Annual “Big Go” In The Books
The sport of drag racing’s largest annual worldwide attraction – NHRA’s Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals – held it’s 60th Anniversary edition over this past Labour Day Weekend at Indianapolis. The event produced some very refreshing Professional category winners as well as very significant and timely victories for the Chevrolet brand itself…..
In fuel Funny Car it was lady racer sensation Alexis DeJoria who raced past 16-time Funny Car world champ John Force to win the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), Shane Gray (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were first time winners at the tradition-rich NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, the last race of the regular season.
DeJoria crossed the finish line in 4.038 seconds at 310.34 mph in the Patron XO Cafe Toyota Camry to defeat the current Funny Car points leader, who won the Traxxas Nitro Shootout Sunday. It was the third win of DeJoria’s season and her first at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. With the victory, DeJoria became the fourth female winner of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals and the first female driver to win three Funny Car races in a single season.
DeJoria, who also outran Cruz Pedregon, Blake Alexander and Courtney Force en route to the victory, earned a record 10th season victory for female racers in the NHRA Mello Yello Series.
“It’s huge [to win the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals],” said DeJoria, wife of noted TV personality Jesse James and daughter of famed entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria. “I was just happy to make it to another semifinal; that was four in a row. To make it past the semifinals, that was huge, but to win this race just builds our confidence even more and in me especially.”
DeJoria will be the fourth seed in Funny Car when the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs begins at the NHRA Carolina Nationals in two weeks.
Force was appearing in his sixth consecutive final and ran a 4.039 at 319.67 in the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. Following his Traxxas Nitro Shootout victory on Sunday, Force was strong on Monday, defeating Robert Hight, Matt Hagan and Ron Capps in the first three rounds. Force was appearing in his eighth Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals final and was seeking his fifth victory. He finished the regular season as the points leader and will open the Countdown playoffs with a 30 point advantage over teammate Hight.
Rookie Top Fuel and import Australian driver Crampton, appearing in his first Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, powered past Steve Torrence with a 3.766 at 327.98 in the GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster to claim his second Wally trophy of the season. He was close to sweeping the weekend, as he posted a runner-up finish in the $100,000 Traxxas Nitro Shootout bonus event on Saturday.
“Steve-O (Torrence) is one of my great friends out here and he beat me at the Brainerd race,” said Crampton, who will be seeded eighth in the Countdown. “We said to each other before the run that we were going to go out there and have some fun. It’s pretty awesome that he and I got to share a final round here at the 60th Indy. If I would have been runner-up, I probably would have been almost as happy, because it’s been a fantastic weekend for our team.”
Torrence was appearing in his second consecutive Indianapolis final in his Capco Contractors dragster, posting a 3.799 at 327.82 during the final. The result broke a one year drought from final round appearances for the Kilgore, Texas native. Torrence will be seeded fifth in the Countdown.
Doug Kalitta claimed the Top Fuel Countdown No. 1 seed and will open the playoffs with a 30 point advantage over Antron Brown.
In Pro Stock, Gray drove his Gray Manufacturing Chevy Camaro to his first U.S. Nationals victory, defeating teammate Dave Connolly in the final with a 6.641 at 208.42. It was the fourth career victory for Gray, who finished the regular season sixth in points, and his first win since the Las Vegas race last October.
“I really can’t describe this in words,” said Gray, who beat Shane Tucker, Allen Johnson and brother Jonathan Gray before the final. “If I’ve learned anything this year, I’ve learned that it’s a lot different to go out and qualify [well] than it is to race on Sunday.”
Connolly was appearing in his fifth final round at the Big Go, having collected victories three times. He was also runner-up at the event in 2006. Connolly defeated V Gaines, Erica Enders-Stevens and ended Jason Line’s three-race winning streak on his way to the final round matchup with his Gray Motorsports teammate.
Line’s late season performance earned him the top seed for the Pro Stock Countdown playoffs.
Krawiec took home his first Indy win and third victory of the season with a 6.941 at 192.63 on the Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson, beating Jerry Savoie. The win was the 25th career victory for Krawiec, a three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ.
“I’ve been fortunate to win three championships and 25 races now and I’ve finally got an Indy win,” said Krawiec, who finished second in regular season points behind teammate Andrew Hines. “I was joking that I could just step off the bike now, announce my retirement, and not run the Countdown [to the Championship]. I think I’ll stick around, though.”
