This hallowed quarter-mile has entertained spring-break-loving fans for decades with such notable occasions as the first 260-mph Top Fuel and Funny Car runs in 1984 and the first 270-mph and 300-mph Top Fuel passes, in 1986 and 1992, respectively. Its 675-foot concrete launchpad is one of the longest on the tour.






schumacherDSA_3721.JPGCapps, Anderson and Stoffer also score victories at historic Gainesville Raceway

 Teammates Tony Schumacher and Ron Capps pulled off a double victory for team owner Don Schumacher by sweeping the Top Fuel and Funny Car categories Sunday at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals at historic Gainesville Raceway.

The veterans were joined in the winner's cirlce by Greg Anderson and Karen Stoffer in their respective categories at the third of 23 events in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.

Schumacher's victory over Larry Dixon moved him ahead of "Big Daddy" Don Garlits on the all-time Top Fuel wins list and into second place in the series standings. The engine on Schumacher's U.S. Army dragster was in pieces when he reached the other end of the track but it held together just long enough for him to get the win over Dixon's SkyTel dragster, which ran a competitive 4.582 at 321.65 mph against Schumacher's 4.542 at 325.14 mph.

 "It's unbelievable to hear anything that you've done compared to Don Garlits but the cappsDSA_3705.JPGreality is he raced in a different era with a lot less races so it doesn’t even compare," said Schumacher of his 36th career victory and second at this track. "Maybe the number of wins I have is more but I don't think I'm better than him by any stretch. Like I said, he raced in a different point in time and he was 'the Man' back then."

Schumacher's victory cut Rod Fuller's series lead to 39 points.

More than three decades after crew chief Ed "the Ace" McCulloch won this historic race for the first time, Capps came back and successfully defended his Gatornationals title by ruining the fairytale finish part-timer Phil Burkart Jr. was hoping for. Capps' Brut Revolution Dodge Charger R/T was just too much for Burkart, cranking out a 4.773 at 323.27 mph to take the trophy. Burkart came through in 4.876 at 316.75 mph in his Kia FX Caprara Chevy Monte Carlo.

 "That red light from Phoenix has been in my head for three weeks and I've probably been miserable to be around," said Capps, who moved into second place, six points behind leader Robert Hight with his 23rd career victory. "I told Ace this morning I wasn't my normal self and he basically said that even if I went up there and did it again in Round 1 he'd still be behind me 100 percent. I realized I have such an incredible support system."

 After setting a national record of 6.536 seconds in Round 1, Anderson simply demoralized his competition on the day with astofferDSA_3660.JPG string of 6.5-second runs. By the time finalist Larry Morgan was 300 feet into his last run he could see all of Anderson's Summit Racing Pontiac GTO while his Lucas Oil Dodge Stratus swayed back and forth, so he pushed in the clutch and watched Anderson claim his 45th career trophy with a 6.577 at 211.06 mph.

"The numbers don't tell the story of what a struggle this race was to win," Anderson said. "This racetrack was very hard to tune to this weekend but Rob [Downing, crew chief] is the best and he got it figured out somehow and he owned it. Of course we had great horsepower too, and it all came together."

Pro Stock Motorcycle winner Stoffer barely made the elimination ladder, qualifying in the 16th and final spot. But she proved anyone in the field can win the race by downing top qualifier Angelle Sampey, Shawn Gann, Steve Johnson, and Matt Smith. Three of her four round wins came via her quicker reaction time on her Geico Suzuki. By defeating Smith's Torco Racing Fuels Buell in the final, Stoffer earned her fourth career victory and moved into the series lead for the first time in her career.

"We're in our final year with the current Geico Motorcycle contract and to start off with a win and get them in the points lead is huge," Stoffer said. "To celebrate, me and the Gecko are going out drinking tonight -- POWERade of course."

The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series continues with the 20th annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Pennzoil, March 30-April 1 at Houston Raceway Park, Baytown, Texas.




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dixonDSB_3597.JPGDixon and Hight also claim No. 1 qualifying positions at POWERade Drag Racing Series event

Greg Anderson and Angelle Sampey used world record performances to qualify on top in their respective categories in front of a standing-room only crowd Saturday at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals at historic Gainesville Raceway.

Larry Dixon and Robert Hight also earned No. 1 qualifying positions at the third of 23 events in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship. Sunday's eliminations start at 11 a.m.

Anderson posted the first Pro Stock run in excess of 210 mph when he blasted to 211.20 mph in his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO, while Sampey claimed the Pro Stock Motorcycle national record with her 6.911-second elapsed time on her U.S. Army Suzuki.

