In the first race of Team Co-Line/Goalsetter’s 2014 schedule, the crew proved they hadn’t been sitting idle through the off-season. Dale Brand and crew travelled to Gainesville, FL March 14-16 and brought up a runner-up finish in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, 45th annual Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals
. Prior to Gainesville, the team tested in Valdosta, GA where they got several things sorted out before the first event.
Brand and team qualified 7th with a 5.558 second elapsed time pass at 262.18 mph. In the first round of eliminations on Saturday, the team defeated Cassie Simonton of Brownsburg, IN. Both cars shook and danced all over the track. Brand avoided the centerline by inches, but Simonton was not so fortunate, hitting the wall hard enough to fold the exhaust headers up against the fender. Brand recorded a 5.874 second pass at 246.71 mph.
In the second round on Sunday, Brand faced Kris Hool of Casper, WY in beautiful 78 degree weather. Brand was first off the line and once again was far from a straight pass, dancing all over the track, but Brand never lifted and recorded a 5.610 elapsed time at 258.52 mph to Hool’s losing 5.676. In the semi-finals, Brand faced long-time drag racer Jay Payne of Claremont, CA. Brand’s reaction time propelled him off the line first and pulled away for the win clocking a 5.576 pass at 260.66 mph to Payne’s 5.627 at 260.51 mph.
The Co-Line/Goalsetter team was looking for their first Gainesville win, while their opponent Dan Pomponio of Berlin, NJ had won at Gainesville last year. Brand was a little too antsy off the starting line, and recorded a red light of 0.012 automatically giving the win to Pomponio. Brand’s ’06 Monte Carlo was the quickest car at 5.592 seconds at 260.97 mph compared to Pomponio’s 5.662 at 258.22 mph.
"Top Alcohol Funny Car competition on the national level is intense. The NHRA Gator Nationals in Gainesville, Florida always brings in some of the best cars in the world. This level of racing brings out the best in Team Co-Line / Goalsetter! We had an outstanding weekend, missing the national event championship by only twelve one thousands of a second. This will only strengthen our determination!" said Dale “Rail” Brand.
Crew members for the event were Dale Brand, Tana Brand, Eric Brand, deWayne Lemons, and Marty Van Wyk.
TV coverage of the event will be televised on ESPN2 on March 29 at 9 a.m. CST. The team is planning to compete again in April at the NHRA Dollar General 4 Wide Nationals in Charlotte, NC.