Weather defers the conclusion to round #3 of NHRA’s 2019 Mello Mello Countdown…

After rain washed out Sunday’s racing schedule — it was Steve Torrence who retook the Top Fuel points lead when he defeated Doug Kalitta at the 12th annual NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

Robert Hight (Funny Car), Deric Kramer (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all won in their respective categories at the third of six races in the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

Defending world champion Torrence won this event for the second year in a row with a final round pass of 3.772-seconds at 323.19 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster to beat Kalitta. He also picked up wins against Lex Joon (who did not appear in the first round), Clay Millican and Justin Ashley on the way to his ninth win in 2019 and his 36th win in his Top Fuel career.

Kalitta beat Antron Brown, Leah Pritchett and Brittany Force on his side of the ladder before facing Torrence. The runner-up showing puts him second in the points race.

With his 9th win of 2019 — Steve Torrence has retaken the Top Fuel points lead within NHRA racing.

“To race Doug Kalitta, that guy is a legend,” said Torrence. “I look up to him as a driver. So when you go up against him and to have the backlog of what led us to that point, coming in behind him in the points, making up some points in qualifying and then coming all the way down to the final round… a few years ago I probably would’ve gone up there and choked, letting that affect me and get into my head. With the success that we’ve had you build confidence in yourself. You trust in the team and the good Lord and you just go do the best you can. I knew that we had a car that could run with him and if I did my job, we could be right there with him on the tree. You can’t let what or who is in the other lane influence you and that’s what I was able to do today because you’ve got one of the best ever right there beside you.”

Funny Car’s Hight went 3.917 at 329.02 in his Automobile Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS to win the final round when Jack Beckman went red at the starting line. This marks Hight’s 500th round win, a distinction shared by only 19 other drivers. This win also puts him in the lead in the Countdown to the Championship. Hight faced Mike McIntire Jr., Tim Wilkerson and Matt Hagan on his way to the final round against Beckman.

Robert Hight’s win in fuel FC included his 500th career win light!

Beckman, the No. 1 qualifier this weekend, got round wins against Dale Creasy, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Ron Capps before meeting Hight in the final round.

“The Auto Club Chevy team really pulled together and did a good job,” said Hight. “We’ve changed some things over the last few races. We’ve been struggling, but we went down the track every run this weekend. Great job to Jimmy Prock and Chris Cunningham (Crew Chiefs), and all the Auto Club guys.”

In Pro Stock, Kramer went 6.541 at 211.33 in the final round in his American Ethanol Novozymes Chevrolet Camaro to snag his second victory in 2019 and fourth of his career beating Matt Hartford in the final. He reached the final round with wins against Kenny Delco, Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Aaron Stanfield.

Colorado’s Derek Kramer earned his 2nd win of the season and 4th of his career in Pro Stock

Hartford competed in his second consecutive final round after defeating Fernando Cuadra Jr., Chris McGaha and No. 1 qualifier Erica Enders.

“Our motto around the pit is, ‘Just don’t screw up. Make them beat you,’” said Kramer. “And that’s what a lot of today was. Nothing was super stellar; nothing was super fast. But I was able to hold on just long enough and got to 1320 first and that’s all she wrote.”

Hines picked up his eighth Pro Stock Motorcycle win of the season in his Harley-Davidson when his pass of 6.805 at 199.37 defeated Karen Stoffer in the final round. He secured wins against Michael Ray, Scott Pollacheck and Hector Arana Jr. before facing Karen Stoffer in the finals for the second consecutive time this season. Stoffer took the victory when they met in St. Louis in September.

Andrew Hines roared to his 8th win of the season in Pro Stock Motorcycle racing.

Stoffer raced to her third final round of the season after defeating Kelly Clontz, Eddie Krawiec and No. 1 qualifier Steve Johnson.

“It was a tough day,” said Hines. “We were sitting around during the rain delay yesterday talking about this Pro Stock Motorcycle class and how stacked it is right now. If you look at the top ten in qualifying, any one of those people could be number one at any given time. You just never know when that’s going to happen, so these races right now are hard fought and hard earned.”

Pro Mod Glory!

Stevie “Fast” Jackson doubled up at zMAX Dragway when not only did he win the race he also won the war – claiming the world championship in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service.

A round win in the semi-finals clinched the first Pro Mod championship for Jackson when his pass of 5.734-seconds at 251.20 mph defeated Michael Biehle II.

Super skilled drive Steve Jackson has clinched NHRA’s E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod World Championship.

Jackson punctuated his winning weekend when he defeated Whiteley in his Bahrain1 Racing Camaro with a pass of 5.731 at 252.10 in the final round on Monday, his sixth of the season.

The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service concludes with its final event of the season in Las Vegas at the Dodge NHRA Nationals Presented By Pennzoil at The Strip At Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Oct. 31-Nov. 3.

For more details on Pro Mod class racing from zMAX – link to our VP Racing Fuels Pro Mod Portal coverage : HERE

The Lucas Oil Lowdown

Drag racing within NHRA’s backbone Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series at zMAX featured a world championship title clinching performance from Oklahoma’s star young lady racer – Megan Meyer.

Racing her NGK-sponsored injected nitro car — Megan not only won the event (her 4th win of 2019) but also clinched the TAD points championship when he beat her nearest points rival – Troy Coughlin Jr., to the finish line stripe in the final round. Megan clocked a 5.149 secs at 280.60 mph to defeat Coughlin’s 5.169 secs at 281.48 mph.

Her march to victory did include round wins over two Canadian racers — beating Shawn Cowie and Daniel Mercier in rounds 2 and 3 respectively.

Megan Meyer (above) and Sean Bellemeur both mathematically clinched NHRA’ Lucas Oil Top Alcohol World Championship titles at Charlotte.

Sean Bellemeur emerged the winner in the TAFC when he drove the Hussey-sponsored Bartone Brothers-owned Chevy Camaro to it’s 5th “Wally” of the season. Bellemeur, who also clinched a 2nd consecutive NHRA Lucas Oil World Championship for his team during the race (when he won in the semifinals) clocked a 5.405 secs at 273.11 mph in the final round to easily beat Dan Pomponio.

Bellemeur’s time of 5.388 secs in the semi-final round was low ET of the event.

The 2019 Lucas Oil World Champion for NHRA’s Competition eliminator category was also determined when Frank Aragona Jr., won driving his super creative J/AA.  Aragona, from New Jersey, beat Elio Mannino in the event’s trophy dash — which secured a 2nd consecutive championship and the 3rd of his career.

Lucas Oil level drag racing also featured multiple first time winners — with Robbie Draughon winning in Super Stock, James Daniels in Stock and Kevin Brannon prevailing in Top Dragster.

John Labbous (top) and Jonathan Anderson won in the S/G and S/C class tournaments

John Labbous, racing his topless ’63 Corvette prevailed in the Super Gas 9.90 tournament while Jonathan Anderson (who also won at zMAX’s spring event this year) won in Super Comp 8.90 racing.

The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues Oct. 17-20 with the fourth of six races in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs, the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex in Dallas.

Posted with files by NHRA Communications and Bruce Biegler
Photos courtesy of NHRA and by Bruce Biegler