(Photos by David Whealon – DWPhotos) – The nitro ranks had some interesting action during the 2017 NHRA Gatornationals and a rookie nearly stood the class on its head with an auspicious debut in funny car. That “rookie” is Jonnie Lindberg who is the two time back-to-back, and defending alky funny car national champion. He good hooked up with Jim Head over the winter and the pair med their debut as a team in Gainesville. With extremely minimal testing and attending their first race of the season, Lindberg drove his well tuned funny car to the finals where he met with John Force but was not able to get him. Force collected his accolades while memorably singing for national television cameras at the top end of the track.
In top fuel the US Army team lead by crew chiefs Mike Green and Phil Shuler got Tony Schumacher a horse that could really run and he handled it well, making the final round and giving the team some momentum as the tour heads west to Las Vegas. The Army car has been good over the last few seasons but they are looking for a return to greatness. Will they turn this win into a streak going forward? Leah Pritchett is hoping to regain he form in Las Vegas and score her third Wally of the season.
You’ll see that Bob Tasca, Pat Dakin, and guys like Dave Richards were competing at Gainesville as well. Jim Campbell managed a couple of round wins in the 7-11 Charger. It was a great weekend and the emergence of Jonnie Lindberg in a nitro car may have been overshadowed by Stevie Fast showing up in Pro Mod but if they can do what they did in Gainesville when they get to Las Vegas, 2017 is going to be incredible.