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Shane Tucker was looking to duplicate his 2014 success at this year’s Route 66 NHRA Nationals. Five years ago Tucker raced to the semifinals just missing his first final round appearance. This year the young Australian had an up and down two days of qualifying but was optimistic about heading into eliminations as the No. 14 qualifier.

The reason for his upbeat attitude was his Auzmet/StructGlass Chevrolet Camaro had shown glimmers of consistency and improved performance on Friday and Saturday. The performance improvements actually began at the historic Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida. At that race Tucker took out Matt Hartford in the first round and almost stole a second round win as well.

“I felt good going into the first round,” said Tucker. “We have had some success against Matt (Hartford) but we weren’t taking anything for granted. I knew I would have to be at the top of my game on the starting line.”

Today it was Tucker facing Hartford again in the first round. History almost repeated itself as Tucker took a major starting line reaction time advantage with a nearly perfect .013 reaction time. The jump off the starting line was enough to give Tucker a lead on the track but he didn’t have enough under the hood to get to the stripe first.

“I knew I had a great reaction time and I was just trying to get to the finish line first,” added Tucker. “We were really close. We made some changes before first round that I think in hindsight we would like to take back. The good news is I think we are getting closer every race and every run. We are going to do some testing before Norwalk.”