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									        40th annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals, March 12-15, Gainesville




                                                  Racing at the Gatornationals is always unpredictable, and there was at least one surprise semifinalist in each Pro class: Top
                                                Fuel’s Bobby Lagana Jr. (right) beat Spencer Massey and points leader Antron Brown, Matt Hagan (above) reached his first Funny
                                             Car semifinal by beating Robert Hight and Ashley Force Hood, Rickie Jones (above right) upset low qualifier Mike Edwards in round
                                           two of Pro Stock, and Shawn Gann (left) reached the Pro Stock Motorcycle final four for the first time since the 2005 Memphis event.

                                                                                                                                 “We figured it would be easier to qualify the

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 Top Fuel                                                        Recent IHRA event runner-up Lagana last competed
                                                                                                                                 dragster than the Funny Car out here,” said IHRA
                                                                                                                                 Funny Car champ Terry Haddock before the first
                                                                                                                                 qualifying session Saturday. “We blew it up in the
                                                                                                                                 first session, but if we run good in the first round
                                                                                                                                 today, we’ll bring out the Funny Car with Jack Wyatt
                                Though he has                    at an NHRA event in Richmond in 2007 and hopes                                                      driving.”
                                amassed 30 national              to run six Full Throttle events this season with his                                                Unfortunately for
                                event wins in 18                 brother, 24-year-old Dom Lagana, as crew chief. “It                                                 Haddock — and
                                years of competition,            was an unbelievable weekend and a good showing                                                      Wyatt — it wasn’t
                                runner-up Cory                   for [sponsor] Tire Kingdom; I hope they want to                                                     meant to be;
                                McClenathan has yet              come back for more. It was a pleasure to be back                                                    Haddock had
                                to score in                      here racing NHRA and competing against these                                                        trouble in the final
                                Gainesville. “This is            guys. I couldn’t ask for a better weekend.”                                                         two sessions and
                                one that’s eluded                                                                                                                    missed the field.
                                me,” said                        A second consecutive first-round loss left gregarious
                                McClenathan. “I knew             Clay Millican eager to race again. “The car got                 Fans were surely thrilled to be in the presence of
 that when the Al-Anabi team got it figured out                  quicker on every run, but we weren’t able to fix the            Chicago resident Chris “the Golden Greek”
 they’d be tough to beat, and we were glad to be in              problem of getting the car to leave the starting line           Karamesines, now in his sixth decade of nitro
 the final and have a shot. I’m not done yet. I’ll               harder,” said Millican, who didn’t get down the                 racing. Though he missed the field, Karamesines
 come back next year and try again.”                             track during the first two qualifying sessions. “It             and his crew feel
                                                                 runs so well from half-track to the finish line. Now,           confident that
 Antron Brown made his Pro debut in Gainesville                  we just need to get it moving earlier.”                         they are on the
 aboard a two-wheel machine in 1998 and entered                                                                                  way to working
 this year’s event as the Top Fuel points leader, fresh          Brandon Bernstein, whose father, Kenny, eclipsed the            out the bugs in a
 off his Phoenix victory. Brown drove the Brian                  300-mph barrier in Gainesville 17 years ago, honored            car that is new
 Corradi/Mark Oswald-tuned Matco Tools rail to a                 the family name with a class-best 312-mph effort in             this year.
 quarterfinal finish, where he suffered a bad case of            qualifying and bettered it to keep top speed of the             Karamesines,
 tire shake and was upset by Bobby Lagana Jr.                    meet with a 315 blast in round two of eliminations.             whose first NHRA




4    Gatornationals Pro Stock victories
     for KB Racing in the last six years
22 ✦ National DRAGSTER
                                           4   drivers (Cory Mac, Bob Tasca III, Allen Johnson, Hector Arana)
                                               who made their first Gatornationals final-round appearances      7   finals at this event for Larry
                                                                                                                    Dixon in 15 Top Fuel seasons     11   runner-ups in 21 Pro Stock
                                                                                                                                                          Motorcycle finals for Matt Smith
                                                                                            Top Fuel event was in 1963, last                                       Before
                                                                                            competed in Gainesville in 2007.                                       arriving in
                                                                                                                                                                   Gainesville,
                                                                                            Terry McMillen brought out his gator-                                  Jeff Arend
                                                                                            themed Amalie Oil/Wolverine Boots                                      and the
                                                                                            & Apparel Top Fuel dragster to                                         Kalitta
                                                                                            compete in his first NHRA event of                                     team
                                                                                            the season with Doug Kuch turning                                      decided to
                                                                                            the wrenches. “We hope to run 11                                       burn one
                                                                                            events this year,” said former Top         of just four testing days available
                                                                                            Alcohol Funny Car racer McMillen,          during the 2009 season and headed
                                                                                            who made the Top Fuel field twice          to Palm Beach Int’l Raceway to try
                                                                                            last season but is yet to gain a           out an new combination for their
                                                                                          
								
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