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The NHRA Gateway Nationals has traditionally been a day race run during the stifling heat and humidity that is the prevalent weather of the Midwest's summer. As a result, the race is usually an endurance contest for both fans and racers, with the fans fighting the heat and humidity and the racers battling an overheated and slick track surface.

This year-thanks to a decision by the track and NHRA-the race was run on Thursday through Saturday and mostly in the evening, and as a result both the fans and racers were much more comfortable.

The fans were much happier with the later starting time for Pro Qualifying as there was generally less heat and humidity for them to deal with. For the racers, however, the format made their life a little more difficult. Each qualifying day they made one lap on a track that had baked all day in the hot sun and a second lap on the same track after dark with the dew coming up. Finding a good qualifying tune-up was a very tricky proposition indeed.

Despite that, veteran tuner Dale Armstrong tuned Jerry Toliver's WWF flopper to a track record 4.883 and the Force camp's tuning troika of Coil, Fedderly and Medlin got Tony Pedregon the track speed record of 312.21 mph.

In the end Armstrong's expertise got Toliver the win over Dean Skuza in a tire smoking, lane changing, pedaling classic at around 10:30 PM Saturday night. That win gave Toliver a serious points lead over Force.

Neither the Top Fuel nor Pro Stock troops ever really got the track surface figured out. Joe Amato lead the Top Fuel troops with a less than stellar 4.602/317 but couldn't convert that to a win as Gary Scelzi won a backpedaling final over Kenny Bernstein.



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