99 Wins & Counting for NHRA Lady Racers
Erica Enders-Stevens drove to victory in Pro Stock during last weekends’ O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals, notching her second win of the season and the 99th by a woman in the history of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series…..
Immediately following Enders-Stevens’ win, Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Robert Hight (Funny Car) each raced down Royal Purple Raceway to secure their third victories of the season.
Enders-Stevens faced Allen Johnson in the Pro Stock final, winning on a holeshot with a 6.594-second pass at 210.60 mph. Johnson, the 2012 Pro Stock world champion, ran a 6.588 at 210.28. Even though Johnson ran the faster elapsed time, Enders-Stevens’ superior reaction time enabled her to keep her slim lead the whole race.
“My team’s been really awesome,” said Enders-Stevens, driver of the Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro. “I’ve had a really consistent race car. That’s what it takes Sundays, consistency. We had to make last second transmission change and go through the gears to make sure everything was right.”
The win was Enders-Stevens’ eighth career victory and her first in Houston. Enders-Stevens, the current Pro Stock points leader and the only female in Pro Stock history to lead the points, has enjoyed her quick start to the season but knows that she must keep it up to remain atop the Pro Stock class.
“The ball’s in our court,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got to carry the momentum. That’s important in this game, and I know I keep saying that, but it’s huge, and we’re going to keep carrying it as long as we can. Pro Stock really goes in cycles, so I’m really hoping this is our cycle, and we’re going to keep fighting for it.”
Johnson, the 2012 Pro Stock world champion, was the No. 1 qualifier at the event and reached his third final of the season. With two wins on the season at Phoenix and Gainesville, Johnson leaves Houston second in Pro Stock points.
Hight Remains Hot
Robert Hight’s Auto Club Ford Mustang is the hottest car in the Mello Yello Drag Racing series appearing in his fifth straight Funny Car final. Hight ran a 4.055 at 314.90 to defeat Jack Beckman, who was appearing in his first final of the season. It was the thirteenth consecutive Funny Car final that featured a John Force Racing car.
“I had high expectations coming into this weekend because I got my first win here,” said Hight, who won his 32nd career race. “[Crew chief] Mike Neff has owned this place, and we came here on kind of a roll after four straight finals. Dating back to Indianapolis, that’s 13 final rounds in a row for John Force Racing in Funny Car, and some of those have been John and me together in the final.”
Hight struggled during Friday’s qualifying session not completing a pass. The team rebounded and Hight’s car went on to be the quickest Funny Car in the last six rounds of competition.
“It was like we didn’t show up on Friday,” Hight said. “It was horrible. We just totally missed it, but I never lost faith in my team. They showed confidence that we were going to get them tomorrow. On Saturday, we went out there and ran .07, .08, and then we went .07, .07, .07 before the final. Do you know how hard it is to do that in one of these cars? There are so many variables. It’s hard to make that many consistent runs in a row.”
With the win, Hight expands his points lead to 122 over John Force Racing owner and teammate John Force.
Beckman, the 2012 Funny Car world champion, was appearing in his first final since St. Louis last season. The Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger ran a respectable 4.176 at 308.43 in the final but it just wasn’t enough to top Hight.
In Top Fuel, Brown notched his second straight win of the season with a 3.793 pass at 317.72 over Khalid alBalooshi.
“I feel like we have a class-A, true all-star team,” said Brown. “All the guys can execute under pressure. When we have a problem, we’re able to fix it and make it better for the next round.”
Brown’s win over alBalooshi , the 44th victory of his career, was the second straight race where the Matco Tools dragster beat an Al-Anabi Racing driver. Brown defeated last year’s Top Fuel world champion Shawn Langdon at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at the last event in Charlotte.
“We have a lot of respect for the Al-Anabi guys,” said Brown. “You have to beat them to contend for the championship because it goes through them. We get up for that challenge whenever we race them. Any time we beat them, it’s like hitting the jackpot. There are a lot of good teams out here, and we don’t take anybody lightly.”
Brown took over the Top Fuel points lead from Doug Kalitta and leaves Houston with a 37 point advantage. Brown has also reached seven of the last 10 finals dating back to last season, winning five of them.
