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Six-time AMA/Prostar Top Fuel champion Larry earned his 41st career victory at the season-opening Bikeweek Nationals from Valdosta, GA, March 5th-6th.
“It feels great to start the season this way,” McBride, who only lost one race in 2004, said. “Our team did a great job picking right back up where we left off. I’m very optimistic.”
McBride qualified on the pole position with a conservative 6.53 at 187 mph, shutting off the throttle 4 seconds into the run.
“Our wind meter was reading 29 mph gusts,” McBride said. “We weren’t taking any chances. I was shutting off at the 1/8th mile.”
In round no. 1 of eliminations McBride was awarded a bye run and smoldered his giant drag slick, coasting to an off pace 9.02.
“The wind quit blowing so we got greedy and tried to hop it up,” McBride said. “We just gave it too much too soon and it smoked the tire.”
In the semis McBride laid down low elapsed-time of the event with a stunning 6.17 at 223 mph to defeat Tommy Sloan’s 7.93 at 140 mph. Afterwards McBride explained how sometimes it’s necessary to take power out of the bike to improve traction.
“We took a little nitro and ignition timing out of it and it responded really well,” McBride said. “We didn’t want to overpower the track again.”
In the final McBride was forced to lift off the gas after getting out of shape, but still reached the finish line first with a 6.50 at 178 mph to beat out a wounded Chris Hand’s 7.36 at 122 mph.
“I got over in some bumps and I had to lift,” McBride said. “We were lucky to get the win. Chris is always tough to beat.”
McBride says the new facility in Valdosta was top-notch and he looks forward to going back next year to try to lay down a five.
“It’s a beautiful track,” McBride said. “It certainty has the potential to be a very fast track if we can find the right groove.”