I hope all of you are doing well and you have adapted to the time change that happened over the weekend! I don’t know about all of you, but this time change of moving the clocks forward takes me forever to get used to, and I feel like I am way behind on my beauty sleep, which I need lots of! You would think that with all of the traveling to different time zones that we do, it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but for some reason it is! Ok, enough whining out of me about sleep!
Going into Gainesville, we tried to use our past experiences there to help us with this years race. The last two years that we have raced Doug’s car at the Gainesville track, we always seemed to be way over center with either our clutch setup, our engine setup, or both. So this year, I decided that we would start out on the conservative side with Doug’s car since that’s where we always ended up. Once we finished up with qualifying, it was quite evident that we needed to be way more aggressive with our tuneup than we thought. The good news was that we qualified for a pretty tough show with a 3.89, but the bad news was that we ended up qualified in the number 13 spot, and had to race number 4 qualifier Brandon Bernstein in the first round.
Now while I was being conservative with Doug’s car, the same can’t be said for Connie and Grubby, which I know comes as a surprise to all of you. With Grubby flying the cool new Rocky Boots colors on his ride, Grubby ran a real nice 3.84 run on Saturday, which put the Rocky car in the number 10 spot. The interesting part was that the Rocky Boots car was running very well on that run, until the barrel valve on the car broke a bracket, which caused the Rocky Boots car to start losing fuel volume, which led to the burst panels blowing out. The best Connie and Grubby can figure, was that the Rocky car was probably going to run about a 3.82. No matter what, Grubby and the Rocky Boots dragster where racing on raceday, but had a first round matchup with points leader Antron Brown.
In Kalitta Funny Car world, Alexis DeJoria and her Tequila Patron Toyota, rebounded nicely from their Phoenix DNQ, by making three very nice and consistent runs with the freshly painted Toyota Camry. After dropping a cylinder on the first qualifying attempt, Alexis ran back to back 4.17′s and then on her last qualifying attempt, the Tequila Patron Toyota ran a very nice 4.12 @ 306 mph, which put Alexis in the number 10 spot for raceday. For Alexis’ first round matchup, she would have to go up against 15 time Funny Car Champ, John Force. Now wouldn’t it be cool for Alexis to get her first Nitro Funny Car round win against a guy like John Force? Stay tuned for that answer!
After spending a day down at DHL Americas Headquarters in Plantation, Florida, the DHL Team headed back north to Gainesville, hoping to make some good runs with the DHL Toyota. After spinning the tires on the first run, Jeff and the DHL Toyota ran a nice 4.15, and then on Saturday, followed that up with a 4.16. While the DHL Team was happy with a couple of good safe runs, Jon O and Nicky felt they left a lot on the table. Since Jeff ended up qualifying in the 13th spot, he would have to race Mike Neff, who ran very well during qualifying, which meant nothing could be left on the table!
On Race Day, Doug was the first Team Kalitta car out, and had a big matchup with Brandon Bernstein. At the start, Doug had an excellent reaction time in his Kalitta Air Dragster, and never looked back, running a piston hurting 3.85 @ 313, to beat Brandon’s 3.85. Grubby rolled up a few pairs later in the Rocky Boots dragster, looking to take out points leader Antron Brown. Grubby grabbed the quick lead with a better reaction time than Antron, but at about 200 feet, the Rocky Boots dragster began to lose traction. With that loss of traction, Antron got the win.
Jeff and his DHL Toyota Team had a huge race against points leader Mike Neff, who had run about as good during qualifying as you possibly could. Everyone on the DHL Team knew they need to be on their game if they had a chance of taking out Mike Neff. At the start, Jeff had a nice holeshot on Neff, and held that advantage for about 300 feet, that’s when Neff drove around the DHL Toyota and took the win. Jeff and the boys ran a pretty nice 4.14 @ 311, but it just wasn’t enough against Mike Neff’s 4.07 @ 310. The good news was that Jeff stayed in the Top 10 and even moved up a spot to 8th.
Alexis and her Tequila Patron Funny Car had a huge first round race with John Force, and if Alexis wanted to get her first elimination round win in a nitro funny car, she was going to have to beat the winingest driver in NHRA history to do it. At the start, John Force grabbed the quick lead, but at about 300 feet, Force began to lose traction! With that loss of traction, Alexis and her Del Worsham tuned Toyota, took advantage, and ran a very nice 4.11 @ 309. What a great way for Alexis to get her first round win in nitro funny car, beating the 15 time champ! Alexis was now off to the second round for the first time in 2012!
In the second round, Doug and his Kalitta Air Team, had an important race against Clay Millican, who has been running very well in 2012. Before the second round, we found a problem with the fuel nozzels in the number four cylinder in Doug’s ride. On the last qualifying run, and in first round, the number four piston took a pretty good beating, which robbed horsepower from the Kalitta Air dragster. With the problem fixed…hopefully…Doug and the Kalitta Air Team were ready to take out Millican. At the start, Doug had another great reaction time, and it appeared that the Kalitta Air dragster was running on all 8 cylinders! As Doug crossed the finish line, the winlight lit, and a 3.81 @ 320 popped up on the scoreboard, to say we were pretty happy was an understatement! For the first time in a long time, Doug was going to the semi-finals!
With Doug making it to the semi-finals, our hope was that Alexis would do the same. Alexis was now up against Jack Beckman, who had been running very well, but Del and the Tequila boys and girls, felt they could take out Fast Jack. At the start, Beckman grabbed the lead, but the Tequila Patron Toyota did its best to run Jack down. At the finish line, Beckman got the win, by running a very good 4.05 @ 314, to Alexis’s 4.13 @ 309. It was a good weekend for Alexis and her team, as they made five runs in a row, with elapsed times between a 4.11 and 4.17.
Before Doug’s semifinal race against Morgan Lucas, the rain started to fall on the Gianesville track. Of course it was one of those annoying light rains that never seem to end. After trying to dry the track a few times, the NHRA postponed the race until Monday morning at 10am. With the track being as good as it was on Sunday, Doug and his Kalitta Air Team knew they need a great run if they were to get around Morgan Lucas, who had run a great 3.74 in the previous round. When the light turned green, Lucas grabbed the quick lead, and kept it the whole way down the track by running another great 3.74 to beat Doug’s 3.78. Even though we didn’t get the win, we were pretty happy with that 3.78, and we felt we left quite a bit on the table. I feel that when we get back to conditions like that again, the Kalitta Air Team will be able to run very well! With the semi-final round showing, Doug moved up to the number seven spot in points.
Since we seem to like to abuse ourselves a little to much around here, we decided that we would test both funny cars after the race was over on Monday. At about 2pm, we started making some laps in both Jeff’s DHL Toyota, and Alexis’ Tequila Patron Toyota, trying a new clutch combination. We had some pretty good results, with Alexis running a best of a 4.14, shutting off early. Testing is always good when you can get some positive results!
Ok…having to write/type about four cars is wearing my fingers and my pea sized brain out, so I will stop now! I hope all of you have a great weekend and have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day, remember to wear something green! I will type at you before our next race in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks. Take care!