GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The first two races of the 2013 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season has been filled with excitement and nothing short of some wild finishes.
One driver who’s looking to improve on his first two starts of the season and make a splash at the 44th annual Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals, March 14-17, is Top Fuel pilot David Grubnic.
After opening the season with a pair of quarterfinal efforts, native Australian Grubnic is hoping to pull from his past successes at the Gatornationals to kick his 2013 season into high gear and improve on his sixth place points position.
Grubnic says the annual East Coast NHRA opener is one of his favorite events on the circuit.
“It’s one of our greatest races on the tour,” Grubnic said. “It’s like our Daytona 500. It has a diversified fan base that comes from all over the country to enjoy watching NHRA drag racing at its best.”
After winning the tradition-rich event in 2006 and claiming two No. 1 qualifying positions there, Grubnic is eager to add another Gatornationals victory to his resume. It won’t be easy given the competition this year, but he knows how to get the job done when it’s crunch time.
“I was fortunate to win in Gainesville back in 2006,” Grubnic said. “It was one of the greatest moments in my racing career. The key to winning this event is the same for all of them and that’s beating your opponent to the finish line with quickness and consistency. You have to make it to the final to win, of course, so getting by the early rounds is obviously imperative. It’s all about consistency and going rounds on Sunday.”
The driver of the Optima Batteries dragster is coming off one of the strongest seasons of his career, where he raced to one victory and ended a nearly six-year winless streak, raced to one No. 1 qualifying position and finished 10th in the Countdown to the Championship points standings. With many of the same drivers back in the lineup this season, Grubnic expects more of the same challenge on the track.
“The competition this year has been fierce and tough so far,” Grubnic said. “Everybody is pushing the limits so close to the edge to keep up.”
Some of his toughest challengers include defending event winner Lucas and seven-time world champion and Mello Yello Series point leader Tony Schumacher, a four-time winner of the Gatornationals. Others seeking wins include defending world champ Antron Brown, Winternationals winner Shawn Langdon, Spencer Massey and Doug Kalitta. Rookie driver Brittany Force will make her first pro start at Gainesville in her Castrol Edge dragster.