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April 23-24, Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, CA-The 17th Nitro Nationals returned to Infineon Raceway with a record number of entries (over 300) in spite of a dismal weekend weather forecast. All was not lost as conditions were conducive for producing record-breaking performances, but not before rain and oil down delays broke the backs of many competitors and race officials.  Saturday's abbreviated schedule featured just one qualifying session for all classes, as well as the start of NE1 eliminations.  A major oil down during NE1 eliminations forced the track crew to call it a day at 5:30 P.M.  It was a weekend filled with surprising non-qualifiers and upsets, while plenty of new faces reached the winner's circle for the first time.  Notable achievements:  Chris Abbey's 6.67, the first 6.60 pass in AA/GS; Dan Horan's 6.05 during Funny Car eliminations; and Rick White's first NTF win, along with becoming just the 3rd driver to break into the 5.70 zone with a 5.77.  The following photo highlights are just a portion of the excitement that happened during this event. Enjoy! Dawn & Mark

John Noonan's "Warlord" '63 Plymouth was engulfed in its own burnout smoke prior to making a time run in Hot Rod Saturday morning.  Despite a hole-shot advantage in round one, Noonan lost to opponent David Spaulding.
First round action in Top Fuel featured Bob Hallock, near lane, strapping a gate-job on Brett Harris.  Harris overcame Hallock's advantage, using a 5.873/256.41 over Hallock's early shut-off 6.274.
Steve Whitemore qualified his sharp looking '64 Falcon in the third spot of D/Gas with a 10.63.  Whitemore defeated recent March Meet winner Mike Williams in the opening round, 10.61 to 10.64,  before losing to eventual runner-up Roy Sommers on a holeshot in round two, 10.67 to 10.71.  Yikes!

Logan Eikmann brought his vintage '65 dragster down to Infineon Raceway from Salem, Oregon, to compete in NE2.  Despite running quicker than the class' 8.60 index with an 8.55, Eikmann made the show in the 16th spot.  Eikmann upset Roger Gilbert in round one, before losing to Dick Chesney in round two.
C/Gas low qualifier Jessie Wooton advanced his '72 Dart to the final round, but had to settle for runner-up honors when opponent Steve Galileo used a winning 9.609 over Wooton's game 9.617.

Ron Kolb qualified his '23 T in the third spot of the NE3 field with a 9.73.  Kolb was upset in round one by Eric Christianson, who slapped more than a tenth of a second holeshot on him and won with a 9.69 over the quicker 9.63 turned in by Kolb. Wow!
Bob Lander claimed the number one spot of the NE2 field with an 8.62, and went on to win the event title, his first win since the 2003 Fuel and Gas Finals. 
Recent March Meet Funny Car winner Mike Savage, near lane, snatched the starting line advantage against first round opponent Dan Horan Jr..  Horan made up the difference, and then some, using a stellar 6.05 clocking in defeating Savage's 6.59.  Horan's 6.05 held for low e.t. of the event.
Reigning NE2 Champ Dan Schrokosch made the jump up to NE1 and had an awesome debut.  Schrokosch qualified 10th with a 7.81, and lasted until the semi-final round, losing a close race to eventual runner-up Don Taros, 7.63 to 7.72.
Kenny Marlin launches his '32 Bantam during NE1 qualifying.  Marlin qualified 14th with an 8.68, and lasted until the third round where he lost to eventual runner-up Don Taros on a hole-shot, 7.66 to a 7.62.
Eric Christianson, near lane, and Ron Austin met in round two of NE3 and it was Austin advancing to the final, who overcame Christianson's starting line lead with a 9.636 to a 9.666.
Rick White launches to a conservative 6.469 during Top Fuel qualifying, making the program in the 15th spot.  Following an upset victory over Bill Dunlap in round one, White turned up the wick for the remainder of the day, bagging low E.T. of the event with a 5.77 win over Terry Cox in round two.  White went on to win his first title with respective wins over Howard Haight and Brett Harris, using consistent 5.80 time-slips. Interestingly, low E.T. of this event in 2003 was a 5.93 turned in by Jim Murphy.
Johnny Wood eclipsed the 9.60 C/Gas index in his '33 Willys during qualifying with a stout 9.407.  Wood lasted until the second when a foul start ended his day.
