Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Upsets Rule the Day in Gainesville; Fresh Surface, Weather Even the Field at Gatornationals

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Upsets Rule the Day in Gainesville; Fresh Surface, Weather Even the Field at Gatornationals

Article excerpt

Byline: JASON SCHNEIDER, The Times-Union

GAINESVILLE -- For those looking for a companion to all those upsets from the NCAA basketball tournament, they needed to look no further than Sunday's elimination rounds at the Mac Tools Gatornationals.

Thanks to a freshly laid surface that wasn't providing enough traction and a lack of cloud cover that kept the track temperatures higher than normal, the quarterfinals of the top fuel, funny car and pro stock categories were a bracketologist's nightmare.

Four teams in each of the series' first rounds went on to beat teams that qualified with better times. And several of the sports marquee names lost early on, including defending funny car champion, Tony Pedregon, and back-to-back defending top fuel champion Larry Dixon.

"I think everybody kind of knew it was going to be wild," said Tony Schumacher, who won Sunday's top fuel final. "When you put down new asphalt and you have sun all at the same time, you're going to have a bit of a problem. Because it's not a secret, asphalt is oil-based, and the teams are going to have to get the cars to slide through the clutch. It can be tricky."

Along with Dixon and Pedregon, two-time defending pro stock bike champ Angelle Savoie was also sent home after the first round as several lesser-known drivers took advantage of the track conditions.

Cory Lee and Scott Weis made Cinderella-like runs to the semifinals of the funny car and top fuel divisions, respectively, thanks to the slippery tracks that drastically lowered everyone's speed.

Weis beat last season's Gatornationals winner Brandon Bernstein in the first round and Lee beat Whit Bazemore, one of the circuit's fastest drivers.

"Anytime cars can't run at the absolute highest [power] it lets those cars that might be a little slower catch up," funny car winner Del Worsham said. …

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