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Kurt Busch Qualifies For Tire Kingdom Gatornationals... But Does Not Get Far
Going into last weekend's Tire Kingdom Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida, Sprint Cup Series regular Kurt Busch would be happy just qualifying his Dodge Avenger for Pro Stock Eliminations. Unfortunately, that was easier said than done.
Friday's two rounds of qualifications went terribly for the newcomer. In Round 1, Busch spun the tires on his Dodge leaving the line, effectively scrubbing the run. The second attempt was over before it even started. In the NHRA, there is a rule stating that once a competitor stages their car, the opponent must stage in seven seconds or less or he/she will be disqualified from the run. Busch made a mental error and failed to stage in time, resulting in a red light.
Those errors resulted in Busch being on the outside looking in to the 16-car field on Saturday. After getting over Friday jitters, Busch was able to put down a pass in 6.532 seconds at 211.46 mph to earn the 12th-fastest time out of 21 cars. That time put him in a matchup with Erica Enders in the first round. During qualifying, Enders set a national speed record in the Pro Stock class with her qualifying effort of 6.502 seconds at 213.57 mph.
In the actual matchup, Enders got a holeshot of .028 of a second off the line and gained a minute amount over the quarter-mile to take the victory. The overall margin of victory was .031 of a second, or roughly a half a car length.
Despite going out in the first round of Eliminations, Busch was still relatively pleased with the way that his Pro Stock debut went.
"I’ve had a wonderful weekend off here with my drag racing friends," Busch said after his loss. "I can’t thank my crew and Allen Johnson Racing enough for everything they have done for me this weekend. I want to extend a special thanks to the NHRA officials and sponsors, to the media and to all the competitors for the great hospitality I was shown during this memorable weekend. And, of course, thanks to all the great fans – both in NASCAR and NHRA – that have supported me so much in this endeavor and throughout my career."
Jason Line ended up taking the Pro Stock overall win in Gainesville, beating teammate Greg Anderson in the finals. The aforementioned Enders was ousted by Line in the Second Round.
Del Worsham took his first career Top Fuel victory, beating Tony Schumacher in the progress. Mike Neff won the Funny Car class after Cruz Pedregon spun his tires in the Finals, while Eddie Krawiec took advantage of Karen Stoffer's red light to win in the Pro Stock Bike class.