A wild and explosive finish in fuel Funny Car Racing concluded NHRA’s second round playoff event…

Robert Hight and the AAA Missouri Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car team now leads the championship chase after winning the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals Sunday at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Hight is now 30 points ahead of the rest of the Funny Car pack with his third win of the season and 44th of his career. It is Hight’s 10th Countdown race win and 90th Countdown round win, both are tops in the Funny Car category.

While racing Tim Wilkerson in the final round, Hight crossed the finish line first but soon after his Chevy Camaro suffered an engine explosion blasting the body off the car and made contact with the retaining wall. Hight got the win at 4.036-seconds at 276.29 mph to Wilkerson’s 4.413 at 201.91 and walked away from the wreckage to be transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.

Just a few seconds later after vaulting off the starting line versus Tim Wilkerson – Robert Hight (near lane) – had a wild top end explosion in his John Force Racing AAA Auto Club FC – but still prevailed !

“First, we are happy Robert is okay. He went to a local hospital to be checked out and after being x-rayed and evaluated he was scheduled to be released tonight. I’m glad Robert has the points lead and now we are going to rest and get ready for Dallas,” said team owner John Force.

(Editors Note:  Link to YouTube footage of the Funny Car final round:  HERE)

Hight started the day in the No. 1 qualifying position after a stellar performance throughout two days of qualifying. The performance of the AAA Missouri Chevrolet Camaro team continued through race day. He made quick work of Dale Creasy in the first round running 3.938 seconds at 324.75 mph that bettered Creasy’s 4.124 secs. He then defeated his team mate John Force and Tommy Johnson Junior to advance to the final round.

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock), and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also winners in their respective categories at the second of six playoff events during the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.

Coming off his victory to kick-off the Countdown to the Championship, Torrence remained hot and went 3.770-seconds at 323.66 mph in his Capco Contractors/Torrence Racing dragster to defeat Clay Millican’s 3.798 at 320.28 in the final round, earning his seventh victory of the season and 23rd of his career. With the win, Torrence now has a 70-point lead over Millican.

Texan Steve Torrence greatly enhanced his season title hopes with his 7th win of the season in Top Fuel.

“This is going to be a really hard-fought war,” Torrence stated. “I couldn’t have a better group of guys to be backing me up. I’m blessed and fortunate to be a part of that team right there and not drop the ball. I’m very confident going forward and this is all we could’ve asked for to start the Countdown.”

Torrence beat Bill Litton, Mike Salinas and Leah Pritchett to reach the final round. Millican defeated Shawn Reed, three-time world champion Antron Brown, and Pat Dakin.

Pro Stock’s Gray grabbed his sixth victory of the season and 11th of his career in his Valvoline/Gray Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro after going 6.567 at 211.06 in the final round to defeat Drew Skillman’s 11.409 at 78.68. Gray, who knocked off Chris McGaha, Erica Enders and Vincent Nobile to extend his points lead over the category.

“During qualifying we didn’t run as well as we thought we should have,” Gray said. “We made nice runs, but we never got aggressive enough. It was cool to see everyone come in with their head on straight and fight back to get a win. I felt like all of us did a really good job of just going round-by-round.”

Tanner Gray extended his NHRA World Championship points margin with another impressive victory in Pro Stock.

Skillman was in his second consecutive final round and was seeking his first victory of the 2018 season. He didn’t get the victory but did climb to third in points after beating Kenny Delco, defending world champion Bo Butner, and No. 1 qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr. on Sunday.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, M. Smith earned his second victory of 2018 and 20th of his career with a holeshot win of 6.877 at 198.44 to LE Tonglet’s 6.876 at 196.10. M. Smith took the points lead after his third win at the track on his Elite Motorsports DENSO Auto Parts EBR. He picked up wins against Scotty Pollacheck, Joey Gladstone ,and No. 1 qualifier Chip Ellis en route to the finals.

Championship contender Matt Smith roared to a milestone 20th victory in Pro Stock Motorcycle racing.

“We hurt our motor on Friday night,” M. Smith stated. “Angie (Smith, wife) and I stayed up all night last night rebuilding it. The Harley’s got three bikes out here trying to whoop up on us but we’re going to try and do our best to stay focused and do our job. As long as we don’t have any part failures we will be fine.”

Tonglet’s path to his 27th career final round included victories against Jim Underdahl, Angie Smith and Jerry Savoie as he is currently fifth in the points standings.

Stevie “Fast” Scores Again

Stevie “Fast” Jackson raced to his second consecutive win during the E3 Spark plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service event portion. This weekend’s Pro Mod racing, presented by Real Pro Mod Association, is the ninth of 12 races this season.

Jackson, who recently won the highly prestigious NHRA Chevrolet Performance US Nationals at Indy, ran a 5.759-second pass at 250.88 mph in his supercharged ’17 Chevrolet Camaro to Chad Green who red lit on the start line. This is the 5th career win for Jackson and second of the season.

