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Steiner Stays Red Hot, Parks "Three-Peats" at Goodguys Indy

By John Drummond

June 9, 2002 Clermont, Indiana - San Jose's Gerry Steiner packed his 89-year-old mother, daughter Gerilyn, and the family's two wiener dogs and a poodle in his signature white 1989 Chevy dually and drove 2,319 miles to compete at the 14th K & N Filters Goodguys Hot Rod Nationals presented by Advance Auto Parts at Historic Indianapolis Raceway Park. Once he arrived at IRP, his long journey was only just beginning.

Sixteen Top Fuel entries made the tow to Indy and while all of them wanted the win, several had the lone remaining spot in the Goodguys 5-second club on their minds. Denver Schutz came closest to nabbing the last spot as his 6.006 in Friday's opening qualifying session. As far as Steiner, his Indy odyssey started with a broken rear end during Friday's lone shot. Saturday morning saw the Steiner & Burger car, which some had referred to as a "monster" this season, leave the starting line before the tree was activated resulting in a "no time." So this left one qualifying shot for the "World's Fastest Austrian." Displaying the awesome form this car has exhibited all season, Steiner easily made it down the track Saturday afternoon, in the heat of the day with an eye-opening 5.924 which placed him #2 in the lineup for Sunday's show. Who was on the pole? How about the new Goodguys Top Fuel ET record holder Rance McDaniel who guided Jim and Bob McLennan's Champion Speed Shop Special to a 5.854.


Steiner's Sunday Sojourn started out with a first round holeshot loss to defending Hot Rod Nationals Top Fuel Champion Bob Muravez. Muravez's 6.121 @ 240.89 bat Gerry's 6.047 @ 239.42. Meanwhile, new record holder McDaniel posted low ET of the first round zipping to a 5.883 to defeat a red-lighting Kent Terry. However, during the run, the Champion Speed Shop entry broke the crank hub, resulting in a massive thrash. Catching wind of their trouble and being Low ET loser of the first round, Steiner and crew ceased the opportunity to run the semis via the Goodguys/VRA break rule. As Steiner did his burnout in the semis, replacing McDaniel, here came the Champion car, racing through the lanes attempting to get to the starting line. Time had run out and Steiner advanced to the final by defeating San Jose neighbor Brendan Murry running 5.971 @ 244.92 to Murry's 6.344.

The final round race was "calm" compared to Steiner's hectic weekend, as he blasted out a straight and true 6.117 @ 244.56 to defeat an up-in-smoke "Radar" Roger Lechtenberg to grab his 2nd straight Goodguys event win and his first win outside California. "I think my mom brought us some good luck," said an exhausted Steiner following the final. "If feels like we ran two complete races this weekend. I wish my guys could stay and party tonight, but they all have to catch a plane and go back home," he said.


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