GAINESVILLE – The Lucas Oil sportsman portion of the 50th Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals wrapped up a day earlier than planned. With a poor weather forecast predicted for Sunday, the NHRA ran the sportsman classes to completion on Saturday night.
The Gatornationals is one of the more prestigious events on the 24-race NHRA schedule. And the 50th edition at Gainesville Raceway didn’t disappoint. Over 400 racers were in attendance traveling from across the country for a shot at a Gatornationals title.
This year’s event included competitors from every sportsman class adding to the prestige of the historic Gatornationals.
At each national event, DragChamp provides an overview of the race along with making winner’s predictions for each class. Follow along to see how our picks fared.
Factory Stock Showdown Winner – Drew Skillman
One of the most anticipated classes at the Gatornationals was Factory Stock. After competitors fired their shots in testing throughout the early spring, everyone expected great performances in Gainesville. The Factory Stockers did just that with a record-setting all seven-second field.
Bill Skillman lead the history making field with a 7.744 at 172.96 shot in his Cobra Jet Mustang. The Ford’s definitely made the biggest improvements over the winter as they dominated qualifying.
While the Mustang’s ruled the class, the Dodge’s fell flat. It took a last-session heroic effort for World Champ Leah Prichett to get into the field. While her 7.852 was an impressive lap, she was the only Challenger to make the field.
Besides qualifying, there was more excitement as David Barton put his beautiful COPO into the wall on Sunday. Apparently the additional horsepower found over the winter is causing head gasket issues. This leak put water under the tires leading to his wreck. The car is a mess but David walked away unharmed.
After qualifying in the five spot, former Pro Stock ace Drew Skillman proceeded to mow down the field. With a string of low 7.70 elapsed times, Skillman drove his way to the final round in his Factory Stock debut.
Prior to reaching the final round, Skillman battled with his father, Bill, in an epic race. Drew left first by .001, .041 to .042, and outran his father by .003, 7.733 to 7.736, for a .004 margin of victory.
In the final round, Skillman easily defeated the COPO of Eric Bell, 7.736 to 7.887. After winning in Stock, Super Stock, and Pro Stock, Skillman once again proved his meddle behind the wheel by winning Factory Stock.
Drew Skillman was also Team DragChamp’s pick to win the event.
Competition Eliminator Winner – Craig Bourgeois
Craig Bourgeois was perfect at the tree in his A/ND nostalgia dragster in the final round. His perfect light easily overpowered the G/A Pontiac Sunfire of Randy Daniels. Bourgeois posted a -.560 under 6.820 to Daniels’ -.603 under 8.297 to take the nine foot win.
Team DragChamp pick and number one qualifier Brad Plourd fell to Daniels in the semifinals.
Super Stock Winner Kevin Riner
Last years’ Super Stock champion Kevin Riner went back-to-back after his victory on Saturday night. Riner drove his SS/JA ’98 Camaro to the double-breakout win over Mark Alvey and his GT/JA ’87 Camaro.
In the final round Riner’s .052 reaction was slightly worse than Alvey’s .051. At the stripe, Riner got behind by .004-second taking the win with a -.002 under 10.278 to Alvey’s -.005 under 10.055.
The win was Riner’s second overall with his first coming at this event last year.
Riner defeated David Janac, Ed Longhany Sr., Jason Stoll, Anthony Bertozzi, and Steve Comella in route to the final.
Of the three DragChamp pre-race picks, Jimmy “Cooter” Hidalgo Jr. was our last man standing. Cooter hung around late until bowing out in round four.
Stock Eliminator Winner Randi Lyn Shipp
Randi Lyn Shipp captured her sixth national event win in her 10th final after driving her wheel standing D/SA ’67 Firebird past Eddie Longhany Jr.
Shipp captured a .057 to .087 reaction time advantage at the tree. At the finish line, Shipp took .006 to post a -.003 under 10.517 while Longhany Jr. was further under with his -.027 under 10.223.
In addition to winning the event, Shipp powered to impressive wheel stands throughout the event.
To reach her tenth final round, Shipp drove past racers including Dan Fletcher, Brandon Bakies, and Team DragChamp pick Slate Cummings.
Slate Cummings carried the DragChamp flag all the way to the semifinals until losing a double-breakout race with Shipp. Shipp used an impressive .003 reaction to take down the Moser Engineering sponsored racer.
