Gatornationals postponement brings mixed blessings
The postponement until Saturday April 21 of the conclusion of the 32nd Annual Mac Tools Gatornationals brought mixed blessings for the teams still in contention.
Team DBP Pro Stock Truck drivers Greg Stanfield and Bart Price are among those who would have loved to continue the event, but look forward eagerly to returning.
"We'll be back," said Stanfield. "After the way we qualified, there is no way you could keep us away." Stanfield qualified No. 2 and set the national speed record and Price qualified No. 7.
"We both are qualified well, so we have a pretty good chance of winning this thing, well as good as anyone else. We will be back in April."
"So far this has been a pretty good race for us," said Price. "We came here trying to put both trucks in the top half. Now we have to work on our other goals of going a few rounds on raceday, and getting Greg another shot at the winner's circle. Greg setting a new national speed record is just the icing on the cake."
If both drivers survive their first-round matchups -- Price against Don Smith and Stanfield against Joe Pigford -- they would meet in Round 2.
Top Fuel's Tony Schumacher, on the other hand, was relieved with the reprieve. As the No. 11 qualifier, he was scheduled to run Andrew Cowin in the first round and, as the higher qualified car, did not have lane choice. It may be a blessing for the struggling team, which will use Tuesday and Wednesday to test their Army dragster before they continue south to Houston for the O'Reilly Nationals.
"This will probably help us," added Schumacher. "We were struggling this weekend and hopefully when we come back, we'll have all of our problems straightened out."
Former Gatornationals Funny Car runner-up Chuck Etchells, who was slated to race long-time friend and rival John Force in one of the marquee match-ups, also acknowledged the possible benefits for his team.
"The Kendall/Matco Camaro is obviously erratic, and the more runs we get the better we're going to get," he said. "We keep finding things in the car, I'm getting better, and the whole package is coming together. With each run, the crew's working better, and their service of the car is getting faster.
"When we come back to Gainesville, I think we're going to be a better team; we'll have a faster car, which I think works to our advantage. My emotions wanted to race John Force, but my business sense and my racing experience tells me that we'll be better prepared when we come back in April."
Mac Tools Gatornationals rain resumption: The race will conclude April 21 with eliminations in all categories including the Pro Modified exhibitions. Sunday tickets will be honored April 21. Fans can watch a test-and-tune day April 20 for just $20.
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