Savoie was appearing in his second consecutive final on his Savoie’s Alligator Farm Suzuki. He beat Chaz Kennedy, John Hall and reigning world champ Matt Smith before posting a 6.987 at 192.58 in the final.
|Low ET:||Tony Schumacher||3.748|
|Top Speed:||Tony Schumacer||328.54|
|Low ET:||Matt Hagan||3.998|
|Top Speed:||Courtney Force||327.73|
|Low ET:||Jason Line||6.589|
|Top Speed:||Jason Line||210.01|
|Pro Stock Motorcycle|
|Low ET:||Eddie Krawiec||6.829|
|Top Speed:||Eddie Krawiec||196.56|
|Low ET:||Don Walsh||5.862|
|Top Speed:||Don Walsh||252.61|
Reigning NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series world champion Rickie Smith raced to a convincing NHRA Pro Mod Series victory at Indy.
The wily veteran driver who came back out of apparent retirement to race again this season, ran his ’68 IDG Camaro to a 5.901-second pass at 245.72 mph, defeating Pete Farber in the final. It was Smith’s second win of the season and sixth of his career. Smith, the runner-up at Indianapolis last season, defeated Danny Rowe, Jeff Naiser and Troy Coughlin on the way to the final.
Farber drove his CRC Brakeleen Dodge Daytona to the final round with victories over Steven Whiteley, Steve Matusek and Billy Glidden. It was his second final round appearance of the season, following a victory in Bristol. Farber was appearing in his first Indianapolis final.
The Indy event saw no less then 33 Pro Mod cars make qualifying attempts – a record sized field for NHRA circuit racing so far.
The NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series will head to Charlotte, N.C. for the Pro Mod portion of the NHRA Carolina Nationals, Sept. 12-14. The event is the seventh of 10 races on the 2014 schedule.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will head to North Carolina for the seventh annual NHRA Carolina Nationals, Sept. 12- 14, at zMAX Dragway. The race will be the opening event of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, a six-race championship playoff.
The Lucas Oil Lowdown – First Score for COPO Camaro!
A pair of former world champions, a couple of past Indy champs, and a roadster (yes, roadster) in Super Comp were among the winners in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series categories at the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.
National Top Alcohol Dragster points leader Chris Demke continued his strong 2014 campaign by claiming his first U.S. Nationals victory. Demke got the automatic win in the title round when Rich McPhillips went red. Demke posted a 5.801 on his victory lap. Though it is Demke’s first Indy win, it is the second for his team, whose first national event win came at this event in 1998.
Jay Payne’s first race with his new Camaro ended with him putting that car in the winner’s circle. Payne drove the car to a 5.705 to defeat first-time finalist Todd Robertson in the Top Alcohol Funny Car final. Both drivers had troubles on their run, popping the burst panel, but Payne’s came later, allowing him to win. This was Payne’s second Indy win (TAFC in 2010), and it is his first since Houston 2012.
Joe Santangelo, the 2011 Stock world champ, earned his first victory in Comp and the seventh of his career when he bested Rick Brown in the final. Driving Arnie Martel’s B/SR ’34 Ford, Santangelo posted a (-.51) 7.83 to turn on the win light over Brown’s (-.49) 8.29.
Former Comp world champion Bruno Massel picked up his first national event win in Stock, and he did so in fashion, giving the COPO Camaro its first win as well. Massel won the all-COPO final over Joey Wilkes, 8.82 (8.79 dial) to 9.97 (9.97).
Nick Morris made his first national event win a big one, scoring in Indy. Morris got the automatic nod in the Super Stock final when Gary Richard fouled by .011-second.
Ty Davis was able to achieve the unusual feat of wheeling a non-dragster to victory in Super Comp. Davis used a starting-line advantage to drive his Bantam roadster past Jimmy Lewis’ dragster, 8.932 to 8.927, to claim the U.S. Nationals title and Troy Coughlin Jr. picked up his second U.S. Nationals Wally when he outlasted Jeff Weets in the Super Gas final. Coughlin, the event’s 2010 Super Comp winner, ran a dead-on 9.900 to stop Weets’ breakout 9.867.
Posted with files from NHRA Communications & Bruce Biegler
Photos by: Bruce Biegler & Steve Embling
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