NHRA Concord Features International Champ!
Sweden’s Jimmy Alund, a 8X European FIA Pro Stock champion produced a very refreshing international result during the NHRA’s totally unique Four- Wide Nationals event held at zMAX Dragway in North Carolina….
The marquee event also saw Robert Hight became the event’s first two-time Funny Car winner while Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also took home victories during season race number five for the 2014 Mello Yello Series schedule.
Sweden’s Jimmy Alund had an extraordinary day at the 5th annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway. The Summit Racing Pro Stock driver, filling in for KB Racing’s Greg Anderson, knocked out a string of respected competitors on the way to earning his first trophy on American soil driving the powerful Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro.
With his triumph, Alund became the first European winner and only the fourth non-American winner in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
“To be able to outrun nine cars in one day – and against drivers and teams that I’ve been looking up to [while] racing in Europe is pretty awesome,” said Alund, who defeated runner-up Shane Gray and semifinal finishers Vincent Nobile and Erica Enders-Stevens in the final with a 6.562 at 211.59 mph that was a thousandth quicker than Gray in terms of elapsed time.
“Greg told me in Pomona to ‘drive like I stole it,’ and I’m actually thinking about stealing it right now,” joked Alund, who will race for Anderson at the Houston event in two weeks before handing the reins back to the four-time world champ, who is recovering from heart surgery performed earlier this season.
For Alund, who was contracted to race six events for Summit Racing, the clock was ticking. He had consistently made progress though, qualifying for each event on the tour beginning with the season-opener in Pomona, setting and resetting his career best numbers, and seeing his first win light in competition at the last race on the tour, theSummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
During qualifying at the Four-Wide Nationals, Alund recorded a best time of 6.550 at 211.96 mph to earn a position in the top half of the field for the second consecutive event. Starting eighth, Alund was second-quickest in his quad in the first round of eliminations on Sunday to advance, topping V. Gaines and Larry Morgan with a 6.554 at 211.53 that was only bested by No. 1 qualifier Chris McGaha.
In the second round, Alund saw another win light by putting up the best number in his quad, a 6.563 at 211.43, to advance along with second-quickest Shane Gray (6.555, 211.96) and put McGaha and Jeg Coughlin on the trailer.
The final in Charlotte was Alund’s first on the NHRA Mello Yello Series tour, and with only six allotted races to get the job done, it seemed a long shot for many. Alund, however, was powered by KB Racing and supported by a team that welcomed him with open arms and immediately accepted him as one of their own.
“This means a lot,” said Alund. “It really hasn’t sunk in yet; let’s put it that way. I have a lot of wins in Europe, but this is something special. It will be hard to climb out of the seat. We have a really great group of people in Pro Stock, and I’ve had a great time. The Summit Racing guys are awesome, and everyone is laughing and having a good time. I think that’s a very key ingredient.”
Hight took the 2012 NHRA Four-Wide Nationals and returned in style to Charlotte once again. The 2009 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car world champ was the winner of the fall Charlotte race last season and won his second consecutive event with his 4.074 second pass at 311.34 mph in the Auto Club Ford Mustang.
“This has been a great weekend,” Hight said. “We love coming to zMAX Dragway. What a better place to bring potential sponsors than this facility. John and I getting to the final made it that much more special. It’s my fourth final in a row and we’ve only missed two rounds in Pomona to start the season.”
Coming into the final, the JFR driver was 0-4 against Alexis DeJoria, one of the other three final round drivers, including losses to the Patron XO Cafe Funny Car in the finals of Phoenix and Las Vegas this season.
“You would think three Ford Funny Cars in the final would be pretty good odds,” Hight said. With the way she’s been running and winning races it’s no gimme. That was a big one.”
John Force finished as runner-up in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang while DeJoria and Tim Wilkerson were credited with semifinal finishes.
It was Hight’s second win of the season in four final round appearances with both wins coming over Force. With the win, Hight increases his points lead over Force to 53 points.
Brown secured his first career victory at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, piloting his Matco tools dragster to a 3.800 pass at 317.42 mph. The 2012 Top Fuel world champ took out runner-up and No. 1 qualifier Shawn Langdon, J.R. Todd and Doug Kalitta to secure his second win of the season.
“My guys gave me an incredible race car,” Brown said. “Everybody’s competing on such a high level right now, and you just want to be on time because I know for sure that us as drivers all we can do is screw it up once we get up to the starting line. You just want to be on point. You want to be on time, and you just want to give it all you have.”