Pete Kaiser, near lane, and Rick McGee paired up in round one of Top Fuel, and it was McGee taking the win-light over Kaiser in this close race.  McGee used a 5.872 over Kaiser's first "5", a 5.926.
Ken Ratzloff qualified his '53 Studebaker in the fifth spot of the A/Gas with a 7.722.  Ratzloff defeated Kevin Mossman in round one, and upset low qualifier Butch Ranson in round two.  His semi-final round meeting with Sean Renteria was drama-filled, as Renteria strapped nearly four-tenths advantage on Ratzloff at the start, but Ratzloff was able to drive around the throttle-feathering Renteria with a 7.85 to Renteria's 8.25.  Ouch!  Ratzloff came back in the final and nailed a .007 light against Mike Ward, but Ward used a 7.727 to drive around Ratzloff's 7.757.
Reigning 3-time NE1 champ Don Taros qualified 18th in the field, and earned a final round meeting with Ronnie Lennon.  Taros, who had not lost a competition round in more than a year, lost a very close race to Lennon.  Both drivers were on their game at the start, nailing nearly identical double zero reaction times, but Lennon's 7.61 claimed victory over Taros' 7.70.
Don Dicero ran a very quick 7.50 during NE1 qualifying, placing him 21st in the 25-car field.  Dicero fell of that pace in the first round of eliminations, and lost to Dan Whiteman.
Trinion Cirello qualified in the fourth spot of the A/Fuel program with a 6.495. Cirello lasted through the final round, but lost a close race to winner Ken Moitoza.
Brett Harris earned his first low qualifier spot in Top Fuel with a great 5.908.  Harris went on to defeat Bob Hallock, Sean Bellemeur and Rick McGee, respectively, before losing a close race to Rick White in the final.  Along with runner-up honors, Harris claimed Top Speed of the event with his 258.27 blast in the final.
Steve Galileo launches his '64 Fairlane to a 9.63 during C/Gas qualifying.  Galileo qualified second, and went on to win his first title over number one qualifier Jessie Wooton.
Terry Cox qualified the "Cheetah III" Top Fuel entry in the seventh spot of the field with a 6.058.  Cox defeated Jeff Diehl in the opening round, 5.95 to 6.01, before getting used up by Rick White's 5.77 in round two.
Bob Nance came out of the 27th spot of the D/Gas field to claim his first win in his '34 Coupe.  Nance was able to string consistent reaction times and mid-10.60 runs, nearly running a perfect 10.60 in the final over opponent Roy Sommers.
Rick McGee, who enjoyed a semi-final round finish at the Nitro Nationals in 2003, repeated those results in 2005.  McGee who had qualified fourth with an off-the-trailer 5.95, defeated Pete Kaiser and Mendy Fry, respectively, before losing to Brett Harris in the semis.  Interestingly, it was Jack Harris who disposed of McGee in 2003.
Second round of C/Gas featured John Contreras, near lane, and Johnny Wood.  Contreras advanced to the next round by virtue of Wood's red-light start.
James Martin came out of the 6th spot of the NE2 field to score a runner-up effort behind 2003 Champ Bob Lander.
Mike Ward worked the A/Gas field over in his '33 Willys Delivery en route to his first win, combining excellent reaction times and consistent 7.60 e.t.s.
C/Gas competitors Doug Araiza, near lane, and Dave Dahlin launch their respective red Camaros during the second round of eliminations.  The race was already decided at this point, as Araiza tripped a red-light.
"Racin' Jason" Young qualified his '71 Vega in the sixth spot of the D/Gas field with a 10.70.  Young defeated Bill Botehlo in round one, before losing to eventual winner Bob Nance in round two.
Scott Parks qualified in the second spot of the Jr. Fuel A field with a 7.019.  The 6-second barrier has eluded Parks for more than a year now, as he ran yet another 7.007 during eliminations en route to a runner-up finish against JD Zink.
Cecil Mathews, near lane, and Ed Moss made for an exciting all-Ford pairing during round one of AA/GAS.  Moss took the starting line advantage and the win over Mathews, using a 6.88 over a slowing 7.54.
