Heavy Rainfall Dampened Hopes at NHRA Gatornationals

Thunderstorms greeted NHRA teams as they arrived at Gainesville Raceway last week. A nasty tropical storm dumped about eight inches of rain across Alachua County as race officials had to cancel Friday’s qualifying rounds for the 53rd annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. As the traditional East Coast opener for the National Hot Rod Association national drag racing series, the event has been held since 1970 as one of the sport’s most revered speed fests.

After two days of heavy rain, the full-throttle thrill of professional drag racing returned to the track as the nitro classes of Funny Car and Top Fuel began to burn rubber around 2:30 pm on Saturday. Thousands of cheering fans endured the parking lot mud bog outside the gates that resulted in many vehicles opting for a free vehicle tow throughout the event.


Matt Hagan Gives TSR First NHRA Funny Car Win

At the team’s third NHRA event, the three-time Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan handed Tony Stewart Racing its first NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Wally at the 53rd annual Gatornationals. The Virginia driver left Don Schumacher Racing at the end of last season to join forces with NASCAR Hall of Famer and team owner Tony Stewart. Hagan splits his time in the off season wrangling steers on his 3200-acre ranch outside Christiansburg.

Hagan earned his 40th career Wally in his second final round of the 2022 NHRA season. In his first ever win at the Gatornationals, Hagan posted a run of 3.910 seconds at 330.96 mph in his Dodge Power Brokers Charger Hellcat SRT against Blake Alexander. Making his first appearance of the 2022 season, Alexander advanced to his fifth career final round, knocking off J.R. Todd, Cruz Pedregon, and Ron Capps. Hagan  reached the final round with wins against Dave Richards, Terry Haddock, and Chad Green. 


Tripp Tatum Claims First Win in Top Fuel

The unsponsored all black Top Fuel dragster of Tripp Tatum was definitely a wolf in sheep’s clothing. On Sunday at the 53rd annual NHRA Gatornationals, this wolf showed everyone its teeth. Looks like the Maryland businessman made the smartest off-season move in NHRA by teaming up with the Capco group that builds dragsters for Billy Torrence and four-time champion Steve Torrence.

With no final round matchups in his portfolio, fifty-one year old Tripp Tatum was the number one qualifier and Top Fuel winner in his twelfth career start and first ever final round appearance. The Maryland businessman eliminated Lex Joon, Billy Torrence, and points leader Mike Salinas for a final round faceoff with Doug Foley. Foley advanced to his first career final after knocking off Spencer Massey, Clay Millican and Justin Ashley in his most successful day as a Top Fuel driver.

 

Photo courtesy of Grindstone Media / Shutterstock


UP COMING:

NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at Las Vegas

Race teams head west for round four of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series on April 1-3 at The Strip in Las Vegas, NV.

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