NHRA legends Garlits, Muldowney, Prudhomme, Bernstein, 4 more to race again this weekend

NHRA
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Two of the most anticipated races of the 2019 NHRA season both take place this weekend in Gainesville, Florida.

The first race is the 50th annual Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, the third national event of the 24-race Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

And then there’s the second race – a race within a race, you might say. Called “Unfinished Business,” the race will bring eight of the greatest legends in drag racing history out of retirement and back to the starting line in equally-prepared race cars through the course of the weekend.

Here’s the designs of the cars the drag racing legends will drive in this weekend’s Unfinished Business in Gainesville, Fla.

The single-elimination format kicks off Friday with the following match-ups as determined by a vote of drag racing fans worldwide:

• “Big Daddy” Don Garlits vs. Shirley Muldowney

• “The Professor” Warren Johnson vs. Terry Vance

Kenny Bernstein vs. Joe Amato

Don “The Snake” Prudhomme vs. Ed “The Ace” McCulloch

The winners will advance to the semifinals on Saturday. And the two semifinal winners will race for the championship on Sunday as part of the overall Gatornationals eliminations.

The legends are pumped to be back behind the wheel again. While the only prize will be bragging rights, that’s more than enough incentive for them. Here’s what the competitors have to say about challenging the quarter-mile again:

“Big Daddy” Don Garlits: “The record between Shirley and me is at 5-5. I plan to tip that scale in my favor this weekend. All people look at is the last race you ran so this one has got to count. There’s a lot on the line.”

Shirley Muldowney: “I’m coming to Gainesville just like before, loaded for bear and it’s gonna take every bit of that to take care of business.”

Don “The Snake” Prudhomme: “It’s going to be a real competition. I’m gunning for every one of them out there. It’s gonna be a fun time for the fans.”

Ed “The Ace” McCulloch: “This is going to be fun. Snake’s always been hard to beat but we’re gonna get it done this weekend. He’s so old, he’s gonna have to use binoculars to see the (starting line) tree!”

Kenny Bernstein: “I’m just excited to go down that quarter-mile again. My plan is the same as it’s always been – to do the best I can. If that gets me a win, I’ll be happy. If it doesn’t, then I won’t be happy.”

Joe Amato: “It’s going to be exciting to line up against these drivers again. Bernstein and I may have to have a golf rematch to square the deal depending on who wins!”

Warren Johnson: “We’re all going to be at a bit of a disadvantage. They won’t have their superchargers and nitro; and I won’t have my five-speed! But in reality, this is where I started – match racing like this. So it’s like ‘Back To The Future’ for me.”

Terry Vance: “I’m not gonna get beat on a holeshot, I can tell you that. I’ll red light if I have to, because if I’m late on the tree, that proves I’m an old man. And I’m not ready to prove that to anyone!”

Instead of driving the kind of vehicles that made them famous – either Top Fuel dragsters, Funny Cars, Pro Stock cars or Pro Stock Motorcycles – all eight competitors will square off against each other in identically prepared Toyota Camrys that will carry distinctive wrappings to emulate looks inspired by some of the drivers’ favorite rides of their careers.

NHRA fan favorite Darrell Gwynn will serve as the honorary starter for Unfinished Business.

“It’s going to be interesting to see these old-timers get back on the track,” Gwynn said. “To say they’ve got a lot of mileage on them is an understatement! But they are just as fiery and competitive as ever, so it’s going to get heated out there. The NHRA fans did an awesome job of selecting the first-round match ups. It’s going to be an exciting weekend.”

Follow the hashtag #UnfinishedBusiness on NHRA’s social media pages and NHRA.com for Unfinished Business updates throughout the weekend.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

 

 

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

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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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 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


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