated Mike Edwards, in the Dewco Camaro, in a very close race. Johnson's 6.969-second, 199.14 MPH effort got him to the finish line about 1.5 feet ahead of Edward's 7.009 at 197.77, Edwards' quicker reaction time at the green light making the race much closer than the performance numbers suggest.
The win was Johnson's second in 1999, the other coming at the Checker-Schucks-Kragen Nationals. In Pro Stock Truck, points leader Mark Osborne won his second event in a row in the RCL Components S-10, defeating Bob Panella, Jr., in the Panella Trucking S-10 in the final round. Osborne's 7.647-second, 176.01 MPH clocking was enough to provide a half-truck margin over Panella's 7.681 at 175.32.
Panella's runner-up finish moved him up to third in the points. In other final rounds: Darren Nicholson, Laguna Hills, CA, defeated Darryl Hitchman, Hanford, Ca, in Federal-Mogul Dragster; Tony Bartone, Manhasset, NY, defeated Pat Austin, Tacoma, WA, in Federal-Mogul Funny Car; Maryann Austin, Lowell, AR, defeated David Rampy, Piedmont, AL, in Competition Eliminator; Jimmy DeFrank, Tarzana, CA, defeated Vic Penrod, Walters, OK, in Super Stock; Steven Hall, Sweeny, TX, was unopposed in the final round when his scheduled opponent broke and was unable to run in the semifinals; Brian Folk, Durand, IL, defeated Jerry Mungle, Pasadena, TX, in Super Comp; Bart Nelson, Pasadena, TX, defeated Gary Risk, Lancaster, TX, in Super Gas. An estimated crowd of 104,000 attended during the four days of the event. The next NHRA national event is the Castrol Nationals presented by O'Reilly at the Texas Motorplex, Ennis, TX, April 22 - 25. Results provided by the FastNews Network, courtesy of Summit Racing Equipment ** http://www.summitracing.com/ **