On the strength of four runs that consistently improved Shane Tucker and the Auzmet/StructGlass Chevrolet Camaro will start from the No. 14 spot at the 50th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. The Australian driver is chasing his first Mello Yello Pro Stock NHRA world championship and qualifying for the biggest race of the young season is a step in the right direction.
“I think just getting some reliability back has been good,” said Tucker. “We are getting in a routine and all the guys are gelling. We are not oblivious to the fact that this new Nick Ferri engine program is going to be a tough deal to get up to speed. We aren’t going to quit and this is all a process. I think when you get impatient is when you start hurting stuff. We are going to stay patient and keep chipping away.”
The final qualifying pass was a slight improvement from his first run of the day as the scoreboards lit up with a time of 6.620 seconds at 206.04 mph. It was the quickest run of the season for Tucker and continued a streak of improvement which had the team excited about the possibilities for race day.
Tucker will face Matt Hartford in the first round tomorrow. This will be the first meeting between the two young Pro Stock racers and Hartford is the fourteenth different Pro Stock opponent for Tucker. This is the first time Tucker has qualified for the Gatornationals.
“I am excited to be racing on Sunday for the first time this season,” added Tucker. “I am just happy to be out there on Sunday. It has been a while since I have had a chance to win a race and just because this is the Gatornationals doesn’t change the fact that we are excited to be out there. We are going to take it to those guys (Matt Hartford) and hopefully go some rounds.”
In the opening session today Tucker’s improvement curve continued to trend upwards with a then season quickest 6.623 second, 208.88 mph pass. This was right inside the window of improvement the team was looking for. The conditions definitely helped all the Pro Stock competitors but the continued progress gave crew chief Rob Tucker more confidence going into the final qualifying session and race day.
On Friday the team was working with a brand new Nick Ferri motor and came out of the gate with a 6.817 second, 204.94 mph run and followed that up with a much improved 6.706 second, 205.57 mph pass in the second session. Tucker ended the day as the provisional No. 15 qualifier.
Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. from Gainesville Raceway leading off with Top Fuel, Funny Car and then Pro Stock followed by Pro Stock Motorcycle.
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NHRA ON TV
Sunday, March 17 7:30pm – 10:30pm ET FS1
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SHANE TUCKER, 34, Auzmet Architectural/StructGlass Chevrolet Camaro SS
Q1: 14th at 6.817 sec, 204.94 mph
Q2: 15th at 6.706 sec, 205.57 mph
Q3: 13th at 6.623 sec, 208.88 mph
Q4: 14th at 6.620 sec, 206.04 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
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Sunday, March 17
Final Eliminations 11:00 a.m.
Tony Fay Public Relations