Super Comp Winner Holden Laris
For the second straight national event a Division 4 competitor has hoisted the Super Comp Wally. Following on the heels of Craig Anderson’s victory at the NHRA Arizona Nationals, Laris kept the streak alive with his third national event victory.
Just a week after his dad, Ross, won Top Dragster at the Baby Gators, Holden stood tall in claiming the Super Comp Wally. To reach the final round Laris defeated a list of top-named racers including John Labbous, Robert Houston, Sherman Adcock Jr., and Don Higgins.
In his third round race with former world champion Adcock Jr., Laris laid down an eleven-pack to take the win. Laris was .011 at the tree and dead zero to the 8.90 index.
In the final round, Laris used a .017 to .048 holeshot to grab the lead over Nichole Stevenson. Laris carried her through by about four feet to take the 8.941 to 8.926 win.
Stevenson started the day in impressive fashion posting .001 and .002 lights in rounds one and two before missing the tree in the final round.
Team DragChamp pre-race picks Jonathan Anderson, Jason Kenny, and Ray Miller 3 all fell in the early rounds.
Super Gas Winner Ed Richardson
Big Ed Richardson collected his sixth national event victory at the 50th NHRA Gatornationals. The win, his third in Super Gas, came in his ’63 Corvette roadster.
To reach the final Richardson ran through an impressive list of racers including John Taylor, Ray Connolly, Iggie Boicesco, and Ray Miller. Once one of the biggest names in the sport, Richardson proved he still has what it takes to compete at the highest level.
Richardson paired against Carl Watts and his ’89 Cavalier in the final round. After both drivers posted .02 reactions, Watts took .029 at the stripe in loosing the double-breakout affair. Watts posted a 9.871 to Richardson’s almost perfect 9.898.
Richardson stayed above the 9.90 index in four of his six rounds. In his two breakout passes, he was 9.899 and 9.898.
Watts was wired to the tree posting .010, .006, and .007 lights during rounds three through five.
Team DragChamp picks Steve Furr, John Taylor, and Sherman Adcock Jr. fell in the early rounds of eliminations.
Super Street Winner Doug Ramsey
In a battle of first-time NHRA national event finalist, Doug Ramsey posted a 10-pack in the final to claim the Gatornationals Wally. Driving his ’68 Camaro, Ramsey defeated the ’68 Camaro of Colby Fuller.
Ramsey was impressive at the tree posting lights of .018, .018, .020, .021, and .023 prior to his .005 in the final.
After letting go .005, Ramsey took a big lead off the line after Fuller was .033. Ramsey took .05 at the stripe to go dead five to the 10.90 index while Fuller posted a 10.927 in the loss.
On his way to the final round, Ramsey defeated Lamar Stephenson, Ed Pauley, and Robbie Welch prior to receiving the semifinal bye run.
Team DragChamp fell early as pre-race picks Rudy Matthews and Ray Dew were out by round two.
Top Sportsman Winner Sandy Wilkins
Sandy Wilkins wins his third career Wally in his fifth national event final round. Wilkins drove his ’69 Camaro to a dead-on 6.655 lap in the final to take down first-time finalist Bruce Thrift in his ’08 GTO.
With a .290 reaction in the final, it looked as though Thrift may have had a problem at the starting like or mixed up his numbers in his delay box. Wilkins used a .020 light and a 6.655 on a 6.65 dial to take the easy win after Thrift missed the tree and broke out with a 6.620 on his 6.63 dial.
Wilkins was solid at the tree posting four light between .010 and .020 during the last four rounds of eliminations. In a battle of Team DragChamp pre-race picks, Wilkins downed World Champ Ronnie Proctor in the semifinals.
Wilkins joined Drew Skillman as our second pre-race pick to win the race.
Top Dragster Winner Anthony Bertozzi
Anthony Bertozzi won the clash of the titans when he defeated a red-lighting Steve Furr in the Top Dragster final round. The win, Bertozzi’s 22nd overall, was his fifth in the fast dragster class.
Bertozzi was nasty at the tree with lights ranging from a near-perfect .001 to a .023 in the final round. In addition, he posted a .019-pack in round one and followed it up with an .018-pack in round two.
Furr was equally impressive prior to his -.005 redlight in the final round.
Team DragChamp pre-race pick Jeff Strickland fell to Furr in the semifinal round.
That’s a wrap on the 50th Annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals Lucas Oil Sportsman race results. Look for more NHRA national event coverage on DragChamp.
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