NHRA Lone Star Lowdown
Doug Kalitta ended a very frustrating 71-race winless drought by racing to the Top Fuel title during NHRA’s AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals held at the Texas Motorplex south of Dallas….
Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the second of six events in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Kalitta claimed his first victory of the season and first since 2010 in Top Fuel, and moved into a tie for the NHRA Mello Yello Series points lead with the driver he beat in the final round, Shawn Langdon. Kalitta powered his Mac Tools dragster to a run of 3.842 seconds at 320.42 mph to hold off Langdon’s Al-Anabi Silver dragster, which finished in 3.896 at 291.32.
“This is huge,” Kalitta said. “It’s a good day for us. I’m really proud of Jim [Oberhofer, crew chief], Troy [Fasching, assistant crew chief], and the whole Mac Tools team. We were qualifying good and going rounds. I was just trying to make sure I didn’t screw it up. At the end of the day, we prevailed.”
Kalitta outran two-time Dallas winner Larry Dixon, rookie Brittany Force and Texas favorite Spencer Massey, who entered the event as the points leader, to advance to the final round and score his second career victory at Texas Motorplex. Kalitta was impressed with his team’s efforts, giving a special win to crew chief Oberhofer, who is a Texas native.
“They say, ‘To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man,’ and that was the case in the semifinals versus Spencer,” Kalitta said. “Hopefully this is a good precursor for the rest of the Countdown.”
Funny Car featured a final round battle between two veteran multiple world champions, as Pedregon prevailed in a thrilling duel with 15-time world champ John Force. Pedregon guided his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry to his fourth win of the season and 34th of his career with an incredible performance of 4.106 at 312.06 to finish ahead of Force’s Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, which ran 4.22 at 270.27.
“A couple months back, I thought about how cool it would be to sweep the Texas races,” said Pedregon, who also won at Houston in April. “Lo and behold, here we are.”
Pedregon, who picked up his fourth win at Texas Motorplex, outran Blake Alexander, Bob Tasca III and defending world champion Jack Beckman to advance to the final round. With the victory, Pedregon moved to second in the Mello Yello Series points standings.
“It was an uphill battle,” Pedregon said. “I wasn’t feeling like our motor was running right, but we made the right adjustments every round. It was a great way to put an exclamation point on this event. It’s great for our team. We kind of hung around and built momentum as the race went on.”
Two-time Mello Yello Pro Stock world champion Line earned his second victory of the season and first in the Countdown by outrunning Shane Gray in the final round. Line powered his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro to his second Texas Motorplex win with a performance of 6.590 at 211.16 to hold off Gray’s Camaro. With the victory, the 31st of his career, Line claimed the Pro Stock points lead for the first time since 2011.
“I’m happy to get a cowboy hat,” Line said, referencing the prize winners at Texas Motorplex receive. “The points lead is definitely a big deal. From where we were two months ago to leave here as the points leader is a small miracle for sure and a testament to all the Summit folk.”
Line outran Texas native Rodger Brogdon, reigning world champ Allen Johnson and veteran V. Gaines in the first three rounds.
“It was definitely a strange final but we won,” Line said. “Timing is everything and this is a big win being that it’s my 31st. You have to be willing to go backwards sometime in order to go forward. We have a great car and we’re going the right way.”
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, reigning world champion Krawiec claimed his first win of 2013 and first victory at Texas Motorplex, riding his Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a holeshot victory of 6.951 at 191.87 in the final round to hold off Matt Smith’s Viper Motorcycle Company Buell.
“A lot of luck went my way this weekend,” Krawiec said. “I’m just happy to be here. This is a huge win for the Harley-Davidson team. It’s easy to show up to a race but it’s hard to be competitive. There’s a lot of great motorcycles and racers.”
Krawiec beat teammate Andrew Hines, Texas fan-favorite Michael Ray and H. Arana Sr. to advance to the final round.“This weekend, I was riding great but I wasn’t racing great,” said Krawiec of his first victory at Texas Motorplex. “If we can continue and improve, I think you’re going to see our Harley’s sitting up front.”The NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs continues with the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, Sept. 27-29 at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis.
Event Essentials: AAA Texas Fall Nationals (Sep. 20-22nd, 2013) Dallas TX
|TOP FUEL||Name||ET||MPH||Career Win|
|Low ET:||Shawn Langdon||3.767|
|Top Speed:||Shawn Langdon||325.53|
|FUNNY CAR||Career Win|
|Low ET:||Robert Hight||4.052|
|Top Speed:||Robert Hight||313.37|
|PRO STOCK||Career Win|
|Low ET:||Allen Johnson||6.550|
|Top Speed:||Allen Johnson||211.79|
|PRO STOCK BIKE||Career Win|
|Low ET:||Hector Arana||6.846|
|Top Speed:||Hector Arana||195.79|
|Top Alcohol Dragster||Jim Whiteley||5.322||270.10|
|Top Alcohol FC||Shane Westerfield||5.555||259.66|
|Top Dragster||Lee Lightfoot||6.348||219.40|
|Super Stock||Anthony Bertozzi||9.101||149.03|
|Super Comp||Scooter Choate||8.938||171.18|
|Super Gas||Jimmy Lewis||9.884||155.78|
Westerfield Hands Manzo Rare Final Round Loss!
