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The latest update as of March 12, 2022

Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals UPDATE

We're well into day three of the 53rd annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, and we've yet to see a race car go down the track. It started raining in Florida on Wednesday but stopped on Thursday afternoon long enough for the Safety Safari crew to start prepping the track. However, they weren't able to complete it before the end of the day. Friday morning saw more rain, which continued all day, and even the Safari crew never got near the track. The plan shifted to an 8:00 a.m. start on Saturday, with track prep planned for a very early start that morning.

We're now more than halfway through Saturday, and while track prep is continuing, there still aren't any race cars in the staging lanes. The weather websites show that it's sunny, but with an air temp of just 56 (F), and forecast to drop into the high 40's in the next few hours. That could put the fuel cars into a danger zone where a too-cold track could tear up the drive tires or lead to uncontrollable tireshake. The combination of cold, dense air would give the tuners another headache to deal with, trying to dial back the extra power created by those atmospheric conditions.

I'm not privy to what is going on behind the scenes and the three major websites that are covering the race, NHRA.com, DragRaceCentral.com, and CompetitionPlus.com haven't posted any info about what is going to - or NOT going to - happen today. And just to add one more wrinkle to the equation is the weather forecast for tomorrow, which shows temperatures plunging into the high 20's (29 degrees) in the morning, before climbing to 49 degrees at noon. Again, that is a very cold temperature to be racing a high-horsepower car in.

There is a serious possibility of the race being postponed until next week, as there is an open weekend available, but I'm betting that NHRA will try to press on regardless, at least until the first pair of Top Fuel cars go down the track. The worst case scenario in my mind would be to cancel qualifying and seed the cars into eliminations based on their points standings, effectively cutting off racers that are making season debuts at this event. As for the sportsman racers, it's not looking good at all as they will take a definite backseat to the PRO classes and may see their participation cancelled or severely curtailed.

All of the above is simply conjecture, but as the time in Gainesville is now nearing 3:00 pm, and... HOLD THE PHONE... there are race cars going down the track as of 2:49 PM. They've started with Factory Stock Showdown and the first five pairs have gone down the track with no trouble and running some very fast times. The latest plan is to follow the FSS cars with the Top Alcohol classes, then into Top Fuel. The sun is shining and the air temp is now 58 degrees and they're RACING in Gainesville. Let the "Big Show" begin!

With the NHRA.tv broadcast up and running, the grandstands appear to be nearly full and the first pair of Factory Stock Showdown cars ran under the national record. OMG, qualifying could be incredible if the cars can keep hooked up today. We'll have more news on the event as things develop. Oh, one of the Drag Pack Dodge Challengers just ran the quickest and fastest FSS pass ever at 7.669 - 180.96, only to be eclipsed by the next car down the track with an even quicker 7.664 e.t. in a Mustang. Hang on, this could be (or already is) wild.

Now it's officially out of control - performance-wise - as Mark Pawuk (yes, the former long-time Pro Stock racer) just obliterated all the records with his Drag Pack Dodge, cranking out a 7.608 - 283.15 pass to take the top spot in the field. That run will probably have the Tech department scrambling to rewrite a number of the rules for the Showdown class. Or at the very least, put some major handicaps on the Dodge combinations. Stay tuned for that!

In other news

We've been working on completing our coverage of the Good Vibrations March Meet throughout the week, but it's been a bit of a slog filling in all the details and captioning all the photos (almost all of which have been posted). That work will continue for another few days but we will get it finished and get ready for the opening race of the Funny Car Chaos season, coming up in just two weeks at the Texas Motorplex. Lots to write about that event, and we will have at least one correspondent attending to provide us with as much photographic coverage as we can handle.