Speedy Las Vegas Sets up Dramatic Finals!
A rousing version of the NHRA Toyota Nationals has set up scenarios for high drama for the upcoming season-ending event for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series at Pomona in two weeks…..
Erica Enders-Stevens reclaimed the Pro Stock points lead with one race remaining by earning a major victory at the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Del Worsham (Funny Car) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the penultimate playoff event in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
Countdown to the Championship. Enders-Stevens powered her Royal Purple Chevy Camaro to a 6.587-second pass at 209.36 mph to defeat reigning world champ Jeg Coughlin in the final. It was the fifth win of the season for Enders-Stevens and 11th of her career. She dominated at Las Vegas this season, also winning the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals in March. She will now head to the Auto Club NHRA Finals with a 17-point lead over Jason Line.
“I wanted to come in with a positive attitude,” said Enders-Stevens, who is trying to become the first female Pro Stock world champion in NHRA history. “When I walked in the gate on Thursday afternoon I had a good feeling. I was a nervous wreck in Reading. I’ve never felt that way in my racing career. I decided I was going to give it to God, keep the faith, do my best and let him do the rest. That quick mental change made everything run so much smoother today.”
Line, driver of the Summit Racing Chevy Camaro, entered the event with a 35-point advantage and reached the semifinals, falling to Enders-Stevens after a red-light start.
In Top Fuel, Massey claimed his third victory of the season by outrunning J.R. Todd in the final round with a 3.756 at 330.88 in his Red Fuel powered by Schumacher dragster. It was Massey’s 17th career victory and third at Las Vegas. With the win, he climbs to second in points, 109 behind series leader Tony Schumacher heading into the season finale.
“The car started off running extremely well,” Massey said. “We started running a new chassis this weekend and we wanted to see where it would lead us. It showed a lot of promise. For [crew chiefs] Phil Schuler and Todd Okahara and my entire team, we’ve been working so hard all season long to finally make good solid runs and be consistent on race day.”
Schumacher came into the NHRA Toyota Nationals with a 136-point lead over Doug Kalitta, but fell in the first round to Billy Torrence.
Worsham picked up his first Funny Car win since Richmond 2009 when he drove his Toyota Camry to a performance of 4.064 at 318.39 to take the victory over 16-time world champion John Force. It was Worsham’s first win of the season following runner-up finishes at Englishtown and Dallas. He denied Force a chance to climb within one point of series leader Matt Hagan.
“I think we’ve been to probably four finals and this is the first time we’ve won with Kalitta Motorsports,” said Worsham, who won a world championship in Top Fuel in 2011. “We’ve almost had lane choice and low elapsed time in all those finals and we didn’t bring out a big enough stick. Today, the big bat was out. This was all about the crew chief and the crew and the job they did today.”
Hagan fell to Worsham in the semifinals and holds a 21-point lead over Force heading to Pomona.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hines, who entered Las Vegas with a 25-point advantage over Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammate Eddie Krawiec, raced to the win with a 6.965 at 191.02, defeating reigning world champ Matt Smith. Hines, who claimed his class-leading sixth victory of the season and 38th of his career, holds a 92-point advantage over Krawiec in his bid for a fourth world championship.
“I don’t want to play defense,” Hines said of his preparation for the Auto Club NHRA Finals. “I’m going to go on the offense. I don’t want to give up any bonus points during qualifying. I want to keep it over 80 points so we can roll into Sunday with the championship basically mathematically locked up.”
Event Essentials: NHRA Toyota Nationals (Oct. 31st-Nov. 2nd) Las Vegas NV
|Low ET:||JR Todd||3.732|
|Top Speed:||Spencer Massey||330.88|
|Low ET:||Matt Hagan||3.983|
|Top Speed:||Matt Hagan||322.42|
|Low ET:||Erica Enders-Stevens||6.576|
|Top Speed:||Erica Enders-Stevens||209.88|
|Pro Stock Motorcycle|
|Low ET:||Andrew Hines||6.856|
|Top Speed:||Michael Ray||195.79|
|Low ET:||Don Walsh||5.821|
|Top Speed:||Richard Snavely||253.14|
The NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship finale is Nov. 13-16 with the 50th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California.