Anderson thrilled the fans with his track record 6.566 at a national record speed of 211.20 mph, but the Summit Racing Pontiac GTO pilot wasn't exactly pleased with his own performance, which netted him his 53rd career No. 1 qualifying award.

andersonDSB_3445.JPG "We're all running career-best numbers but I bet not very many of us would say we're making good runs," Anderson said. "The conditions got so good overnight it was like the horsepower fairy came by and sprinkled 50 extra horsepower on every engine. We've got no experience with that. No one does. It makes it very tough."

Anderson's teammate Jason Line, the defending POWERade Series world champ, waited until the last session to make the field with a fifth-best 6.597 at 211.03 mph. There were several notable DNQs in Pro Stock, including Phoenix winner Kurt Johnson, two-time series champ Jim Yates and defending event winner Tom Martino.

Both of Sampey's Saturday runs put 6.91s on the scoreboard in what finished as the quickest 16-bike field in NHRA history. Sampey's first run -- a 6.919 -- gave her the national record. She then lowered the mark to a 6.911 on her final attempt.

"This is a beautiful way to start the season," Sampey said of her 40th No. 1 qualifying effort, most for a female in NHRA history. "To be No. 1 in the quickest field ever with a potential national record already in the books and to have my teammate [Antron Brown] right behind me in third is awesome for us. There aren't as many Suzukis as there used to be but we're still here."

sampeyDSA_3079.JPG Two-time Top Fuel world champ Dixon powered his SkyTel dragster to a 4.510 at 331.53 to earn his 27th career No. 1 qualifying position, and first since July 2005.

"I'm absolutely thrilled for Donnie (Bender, crew chief)," Dixon said of his second-year tuner. "This is his first pole and he really earned it. The car is finally reacting to what he's doing."

Friday leader "Hot Rod" Fuller, currently leading the POWERade Series points, posted a 4.535 at 323.66 mph for second place in the starting lineup.

Brandon Bernstein failed to qualify for the Top Fuel field for the first time in his 80-race career.

Hight's effort in his Auto Club Ford Mustang, a performance of 4.686 at 331.94 mph, was the quickest and fastest Funny Car run in track history.

"We've run 4.60s at all three racetracks we've been to this year and that's exciting," Hight said. "I'm very fortunate to have such a fast racecar. It took Jimmy [Prock, crew chief] a few years to figure out Funny Cars but now he's one of the best. To see Austin Coil, the best crew chief ever, come over and ask his opinion on stuff is really cool to see."

hightDSB_4079.JPG John Force ended up 10th with a 4.802 in his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Mustang, while rookie daughter Ashley qualified 13th with a 4.822 in her Castrol GTX Mustang. Kenny Bernstein also qualified for the first time in his comeback tour, posting a 4.840 at 314.39 in his Monster/Lucas Oil Dodge Charger.


First-round pairings for professional eliminations Sunday at the 38th annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, the third of 23 events in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday.

Top Fuel -- 1. Larry Dixon, 4.510 seconds, 330.07 mph vs. 16. Doug Foley, 4.645, 297.75; 2. Rod Fuller, 4.535, 323.66 vs. 15. J.R. Todd, 4.642, 304.32; 3. Tony Schumacher, 4.541, 331.53 vs. 14. Melanie Troxel, 4.638, 288.95; 4. Whit Bazemore, 4.542, 326.24 vs. 13. Michael Gunderson, 4.635, 326.16; 5. Doug Herbert, 4.579, 316.75 vs. 12. Hillary Will, 4.634, 326.40; 6. Cory McClenathan, 4.585, 330.07 vs. 11. Doug Kalitta, 4.630, 327.03; 7. David Grubnic, 4.596, 330.88 vs. 10. Bob Vandergriff, 4.629, 321.96; 8. Morgan Lucas, 4.602, 327.90 vs. 9. Bruce Litton, 4.625, 320.81.

Funny Car -- 1. Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.686, 331.94 vs. 16. Del Worsham, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.842, 306.40; 2. Gary Scelzi, Dodge Charger, 4.754, 327.90 vs. 15. Kenny Bernstein, Charger, 4.840, 314.39; 3. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.772, 323.66 vs. 14. Tony Bartone, Monte Carlo, 4.831, 315.05; 4. Jeff Arend, Monte Carlo, 4.774, 326.87 vs. 13. Ashley Force, Mustang, 4.822, 307.09; 5. Phil Burkart, Monte Carlo, 4.786, 326.24 vs. 12. Bob Gilbertson, Dodge Stratus, 4.819, 318.69; 6. Tony Pedregon, Monte Carlo, 4.786, 323.35 vs. 11. Tommy Johnson Jr., Chevy Impala, 4.815, 321.73; 7. Eric Medlen, Mustang, 4.788, 324.20 vs. 10. John Force, Mustang, 4.802, 316.97; 8. Cruz Pedregon, Monte Carlo, 4.792, 295.21 vs. 9. Jim Head, Toyota Solara, 4.798, 322.04.

