At Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., the Randy Meyer Racing Team’s drivers Matt Sackman and Julie Nataas raced at the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals on Monday, Feb. 11.
Racing in his first NHRA national event, Matt drove the Hangsterfer’s/TMS Titanium/Gemini Farms A/Fuel dragster to the Top Alcohol Dragster final round, while Julie posted a quarter-final finish in the NGK Spark Plugs Dragster.
Matt and the Randy Meyer-tuned Hangsterfer’s entry qualified No. 2 after ripping off a 5.181-second pass at 276.52 mph in the first session and smoking the tires in the second session. Julie laid down a 5.223 ET at 281.13 mph in the first session and also smoked the tires in the second session. The third session for the class was canceled due to rainy weather.
“This was a fantastic start to the 2019 season,” said Matt, 25. “I was a little nervous going into first round because we went 5.18 on Q1 then we didn’t make it off the starting line on Q2,” Matt said. “I don’t have much experience pedaling or feeling when it’s going to smoke the tires, so I was a little nervous. It made a nice run (5.286 at 266.00) in the first round. After that I was pretty confident for the rest of eliminations.”
Matt was pulling double duty over the weekend, going back and forth between his duties as a cylinder head specialist on Antron Brown’s Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster and his driving duties. His workload was lightened when Brown lost a close race to teammate Leah Pritchett first round Sunday morning, allowing Matt to focus on driving through the Monday completion of rain-delayed eliminations.
“I like to work on the (A/Fuel) car and I kind of felt bad the first few runs when I would just show up in the lanes and take off back to the Matco pit after we ran,” Matt said. “It was disappointing to go out first round with Antron, but it gave me more time to hang out with the Randy Meyer Racing guys while they were working on the car.”
Matt shook the tires on his second-round single, then stepped up to a 5.219 at 274.33 over Garrett Bateman in the semifinals. He grabbed his fourth consecutive starting-line advantage in the final round next to No. 1 qualifier Shawn Cowie, but Cowie drove around Sackman’s 5.299 at 276.18 with his 5.156 at 279.73.
“Big thanks to Bill Jones, Ann Jones, Mike Ditzel and everyone at Hangsterfer’s for really standing behind Zach and I, especially giving me the opportunity to run this race,” Matt said. “Todd at TMS and Gemini Farms also helped make it possible. Randy Meyer and his guys gave me a great car and got me to the final round in my first national event.”
Julie faced Krista Baldwin in the opening round and her 5.291 ET was no match for Baldwin’s 5.643 pass. Moving onto second round, which was held on Monday, Julie faced Chris Demke who got the starting line advantage over Julie for the win. Julie posted a 5.242 ET on the scoreboard while chasing down Demke’s 5.225 ET.
“I don’t feel like I had any difficulties to overcome for the first race,” Julie said. “I noticed my reaction time wasn’t really where I wanted it to be. It wasn’t the worse, but I know I can do better. I will be practicing on my reaction time for my next race.”
The Randy Meyer Racing Team heads East for their next event in Louisiana for the first Lucas Oil Central Region event with the Meyer Sisters, Megan and Rachel Meyer, in the driver’s seats. This will be Megan’s third time competing at No Problem Raceway, and Rachel’s first time.
Catch the Winternationals action on FS2, Thursday, February 28th at 10PM ET and on FS1, Friday, March 1 at 4:30AM ET.