Julie Nataas got to experience the highs and lows of racing in Texas for the last two weekends. She won the delayed Gatornationals Final, had a hung up throttle in the burnout in Dallas, and another final round in Houston.
The team struggled to get the car down the racetrack in the first round of qualifying Friday night. Julie coasted down the finish line to a 25.5ET – 20MPH. It was not an ideal run knowing the second round of qualifying was also the delayed Gatornationals Final. Crew chief and owner Randy Meyer set up a stellar run Saturday morning, and Julie ran a 5.17ET-280MPH for the Gatornationals win over Josh Hart. The 5.17ET-280MPH run also qualified Julie third for the Fall Nationals.
After winning the Gatornationals Saturday morning, the team returned to the pit to get ready for the Fall Nationals’ first round of eliminations. Julie faced Joey Severance and ran a 5.26ET-269MPH for the win over his 9.03ET-93MPH. In the second round of eliminations, Julie faced Aaron Cooper. Julie’s throttle got hung up in the burnout and ended up in the sand trap, which resolved in a second-round loss.
“After just winning the Gatornational and the first round of the Fall Nationals, I was pretty confident going into round 2. I rolled through the water, stopped the car, and did my burnout. As I took the foot off the gas pedal, the throttle was still on and going. I shut everything off by half-track. Going through the finish line, I had both hands on the brake and a knee on the steering wheel while trying to get the throttle unstuck.
As the car was going faster and faster, I knew I was about to go for a ride and possibly end up in the sand trap. Going through the shutdown area, I focused on getting the throttle unstuck and to drive the car straight into the sandtrap. All I wanted at this point was to damage the car as little as possible. I got the gas pedal unstuck about halfway through the shutdown area, the car finally slowed down, and the car stopped in the sandtrap. It’s one of the wildest rides I have had in one of these cars, but it’s a risk we take as drivers, and I’m just glad I didn’t damage the car. It was a tough way to end the weekend.”
A couple of days later, the team was in Houston, TX, for the Spring Nationals for their second to last race of the season. Megan Meyer, Julie’s teammate, was getting married the same weekend, but both Randy and Megan flew in Friday to make one qualifying pass before flying home for the wedding.
Randy tuned Julie’s car to a 5.49ET-274MPH for the number 7 qualifying position. Julie faced Spencer Massey first round of eliminations. With Randy on the phone, Julie got the win with a 5.26ET-278MPH to his 5.40ET-268MPH. In the second round of eliminations, Julie faced Jackie Fricke. Again with Randy on the phone, Julie got the win with a 5.22ET-275MPH to her 5.31ET-277MPH. This win gave Julie a bye run in the semi-finals. Julie ran another 5.22ET-278MPH but lost lane choice to Shawn Cowie. In the final round, Julie ran a 5.25ET-274MPH but came up short to Shawn Cowie’s 5.20ET- 276MPH.
“Houston was good to us, especially after what happened in Dallas. I really needed some points to try to make up for the second-round loss in Dallas. Megan was getting married this weekend, so I had Randy tuning the car on the phone, and I just made sure everything was put in the right place. I still have a shot at winning my first world championship this year, so Vegas is going to be interesting and exciting.”