Pro Stock -- 1. Greg Anderson, Pontiac GTO, 6.566, 211.20 vs. 16. Justin Humphreys, GTO, 6.634, 208.71; 2. Larry Morgan, Dodge Stratus, 6.566, 210.31 vs. 15. Tom Hammonds, Chevy Cavalier, 6.631, 209.17; 3. Mike Edwards, GTO, 6.575, 210.18 vs. 14. Greg Stanfield, GTO, 6.628, 208.78; 4. Warren Johnson, GTO, 6.587, 209.69 vs. 13. Matt Scranton, GTO, 6.622, 208.81; 5. Jason Line, GTO, 6.597, 211.03 vs. 12. Erica Enders, Stratus, 6.610, 209.62; 6. Max Naylor, Stratus, 6.599, 209.72 vs. 11. V. Gaines, Stratus, 6.607, 209.39; 7. Dave Connolly, Chevy Cobalt, 6.600, 209.72 vs. 10. Roger Brogdon, Stratus, 6.605, 209.43; 8. Jeg Coughlin, Cobalt, 6.601, 209.43 vs. 9. Allen Johnson, Stratus, 6.602, 208.42.

Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.911, 191.65 vs. 16. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.033, 191.87; 2. Craig Treble, Suzuki, 6.930, 193.99 vs. 15. Matt Guidera, Buell, 7.029, 189.02; 3. Antron Brown, Suzuki, 6.930, 191.59 vs. 14. Tom Bradford, Buell, 7.028, 191.32; 4. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.930, 192.36 vs. 13. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.002, 193.24; 5. Chris Rivas, Buell, 6.947, 191.84 vs. 12. Peggy Llewellyn, 7.001, 189.12; 6. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.947, 192.22 vs. 11. Geno Scali, Suzuki, 6.990, 193.40; 7. Ed Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.948, 191.32 vs. 10. Paul Gast, Suzuki, 6.972, 191.13; 8. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.955, 193.10 vs. 9. Shawn Gann, Suzuki, 6.962, 193.27.


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DSA_2413.jpg Following a race in which he failed to qualify, former Funny Car world champion Cruz Pedregon raced to the top of the 16-car starting order Friday at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals.

Rod Fuller, two-time Pro Stock champ Jeg Coughlin and Chip Ellis were the leaders in their respective categories at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event at historic Gainesville Raceway.

Pedregon hired crew chief Wayne Dupuy in the offseason to make his hot rod quicker. In just three races, it appears the decision was a good one as Pedregon moved to the top position on the Funny Car ladder with a 4.792 at 295.21 mph in his Advance Auto Parts Chevy Monte Carlo.

"We came out of Phoenix with a teammate [Tony Pedregon] who won the race and set a national record so I sat down with Wayne and said, 'Let's use the knowledge those guys have gained, be true teammates with them, and share all of our info.'," Pedregon said. "Fortunately he and Dickie [Venables, Tony's crew chief] have developed a great friendship already, so it was an easy thing to do. There's some of his tune-up in that car and some of Dickie's tune-up in ours and together we're both running strong now."

DSA_2618.jpg John Force's 4.802 at 316.97 mph in his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Mustang has him comfortably in fourth place with two rounds to go. Daughter Ashley Force, a rookie driver competing in only her third race in the 7,000 horsepower category, is eighth with a 4.832 at 306.67 in her Castrol GTX Mustang. Six-time NHRA world champ Kenny Bernstein, who is returning to the cockpit after three years of retirement, is qualified 12th in his Monster/Lucas Oil Dodge Charger with a 4.910 at 306.40.

Phoenix winner and category points leader Fuller continues to prove he has the best Top Fuel car, covering the quarter-mile distance in 4.535 at 323.66 mph in his Valvoline dragster. Fuller teammate Whit Bazemore was second overall with a 4.542 in his Matco Tools dragster.

"There's no way our time will hold through tomorrow," Fuller said. "We'll see a bunch of 4.40s and hopefully Whit and I will be right there with all the other fast teams."

In Pro Stock, 34-time winner Coughlin only has eight career No. 1 qualifying awards, the last one DSB_2735.jpgcoming 53 races ago at Dallas in 2004. But he's on track to end that streak here, posting a track-record 6.632 at 207.75 mph in his Slammers Ultimate Milk/ Chevrolet Cobalt.

