Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series veterans dominate the Gatornationals winners circle. Jimmy Hidalgo Jr., Ray Miller III, Jonathan Anderson, and Jeff Strickland earn big wins to kick off the 2021 racing season.
GAINESVILLE – For the first time in NHRA history, the racing season kicked off in Florida with the 52nd Annual Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in of the traditional west coast venue. The 2021 Gatornationals final rounds were dominated by sportsman greats. Jonathan Anderson won Super Gas for the second consecutive season while Ray Miller III did the same in Super Comp.
Super Stock hitter Jimmy “Cooter” Hidalgo Jr. won Stock, Jeff Strickland won Top Dragster, and Greg Kamplain won Comp. Aaron Stanfield continued his recent domination of the Factory Stock class as he earned yet another victory on Sunday. The veterans were joined in the winners circle by first time NHRA national event winners Sterling Simmons (Super Stock) and Brandon Miller (Top Sportsman).
2021 NHRA Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals Sportsman Final Round Results
All photos courtesy of NHRA.tv
Competition Eliminator – Greg Kamplain
Class veteran Greg Kamplain drove his C/DA dragster past Richard Preiser in the Comp final to earn his seventh victory in the class. The win, his ninth overall, came after posting an impressive -.696 under 6.864 to qualify seventh. As eliminations began, Kamplain saved his index by posting a string of .02x lights which positioned him well in the final. Preiser qualified eighth but used up some index in the early rounds which hurt him in the final.
In the final round, Kamplain grabbed a big lead with his .019 light and cruised to the easy victory after his -.553 under 6.967 outpaced Preiser’s later and slower -.435 under 8.965.
Super Stock – Sterling Simmons
After coming up short in his first three NHRA national event finals, Sterling Simmons finally tasted victory after stopping Tyler Caheely in the final round. After qualifying sixth, Simmons used consistent .02x lights and a consistent race car, he ran within .002 of his dial in three rounds, to find himself in his fourth national event final round. Caheely drove past class hitters Mark Nowicki and Tim Fletcher in the late rounds to reach the final.
Simmons was stellar at both ends of the track in the final pairing a .011 light with a dead two lap (9.382) to earn his first Wally. Caheely was .032 at the tree and -.001 under (9.219) at the stripe in the loss.
Stock Eliminator – Jimmy Hidalgo Jr.
South Louisiana racer Jimmy Hidalgo Jr. won for the eighth time in his career on Sunday at the Gatornationals. The Stock victory, his fifth in the class, came in a double breakout final round over Randy Wilkes. Hidalgo grabbed the lead at the tree with a .013 to .056 advantage in the final to take control of the race. At the stripe, Hidalgo’s 10.844 on his 10.89 dial was good after Wilkes drove further under posting a 9.894 on his 9.96 dial.
Super Comp – Ray Miller III
Former NHRA World Champion and chassis builder Ray Miller III pulled off the repeat in Gainesville Sunday afternoon after winning Super Comp for the second consecutive season. Miller, the 2020 event winner, collected his ninth NHRA Wally and fourth in Super Comp after defeating Allan Ackles in the final round. Ray Ray was .010 take .006 to lock out Ackles after he posted a .021 reaction. Ackles’ 8.897 was -.003 under the index while Miller was almost perfect with an 8.902 at the finish line.
Ray Ray was .01x at the tree in four of the six rounds and only ran under the 8.90 index once during eliminations. He also nailed the index twice in eliminations.
Super Gas – Jonathan Anderson
Division 2 Super-Class hitter Jonathan Anderson drove his brand new Corvette roadster to the Gatornationals Super Gas title which was his second straight victory at the event. A year ago, Anderson used a borrowed ride to earn the 2020 event win. Anderson relied on his top-end driving skills to earn his sixth national event Wally after never getting dialed in on the tree.
In the final round, Anderson trailed opponent Larry Bernshausen .027 to .005 off the line. But at the stripe, he dropped to a safe 9.924 while Bernshausen was -.002 under the 9.90 index with a 9.898 in the loss.
Top Sportsman – Brandon Miller
First time NHRA national event finalist Brandon Miller found the winners circle in his first attempt after stopping number one qualifier Derrick Brown in the Top Sportsman final round. Miller qualified #26 and drove past class hitters Johnny Brooks, Lester Johnson, and Dylan Stott before defeating his dad in the semifinals. In the final Miller’s .030 light put him in control after Brown let go .071. Miller made it interesting at the stripe when ran dead one to his dial (7.091 on a 7.09 dial) while Brown trailed with a 6.276 on his 6.26 dial.
Top Dragster – Jeff Strickland
Two of the best in the class squared off in the Top Dragster final round with Jeff Strickland earning the Wally over Anthony Bertozzi. Bertozzi was appearing in his third straight Gatornationals TD final round after winning in 2019 and settling for runner-up last season. Strickland earned his 18th national event title and fourth in TD after he and AB both let go .005 in the final. After a dead even start, Strickland grabbed the win when his .011 over 6.241 outpaced Bertozzi’s .036 over 6.206 at the stripe.
Factory Stock – Aaron Stanfield
Red hot Aaron Stanfield continued his recent stranglehold on the SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown class after defeating Kevin Skinner in the final round. After qualifying in the second spot with a 7.797, Aaron had one of the quickest cars throughout eliminations. Skinner qualified 12th with a 7.875 and made solid laps on his way to the final. The final round was anti-climatic as Skinner slowed to a 13.734 while Stanfield posted a 7.896. The victory was Stanfield’s sixth FSS win and his 12th overall.
The DragChamp pre-race picks looked strong today as Aaron Stanfield and Jonathan Anderson both claimed victories on Sunday. We picked Jeff Strickland to win but in Stock instead of TD. We also picked Bertozzi to win in Super Stock but he was the TD runner-up. Brad Plourd posted a semifinal finish in TD and Mike Crutchfield came up one round short of the final in Super Stock. At each NHRA national event, we select a group of racers in each class that we feel will win the race in our sportsman preview article.
DragChamp is your source for NHRA Lucas Oil sportsman racing news and drag race results. Click here for more NHRA results.