39th Governors Cup





Sacramento, CA - September 19-20, 2008:  Jim Murphy and WW2 Racing, no stranger to the winner's circle at Sacramento Raceway, nailed down his third consecutive nostalgia top fuel victory by winning the 39th Annual Governor's Cup. Coming on the heels of wins at the Nitro Nite of Fire (Sacramento) and the Nightfire Nationals (Boise), Murphy has to be rated the favorite going into the season's final race at the California Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso Raceway in McFarland. From the onset of this event, it was evident that the team from Santa Rosa was intent on continuing its winning streak. While all the other top fuel teams stumbled in Q1 Friday afternoon, Murphy coolly went down the right lane to the tune of 5.851. The only other run of merit during that session was Evan Eirich's 6.02.

But, Murphy, the 2003 Governor's Cup winner and 2005 co -winner with Arnold Birky wasn't the only team in the pits intent on winning the open 8-car show. Rick White, Adam Sorokin, Mike McLennan, and Rick Williamson, all consistent five second 'hitters', were not going to let Murphy grab 'The Cup' without a fight. Although 2007 champ, Thompson-Bless Racing, was unavailable due to a racing accident in August, 2006 winner Jason Richey aboard Nitro Fever and 2005 co-champ Mark Malde were also on hand to challenge Murphy's green monster. In addition, John Cox had the immaculate Cheetah IV ready to pounce, and John Blanchard was back at the track with new driver Mike Halstead handling the driving duty. Although The Year of the Rat had not been kind to Brendan Murry, he was back driving his Running Wild Chevy dragster hoping to return to the form that saw him run a 5.87 at the 2004 Governor's Cup.

By the time Q2 rolled around on Friday evening, the track temperature had dropped to 71 degrees. Although most of the top fuel dragsters launched hard and clean, the cars wanted to smoke the tires down track. As a result, there wasn't much change in the qualifying ladder. Mark Malde made a wild pass down the right lane and actually improved to a 6.37, but the run was disallowed as Mark crossed over the center line. The Birky Bunch eventually withdrew as that pass caused too much engine damage to repair. Things changed significantly Saturday midday with the final qualifying session. With ten cars still healthy, Rick Williamson and Rick White kicked off the round with side-by-side 5.9s, and that moved them into the #2 and #3 positions, respectively. Evan Eirich was solidly in the field from Friday's Q1 blast, but an encounter with the wall in the last session KO'd the Ground Zero team for the weekend. With Eirich and Malde out and John Blanchard unable to make a complete run, #9 Brendan Murry was reinstated and the field was set.


Photos and story by Stephen Justice
Additional photos by Jason Ellis and Steven C. Wallace




Dave Smith opened the track from 12:00-4:30 for all cars to test-n-tune; Q1 was at 5:00 and Q2 was at 7:00. Both Terry Cox and Adam Sorokin took advantage of this and made half track passes to get some data before Q1.






The Wilson Ninnis & Cox team along with Crew Chief Ronnie Capps have had a real battle getting the new Cheetah IV car to stop smoking the tires on the bottom end. They appear to have found the clutch combo the car likes and showed some much improved performance at the Governors Cup.








Another team that found the transition to the Hoosier tire frustrating seems to have also discovered the bottom end combo the car likes. They not only avoided the violent tire shake that's been plaguing the team but clocked consistent .980 60' times throughout the weekend.






Friday - First Qualifying Session


The first pair out was Mike McClennan in the Mike Fuller Motorsports car and Brendan Murry in his Running Wild Racing entry.










Rick White in the Neal & White Racing fueler and Evan Eirich in Ground Zero were the second pair out.













The second pair of session one matched Terry Cox in the Cheetah IV car and Adam Sorokin in the RB Entertainment Champion Speed Shot entry.










Next pair pitted Jim Murphy in his WW2 Racing car and Mark Malde in the Birky Bunch.








After a stout leave Murphy set the bar high early clocking a super 5.851 at 239.98.



Rick Williamson in the Hot Rod Bills car.




John Blanchard was out for the first time in over a year with Mike Halstead in the seat. The car experienced problems on both its qualifying attempts and never got past the burnout.







Friday - Second Qualifying Session
Nitro at night


With the sun setting in the west, Rick Williamson led off Q2.






Next out was Evan Eirich and Adam Sorokin.






Mark Malde and Rick White lit up the Sacramento skies.




Jim Murphy and Rick Williamson paired up next.





Jason Richey in Dave Smith's "Nitro Fever".





Mike McClennan



Saturday - Third Qualifying Session


First pair of the final session was Rick Williamson and Rick White.














Williamson stepped up big time with a 5.933 at 247.10 while White was right there too with a 5.976 at 247.60.




The next pair featured Mike Halstead and Mike McClennan.


Certainly one of the best looking cars in the class, John Blanchard's rarely seen fueler made two attempts to qualify and neither resulted in the car staging.


Next out was Mike McClennan and Mike Halstead.







Halstead, in his "Stone Age Man" esque helmet plume, lost fire on the burnout and bailed.








Out next was Adam Sorokin.





Sports fans - this is a picture perfect launch and netted one of the quickest 60' times in NTF history - how about a .971.









Terry Cox was next out.















Jason Richey for his last shot in Nitro Fever.














Evan Eirich heats the tires for what will be an interesting pass.





Eirich had a problem from the hit.


The car was either lined up slightly cockeyed or simply jerked the front end to the right but it hunted down the guardwall in a hurry.




At this point this could be chalked up as a rookie mistake as the throttle should have been dead shut by now.



The tire tracks tell the tale as fortunately the blow was glancing. The damage would put the car in the box but not keep the team from being ready for the CHRR.


"Hey Steve, ya think he should have stayed out there?"



The final car of the final session was Brendan Murry.













1. Jim Murphy
2. Rick Williamson
3. Rick White
4. Evan Eirich
5. Jason Richey
6. Adam Sorokin
7. Mike McLennan
8. Terry Cox

9. Brendan Murry
10. Mark Malde
11. Mike Halstead

 5.851 @ 234.90
5.933 @ 247.10
5.976 @ 247.60
6.076 @ 223.81
6.149 @ 223.38
6.169 @ 179.14
6.269 @ 222.36
6.393 @ 228.45

6.421 @ 197.73
10.332 @ 81.20
never staged


Governors Cup Eliminations - Page 2




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