Event Essentials: O’Reilly Auto Parts Springnationals – April 25-27th, Houston TX
|TOP FUEL||Name||ET||MPH||Career Win|
|Low ET:||Steve Torrence||3.776|
|Top Speed:||Steve Torrence||328.86|
|FUNNY CAR||Name||ET||MPH||Career Win|
|Low ET:||Del Worsham||4.051|
|Top Speed:||Robert Hight||314.90|
|PRO STOCK||Name||ET||MPH||Career Win|
|Low ET:||Allen Johnson||6.555|
|Top Speed:||Erica Enders-Stevens||211.79|
|PRO MODIFIED||Name||ET||MPH||Career Win|
|Low ET:||Jim Laurita||5.847|
|Top Speed:||Don Walsh||250.51|
Janis Tops all 5-second Pro Mod Field
Western New York’s Mike Janis drove past Mike Castellana to win the Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals.
Janis’ supercharged ’12 Camaro beat Castellana, the Gainesville winner, with a 5.927-second pass at 244.56 mph to take home the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series race in Houston, presented by J&A Service at this event victory. It was the Lancaster, N.Y., native’s third career victory in the doorslammer category and first at Royal Purple Raceway.
Janis, the No. 12 qualifier, defeated Dan Stevenson, Ron Muenks, Steve Matusek prior to the final.
Castellana, who secured victory at the season-opening event in Gainesville, was looking for his sixth career Pro Mod victory. His Al-Anabi Racing 13’ Camaro beat Mike Knowles, Kevin Fiscus and Danny Rowe before falling to Janis in the final.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to action May 16-18 at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
The Lucas Oil Lowdown
|Lucas Oil Sportsman Winners||Name||ET||MPH|
|Top Alcohol Dragster||Randy Meyer||6.478||259.26|
|Top Alcohol Funny Car||Shane Westerfield||6.311||254.23|
|Top Dragster||Allen Constantine||6.308||226.01|
|Super Stock||Dale Hulquist||10.41||128.62|
|Super Comp||Austin Williams||8.928||167.72|
|Super Gas||Steve Collier||9.917||158.87|
|*Top Fuel Harley Exhibition||Tommy Grimes||6.247||232.91|
Randy Meyer and Shane Westerfield each scored major wins in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway.
Meyer, looking to defend his event win from a year ago, faced off with Mark Taliaferro in the final of Top Alcohol Dragster. The Spring Hill, Kan., racer spun the tires, back pedaled, regained traction and crossed the finish line 6.478 seconds at 210.60 mph for the win as Taliaferro, Odessa, Texas, suffered mechanical problems early in the run ending his hopes of a win. Meyer qualified No. 5 and ran 5.30’s and 5.40’s on his way to the final.
In Top Alcohol Funny Car it was No. 1 qualifier Annie Whiteley, Grand Junction, Colo., taking on No. 2 qualifier Westerfield, out of Anaheim, Calif. Westerfield took the early led with a great .009 second reaction time and held on for his second national event win. Whiteley shook the tires hard early in the run and had to shut it off.
The event saw five first time winners to the NHRA National event winner’s circle lead by Comp Eliminator racer Clark Smiley of Denver City, Texas. Smiley’s ’09 Pontiac went 7.326, 181.57 to defeated Alan Ellis, Mapleton, Utah, who got out of the grove at the hit of the throttle and could only watch as Smiley disappeared down the quarter mile.
Joining Smiley with their first wins as Dale Hulquist in Super Stock, Jacob Pitt in Stock, Steven Collier in Super Gas, and Allen Constantine in Top Dragster. Hulquist, Crosby, Texas, knocked out former Lucas Oil National Champion Larry Stewart, Clinton, Miss.; Pitt, Mansfield, Texas, won on a double breakout over Brett Candies, Thibodaux, La., in his ’68 Barracuda; Collier, Benton, La., drove his ’72 Vega to the win against Rustin Mayse, Grandview, Texas; and Constantine beat Wade Pennington by 13 inches in Top Dragster.
Austin Williams, Burleson, Texas, picked up his first win in Super Comp and his 6th overall running 8.928 seconds at 167.72 mph to defeat the quicker Brandon Mouton, Lake Charles, La. Williams was better off the line with a .012 second reaction time the proved to be the difference.
The NHRA Harley-Davidson Drag Racing Series Top Fuel class was also in action this weekend at Royal Purple Raceway as Tommy Grimes took home his second win in as many races. Grimes saved his best for last clocking in at 6.247 seconds, 232.91 mph to Jay Turner’s 6.349, 230.69 mph. Grimes also won last month at Virginia Motorsports Park.
Posted with files from NHRA Communications & Eric Lotz – All photos by: Marc Gewertz