Shane Westerfield handed Frank Manzo his first final-round loss in nearly eight years to earn his first major Top Alcohol Funny Car victory and Jim Whiteley put the Top Alcohol Dragster championship almost out of reach with his sixth overall win this season.
With increasingly quicker reaction times, Westerfield left everybody he faced and reeled off one low-5.50 after another, highlighted by a 5.55 to 5.58 final-round decision over Manzo, whose last runner-up was 43 finals ago at the 2006 Winternationals. “That’s about the best weekend anybody could have – not because I won but because I ended his streak,” Westerfield said. “That’s all anybody wanted to talk about.”
Manzo had a solid .059 reaction time, but Westerfield was even quicker with a .051 and fought his car off the centerline in low gear. “It went right almost immediately,” he said. “I thought, ‘I might end up hitting something, but no way am I lifting or short-shifting this one.’ Just as I was getting really close to the centerline, the shift light finally came on, and I got it back in the groove. I actually thought I lost – I never saw my win-light come on. He wasn’t too happy. He was loaded up and out of there in no time.”
With the victory, Westerfield, who broke into the Top 10 for the first time last year, is up to second in the national standings, one point ahead of John Lombardo. He qualified his CP-Carrillo entry No. 3 behind Manzo and Annie Whiteley with a 5.54 and ran a career-best 5.52 in the first round to take out Texan Steve Burck, who slowed to a 5.93. From there, it was nothing but Top 5 drivers and side-by-side 5.50s the rest of the way: Lombardo fell in the second round, 5.53 to 5.56; Whiteley lost on a slight holeshot in the semi’s, 5.54 to 5.52; and Manzo slipped to a 5.58 to fall short of his 5.55 in the final.
Racing at Dallas for the first time since the 1990s and just the fourth time in his career, Manzo ruled until the semifinals, where he lost lane choice for the final in a 5.55 win over Jay Payne. After qualifying No. 1 with a 5.50 that held up all weekend for low e.t., his 5.60 in the first round took out Ro Yale, who cut a .004 light and anchored the field with a career-best 6-flat – quicker than surprise non-qualifiers Tony Bartone and Brian Hough ran. Manzo then ran a 5.51 in a second-round win over Bryan Brown’s engine-blowing 5.98 and edged Payne in a great semifinal race, 5.55 to 5.58.
The rare final-round loss may have ended Manzo’s streak, but in just a month he’s rocketed from the lower rungs of the Top 10 to a huge lead. With 15 consecutive round-wins and victories at Brainerd, Indy, and Charlotte, he now tops the standings by 85 points and almost certainly will close his incredible career with yet another championship
Jim Whiteley, like Manzo, is the defending national champ, just won Indy, recently announced that this will be his final season, has a commanding points lead, has won an overwhelming percentage of his career finals, and was part of a side-by-side final in Dallas. Unlike Manzo, he won.
Whiteley and Bill Reichert, who have combined to win six of the past seven Top Alcohol Dragster championships, both ran 5.32s in the final. Whiteley got off the mark first, .075 to .089, and ran slightly quicker, 5.322 to 5.327, to persevere by 19-thousandths of a second.
“I can always hear those A/Fuel cars, so I knew he was there somewhere, but I had no idea it was that close,” Whiteley said. “We had to take it easy on the motor. The number two main cap was broken completely in two, and we’re real fortunate that it survived the run. The crank probably should have come out of it.”
Whiteley qualified his YNot Racing Dragster No. 1 with a 5.24 at 274.50 mph (top speed) and made his best run of the season, a 5.23 (low e.t.) in a first-round win over Michael Manners, who was unable to appear. A steady 5.28 took out Monroe Guest in the second round and the first of back-to-back 5.32s was enough against Joey Severance in a semifinal match both were lucky to survive.
Severance got into his own oil, veered into Whiteley’s lane, corrected, and slid down the centerline for hundreds of feet on the left tires before miraculously steering back into his lane unscathed. “I saw him coming at me and wondered what was going to happen,” Whiteley said. “Then I saw him turn and knew I was OK, but somebody was definitely watching out for him that time.”
Running conservatively in the final, Whiteley managed another 5.32 to all but lock up his second straight championship. “I heard some rumors that I need to just qualify in Las Vegas to clinch this, but I’m not sure,” he said. “I’ve been told that if I quit right now, [Chris] Demke would have to win every race for the rest of the year to pass me. [Brandon] Booher has come on here lately, and if he does well at Reading, Vegas, and Pomona, maybe he could take us, so we’ll just have to wait and see. I’ll miss racing this car next year, but I’ve done what I wanted to do. We set out to win a championship, and it looks like we might get two.”
Other racers visiting the winner’s circle this weekend were Donald Thomas, Amarillo, Texas, in Comp Eliminator; Anthony Bertozzi, Ashland, VA., in Super Stock; Scooter Choate, Hubbard, Texas, in Super Comp; Jimmy Lewis, Forney, Texas, in Super Gas; and Jerry Emmons, Pasadena, Texas, in Stock Eliminator. Lee Lightfoot, Odessa, Texas, won in Top Dragster.
Posted with files & photos from NHRA Communications – DragRaceCanada file photos by: Bruce Biegler