Brown, a member of the Don Schumacher Racing stable, went up in the final against two Kalitta Motorsports entries and an Al-Anabi Racing entry, a juggernaut team final in Top Fuel.
“When you go into a final and there’s two Kalitta cars and an Al-Anabi car, it’s pretty much stacked against you because the Kalitta team and Alan [Johnson]’s team work together,” Brown said. “It’s like running three teammates car against one, so they definitely had the advantage, but you go out there and do what you do. We just keep our head down and keep it to the grind, and we put our best foot forward today, and we were able to edge out and become the victors.”
The Don Schumacher Racing driver leaves Charlotte second in points, 25 behind Kalitta.
Hines, a three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ, won his second straight race in Charlotte with a 6.859 run at 196.10. The three-time Charlotte winner secured his first win of the season and 33rd of his career with the win over Eddie Krawiec, John Hall and Scotty Pollacheck on a Harley-Davidson.
“This does a lot for my confidence because I’ve never had a round win here [at the Four-Wide],” Hines said. “In fact, Charlotte was bad to me. It took four races before I broke through for a win at the two-wide race in the fall. At this race there is so much going on that you never know what’s going to happen. Some guys take a long time to stage and some guys want to get up there as quickly as they can. You have to be prepared for anything.”
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads on to Baytown, Texas for the NHRA O’Reilly Auto Parts SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway, April 25-27.
Event Essentials: 5th Annual NHRA 4-Wide Nationals (April 11-13th, 2014)
|TOP FUEL||Name||ET||MPH||Career Win|
|Low ET:||Shawn Langdon||3.753|
|Top Speed:||Doug Kalitta||325.69|
|FUNNY CAR||Name||ET||MPH||Career Win|
|Low ET:||John Force||4.046|
|Top Speed:||Courtney Force||316.01|
|PRO STOCK||Name||ET||MPH||Career Win|
|Low ET:||Chris McGaha||6.523|
|Top Speed:||Erica Enders-Stevens||213.13|
|PRO STOCK BIKE||Name||ET||MPH||Career Win|
|Low ET:||Hector Arana Jr.||6.805|
|Top Speed:||Matt Smith||198.32|
|Sportsman Class Winners:||Name||ET||MPH|
|Top Alcohol Dragster||Cory Michalek||5.428||264.55|
|Top Alcohol FC||Dan Pomponio||6.120||249.81|
|Super Stock||Peter D’Agnolo||13.40||70.19|
|Super Comp||Brad Plourd||8.957||160.38|
|Super Gas||Ray Sawyer||9.893||168.68|
|Top Sportsman||Marco Abruzzi||6.890||192.30|
Corey Michalek, scored in just his first Top Alcohol Dragster event competition, and Dan Pomponio takes his second win in three years at zMax Dragway for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. Scotty Richardson became just the third driver in history to win an NHRA national event in six different classes.
Michalek, who normally competes in bracket races out of New York, turned his alcohol dragster into a bracket car running consistent 5.30’s in knocking out 5-time national champion Bill Reichert and Randy Meyer on his way to a final round match up with Brandon Booher. Michalek cruised to a 5.428 second lap in the final as Booher broke on the line.
2012 event winner Pomponio bettered Jonnie Lindberg in the Top Alcohol Funny Car final as both drivers shook the tires with Pomponio getting his ’10 Monte Carlo hooked back up first to record a 6.120 second pass at 249.81 mph for his second win of the year.
Richardson joined Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Peter Biondo as the only drivers to win NHRA national events in six different classes of competition. The Barbourville, Ky., racer won when Russell Joly, Louisa, Va., left early with a foul start. The win was Richardson’s first in Comp Eliminator to go along with his wins in Stock, Super Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas and Super Street.
Brad Plourd and Ray Sawyer each had .001-second reaction times on the way to their final round wins with Plourd taking out former national champion Al Kenny in Super Comp and Sawyer beating Jeremy Jensen on a double breakout in Super Gas.
In Super Stock it was Peter D’Agnolo picking up his first national event trophy defeating Jimmy Ronzello and Greg Rowe won on a hole shot in Stock over Jeff Hairrington. The Top Sportsman trophy went to Warren, Ohio, racer Marco Abruzzi and his ’68 Camaro who ran down Marc Caruso in 6.890, 192.30 mph.
Posted with files from Joanne Knapp, NHRA Communications, Eric Lotz and Bruce Biegler
Photos by: Bruce Biegler and Steve Embling
Visit DragRaceCanada’s extensive 4-Wide Nationals event photo gallery: HERE