Gainesville - The 48th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals weren't too kind to Duane Shields and the PEAK A/Fuel Dragster team. Unfortunately, they suffered a close first round loss to end a three race stanza which included a regional event in Phoenix, Arizona and a pair of races in Gainesville, Florida.
Even with the loss, Duane was still on his game qualifying in the top half of another tough field as the seventh seed with an impressive 5.27 at 279 MPH. “The conditions were so good in Gainesville that it could make anyone into an instant hero. Everyone in the class stepped up so we gave the car a more aggressive tune up. But that increases the risk of losing traction” Duane said.
In round one, Duane took on reining East Coast Regional Champ, Rich McPhillips, who qualified tenth with a 5.31 at 266 MPH. As the dragsters left the line, McPhillips got the starting line advantage but then got slightly out of the grove allowing Duane to nearly close the gap but McPhillips crossed the finish line before Duane was able to pass him. McPhillips rang up another 5.31 at 270 MPH over Duane’s 5.39 at 278 MPH. “It shook early into the run so I had to pedal. The 5.39 is the slowest we have run since the beginning of the season in Pomona. But this is a race where consistency could have won. I’m disappointed but I have to say that I’m really proud of my team. They have really worked hard over the last three weeks and have done a great job” Duane said.
The PEAK team now takes a short break before returning to action April 21-23 in Richmond VA for a Lucas Oil Regional event. “This break comes at the right time so we can regroup and do some testing before the next race in Richmond. We need to step it up in order to stay with the top cars in the class” he said. As always, Duane would like to thank his sponsors PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil, Final Charge, Blue Def, NGK, GRP and Brad Anderson Enterprises.