1 of 29

Buy Photo

MIKE GRIFFITH / THE CALIFORNIAN

Fuel Altered driver Jeremy Sullivan powers his '48 Fiat down the track Sunday en route to a semifinal victory at Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

2 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

3 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

4 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

5 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

E. Christianson lost in this pickup in the finals of the hot rod division.

6 of 29

Buy Photo

MIKE GRIFFITH / THE CALIFORNIAN

Tony Bartone does a burnout prior to a nostalgia Top Fuel semifinal victory on Sunday during the March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway

7 of 29

Buy Photo

MIKE GRIFFITH / THE CALIFORNIAN

Peter Gallen of Broomhill, Penn., lost any shot at a Funny Car semifinal win on Sunday when he got sideways off the starting line during the March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

8 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

J. Kaumre, A-Fuel car from Sunday.

9 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

Mike Boyd of Wildomar speeds down the track in his Fuel Altered car Sunday.

10 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

Dan Hix prepares for a run in his double A fuel altered car on Sunday.

11 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

Mike Boyd of Wildomar sits in his 23 Ford Fuel Altered car ready for his next run on Sunday.

12 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

Crowds watch the action at the March Meet on Sunday.

13 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

Crowds watch the action at the March Meet on Sunday.

14 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

15 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

16 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

Jason Rupert prepares for a run in his funny car.

17 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

Tony Bartone pulls up to the starting line for a run in his top fuel dragster during Sunday's action at the March Meet.

18 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

19 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

Nostalgia Funny Car winner James Day, of San Juan Capistrano, does a burnout before a run Sunday at the March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

20 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

Dan Hix, of Central Point, Ore., prepares for a run in is double-A fuel-altered car on Sunday. He went 6.11 seconds at 206.16 mph on this run.

21 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

Ron Swearingen readies for a run in his funny car.

22 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

Nostalgia Funny Car winner James Day, of San Juan Capistrano, does a burnout before a run Sunday at the March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

23 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

Jerry Jahnson, of Sacramento was the winner for 6.90 Doorslammer division.

24 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

Tony Bartone's crew performs maintenance on his top fuel dragster before Sunday's final.

25 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

Tony Bartone's prepares for the finals in his top fuel dragster Sunday.

26 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

Tony Bartone prepares for the finals in his top fuel dragster Sunday.

27 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

Tony Bartone's crew performs maintenance on his top fuel dragster

28 of 29

Buy Photo

TOM MACHT / SPECIAL TO THE CALIFORNIAN

Tony Bartone's crew performs maintenance on his top fuel dragster before Sunday's final.

29 of 29

Buy Photo

TBC

Jesse Adams, from Yuba City, speeds down the track in his Nostalgia Funny Car on Sunday.

Dan Horan had the quickest Nostalgia Funny Car all weekend at Auto Club Famoso Raceway, but James Day was quicker on the lights.

That was the difference on Sunday as Day's better reaction time at the starting line propelled him to victory in the 56th running of the March Meet.

It was likely the closest Funny Car race in track history as it was decided by mere thousandths of a second.

Horan stopped the clocks at 5.726 seconds, but Day got the win light with a 5.883.

The difference at the finish was .157, the exact advantage Day had on the starting line.

Day said he had no idea who won until track workers in the shut-down area pointed at him.

"Everybody down there was pointing at me and it was total elation," he said. "I couldn't be happier.

"This is one of the oldest events in all of drag racing. Guys like Dale Pulde and Don Prudhomme and Raymond Beadle have all won this thing and to put your name with those guys, who are my all-time heroes, it doesn't get any better than that."

Horan led qualifying at 5.668 seconds and mowed through his competition to reach the finals, his closest race being a 5.730 to 5.770 win over Kris Krabill in the semis.

"That's one bad hombre over there." Day said of Horan.

Day had a relatively easy run to the finals.

He actually had a single in the quarterfinals, running 5.76, when Steven Densham had something go awry and just motored down the track after his burnout. In the semis, Peter Gallen got the edge off the starting line, but the race was over an instant later as Gallen's car immediately lost traction and got sideways. Meanwhile, Day was en route to a 5.81.

His toughest race until the finals came in the first round on Saturday.

"We got lucky, won on a holeshot first round against my family, Del Worsham," he said. "My dad and his dad raced together through the '70s and '80s. So Dan's been a brother to me and mentor."

In Top Fuel, Tony Bartone ended all of his frustration over the years in Bakersfield -- 5.623 seconds -- to beat Rick White's game 5.715.

For emphasis, Bartone, who came all the way from Long Island City, N.Y., also tacked on top seed in the last run of the weekend -- 262.13 mph.

"We've tried to win this race for a number of years," Bartone said. "We came here, we ran well and had our act together this weekend. "Steve Boggs and the boys and the crew did a phenomenal job this weekend."

Asked about his early rounds, the ebullient Bartone replied: "Funny you should mention that. I only remember the final round and I won!"

White was consistent in his march to the finals, starting by running a 5.662, in easily getting past Dusty Green's 5.996 before taking out Hot Rod Reunion champ Adam Sorokin with a 5.73 in the semifinal.

Bartone's break came in the semifinals as Rick McGee was way late on the starting line, allowing Bartone's slower 5.821 to get the win over McGee's 5.706.

"I was lucky enough to get a significant hole shot and cover up the deficiency," he said. "In all honesty, I lifted a little too early on that lap but the win light came on anyway. They say you need one lucky lap. That was it."