Post-Race Report Event 03: NHRA Gatornationals Gainesville Raceway Gainesville, Fla. March 17-19

Doug Kalitta

Doug Kalitta 

Kalitta advances to the semis

Race Recap: After a quick end to his Arizona Nationals, Kalitta was hoping for a big rebound in Gainesville.

He succeeded in qualifying by earning two bonus points and running a 3.6 second pass for the third consecutive race to start the season. He just missed out on his first no.1 qualifier of the season as the Mac Tools driver was seeded in the second spot.

First up was Ike Maier. Maier was making his first start of the season and the Mac Tools team was focused on running strong. They did just that by running the low elapsed time of the first session to give Kalitta lane choice over the points leader, Leah Pritchett, in the second round.

Billed as the marquee match-up, they were the last pair to see the track in the second round. Kalitta moved first in the Mac Tools dragster and took that advantage to the stripe defeating Pritchett on the holeshot for her first round loss of the season.

In the semi-finals, Kalitta’s Mac Tools Toyota again got the advantage early, but the defending champion Antron Brown was able to get by before the finish line ending Kalitta’s day in the semi-finals.

Qualified: No. 2 (3.698 sec., 328.78 mph)

E1: Kalitta defeated Maier – 3.706 sec., 328.70 mph to 3.929 sec., 289.69 mph

E2: Kalitta defeated Pritchett – 3.754 sec., 325.14 mph to 3.738 sec., 323.97 mph

E3: Kalitta defeated by Brown – 3.738 sec., 327.03 mph to 3.719 sec., 326.24 mph

Quotable: “Solid day for this Mac Tools team. Wanted the win, but today was not our day. I am confident in our set-up, and I am excited to get back on track in Vegas and try to pick up the trophy there.”

Point Standings: Fourth (-80); trails Antron Brown by 23 points for third; leads Steve Torrence by 30 for sixth

Troy Coughlin 

Coughlin Jr. has tough end to Gatornationals debut

Race Recap: Coughlin Jr.’s weekend started on the top of the pile as the driver of the SealMaster Toyota claimed three bonus points as he led the first session of Gatornationals qualifying. He would go on to earn two more bonus points and earn the sixth starting spot for the third consecutive race to start his nitro career.

The SealMaster Toyota driver would face Pat Dakin for the first time in the opening round. Dakin went early yielding the win light to Coughlin Jr., who tore down the track in 3.724 seconds.

Next up was the reigning Top Fuel champion Antron Brown. Coughlin left with Brown and was ahead before the SealMaster machine made a big move forcing Coughlin Jr. off of the throttle. The car would make minor contact with the wall, but Coughlin Jr. was okay.

Qualified: No. 6 (3.738 sec., 328.86 mph)

E1: Coughlin Jr. defeated Dakin – 3.724 sec., 322.42 mph to Foul

E2: Coughlin Jr. defeated by Brown – DQ to 3.787 sec., 321.42 mph

Quotable: “It was a pretty decent weekend. I am getting more laps; I am uncovering things that I haven’t experienced yet, so I am learning. We had a great first run in the SealMaster Toyota. Took on Antron, the former champ, in the second. Felt optimistic about it, was trying to go a .72 or a .73. We had the lead at the eighth mile, and then the car made a large move to the left and went over and tagged the guardrail. The SealMaster Toyota has a little mark on it, but we will buff it out.”

Point Standings: Seventh (-157); trails Steve Torrence by 42 points for sixth, leads Shawn Reed by seven points for eighth

JR Todd 

Solid qualifying effort for Todd derailed by mechanical issue

Race Recap: After earning his second Funny Car round win in Phoenix, Todd and the DHL team were focused on going even further in the season’s third race.

Co-crew chiefs Jon Oberhofer and Todd Smith tuned Todd to another career-best pass in the second session on Friday with a 3.871 second pass at over 332MPH. That pass earned Todd his second straight top half start. His first round opponent was first-time competitor Jonnie Lindberg.

Todd would get the jump at the tree, but the DHL Toyota suffered immediate tire smoke due to another mechanical woe. This time, they blew a o-ring in the cannon pressure line, which allowed clutch to engage way before the tune-up dictated. Todd attempted to pedal the machine to catch Lindberg, however, it was not enough as Lindberg was able to achieve his first round win.

Qualified: No. 7 (3.871 sec., 332.51 mph) **CAREER-BEST ET & MPH**

E1: Todd defeated by Lindberg – 10.000 sec., 74.70 mph to 4.735 sec., 187.05 mph

Quotable: “Tough way to end the weekend, especially when it is mechanical woes again. This DHL Camry has a gremlin that I know these guys will get a hold of here, but it is never fun to be out early. We will make a couple laps tomorrow and then get ready for Vegas.”

Point Standings: Ninth (-170); trails Jack Beckman by six points for eighth; leads Tim Wilkerson by 21 points for 10th

Alexis DeJoria 

DeJoria suffers tough first round loss

Race Recap: DeJoria and the Tequila Patrón team was solid throughout qualifying. The Tommy DeLago and Nicky Boninfante-tuned Toyota Camry was the only Funny Car to make four sub-four second passes. Her best, a 3.928, earned her the 11th starting spot.

Her first foe was reigning champion Ron Capps. DeJoria left the starting line first, and ran another good pass but Capps was just able to drive around her before the finish line.

Qualified: No. 11 (3.928 sec., 327.98 mph)

E1: DeJoria defeated by Capps – 3.925 sec., 328.46 mph to 3.895 sec., 330.96 mph

Point Standings: 12th (-207); trails Del Worsham by 15 points for 11th, leads Cruz Pedregon by six points for 13th