NHRA Tire Kingdom Gatornationals (Gainesville FL) – Mar. 10-13th, 2011


By:  Michael Padian

Worsham Becomes 15th Driver to Win in both Top Fuel & Funny Car Classes…

Del Worsham became the 15th driver in NHRA history to win races in Top Fuel and Funny Car when he defeated seven-time champion Tony Schumacher in the Top Fuel final round of the 42nd annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

 The other winners at the second of 22 races in NHRA’s 60th anniversary season were Mike Neff (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Worsham was four-thousandths slower (.044 to .040) on the tree in his Al-Anabi dragster and eight-thousands quicker (3.858 to 3.866) on the track for a finish-line winning margin of an almost imperceptible .004. It was the first win in Top Fuel for Worsham after compiling 25 wins in a Funny Car career that dates to 1990.

Del Worsham's transition from FC to TF was quick


 “It feels great (to have won in both classes). I actually had a chance at the U.S. Nationals in 1993, could have won in Top Fuel, and I made a huge mistake, red light against Kenny Bernstein, and he went on to win. I felt bad about that and it’s kind of weighed on me for 20 years…” Worsham said half seriously.

 “It is almost surreal, I’m driving (2010 Top Fuel champion and teammate) Larry (Dixon)’s car from last year, it won 12 races last year, now it’s won 13. It shouldn’t surprise anyone (that it’s back in the winner’s circle but) it surprises me,” he said.

Also on Sunday, 2004 NASCAR champion Kurt Busch made his first NHRA Full Throttle Series start in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class and he acquitted himself well in his Shell Dodge Avenger, losing by less than a car length (.031 seconds) in the first round to seventh-year pro Erica Enders, the subject of the Disney original movie Right on Track.

NASCAR's Kurt Busch made his first NHRA Pro Stock start

 “It was the best graph we’ve put together in all of our testing, in all of our rounds here in Gainesville – we hit all the shift marks,” said Busch, who was pleased overall with his performance. “We just came up short.”

Busch trailed at the start with a .049 reaction time to Enders’ .021 and that was essentially the difference in the race as his elapsed time of 6.541 seconds was all but a dead heat with Enders’ 6.538 in her ZaZa Energy Chevy Cobalt.

“What’s amazing is (the difference in the race is) just three-hundredths of a second; in this game of drag racing, that puts you back on the trailer,” said Busch, who will return to his full-time Sprint Cup duties next weekend in Bristol. “This is a tough sport, I have much more respect after showing up here in Gainesville and doing all of the test runs. I wish I had more time to do NHRA racing, this is a lot of fun.”

In Funny Car, Cruz Pedregon (7.819, 99.32) spun the tires on his Snap-on Tools Toyota at the hit of the throttle and was no match for Neff (4.092, 310.48), whose Castrol GTX Ford Mustang was the best performing car in the class all day.

“Just a great day for our whole team. We needed this to keep the Force string going, that’s four in a row for Team Force,” said Neff, who’s in John Force’s car that won the 2010 championship. “The hardest part is just trying not to mess it up as a driver.”

Mike Neff's Castrol/JFR Mustang was dominate while winning in fuel FC.

In Pro Stock, Line (6.554, 211.96) defeated Summit Racing teammate Greg Anderson (6.545, 212.43) to win his second straight to open the 2011 season and second straight at Gainesville.

“It was, almost, a perfect weekend: — we could have got the record,” Line said.

It was all Summit Racing in the Pro Stock final round. 

It was all Summit Racing in the Pro Stock final

 The national record, which Line missed the record by two-thousandths and Anderson missed it by a thousandth, went to Rodger Brogdon with a 6.495 from Friday qualifying.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Karen Stoffer red-lighted to hand the event title to Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson rider Krawiec, who nonetheless ran a near-perfect 6.847 at 197.08. The win came on a blistering quick track on which Hector Arana set the national record for elapsed time (6.777) and Krawiec set the national record for speed (199.26).

Hector Arana reset the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle record to an astounding 6.777 secs!

“Gainesville, when you come here, you know you’re going to go fast,” said Krawiec, who won his second straight Gatornationals. “This track had some killer, some killer conditions, it was meant to go fast.”

 Qatar’s Balooshi Runs Table in Pro Mod

 Khalid Balooshi ran the table at the opening race of the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Series, following up his No. 1 qualifier award with the race win.

 Balooshi, from Doha, Qatar, defeated 2010 Series runner-up Danny Rowe by 13-thousandths of a second in the final round, 5.912 (with .074 RT) to 5.943 (with .056 RT).

Pro Mod winner - Khalid Balooshi

 Balooshi, who drives a ’68 Camaro, defeated Mike Knowles, Brad Personett, and Kenny Lang – last year’s winner at this event – before finishing off Rowe to open the second season of the Get Screened America Pro Mod Series with the victory.

He will also leave with a 22-point lead over Rowe, 34 over Rickie Smith and 36 over Lang.

 The NHRA series continues April 1-3 at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

(Photos by:  Bruce Biegler & Steve Embling)

To view DragRaceCanada’s extensive event Photo Gallery clickHERE      


TOP FUEL Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Del Worsham 3.858 318.99 26th
R/UP: Tony Schumacher 3.866 318.39  
Low ET: Tony Schumacher 3.814    
Top Speed: Tony Schumacher   325.45  
Bump Spot:        
FUNNY CAR Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Mike Neff 4.092 310.48 2nd
R/UP: Cruz Pedregon 7.819  99.32  
Low ET: Matt Hagan 4.030    
Top Speed: Mike Neff   312.71  
Bump Spot:   4.184    
PRO STOCK Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Jason Line 6.554 211.96 23rd
R/UP: Greg Anderson 6.545 212.43  
Low ET: Roger Brogdon 6.495    
Top Speed: Erica Enders   213.57  
Bump Spot:   6.587    
Winner: Eddie Krawiec 6.847 197.08 8th
R/UP: Karen Stoffer 6.949 193.27  
Low ET: Hector Arana 6.777   **
Top Speed: Eddie Krawiec   199.26  
Bump Spot:        
** National Record        
Winner: Khalid Balooshi 5.912 240.51 1st
R/UP: Danny Rowe 5.943 246.21  
Low ET: Roger Burgess 5.843    
Top Speed: Brad Personett   255.19  
Bump Spot:   6.042    
LUCAS OIL        
Sportsman Winners: Name ET MPH  
Top Alcohol Dragster Chris Demke 5.294 267.22  
Top Alcohol Funny Car Mickey Ferro 5.570 258.86  
Competition Sal Biondo 8.157 160.10  
Super Stock Peter Biondo 9.758 133.04  
Stock Russell Linke 10.63 119.97  
Super Comp Tom Dauber 8.900 156.66  
Super Gas Jason Lynch 9.922 150.73