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Murphy Misses 5th March Meet Win by One Round




The 2005 edition of Nostalgia Drag Racing's premier event was marked with a mixed bag of weather, several new winners - some close calls and upsets. In spite of rising gas prices, for the forty sixth year in a row a full complement of race cars (including a record 25 Top Fuel cars) invaded the hallowed grounds of Fomosa Raceway and gave the SRO crowd one hell of a show.

Backing up to Top Fuel Friday, this years March Meet followed the successful 16 car format used at the 2004 CHRR. There would be only two qualifying sessions (one Friday and one Saturday) with the first round going off Saturday afternoon. This would leave eight cars for Sunday and make for a smoother running show. When all was said and done the field was much tighter than previous years with a 6.17 bump spot. However, Jim Murphy's ET and Jack Harris' speed records were never in jeopardy with most cars in the 5.90 range all weekend.

After qualifying # 2 with a strong 5.91 at 245, Murphy's hopes for a unprecedented fifth March Meet win were high. Those hopes stayed in tact until the semi finals when the front end came up at half track forcing Jim out of the groove. When he brought the front wheels down the rear tires went up in smoke ending any chance he had of winning the race or event. Full story below.

Note: The Goodguys put together a television package and this March Meet will be the first nostalgia event to be televised nationwide. Murphy was interviewed and had an on-board camera for the show. The first airing will be April 9, 2005 on Speed Channel. Check your local listings for the broadcast time in your area.



Final Top Fuel Qualifying
1. Brad Thompson -  5.891 @ 245.76
2. Jim Murphy -  5.912 @ 248.68
3. Bill Dunlap  -  5.912 @ 246.23
4. Rick White  -  5.921 @ 247.72
5. Rick McGee  - 5.949 @ 227.96
6. Howard Haight  - 5.978 @ 255.24
7. Lee Jennings  -  5.990 @ 248.68
8. Jason Richey  -  5.995 @ 253.66
9.   Bob Hallock  - 6.009 @ 225.67
10. Brett Harris  -  6.042 @ 212.01
11. Denver Schutz  -  6.045 @ 244.03
12. Sean Bellemeur  - 6.080 239.61
13. Terry Cox - 6.100 @ 238.09
14. Mendy Fry -  6.148 @ 198.93
15. Brendan Murry -  6.166 @ 224.60
16. Scott Mason -  6.170 @ 239.04



After unloading and setting up at the track Thursday, Jim and Judy went to the Double Tree Hotel for the first "official" function of the event - the Goodguys Awards Banquet. All the 2004 champions and runner-ups were honored and received a very classy trophy and other goodies. 2003 Champion, Murphy would receive his accolades for his # 2 finish in the 2004 Top Fuel Championships. No one would be surprised to see him up here next year as the 2005 Champion.







The first and only qualifying session of the day was schedule for for 3 p.m. so the morning was laid back with time for visiting and making final adjustments to the engine.



About an hour before the first qualifying session the car is warmed up and checked for any potential problems.





Prior to his first run, Murphy checks the track temperature. This is a very important factor on what tune-up tweaks are made in the staging lanes.


After three years with its OSH paint scheme, Jim Murphy's "WW2 Racing" digger is now sporting a new (and very green) body. For his first session Murphy was paired with Terry Cox.




Crew Chief, Tim Beebe gives Murphy the OK to move to the line.


Murphy left hard and qualified near the top with a solid 5.973 at 248.68.







After the first session the crew was busy replacing some damaged pistons, a problem that would persist throughout the weekend.





Another 80 degree day and the second and last qualifying session started at 11:30 a.m. - 90 minutes late. Murphy heats his tires for his pairing with rookie, Rick Williamson.


As he always does, Dave Thornhill backs Murphy up in his tracks after the burnout.



Murphy improves his Friday time and goes to # 2 with a 5.912 at 243.17.




The bad news was he disappeared behind a wall of smoke burning 3 pistons... a problem he'd have all weekend.




With first round of eliminations just 3 hours off, the crew thrashed to fix the damage.



With everything repaired, the car gets its final prep for round one of racing.




Round One of Eliminations


First round of racing started at 3:20 pm so the track was still on the warm side. Murphy would be paired with the # 15 qualifier, Brendan Murry. Although the two are friends, I have a feeling that over the last few years Brendan is tired of looking at back end of the WW2 Racing car. Murphy seems to have his number.



Murry had .04 in the bank at the hit but Murphy drove right around the Chevy car and took the win with a 5.973 at 247.52.



Never one to give up, Murry hung in with a 6.220 at 222.00 and got a good view of Murphy nipping three more pistons but moving to round two on Sunday.




Sunday Eliminations


After two warm and sunny days Sunday dawned overcast, drizzly and cool... it never got much better. Due to the weather the entire show started an hour late. In round two of eliminations Murphy would meet the potent Chevy car of Lee Jennings Sr.



Both drivers left together and Murphy held on to win a great drag race 5.927 at 247.66 to Jennings 5.997 at 226.58.





At the finish line it was Murphy by half a car.




After replacing three more pistons the crew had the car back together for the semis.



Murphy checks the computer during the warm-up.


For Sunday the Speed Channel crew fitting Murphy with this "lipstick" camera on the roll cage. Look for these shots to be dynamite during the broadcast.




The semi finals pitted Murphy against veteran Howard Haight. Admittedly, Haight stated before the match that he could not remember ever beating Jim. Never say never...



Haight left first but Murphy was already half a tenth at the 330' mark. But due to the fact he needed just another 10 lbs. on the front end the front wheels came up and Murphy couldn't steer the car. It carried the wheels just a little above the ground to past the 400" mark driving the car out of the groove. When Murphy brought it down it got loose and spun the tires. That's all Haight for the win as his 5.954 at 237.71 would have been hard to catch.





Related Link

AA/FD Inc. - Nostalgia Top Fuel Teams


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