Stevie “Fast” Jackson retained his winning momentum from Indy – to prevail in Pro Mod class racing at St. Louis.

“If you had asked me five races ago if we would win another race in my career I would’ve told you, ‘no,’” Jackson stated. “This car kicked my butt for a while. If you give Billy Stocklin (crew chief) and I enough swings at it though we can knock the candy out of the pinata.”

Jackson, driving the Middle Eastern-based Bahrain 1 Racing defeated Rickie Smith, Jim Whiteley, and Mike Janis to advance to the finals. He is third in points. His win came from the #3 qualified position and he prevailed over a record quick NHRA Pro Mod field which featured a stunning 5.777 secs bump spot.

(Editor’s Note: For more Pro Mod Class racing details – visit DragRaceCanada’s VP Racing Fuels Pro Mod Portal: HERE)

The Lucas Oil Lowdown 

Prolific Lucas Oil Sportsman racer – David Rampy – scored his 99th career NHRA national event win (!)

In the final results from the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals and the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, David Rampy claimed victory and took home is his 99th NHRA national event win this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Rampy, who is from Alabama, worked his way throught the filed and ran an 7.240 seconds at 166.13 mph in his final round victory over Allen Wilson, Kokomo, Ind., who clocked in at 8.238 seconds, 163.75 mph. Wilson took the starting line advantage off the line but could not hold off Rampy, giving Rampy win number 99 at the national level.
Drew Skillman was pulling double duty this weekend and nearly pulled off the double as he advanced to the final round in both Stock and Pro Stock. Skillman took the holeshot in Stock against Daryl Bureski and held on for the win in a double breakout for his 15th career win. He then faced off with Tanner Gray in Pro Stock with Gray taking the win and ending Skillman’s chance at a weekend double up win.
Other racers visiting the winner’s circle this weekend were Greg Stanfield, from Louisiana who won for the 13th time in his career — this time in Super Stock.  Rick Hughes, Fishers, Ind., won in Super Comp and Tim Nicholson Concordia, Kan., in Super Gas.
In Top Sportsman and Top Dragster presented by Racing RV’s it was Glenn Butcher, Doylestown, Ohio, taking the win in Top Sportsman while Jennifer White, Conroe, Texas, won in Top Dragster.   Both those victories were first time NHRA national event titles for those racers.
Home state Missouri racer Brian Edwards won the event’s 8-car X275 tire demonstration eliminator which was held on Friday — in his Ford Mustang.

Louisiana veteran racer Greg Stanfield wheeled this high-flying GT/IA ’87 Camaro to victory in Super Stock.

Ohio’s Glenn Butcher won his first NHRA national event in Top Sportsman.

(DragRaceCanada File Photos)

Factory Finality!

Star lady racer Leah Pritchett delivered a convincing victory in the event’s added attraction Factory Stock Showdown which features FS/XX racers.

Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak driver Leah Pritchett continued to own the Factory Stock Showdown class, celebrating her second consecutive event win one day after becoming first in the class to run in the seven-second zone of the class.

The Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver made history during Factory Stock Showdown qualifying on Saturday — shrugging off a recent decision by the NHRA to effectively slap a 50-lb. weight handicap on all Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak vehicles to post a 7.936-second elapsed time (ET) and become the first NHRA driver in the class to make a hit in the seven-second range.

Racing her Mopar Dodge Challenger – Leah Pritchett made history while winning in the record fast FS/XX event feature.

Despite owning a new entry in the NHRA record books, Pritchett would wrap up qualifying No. 2 after her DSR teammate Mark Pawuk ran even lower with a 7.929 ET to earn the pole. It marked the third consecutive event at which the Mopar brand’s modern-day package car, the supercharged, 354-cubic-inch HEMI®-engine-powered Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak, earned the top two spots on the qualifying charts.

Pritchett, winner and No. 1 qualifier at the most recent NHRA Factory Stock Showdown event at the NHRA U.S. Nationals earlier this month, kept the seven-second train rolling with a 7.948 pass at 172.70 mph to defeat fellow Mopar Dodge Drag Pak driver and former NHRA Pro Stock racer Allen Johnson in the opening round. She used an 8.031/172.12 to send home Pete Gasko Jr. in the quarterfinals and then knocked out Arthur Kohn in the semifinals with an 8.011/171.88 run.

In the final, Pritchett nudged up near the seven-second range in an easy defeat of Stephen Bell, who knocked out her teammate Pawuk in round two, unleashing her Kevin Helms-tuned Drag Pak with a blistering 8.001/172.36 to claim victory after Bell experienced problems early. The win was the fourth consecutive in Factory Stock Showdown by a Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak driver, dating back to the NHRA Bristol event in June.

Posted with files by NHRA Communications, Sarah Slaughter, Darren Jacobs and Bruce Biegler
Photos Courtesy of NHRA, Gary Nastase and Ron Lewis