Branch wins in Houston for the seventh time in eight years BAYTOWN, Texas - The word dominance comes to mind when describing NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car driver Tate Branch's track record at the Division 4 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series season...
Branch wins in Houston for the seventh time in eight years
BAYTOWN, Texas - The word dominance comes to mind when describing NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car driver Tate Branch's track record at the Division 4 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series season opener at Houston Raceway Park. This past weekend, Branch drove his Bar's Leaks Repair It/Branch-Etterman Racing Camaro to the winner's circle for an incredible seventh time in eight years. What makes the feat more remarkable is that the only time in those eight years he has not won the event was in 2001 when he did not compete.
Branch, from Artesia, N.M., qualified the Bar's Leaks Repair It Camaro second in the eight-car field with a 5.798 second pass at 230.96 mph. In round one he received a competition bye when his scheduled opponent Ron Morrison could not make the call, yet stayed the picture of consistency with a 5.791 at 251.58 mph to set low e.t. of the round. In the semifinals, Branch took out Steve Burck with another 5.798 at 252.10 mph.
Branch's final round opponent would be the up-and-coming Richard McClain, who made two finals in his rookie year last season. McClain made the final from the No. 1 qualifying position, but would red-light away his chance at victory, giving Branch the automatic win. Branch still maintained his bracket-like consistency with a 5.788 at 251.34 mph to take the win.
"A lot of people have said a lot of things about us winning here so much," said Branch. "I think luck has more to do with it than being good. We really didn't set the world on fire with performance, but we decided to run our own race and get the car down the track. On our first qualifier, it was really on a pass that should have been a low 5.60, but a fuel line came loose and it knocked the burst panels out of it. Every other run it was wanting to knock the tires loose at the top of low gear, and I was having to short shift it to get it out of it. Going into the final, we knew McClain's crew chief Byron Simpson was going to hop it up against us, but we just stuck with our guns and ran our own race. I can't say enough about the race car that my partners George and Jane Etterman, crew chief Dave Scheelk, my brother Bobby, Danny and Dickie give me when I go to the line."
"It's great to start the season off with a win," Branch continued. "We're going out to Gainesville for the Gatornationals, which will be the first time for several of us on the team, so we're pumped about going out there coming fresh off a win. One of our sponsors PetroSpect is also based out of Houston, so it's always great to win one in their back yard."
From Houston, the Bar's Leaks Repair It/Branch-Etterman team will head east for this coming weekend's Mac Tools Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.