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Bakersfield, CA - March 018-20, 2011: It took two weekends with damn near every imaginable weather condition to get 'er done, but the 53rd March Meet is in the books with Rick White mowing down a stellar Top Fuel field besting co-favorite Brett Harris in the final. Harris beat Murphy in the semi-final on a holeshot, something Jim feels real bad about.

Backing up seven days, its a miracle the meet got finished at all. Weeks before the event the weather on the West Coast had been bad to say the least. Days before kick-off the Bakersfield weather reports were for rain and snow most of the weekend... and other than Friday, it felt like rain all the time but it never came. In the end the villain was wind - a very strong wind that whipped the area mercilessly from early Sunday morning on.

The race was rescheduled for the following Saturday and the week in between also offered a mix bag of bad weather. Like the weekend before, just the chance it would rain out kept fans home. In fact, the AM drizzle at The Patch held off any racing until afternoon.

In reflection Murphy stated, "It was very disappointing but was easier to take with the car running as well as it is. It dropped a cylinder against Harris from being too rich so it has some more in it. We pinched five pistons all weekend and hurt nothing else. They pinched from being rich so we are pretty happy with a happy engine.

The late light was strange. I started to leave and got a thought that I was early and I hesitated for a moment and by then there was a lot of yellow showing and I was a day late, never had anything like that happen to me before. Oh well, we will go on but I would have liked to have a shot at Rick in the final."

There is only one thing you can count on, Murphy will be back to try again in 2012.


Photos and the whole story below.




Friday morning found the crew starting as always, taking the car out of the trailer.



The rest of the morning was spent making sure everything was as it should be.




At every race you need to pass Tech Inspection.





Jim, Tim and Michael checked the clutch settings.





After warming up the engine for the first qualifying session all that was left to do was wait to be called to the lanes.




Friday Qualifying - Session One

Friday, 2:07 p.m. Weather conditions: air temperature 74 degrees, relative humidity 17 percent, barometer 28.98 inches, adjusted altitude 2,778 feet, track temperature 101 degrees.


For his first shot at the track Murphy was paired with Brett Harris - two proven winners that would make a marquee final round at any event. They had to wait a while for a track clean up.





This first shot at the brand new cement track provided the fans with two proven winners that would make a marquee final round at any event. Jim Murphy in his WW2 Racing entry and Brett Harris in the Utah based Jack Harris Racing "Nitro Thunder".







Both cars left hard and collected outstanding early numbers.












As advertised this was a dandy. From start to finish both cars were glued together with Harris carding a 5.740 at 258.07 and Murphy a mirror 5.743 at 251.81. Both agreed it was a FUN deal.

Murphy's incremental times: 60ft-1.016 sec., 330ft-2.605, 660ft 3.828/203.77 mph, 1,000ft-4.861.

Harris' incremental times: 60ft-1.035 sec., 330ft-2.633, 660ft-3.856/204.79 mph, 1,000ft-4.876.



The crew liked it!




2nd Qualifying Session

Friday, 5:08 p.m. Weather conditions: air temperature 61 degrees, relative humidity 44 percent, barometer 28.90 inches, adjusted altitude 1,502 feet, track temperature 83 degrees. With the drop in temperature the track was getting suspect. Several cars passed.





For the second session Murphy was paired with New Yorker, Tony Bartone.


Both cars left good but that was short lived.


Pushing the now cool new cement track a little too hard, Murphy spun the tires before the 60 foot lights and clicked it. Bartone shut off early as well.









Between sessions maintainance was routine.








Putting warm oil into the dry sump sysem.



The warm up between runs is the same procedure everytime with Michael Beebe in the seat, Murphy doing the tweaks and Tim Beebe overseeing.











Saturday - 3rd Qualifying Session

12:08 p.m. Weather conditions: air temperature 61 degrees, relative humidity 44 percent, barometer 28.90 inches, adjusted altitude 1,502 feet, track temperature 83 degrees.... very nice racing conditions.






For the final session Murphy was paried with Mike McClennan.







Tim Beebe did his final tweeks.





Murphy once again left hard gathering nice numbers at each increment.













Good numbers down the track for Murphy to run close to yesterday's best with a 5.746 at 254.23 which kept him #3.





1 Rick White 5.664 251.53
2 Brett Harris 5.740 258.07
3 Jim Murphy 5.743 251.81
4 Tony Bartone 5.746 235.06
5 Denver Schutz 5.747 240.34
6 Rick McGee 5.797 251.77
7 Howard Haight 5.907 223.65
8 Bill Dunlap 5.963 217.67
9 Mike McLennan 5.976 222.11
10 Roger Lechtenberg 5.983 222.11
11 Larry Gotelli Jr. 6.174 181.28
12 Adam Sorokin 6.220 219.86
13 Brad Thompson 6.417 160.06
14 Terry Cox 6.693 146.26
15 Brendan Murry 8.159 109.72




Saturday - Round One of Eliminations

Saturday 4:55 p.m. Weather conditions: air temperature 58 degrees, relative humidity 44 percent, barometer 28.81 inches, adjusted altitude 1,477 feet, track temperature 74 degrees. It was cooling off quick and the track temperature with it.


In the first round Murphy drew Terry Cox. Murphy, the #3 qualifier was big odds over the #14 car.












This one was Murphy all the way.










It cost him a couple of more pistons but a solid 5.761 at 237.52 would give him lane choice in round two.






Murphy's 5.813 at 249.03 easily covered Cox's 6.554 at 164.23.





Saturday - Round Two
One week later


Saturday March 26: Due to conflicts two cars did not come back. Tony Bartone who had a commitment with his Big Show Alcohol Funny car at Vegas (which he won) and Mike McClennan who just passed. Also only a few fans and photographers retuned leaving the stands nearly empty and a huge lack of photos.

After a weeks delay and more nasty weather the class eliminations were underway. After morning drizzle the pro cars took to the track just after noon. The temps etc. were similar to the previous Saturday.


Jim Murphy and local favorite, Rick McGee started off the new weekend.









McGee left first (.071 to .117) and gave Murphy a race.




Try as he did, McGee's 5.854 at 238.05 was no match for Murphy's 5.763 247.97.






Jim with Darrell Tedford , whos car he beat in the previous round, before getting into cockpit.





As always, Michael Beebe backed Murphy up.






Harris didn't have a great light but his .086 was a ton better than Murphy's .161 and it would make all the difference 1320 feet later.




Murphy played catch up all the way to the stripe and had they been racing 1340 feet he probably would have passed Big Red. Harris' 5.777 at 260.81 barely held on to beat Murphy's quicker 5.714 at 253.61. The margin of victory was a scant .0133 seconds. Murphy had given away the best chance he may ever have to capture his elusive fifth March Meet crown.




Check out where Murphy and Team are racing next.... 2011 Schedule

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