2020 NHRA Gatornationals
March 17, 2020 • 1 Comment
David Latino, of Donaldsonville, La., locked in the first half of a double-up at the 51st annual Amalie Motor Oils NHRA Gatornationals with a Stock Eliminator triumph over Frank Aragona Jr. Latino, near lane, wheeled his C/SA '00 Corvette to the automatic win after Aragon fouled by .023-second in his A/SA '69 Camaro.
Latino's driving was certainly up to par over the course of the weekend, but his quest for the Stock Eliminator trophy came with a handful of luck. Four of his opponents illuminated the red light, and Latino took a bye run into the semis. There, though, he needed every ounce of skill as he narrowly defeated seasoned competitor Britt Cummings. The .0098-second margin of victory in the semifinals allowed Latino to advance to the seventh national event final of his career.
Latino finalized his first national event double when veteran Sportsman racer Anthony Bertozzi went red by .005-second in the Super Stock final.
Super Stock and Stock winner Latino became the 27th driver in NHRA history to accomplish the feat of earning two trophies in one event.
Latino celebrated big in the winner's circle after earning the 41st double in NHRA national event history at this year's rendition of the Amalie Motor Oils NHRA Gatornationals. There he claimed both his third (Stock) and fourth (Super Stock) Wally trophies.
Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers No. 1 qualifier Sandy Wilkins, near lane, nabbed the starting-line advantage in the final, defeating Ron Riegel by .0219-second for the trophy
Sandy Wilkins celebrates his fourth Top Sportsman national event win with his family at the Amalie Motor Oils NHRA Gatornationals.
Wilkins was quick in his Top Sportsman '69 Camaro and raced to a 6.436-second pass at 214.25 mph in qualifying, and throughout eliminations he was cool-headed at the starting line. After a bye run in the opening act, he was .006, .011, and .016 at the tree to best his opponents en route to the final.
Reigning Super Comp world champion Ray Miller III, near lane, was .007 at the tree and 8.905 on the 8.90 index to defeat Ken Moses, who was a respectable .029 with an 8.927. Miller got the jump after a little bit of a staging duel and put together a .012 package that was right in line with his previous stellar performances of the day.
Ray Miller III won his eighth national event trophy at the Sportsman-only version of the Amalie Motor Oils NHRA Gatornationals. It was his third victory in the Super Comp category.
Super Comp winner Ray Miller III, who hails from Spring City, Tenn., was particularly on his game in Gainesville; he was a perfect triple-zero at the starting line in the quarterfinals before clocking a .007 in the semis.
The Top Dragster final was a stand-off between veteran racers Ross Laris, near lane, and Anthony Bertozzi. Laris launched first, .013 to .029, and put a 6.194 on the board that was just .004-second off his 6.19 dial. Bertozzi's 6.119 was too quick for his 6.13 target.
Top Dragster victor Ross Laris, of Raceland, La., reached the eighth final round of his career at the Amalie Motor Oils NHRA Gatornationals and picked up his third national event win.
Ross Laris finally got a spot of revenge over Anthony Bertozzi when he won the Top Dragster trophy in Gainesville. Bertozzi was the guy who put Laris on the trailer in his very first final – at the Dallas national event in 2002 in Super Comp.
Holy Pond, Ala., resident Brad Plourd returned to the winner's circle in the wild little AA/AM roadster at the Amalie Motor Oils NHRA Gatornationals. Plourd chased down Wes Leopold Jr.'s A/SMA '05 Stratus to score his second Comp Eliminator win and 21st overall at the national event level.
Brad Plourd's first Comp win was in the Harry Schwartz-owened AA/AM roadster in 2017 at the U.S. Nationals. He hoisted the trophy with his team again at the 2020 Gatornationals, including wife Katie and parents Bernie and Ronna.
The Gainesville money round was the 33rd career final for Brad Plourd, who owns NHRA national event trophies in Stock, Super Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, and Comp Eliminator.
He wasn't exactly a newbie, but Jonathan Anderson had only been in his '63 Corvette roadster a week before winning the Super Gas title at the 51st annual Amalie Motor Oils NHRA Gatornationals. Quick adaptation to his new ride called for a hearty winner's circle celebration.
The Super Gas final pitted Jonathan Anderson, near lane, against Greg Slack. The two were just .002-second apart as they launched, and when Slack took too much of the finish-line stripe, Anderson snagged the win, 9.910 on the 9.90 to a 9.884.
Williamson, Ga., resident Jonathan Anderson picked up his fifth national event Wally at this year's Gatornationals in his sixth career final round. It was his first win in the Super Gas category; each of his previous victories were in Super Comp.
The 51st annual Amalie Motor Oils NHRA Gatornationals were an abbreviated affair as restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19, known commonly as the "Corona Virus," went into place the very day that Sportsman racers began competing. NHRA moved swiftly to change the structure of the event, delaying the Pro and some Sportsman classes while those who had already begun racing were allowed to finish. After David Latino doubled at the restructured two-day race, he and his group of jesting cohorts demonstrated necessary precautions in the winner's circle.
The Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing's International Drag Racing Hall of Fame inductees were celebrated on Thursday of the Gatornationals. Back row: Founder's Award recipient Don Prieto, Billy Meyer, Lee Beard, and Sandra Mizell, who accepted the Patricia Garlits Memorial Award on behalf of Etta Glidden. Front row: Larry Minor, Don Enriquez, Robert "Bones" Balogh, and Roy Hill.
The 2020 NHRA Gatornationals will be the first drag race of the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season, taking place at Gainesville Raceway in Florida. This is the 55th annual running of this event and it's one of the most important races in the NHRA schedule.
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