The VIPsports.com TAFC 2006 Season Is Underway-- Milford, Michigan. The March 17-19 37th Annual NHRA Gatornationals, in Gainesville, Florida, marked the beginning of what is expected to be a successful season for the VIPsports.com Dodge Stratus...
The VIPsports.com TAFC 2006 Season Is Underway--
Milford, Michigan. The March 17-19 37th Annual NHRA Gatornationals, in Gainesville, Florida, marked the beginning of what is expected to be a successful season for the VIPsports.com Dodge Stratus Top Alcohol Funny Car.
After being in a winter-long mechanically induced coma, for surgery, the Mopar Hemi engine was brought back to life by Driver Danny Townsend, of Muncie, Indiana. Townsend smacked the throttle, in the first round of qualifying, but the car was still a bit woozy from its long sleep. Startled by its own blast of new-found horsepower, the car drifted towards the center line, forcing Townsend to back off.
Back in the pits, Frank Parker, team owner, noted that the run was not as bad as it might have seemed. "We came here with a plan, based on what we learned last year and the changes to the car since then. We analyze each run, compare the results to our winter development data and take only small steps in the indicated direction." The plan worked, as each successive run was better than the previous one. Townsend qualified the VIPsports.com car in the eleventh spot, with a 5.739 elapsed time at 252.24 miles per hour.
In the first round of eliminations, Parker's plan improved the car's e.t. to 5.714, with only a slight drop to 250.76, which defeated the Camaro of Mickey Ferro. While waiting to stage for that run, the track announcer provided fans an impromptu run-down on VIPsports.com and their relationship with the ParkerTech crew. On Sunday, the VIPsports.com crew went up against Cy Chesterman's Monte Carlo. Chesterman got a .005 jump, off the line, but one of Parker's "small steps" allowed Townsend to start reeling him in. Unfortunately, just before the traps, a pushrod failed in the Dodge Stratus and Townsend just missed the catch. Chesterman turned a 5.634 time, at 252.59 mph, against Townsend's slightly wounded 5.662 and 252.95.
Parker acknowledged crewman Brad Eldred and his brother, Jeff, the newest member of the team, for their efforts. "Brad and Jeff are a team unto themselves," said Parker. "They work well together and with the rest of us. Being able to bring them together, thanks to VIPsports.com, frees up my co-chief (father Dan Parker) to run the data acquisition and they take a bit of the wrenching load off me." Tom Krebaum, Tom McVey and Nancy McVey make up the rest of the trackside crew. The team now has its sights on the next race, a Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event at Bradenton, Florida, March 24-26.
Sportsman action from the 37th Annual AC Delco NHRA Gatornationals can be viewed on ESPN2 on April 1, 7 -- 8 pm (est) and April 9, 2 -- 3 am (est).