NHRA: Greg Anderson, Karen Stoffer have storybook finishes in Gatornationals

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Just over 13 months ago, Greg Anderson didn’t know if he’d ever compete in another drag race in his life.

Beset with a significant medical issue, the four-time NHRA Pro Stock champ missed several races in the early part of the 2014 campaign recovering from heart surgery.

And heart was what Anderson showed in Sunday’s final eliminations of the 46th Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., earning his 75th career victory and first in nearly three years.

Anderson’s run of 6.538 seconds at 213.43 mph defeated teammate Jason Line, making it Anderson’s first Pro Stock win since Englishtown, N.J., in 2012. It was also Anderson’s third career triumph in the Gatornationals.

“It’s a special day and weekend,” Anderson said. “It was my birthday yesterday so it’s pretty darn cool. A year ago I couldn’t even come to this race [due to the surgery]. It was a great day for Greg Anderson, KB Racing and everyone involved with us.”

It was also a special day for Karen Stoffer, who had not competed in an NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle race since Labor Day weekend in 2013 at the U.S. Nationals In Indianapolis.

But it was pretty clear Stoffer had no rust this weekend from her hiatus, defeating three-time world champ Eddie Krawiec in Sunday’s final round to earn her seventh career PSM win and the first since 2011.

It was also Stoffer’s second career Gatornationals win, covering the quarter-mile in the first PSM event of the 2015 schedule in 6.900 seconds at very stout 195.11 mph on her Suzuki.

“We had a lot of heart and a lot of passion,” Stoffer said. “We don’t have a big budget but we certainly have a big heart.

“We certainly tried to get some high performance out of it and we were able to do it. The boys worked hard, worked till about midnight each night and gave us a good bike on Sunday.”

In Top Fuel, a great jump at the starting line powered Spencer Massey past Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher in the final round.

Massey ran 3.882 seconds at 320.74 mph. But his jump at the starting line overcame Schumacher’s quicker 3.873 second run (at 313.29 mph).

It was Massey’s first career win at Gainesville and 18th of his career, tying him with Shirley Muldowney and Darrell Gwynn for 12th place on the all-time NHRA Top Fuel wins list.

“I know that (Schumacher) can step his game up and be deadly when he needs to on the starting line,” Massey said. “We’ve got four new members on the team and three of four haven’t won a race. Now they’ve won the Gators.”

In Funny Car, Ron Capps earned his 44th career win and third at Gainesville with a run of 4.115 seconds at 311.05 mph over first-time finalist John Hale.

The win moves Capps into a tie with Tony Pedregon for second place on the all-time Funny Car wins list.

“When you’ve got a race car like today, you almost wait for something to go wrong,” Capps said. “I’ve driven for almost 18 years and I feel like I find myself driving the car as if I am driving something that’s just so far behind the other cars. I think that really helped me this weekend.”

The fourth and next event on the 24-race Mello Yello Drag Racing Series takes place March 27-29 in the sixth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C. (suburban Charlotte).


FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1.  Spencer Massey; 2.  Tony Schumacher; 3.  Shawn Langdon; 4.  Antron Brown; 5.  Richie Crampton; 6.  Brittany Force; 7.  J.R. Todd; 8.  Clay Millican; 9.  Doug Kalitta; 10.  Dave Connolly; 11.  Steve Torrence; 12.  Terry McMillen; 13.  Chris Karamesines; 14.  Leah Pritchett; 15.  Morgan Lucas; 16.  Larry Dixon.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Ron Capps; 2.  John Hale; 3.  Tim Wilkerson; 4.  Blake Alexander; 5.  Jack Beckman; 6.  Alexis DeJoria; 7.  Cruz Pedregon; 8.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 9.  Tony Pedregon; 10.  Courtney Force; 11.  Chad Head; 12.  Del Worsham; 13.  Matt Hagan; 14.  John Force; 15.  Robert Hight; 16.  Dave Richards.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Greg Anderson; 2.  Jason Line; 3.  Rodger Brogdon; 4.  Chris McGaha; 5.  Shane Gray; 6.  Jimmy Alund; 7.  Drew Skillman; 8.  Vincent Nobile; 9.  Larry Morgan; 10.  V. Gaines; 11.  Alan Prusiensky; 12.  John Gaydosh Jr; 13.  Allen Johnson; 14.  Erica Enders-Stevens; 15.  Jonathan Gray.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  Karen Stoffer; 2.  Eddie Krawiec; 3.  LE Tonglet; 4.  Shawn Gann; 5.  Hector Arana; 6.  Angie Smith; 7.  Andrew Hines; 8.  Angelle Sampey; 9.  Jerry Savoie; 10.  Steve Johnson; 11.  Chaz Kennedy; 12.  Scotty Pollacheck; 13.  Jim Underdahl; 14.  Hector Arana Jr; 15.  Mike Berry; 16.  Matt Smith.


FINAL ROUND RESULTS:

Top Fuel — Spencer Massey, 3.882 seconds, 320.74 mph  def. Tony Schumacher, 3.873 seconds, 313.29 mph.

Funny Car — Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.115, 311.05  def. John Hale, Charger, 4.208, 289.32.

Pro Stock — Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.538, 213.43  def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.554, 212.96.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.900, 195.11  def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.884, 122.23.


FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Antron Brown, 8.690, 76.90 def. Larry Dixon, broke; Clay Millican, 3.866, 312.93 def. Leah Pritchett, 7.612, 96.15; Shawn Langdon, 3.781, 318.77 def. Morgan Lucas, 10.084, 78.74; J.R. Todd, 3.795, 322.81 def. Doug Kalitta, 3.809, 321.58; Spencer Massey, 3.768, 329.02 def. Chris Karamesines, 5.421, 122.29; Tony Schumacher, 3.775, 325.45 def. Terry McMillen, 3.863, 309.98; Brittany Force, 3.792, 323.12 def. Dave Connolly, 3.856, 316.60; Richie Crampton, 3.783, 320.05 def. Steve Torrence, 3.859, 321.81;

QUARTERFINALS — Brown, 3.850, 314.90 def. Todd, 4.008, 270.48; Langdon, 3.830, 312.06 def. Crampton, 3.866, 310.13; Schumacher, 3.887, 320.13 def. Millican, 7.009, 87.61; Massey, 3.911, 299.13 def. Force, 3.926, 285.47;

SEMIFINALS — Massey, 3.858, 308.07 def. Brown, 5.182, 144.98; Schumacher, 3.838, 320.58 def. Langdon, 4.323, 241.24;

FINAL — Massey, 3.882, 320.74 def. Schumacher, 3.873, 313.29.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.088, 311.20 def. Tony Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.094, 306.26; John Hale, Dodge Charger, 4.541, 203.16 def. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 5.899, 122.27; Blake Alexander, Charger, 4.151, 303.43 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.689, 189.55; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.044, 312.42 def. Dave Richards, Toyota Solara, 10.363, 79.91; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.114, 310.55 def. Chad Head, Camry, 4.126, 300.46; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.145, 303.78 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 5.312, 241.54; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.099, 311.27 def. Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 7.619, 87.62; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.112, 312.42 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.105, 315.86;

QUARTERFINALS — Wilkerson, 4.082, 311.63 def. Beckman, 4.096, 308.50; Alexander, 6.302, 128.20 def. Johnson Jr., broke; Capps, 4.130, 310.55 def. C. Pedregon, 4.728, 190.43; Hale, 4.196, 277.37 def. DeJoria, 4.509, 238.22;

SEMIFINALS — Hale, 4.203, 301.20 def. Alexander, 7.443, 93.94; Capps, 4.120, 308.71 def. Wilkerson, 4.112, 308.85;

