Ken Black’s Summit Racing Equipment Camaros continued their domination in NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock class racing….
That formidable 2-car team which features star drivers Greg Anderson and Jason Line collected two major victories last weekend during the NHRA’s 2016 Denso Spark Plugs Nationals held at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
On Saturday, Anderson won (for the 5th time in his career) the prestigious annual K&N Horsepower Challenge which included a $50,000 payday and that was followed by an overall event win on Sunday by Line.
Jason Line, the current Pro Stock points leader, went to his fourth straight final and won his second race of 2016. The win at the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals was his 82nd career final and his 39th win. Line came into race day as the No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock with a 6.687 elapsed time at 206.23 mph.
“This is a great start to the year. We’ve never had a start this good, even back in the heyday. It feels really, really good,” said Line. “None of this would be possible without Summit Racing Equipment. I love them. I even love Jim Greenleaf. He’s tough on me, but I love him. It is great to be part of their team.”
Something that also made the win special for Line was winning at the home track of team owner, Ken Black.
“It is a big deal any time you can win here,” explained Line. “One of our other sponsors that has been a major player for us for many years, Finley Chevrolet, they are here in Las Vegas as well. To be able to win in front of them as well and Ken and Judy is just a big deal.”
Line was runner-up in the K&N Horsepower Challenge on Saturday, but an oil leak prevented him from staging and competing in the final round. It was something that disappointed Line.
“Yesterday was a tough day. It wasn’t the day I was looking for. I had my heart set on winning that K&N Trophy. It was a little bit devastating to be honest. Normally I don’t get too upset but it was one of those things that kind of bothered me a little bit,” said Anderson. “I really expected Greg to win today. We had Denso on the car for the first time, so it was a big deal to win at the Denso race.”
Something that also weighed heavy on Line’s heart and the entire NHRA racing community was the recent death of NHRA Chief Starter, Mark Lyle.
“Again, I said it before. It was so strange to go up there and not see Mark. He always gave me a little gesture before I staged and I am definitely going to miss that.”
On his way to the finals Line defeated Matt Hartford, Chris McGaha, Erica Enders-Stevens and Bo Butner.
Also collecting Professional level wins at Las Vegas was defending Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown and Alexis DeJoria in Funny Car.
Brown powered his Matco Tools dragster to a 3.843 second pass at 314.60 mph to defeat first-time finalist Troy Buff, who drove his Bill Miller Engineering dragster to a 3.918 at 307.58 in the runner-up effort.
“It never gets boring,” Brown said. “It’s more than just a trophy, it’s all the hard work it takes to get here. We struggled the first three races but we just kept digging we kept our head down and just kept going.”
With the win, Brown moves to second in the Top Fuel points standings, trailing leader Brittany Force. Force lost to Buff in round two.
Brown defeated Leah Pritchett and Dave Connolly before facing off against Buff, who defeated JR Todd in the semis. Brown has 55 career wins in 98 final round appearances, including 39 wins in Top Fuel.
In Funny Car, DeJoria piloted her Tequila Patron Toyota Camry to a 3.968 at 315.49 to overtake her teammate, defending world champion Del Worsham in his DHL Camry. Worsham raced to a 3.988 at 323.58. It is DeJoria’s second win at LVMS, where she also won in 2014, and her fourth Funny Car victory.
“This fourth trophy was definitely a difficult one,” said DeJoria, who had not won in the last 33 races. “It took a lot of risks to get here.
“We made consistent passes down the race track all four runs in qualifying and on race day as well. I don’t know when the last time was that we did that. It’s incredible to be a part of this.”
DeJoria moved to eighth in the Funny Car points. Robert Hight maintained the points lead in his Auto Club Chevy Camaro after losing to DeJoria in the quarterfinals. DeJoria also outran 16-time world champion John Force in the semifinals.
It is the first time in NHRA history where three women have raced to wins in nitro categories in consecutive events. DeJoria’s Funny Car win follows Top Fuel wins in Phoenix and Gainesville by Leah Pritchett and Brittany Force at the last two events.
“It’s great to be a part of that history,” DeJoria said.
Posted with files by: Nicole Erickson, NHRA Communications & Bruce Biegler
The Lucas Oil Lowdown
Joey Severance, the 2015 NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster national champion, kept his winning streak alive in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series at the 17th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals.
The Woodburn, Ore., pilot cashed in on his fourth consecutive victory at this event and the fifth of his career at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Severance had the starting line advantage in the final round over Chris Demke and never trailed for his 11th national event Wally trophy of his career. He laid down a 5.465 second, 270.75 mph lap for the win, while Demke shook the tires and had to pedal a 6.360 second, 159.72 mph runner up finish.
Terry Ruckman came out on top in the Top Alcohol Funny Car final with a winning run of 5.629 seconds at 258.52 mph, the first of his career. Ruckman defeated Jirka Kaplan and his pass of 5.705 seconds at 257.38 mph. This is the first time the two have squared off in the money round.
Dan Fletcher of Churchville, N.Y., returned to his familiar place in the winner’s circle grabbing his 96th national event win of his career, this time in Super Comp. Fletcher met up with Steve Williams in the final where he got out in front and held on for a winning 9.062 second, 145.22 mph pass. The sportsman superstar has now won a NHRA national event in five different categories.
Alan Ellis, the event’s No.1 qualifier, ran through the field in his familiar ’23 roadster by knocking out Tony Mandella in the Comp Eliminator final. Ellis laid down a 6.613 second, 210.37 mph lap to defeat Mandella’s 8.536, 154.33 pass, who won the race here in 2015.
The Super Stock final paired Cody Lane and Kyle Seipel, who both got off the line with identical reaction times. Seipel broke out at the stripe handing Lane his second win of the season, the third national event win of his career. Leo Glasbrenner picked up his sixth career win with a 10.788 second, 118.66 mph pass to defeat Brad Burton in the Stock Eliminator final. John Labbous Jr got off to a great start in the Super Gas final, but ran too quick as Ken Mostowich secured his fourth career win with a 10.058 second, 150.97 mph pass.
J.R. Lobner clocked in at 6.821 seconds at 185.77 mph to defeat Denny Hills’ 6.349 second, 217.84 mph lap in the Top Dragster final. Lobner got off the line first and ran to his second national event Wally. In the Top Sportsman final round, Don Meziere used a nice reaction time in his Chevy Cobalt coupled with a 7.016 second, 189.36 mph lap to knock out Ed Olpin and his 7.155 second, 193.54 mph runner up finish. It was a battle of two brothers from Canada in the Top Fuel Harley final as Craig Pelrine powered to a 6.716 second, 201.49 mph winning pass while Mike broke at the starting line.
A majority of the sportsman racers will remain on property as they prepare for this weekend’s Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series regional event at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Test & Tune kicks off Thursday, qualifying on Friday, eliminations will begin on Saturday and event champions will be crowed on Sunday, April 10th.
Posted by: Brett Lyons – Photos by: Bob Johnson