Tate Branch Baytown notes

Branch wins sixth straight Houston divisional BAYTOWN, Texas - NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car racer Tate Branch won this past weekend's Division 4 opener at Houston Raceway Park, marking the sixth time in seven years Branch has won the event. The...

Branch wins sixth straight Houston divisional

BAYTOWN, Texas - NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car racer Tate Branch won this past weekend's Division 4 opener at Houston Raceway Park, marking the sixth time in seven years Branch has won the event. The event was the first for Branch since partnering with George and Jane Etterman and new sponsor Bar's Leaks Head Gasket Repair.

Branch, the two-time defending Division 4 Champ, has virtually owned this event for the past seven years. The only year in the past seven that Branch has not won this event was 2001 when he took a year off from racing. The Artesia, N.M., resident qualified solidly with a 5.575 second pass at 253.14 mph to occupy the No. 2 spot. In round one, he received a competition bye and soloed to a 5.636 at 254.23 mph, and then took out Steve Gasparrelli in the semifinals with a 5.611 at 255.53 mph, a career best speed.

The final set the stage for a battle with the racer Branch has battled down to the wire for the Division 4 Championship the past two years, Jackie Stidham. Branch took the holeshot and never looked back, running a 5.653 at 254.86 mph for the win.

"The whole team just couldn't be happier," said Branch. "To win again this year is just phenomenal. I'm not only happy for my guys, but happy for my new partners George and Jane Etterman. They really are good people, and we look forward to many more good outings with them. My crew chief Dave Scheelk did an excellent job of giving me a race car capable of winning all weekend. The car was very consistent, and very quick. We're on to some new things, and we're pretty pumped."

The winner's circle was an all Bar's Leaks affair as he was joined by teammate Bill Reichert, who won Top Alcohol Dragster with his Bar's Leaks A/Fuel Dragster.

"It's great to win the first time out for a new sponsor," stated Branch. "But the fact that it was an all Bar's Leaks winners circle just shows their commitment to excellence. The same goes for their products. We're glad to represent them and our associate sponsors Haulmark, Michigan Kenworth, Petrospect, InsideTopAlcohol.com, Rapid Temps, NRC Conversions, Valvoline, NGK Spark Plugs and Southwest Dairy Farmers. Hopefully we can keep this up and win a third straight championship, but there's a lot of racing yet to do."

The next race for the Bar's Leaks team will be in two weeks at Memphis Motorsports Park for race two of the Division 4 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.

-ber-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tate Branch , Bill Reichert