Bobby Cottrell, Dan Horan Jr., and Kin Bates all but stamped their names on those Heritage Series gold championship Wallys because of their wins at Tulsa Raceway’s Nitro Nationals. In fact, Cottrell, driving the Austin-Obrien Camaro Nitro Funny Car, mathematically cannot be challenged with only one event remaining on the schedule. Similarly, Horan and Bates need only appear at the California Hot Rod Reunion in October to earn the 10 points needed to guarantee them the Top Fuel and A/Fuel championships, respectively.
For Horan and crew chief Pete Kaiser, their dragster performed exquisitely throughout the two-day race. A qualifying run of 5.601 at 263.00 mph put them three tenths of a second quicker than number two Adam Sorokin’s 5.925. In round one of eliminations, Horan Jr. earned a bye run for his No. 1 qualifying position in the seven-car field. Then, a shocker that probably no one saw coming. Jim Murphy, second in points, was rocked by Brendan Murry’s 6.212 to Murphy’s 6.392 slowing to 164.01 mph.
Sorokin kept the pressure on Horan Jr. winning against Garry Wheeler in round one and Murry in round two. Thus, it was down to No. 1 versus No. 2 in the final contest. Sorokin drilled Horan Jr. on the Tree, .066 to .111, but could not hold off the powerful Hemi for the entire quarter-mile. Horan unleashed another Promethean blast with a 5.641 elapsed time at 259.01 mph to subdue Sorokin’s game effort of 5.834 at 222.66 mph.
Adams-Bates is on the cusp of winning another Heritage Series A/Fuel dragster title. Since the series started back in 2008, the team from Anderson, Calif., has accumulated 10 championships. Only twice has another team won A/Fuel dragster: 2014 when Ryan Davenport won and 2019 when Drew Austin took the title. Adams-Bates have won the rest.
At Tulsa Raceway Park, Bates qualified No. 1 at 6.099 at 227.65 mph, but Wayne Ramay was right there with his 6.118. Ramay wasted an excellent 6.161 to a red light in round one, and Bates took a single when opponent David Brown broke. After a bye run in the semifinals, Bates faced Gary Wheeler and the Grand Prix team in the final round. The battle between two injected nitro dragsters favored Wheeler off the line, .047 to .083, but it was not enough to hold off Bates’ 6.156 to Wheeler’s 6.277.
Coming into the Nitro Nationals, Cottrell had won three of the four prior Funny Car point events. A win at Tulsa would seal the deal for the Austin-Obrien team. Could they come up with another win? The answer is yes!
Cottrell qualified No. 1 at 5.655 followed by a 5.764 in round one. In the final round Cottrell’s opponent was Bakersfield’s Kamaka Pocock driving the “California Hustler.” Pocock left first, .070 to .119, but Cottrell keep it in the groove and the Bucky Austin horsepower did the rest. Cottrell’s 5.636 at 248.60 mph prevailed over Pocock’s 5.811 at 249.72.
W-Steve Mathews; Marietta OK; 4.559-152.12 mph
R/U-Darrell Norseworth; Wichita Falls TX; 4.665-149.28 mph
W-Kevin Thomas; Wagoner OK; .041 RT; 9.20 Dial; 9.225-143.08 mph
R/U-Gordon Laster; Muskogee OK; .093 RT; 10.68 Dial; 10.701-123.45 mph
W-Robert Cowden; .012 RT; 13.37 Dial; 13.432-97.69 mph
R/U-Anthony Rodgers; .108 RT; 10.37 Dial; 10.396-127.41 mph