Successful Title Defence!
NHRA’s popular Pro Mod Drag Racing Series completed it’s 2014 schedule at Las Vegas with defending World Champion Rickie Smith prevailing to win both the event and the World Championship title.
Pro Mod racing at this event is presented by Aeromotive, Inc.
Smith powered his nitrous-injected IDG Camaro to a 5.912 second pass at 242.63 mph, defeating No. 1 qualifier Don Walsh in the final round at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was Smith’s third win of the season and seventh of his career. He had previously clinched his second career title with his second round victory over Rick Snavely.
“I’m competitive and I feel I can drive these cars as good as anybody,” said Smith, a native of King, N.C. “I handle it in bad situations. Like I told my crew chief, it isn’t all about cutting lights. You’ve got to know where you want to stage up there. You got to know when it shakes, when to pedal. That’s where I have won these two championships, being able to drive the car when the car isn’t acting right.”
Smith becomes the only Pro Mod Series driver to claim multiple championships. He began the weekend as the No. 2 qualifier, defeating Danny Rowe in the first round on Saturday night. His 5.886 at 243.15 second round victory over Snavely sealed the deal for the title. He went on to beat 2012 Pro Mod world champ Troy Coughlin in the semifinals with a 5.945 at 242.54 to Coughlin’s losing 6.116 at 241.28.
Coughlin, driver of the JEGS turbocharged Corvette, finishes second in the points for the second consecutive year. He picked up victories at Norwalk and the NHRA Carolina Nationals, giving him six career wins.
Walsh backed up his No. 1 qualifying effort with a final round appearance. He defeated Pete Farber, Kevin Rivenbark and Von Smith en route to the final.
Lucas Oil Lowdown!
Joey Severance and Steve Harker led the list of NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series winner’s for the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Severance defeated Johnny Ahten in Top Alcohol Dragster and Harker continued his championship run beating Ulf Leanders in a dramatic “all international” Top Alcohol Funny Car final round.
Severance, Woodburn, Ore., and Ahten, Santa Clarita, Calif., faced off in a classic one vs. two final round match up as No. 2 qualifier Severance took the early lead and never looked back as he posted his best run of the day with a 5.260 second, 271.19 mph lap to Ahten’s 5.449, 254.23. The win was number six at the national event level for Severance.
Harker, Gainesville, Ga., ran 5.50’s all day posting low elapsed time and top speed of the event in the finals to defeat Leanders, Niksjofors, Sweden. Both drivers ran identical 5.548 second laps but Harker had the better reaction time and a speed of 263.10 for the win. Harker is now five for five in final rounds this year having clinched the 2014 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Top Alcohol Funny Car World Championship last month.
Henderson, Nev., racer Justin Lamb grabbed his first win in Comp Eliminator to become just the fourth driver in NHRA history to win a national event in six different classes. He has also won in Stock, Super Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas and Top Comp. Lamb held off Todd Patterson in the final round which was close off the line but Lamb was just a little better at the strip posting a lap of 8.202 at 152.04 mph.
Tommy Phillips earned his 40th NHRA national event win while Jason DeForrest won his first ever national event. Phillips, Forney, Texas, held on to best Bernie Polvadore, Sun City, Ariz., in Super Gas and DeForrest, Andover, Minn., beat class hitter Dan Fletcher in Super Stock. Phillips went 10.056 on the 10.05 dial for a combined .014 second package in his ’68 Camaro. DeForrest drove his ’05 Cavalier to a 9.339, 134 mph winning effort.
Bobby Dye Jr. and Joe Sorensen won their second and third events respectively as Dye, Ontario, Calif., ran down Mike Cooper, Brighton, Colo., for the win in Super Comp and Sorensen, Woodburn, Ore., won in Stock Eliminator when Mick Alley, Eagle, Idaho, broke out.
Posted with files from NHRA Communications, Eric Lotz and Bruce Biegler
All photos by: Luke Nieuwhof
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