Leah Pritchett departs Gainesville sitting second in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship Top Fuel rankings
DSR Dodge Hellcats occupy three of the top five spots in the Funny Car point standings with Jack Beckman leading the way in second
Beckman powered to a semifinal finish
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 5 (3.726 E.T. at 330.23 MPH)
Johnson Drives Dodge//SRT and Mopar to No. 3 Position in Funny Car Qualifying at NHRA Gatornationals
Gainesville, FL – Tommy Johnson, Jr. is the fastest of six Mopar-powered Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car drivers qualified for Sunday’s elimination rounds at the 50th Annual NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville (Florida) Raceway.
Johnson, who made his first professional run at Gainesville in 1984, earned the provisional No. 1 qualifying position Saturday afternoon with his lap of 3.896 seconds at 324.75 mph in the Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Make-A-Wish machine, earning three bonus points. In the final qualifying session, Johnson was hoping to back up his earlier run and regain the No. 1 position, but an explosion halfway through his run resulted in the body flying off and the racecar slowing to a run of 4.385/182.92.
Johnson walked away from the scene and his DSR team will go to work to rebuild his Funny Car in order to chase history Sunday from the third starting spot. He’ll be joined in Sunday’s field by fellow DSR and Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car drivers Matt Hagan, Jack Beckman and Ron Capps as well as fellow Mopar-powered competitors Cruz Pedregon and Jim Campbell.
GAINESVILLE, FL — Both Robert Hight and Brittany Force made history Saturday night when they secured their No. 1 qualifying positions at the Amalie Motor Oil 50th NHRA Gatornationals. Hight became the first racer to collect three consecutive No. 1 qualifiers in the first three races of the season since Kenny Bernstein in 1987. Force set the Gainesville Raceway track elapsed time record and became the first woman since Shirley Muldowney, 40 years ago, to qualify No. 1 at the Gatornationals. Their teammates John Force and Austin Prock, are starting race day from the No. 4 and No. 10 positions, respectively.
Hight started the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season with the same fire he finished 2018 after falling short of a second consecutive championship in the last race day of the year. Coming into the season opening Winternationals, Hight nabbed the No. 1 qualifier and was unstoppable on race day where he collected his 46th career victory. In Phoenix it seemed he would repeat his performance with a No. 1 qualifier but finished the weekend in the semifinals.
“It goes back, for my team, to the last day of the season last year where we had the chance to win a championship. We didn’t get it done and that didn’t set well with my team over the winter. They worked really hard in getting this thing prepared and figuring out what our weaknesses were. So far, we’ve been quick everywhere we’ve been. At testing, in Pomona and Phoenix, and now at Gainesville. It’s pretty impressive but it’s not by a lot though.”
GAINESVILLE, FL – For the third consecutive race, Scott Palmer and his Magic Dry Organic Absorbent Top Fuel team have secured the No. 8 position in the elimination field, this time at the 50th anniversary Amalie Oil Gatornationals at historic Gainesville Raceway.
Taking advantage of Saturday’s cooler temperatures, Palmer peeled off a steady 3.750-second pass at 326.56 mph in the third qualifying session to earn his spot. His best from Friday, when it was much hotter and more humid, was a 3.812 at 319.90 mph.
“The good thing was this Magic Dry car went down the track in both conditions, hot yesterday and cooler today,” Palmer said. “We tried to improve in Q4 but broke a clutch lever, which I’m going to look at as some early race day luck maybe because if it didn’t happen there it probably would have been in E1.
Gainesville, FL – DSR Gainesville Saturday Highlights: The DSR Top Fuel dragsters will start race day at the 50th running of the NHRA Gatornationals seeded in the top five – The four-car DSR Funny Car squad qualified in the top-half of the field with Tommy Johnson Jr. leading the way in third – Both Antron Brown and Leah Pritchett made top three runs in Q3 to earn bonus points – Johnson powered to the quickest run of Q3 and earned three bonus points – Matt Hagan banked a point when he clocked the third quickest pass of the final Funny Car qualifying session
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 5 (lane choice)
The Competition: No. 12 Richie Crampton
Q1: 4.010 E.T. at 246.30 MPH
Q2: 4.743 E.T. at 156.21 MPH
Q3: 3.726 E.T. at 330.23 MPH (One bonus point for third quickest run of the session)
Q4: 3.728 E.T. at 328.30 MPH
Bonus Points: One
GAINESVILLE, FL –Antron Brown qualified fifth in Top Fuel to lead Toyota in front of a sell-out crowd Saturday in preparation for Sunday’s 50th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.
Brown jumped up to third on his first run on Saturday, earning one bonus point with a 3.726 run. He then followed up with a 3.728-second pass in round four to finish fifth. He’s now qualified in the top five in each of the season’s first three races.
“We struggled a little bit on Friday, but we had two good back-to-back runs today, although, we would have liked to have run a little better in the last run,” said Brown, a three-time Top Fuel world champion. “The track was really good today and it’s going to be good tomorrow. We’re just going to push hard and see what we can do. Our Matco Tools Toyota boys are doing a good job and I think we’re in a good position for Sunday.”
GAINESVILLE, FL – Fresh off a thrilling victory at the last NHRA tour stop in Phoenix, Jeg Coughlin Jr. is bullish on his chances to repeat the feat with his brand-new RJ Racecars-built Camaro at this weekend’s 50th anniversary Amalie Oil Gatornationals.
Coughlin made his quickest and fastest pass of the young season in Saturday’s third of four qualifying passes, posting a 6.514 at 211.89 mph in his JEGS.com machine. The run slotted him in the No. 6 position on the elimination grid, setting up a first-round date with Kenny Delco (6.538 at 211.89 mph).
“We made four very respectable runs in this brand-new car so we’re pretty happy,” said Coughlin, who debuted a new car this race. “We don’t have everything perfect just yet, as evidenced by what we’ve done so far, but the car’s real comfortable and we are gathering a ton of data every run.
“It helps that Erica (Enders, teammate) started the year with the same chassis, same RJ Racecars design, so we’ve been able to learn off her car to get us up to speed. Rickie (Jones, crew chief) has just been trying to peck away a little bit at a time. We definitely are making progress and we are looking to make some more tomorrow on game day.”