FINAL — Capps, 4.115, 311.05 def. Hale, 4.208, 289.32.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 6.562, 209.95 def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 20.384, 33.89; Jimmy Alund, Pontiac GXP, 7.032, 209.59 def. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 13.824, 62.06; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.580, 210.97 def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 8.041, 124.76; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.533, 212.59 def. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.562, 211.49; Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.528, 212.90 def. John Gaydosh Jr, GXP, 6.728, 206.54; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.498, 213.64 was unopposed; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.515, 213.00 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Avenger, 6.644, 208.97; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.532, 212.79 def. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.588, 211.86;

QUARTERFINALS — Anderson, 6.561, 212.63 def. S. Gray, 6.567, 212.69; Brogdon, 6.542, 212.69 def. Skillman, 12.857, 67.53; Line, 6.528, 212.46 def. Alund, 6.571, 209.30; McGaha, 15.316, 54.94 def. Nobile, broke;

SEMIFINALS — Anderson, 6.560, 213.67 def. McGaha, 21.386, 37.10; Line, 6.535, 213.40 def. Brogdon, 6.540, 213.47;

FINAL — Anderson, 6.538, 213.43 def. Line, 6.554, 212.96.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.880, 195.65 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.950, 194.66; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.923, 194.74 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, foul; Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.949, 191.29 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 15.609, 43.17; Hector Arana, Buell, 6.928, 193.57 def. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, broke; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.874, 194.77 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 7.085, 187.99; Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.913, 189.26 def. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, foul; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.883, 193.96 def. Mike Berry, Buell, broke; Angie Smith, 7.070, 179.30 def. Matt Smith, broke;

QUARTERFINALS — Tonglet, 6.927, 194.52 def. Sampey, broke; Krawiec, 6.900, 196.19 def. Arana, 6.902, 195.00; Stoffer, 6.933, 196.07 def. A. Smith, 6.985, 187.91; Gann, 6.953, 192.33 def. Hines, 7.703, 130.67;

SEMIFINALS — Stoffer, 6.917, 196.62 def. Gann, 6.959, 192.58; Krawiec, 6.890, 195.11 def. Tonglet, 6.934, 194.38;

FINAL — Stoffer, 6.900, 195.11 def. Krawiec, 7.884, 122.23.


POINTS STANDINGS:

Top Fuel — 1.  Shawn Langdon, 281; 2.  Tony Schumacher, 268; 3.  Spencer Massey, 250; 4.  Antron Brown, 241; 5.  Doug Kalitta, 184; 6.  Richie Crampton, 159; 7.  (tie) Larry Dixon, 140; Brittany Force, 140; 9.  J.R. Todd, 139; 10.  Steve Torrence, 121.

Funny Car — 1.  Matt Hagan, 267; 2.  Ron Capps, 241; 3.  Del Worsham, 213; 4.  Robert Hight, 177; 5.  John Hale, 173; 6.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 172; 7.  Alexis DeJoria, 162; 8.  (tie) Courtney Force, 157; Cruz Pedregon, 157; 10.  Tim Wilkerson, 145.

Pro Stock — 1.  Rodger Brogdon, 284; 2.  Jason Line, 277; 3.  Drew Skillman, 229; 4.  Chris McGaha, 220; 5.  Erica Enders-Stevens, 217; 6.  Greg Anderson, 203; 7.  Shane Gray, 166; 8.  Allen Johnson, 142; 9.  Larry Morgan, 121; 10.  Vincent Nobile, 119.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1.  Karen Stoffer, 115; 2.  Eddie Krawiec, 98; 3.  (tie) Shawn Gann, 72; LE Tonglet, 72; 5.  Angelle Sampey, 66; 6.  Andrew Hines, 59; 7.  Hector Arana, 54; 8.  Angie Smith, 51; 9.  Matt Smith, 43; 10.  (tie) Steve Johnson, 34. Jim Underdahl, 34.

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Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III