Reigning C/Gas Champ Paul Giacalone was well on his way to defending his event title, but semi final round opponent Jessie Wooton killed those plans.  Giacalone, who nailed a .003 light to Wooton's .017, broke-out with a 9.581 to Wooten's winning 9.604.  Wow!
Mendy Fry, who had qualified 12th with a 6.25, trailered number five qualifier Jason Richey in the opening round with a 5.923 to Richey's 6.19.  Fry met Rick McGee in the second round and both were neck-and-neck and on a pass, until Fry experienced one of the worst top end explosions in recent memory.  Fry did a great job of getting her entry stopped down track, but the team was left with a  severely wounded entry, including a broken chassis.
Reigning NE3 Champ Craig Wallace rebounded from a disappointing DNQ at the March Meet, and won the event title over Ron Austin.
Jeff "Killah" Utterback, driver of Jeff Gaynor's Cuda Funny Car, was one of nine entries vying for a spot in the show.  Utterback failed to make the cut in his lone qualifying effort, as he took out the timing cones at mid-track resulting in a DQ.
Chris Abbey recorded the first 6.60 pass during AA/GAS qualifying in his George Goshgarian-tuned entry with stunning 6.676/208.81.  Abbey was unable to back-up those numbers for the record, as he lost a close round one race to eventual winner Steve Woods, 6.808 to a 6.869.
Tom Hall's squeaky-clean '62 Impala was just one of 18 entries vying for a spot in the 16-car A/Gas field, but his 7.588 in qualifying exceeded the class' 7.60 index placing him in the 17th spot.
Darby Neagle qualified sixth in A/Fuel with a 6.571.  Neagle defeated Lee Paul Jennings in round one, 6.70 to 7.17, but had the tables turn on him in round two and lost to Claude Lavoie, 6.64 to a 7.12.
Jim Pace returned to the A/Gas wars in his popular '48 Anglia, thrilling fans with his 300' and out-of-shape burnouts.  Pace was on target to make the final round, until his entry bogged off the starting line against Mike Ward in the semis.  Ward won easily with a 7.68 to an 8.04.
Bill Dunlap, who had qualified second in the Top Fuel field with a 5.991, lost his first round meeting against a tire-smoking Rick White.  The blower belt had liberated itself from the motor at about half track, with the blower trying to accomplish the same through the lights.
Charlie See, near lane, and James Martin streak to the finish line during round two of NE2.  Martin advanced to the next round using an 8.607 over See's close 8.626.
Butch Ranson qualified his ultra-cool '46 Ford Coupe in the top spot of the A/Gas field with a great 7.608.  Ranson defeated Troy Baugh in the opening round with a 7.86 to a 7.88, before being upset in round two by an unnecessary break-out to eventual runner-up Ken Ratzloff, 7.73 to a 7.47.
Ronnie Lennon drove the popular Batto Trucking Crosley to the NE1 winner's circle, defeating reigning class champ, Don Taros, in the final.
Tommy Johnson carried the front-end of his A/Fuel dragster through some violent tire shake during qualifying.  Johnson was able to calm his beast down and pedaled it to a 7.20, which was held for the 11th spot.  Johnson's weekend came to an abrupt end during his first round meeting with Ron Attebury, when his "Lights Out" entry encountered a mishap with the 'tree backing up from his burnout.  (see second photo at top of page)
A resurgent Steve Woods claimed his second consecutive AA/GAS win over new E.T. record holder Howard Anderson in the final.  Woods used a 6.743 over Anderson's 6.77, while Anderson lowered the class E.T. record to a 6.710 in the semis.
I have a sentimental love of Opels, and Tom Frank's B/Gas entry never disappoints.  Franks has been spending quite a bit of time lately fine-tuning the chassis set-up, which resulted in one of his best launches to date.  Franks qualified fourth in the field with an 8.63, but I'm afraid these newfound wheel-stands cost him his first round win, as he bulbed by one-thousandth of a second.  Darn!
Larry Pettit advanced his gorgeous "Crazy Horse" Mustang Funny Car to his second final round appearance of the season.  While Pettit would retain bridesmaid status to winner Dan Horan Jr., Pettit did run a personal-best 6.114 during qualifying to sit at the top of the field.

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