NHRA

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

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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

 

 

Todd LeDuc advances two positions in Monster Jam Power Rankings

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Neil Elliott held onto the top spot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings, but he has a new driver sniffing his exhaust as Todd Leduc advanced two positions to second this week.

The Stadium Series Green continues to hold the advantage in the Power Rankings with Elliott topping the chart, Morgan Kane in fourth, and Ryan Anderson eighth, but there is an equitable distribution among the other series throughout the field.

Notably, Leduc and his Monster Energy truck in the Stadium Series Red closed the gap with a 38-point overall victory at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. Leduc achieved his win through consistency, pocketing the overall without winning a single individual event. Leduc’s best session was a second-place finish to Mike Vaters II in Overkill Evolution by .001 points.

Meanwhile on the West Coast, Elliott rambled on. Elliott won his sixth skills challenge in seven contests so far. That contributed to his 35 points for the event at PETCO Park in San Diego and allowed him to hold onto the No. 1 slot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings.

Colton Eichelberger also held station. Third last week, he entered the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on a mission in the Triple Threat Series Central. He topped the event points in all four events with timed race wins in each session, ATV race wins in three of the four, three wins in the speedster obstacle course, two freestyle wins and one win in the donut competitions.

MORE: Ryan Anderson and the anatomy of a Monster Jam freestyle run

Morgan Kane and Grave Digger had a rough night. He was ousted from the racing event in Round 2 by Max-D and Elliott. He failed to win either of the other two competitions of the night and ended with 29 points, which was a distant third to Ryan Anderson’s Son-Uva Digger (37) and Max-D (35).

Brandon Vinson moved up to the fifth position with three wins in the Triple Threat Series West. During the weekend he earned seven session wins, including a sweep of the speedster obstacle course and two victories in the two-wheel skills challenge.

Tom Meents debuted on the Monster Jam Power Rankings in 10th by winning the overall in back to back nights of the Stadium Series Yellow. The Saturday show can be seen Feb. 22 at 11:30 p.m. on NBCSN (click here for streaming). The highlight of Meents’ weekend were race wins on Saturday and Sunday, defeating Coty Saucier in a Monster Energy truck on Night 1 and Eric Swanson in Obsessed on Night 2.

Power Rankings

1. Neil Elliott–same
2. Todd LeDuc–up 2
3. Colton Eichelberger-same
4. Morgan Kane–down 2
5. Brandon Vinson–up 1
6. Tyler Menninga–up 1
7. Coty Saucier–down 2
8. Ryan Anderson–same
9. Linsey Read–up 1
10. Tom Meents-new for 2020

Upcoming TV Schedule (All showings on Eastern time on NBCSN)

Oakland: February 22 (Saturday); 11:30 p.m.
Miami: March 1 (Sunday); 12 a.m.
Jacksonville: March 9 (Monday); 6 p.m.
Detroit: March 21 (Saturday); 11 p.m.
Las Vegas: March 28 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Santa Clara: April 11 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Philadelphia: April 17 (Friday); 2:30 p.m.
Denver: April 25 (Saturday); 6:30 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals Racing: May 9 (Saturday); 5 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: May 19 (Tuesday); 4 p.m.
Monster Jam World Freestyle: May 20 (Wednesday); 12 a.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: June 20 (Saturday); 2:30 p.m.