As is often the case at March Meets, Bobby Cottrell made his Funny Car victory on Monday at Famoso Raceway look easy.
It was anything but, he said, despite having a single in the final run of the extended weekend for his fifth win in the past six years.
“It hasn’t been easy, I can tell you that much,” Cottrell said. “The adversity this weekend, we blew up and caught on fire on Thursday and to win the March Meet now on Monday is a dream come true.
“It’s been work on top of work on top of work patching this thing up. To come out on top means the world to everybody.”
The final was anticlimactic. His opponent, Tim Boychuk, had his car start at the same time as Cottrell’s but when the body was lowered the engine shut off.
Cottrell then ran 6.094 at just 179.04 mph as he shut off early and pulled the parachute. He ran 204 mph at half track.
“(Car owner Bucky Austin) gave me the half motion on the starting line, I thought, man, that sucks,” Cottrell said. “I still tried to cut a good light. Our early numbers were good. Probably would have went low 60s. But it’s probably for the best to save parts for the next race.”
Cottrell used a huge starting line advantage over Tony Jurardo to reach the finals as his slower 5.821 at 249.76 was just enough to hold off Jurado’s hard-charging 5.782 at 256.80. Cottrell had a .046 reaction time to Jurado’s .146 in the semis and his margin of victory at the finish line was just .0388.
Boychuk won his semifinal against Brad Thompson about a second after the light turned green. Thompson’s car shook the tires hard about 60 feet out and his parachutes deployed. Boychuk, meanwhile, motored down the track in 5.849 seconds at 241.67 mph.
The third time heading to the starting line was the charm for Cottrell in the quarterfinals.
Cottrell and Drew Austin were the lone pair of cars to not make a quarterfinal run on a rain-plagued Saturday, twice being ready to do so only to have rain fall right before they got the opportunity.
The race was the closest in the division on Monday as Cottrell’s 5.697 at 2566.41 edged out Austin’s 5.705 at 256.56. Cottrell got a .019 advantage off the starting line and kept his narrow lead throughout the race.
“The one against Drew, that was the race of the season,” Cottrell said. “When Bucky and Pat (Austin, owner of Drew Austin's car) go at it, you know it’s going to be a fist fight.
Top qualifier Mark Whynaught went on to win the AA/Fuel Altered race.
Whynaught used a starting line reaction time advantage to get the win as his slower 6.120 at 233.39 mph just held off a quicker 6.109/247.07 blast by Johnny West. Whynaught’s better reaction (.061 to .120 was the difference and the margin of victory was just .0483.
Eily Stafford won the Nitro Pro Comp final over Keith Wilson.
Two Bakersfield drivers, Chris Kurtis and Meghan Gorman, also claimed March Meet victories.
Kurtis won the A/Gas race in his 1970 Chevelle, cutting a perfect light (.000) before running 7.607 at 179.33.
Mondays are apparently good race days for Kurtis.
“I won this back in 2010 in D/Gas on a Monday and now in A/Gas on a Monday,” he said. “I didn’t expect (a perfect reaction time) but I was trying for a good light. It surprised me it was a trip-zip light but we got her done.”
Kurtis said this will be his first full season of A/Gas competition after getting the car on track halfway through last season.
Gorman ran 8.622 at 156.79 seconds in her 1967 Camaro for the B/Gas win.
“I’ve been racing since 2009 and this is my first March Meet win,” she said. “It’s a trophy that everybody wants and it’s so elusive. I’ve won a lot of other cool stuff but this one takes the cake.”
It took five rounds of racing for her to get the win, which started on Saturday with a first round win over her father, Tom.
“He was the sacrificial lamb, unfortunately,” she said with a laugh.
Matthew Flud of Shafter was runner-up in D/Gas.