1. Archive

Gatornationals finals washed out until April

Published Sep. 9, 2005

The 32nd annual Gatornationals have been put on hold for one month.

Bad weather Sunday and the likelihood of more rain today and Tuesday caused NHRA officials topostpone the final day of eliminations. The event has been rescheduled for April 20-21, with April 22 reserved as a rainout day.

"Looking at the weather map, this system hasn't moved at all in the past few hours," Graham Light, NHRA vice president of racing operations, said Sunday afternoon. "Long range, it is supposed to stay this way the next two or three days."

Light rain began late Saturday, but a clearing in the system allowed professional categories to finish qualifying by early evening. Sunday, a persistent drizzle started in the morning and never stopped, leaving the track soaked and fans ducking for cover. Because cooler temperatures moved into the area, the track stood little chance of drying even if the rain had stopped, NHRA officials said.

Staying in Gainesville until midweek was not an option because the next event is scheduled to begin Thursday in Houston.

"It's disappointing that we couldn't get the race in today," said Top Fuel driver Mike Dunn, who was third after qualifying. "This is such a great event and the ones who lose are the fans that have packed the stands all weekend. From a racing standpoint you hate to leave an event and come back because the conditions change so much."

April 20 will be used to run practice only. The next day, the NHRA will follow the schedule originally set for Sunday.

"I'd love to race," said low Funny Car qualifier and 10-time points champion John Force. "The costs of coming back is tough on the NHRA and the fans. It is (an inconvenience)."