"It's exciting," said Coughlin. "For us to have both of our team cars at the top of the ladder is really a nice tribute to the guys back in Charlotte building our horsepower. My teammate Dave Connolly took both of our cars testing last week and I think it's really helped us both."

The quickest rider in Pro Stock Motorcycle history, Ellis opened the season strong with the two best passes of the day, a 6.956 and a 6.957 on his Drag Specialties Buell V-Twin.

"We got up this morning and wondered if we'd even get to run today," Ellis said. "But it quit raining and the NHRA did a great job prepping the track and we made two great runs. If it gets a little cooler and we get even a slight tailwind we might knock down that record."

DSA_2875.jpg Three-time series champion Angelle Sampey, the most prolific female drag racer ever, is close behind with a 6.960 at 191.87 mph on her U.S. Army Suzuki.

Qualifying continues Saturday at noon and 2:30 p.m. for Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations.

Results Friday after qualifying for the 38th annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, third of 23 events in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday's final eliminations.

Top Fuel -- 1. Rod Fuller, 4.535 seconds, 323.66 mph; 2. Whit Bazemore, 4.542, 326.24; 3. Cory McClenathan, 4.585, 330.07; 4. David Grubnic, 4.596, 328.86; 5. Morgan Lucas, 4.602, 327.90; 6. Michael Gunderson, 4.635, 326.16; 7. Doug Herbert, 4.641, 311.99; 8. J.R. Todd, 4.642, 304.32; 9. Bruce Litton, 4.678, 319.90; 10. Larry Dixon, 4.697, 314.75; 11. Hillary Will, 4.873, 240.85; 12. Doug Kalitta, 5.758, 165.25; 13. Tony Schumacher, 5.995, 154.69; 14. Clay Millican, 6.299, 137.39; 15. Melanie Troxel, 7.254, 105.49; 16. Bob Vandergriff, 8.326, 88.76.

Funny Car -- 1. Cruz Pedregon, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.792, 295.21; 2. Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.793, 318.84; 3. Gary Scelzi, Dodge Charger, 4.795, 319.90; 4. John Force, Mustang, 4.802, 316.97; 5. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.810, 323.66; 6. Jim Head, Toyota Solara, 4.818, 310.13; 7. Tony Bartone, Monte Carlo, 4.831, 315.05; 8. Ashley Force, Mustang, 4.832, 306.67; 9. Tim Wilkerson, Monte Carlo, 4.900, 307.30; 10. Del Worsham, Monte Carlo, 4.907, 306.40; 11. Phil Burkart, Monte Carlo, 4.909, 276.35; 12. Kenny Bernstein, Charger, 4.910, 306.33; 13. Scott Kalitta, Solara, 4.919, 257.87; 14. Tony Pedregon, Monte Carlo, 4.924, 254.18; 15. Eric Medlen, Mustang, 4.951, 279.73; 16. Jeff Arend, Monte Carlo, 4.956, 319.90.

Pro Stock -- 1. Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Cobalt, 6.632, 207.85; 2. Allen Johnson, Dodge Stratus, 6.644, 206.83; 3. Dave Connolly, Cobalt, 6.652, 208.17; 4. Larry Morgan, Stratus, 6.657, 208.17; 5. Kurt Johnson, Cobalt, 6.660, 207.15; 6. Jason Line, Pontiac GTO, 6.667, 207.72; 7. Tom Martino, GTO, 6.668, 207.85; 8. Kenny Koretsky, Cobalt, 6.668, 207.43; 9. Greg Anderson, GTO, 6.676, 207.50; 10. Richie Stevens, Stratus, 6.681, 207.02; 11. Erica Enders, Stratus, 6.681, 205.88; 12. Greg Stanfield, GTO, 6.682, 206.48; 13. Max Naylor, Stratus, 6.684, 206.48; 14. Mike Edwards, GTO, 6.685, 206.92; 15. Warren Johnson, GTO, 6.688, 207.75; 16. Jim Yates, GTO, 6.691, 206.73.

Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.956, 192.36; 2. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.960, 191.27; 3. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.969, 190.89; 4. Antron Brown, Suzuki, 6.987, 191.59; 5. Craig Treble, Suzuki, 7.003, 193.29; 6. Geno Scali, Suzuki, 7.004, 192.60; 7. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.014, 191.59; 8. Ed Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.015, 190.65; 9. Matt Guidera, Buell, 7.029, 189.02; 10. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.046, 191.76; 11. Chris Rivas, Buell, 7.046, 188.89; 12. Paul Gast, Suzuki, 7.049, 190.27; 13. Peggy Llewellyn, 7.049, 189.12; 14. Shawn Gann, Suzuki, 7.050, 191.46; 15. Tom Bradford, Buell, 7.073, 190.38; 16. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.074, 188.89.