Industry leading Lucas Oil presents major league drag racing at tradition rich Brainerd International Raceway….

The 37th Lucas Oil Nationals event was highlighted by a first time winner in Top Fuel when Texan Billy Torrence picked up his first career victory. Wily racer Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Deric Kramer (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also winners in their respective categories at the 17th of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Torrence, whose son, Steve, is the points leader in the class, went 3.756 at 329.99 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster to defeat three-time world champion Antron Brown on a holeshot in the final round. Making his 27th career start, Billy Torrence, who was also the No. 1 qualifier for the first time in his career this weekend, knocked off Terry Totten, Scott Palmer and Mike Salinas to face off with Brown in his first career final round appearance.

Billy Torrence became the newest NHRA Pro winner when he scored in Top Fuel at BIR’s Lucas Oil Nationals

“To come out here and be able to win a event, and give back something to those guys who give me a good operation when I come out, that’s just a blessing,” Torrence said. “At this level, there’s pressure on everyone to win. I just wanted to win and Antron is a tremendous racer, and you just have to be on your game. We prepare well and we have a great team put together, and a great car. We have all the right parts and pieces.”

Steve Torrence maintained his points lead in the class despite falling to Brown in a tight semifinal race. Brown, who won the previous race in Seattle, is now a point out of fifth place, beating Luigi Novelli, defending world champion Brittany Force and S. Torrence to reach his 121st career final round and third straight at Brainerd.

In Funny Car, Jack Beckman secured his second victory of the season and 28th of his career in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T with a run of 3.961 at 325.69 against Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round. Beckman, who recorded his first career Brainerd victory, also posted wins against Matt Hagan, Shawn Langdon and points leader Courtney Force.

Fan favourite Funny Car racer Jack Beckman won his second event of the season in the DSR Infinite Hero Dodge Charger.

“We have struggled, it’s no secret we haven’t had the car we had early in the season,” said Beckman, who moved to fourth in Funny Car points. “We weren’t exactly stellar Friday and Saturday and we didn’t have lane choice all weekend long. (But) I feel a heck of a lot better today than I did yesterday. To put it back in the winner’s circle again, it just reaffirms we have a contending car. I like the way we picked away at things and we got significantly better every time down the racetrack today.”

Johnson clinched his spot in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship on Sunday, advancing to his second final round of the season with victories over Del Worsham, Tim Wilkerson and J.R. Todd, who also secured his spot in the playoffs.

Pro Stock’s Kramer grabbed his second career victory in his American Ethanol Chevrolet Camaro after going 6.652 at 207.56 in the final round to defeat Tanner Gray. Kramer’s first career win came earlier this year in Topeka, while Sunday’s path to the winner’s circle also included round wins against Vincent Nobile, Alex Laughlin and Jason Line. Kramer clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship on Sunday as well.

Colorado’s Deric Kramer wheeled the American Ethanol Chevy Camaro to victory in Pro Stock for the 2nd time this season.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Kramer, who made his third straight finals appearance this season. “I know how good you have to be to win in this class. You just have to be ready every time you go to the starting line. There’s no free shots. You have to be competitive, and if you’re not competitive on the tree and you’re not competitive on the track, you’re not going to win, you’re going to go home. We just continue to do that and hopefully it works out for us more than it doesn’t.”

Gray, who remained second in points, advanced to his second straight finals at Brainerd with victories over Dave Connolly, Fernando Cuadra and points leader Greg Anderson. Line, Chris McGaha and Drew Skillman all secured their spots in the Countdown to the Championship.

In an all-Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson final round, defending Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Krawiec earned his fourth victory of 2018 and 47th of his career with a run of 6.897 at 195.14 to beat teammate Andrew Hines. Krawiec moved within 11 points of Hines for the points lead with his fourth career Brainerd victory, one that also included round wins against Ryan Oehler, Mark Paquette and Hector Arana Jr.

Eddie Krawiec guided the Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle HD to it’s 4th win of the 2018 season.

“It’s about building momentum right now,” Krawiec said. “We know where we are and we’re in a great position. I think as long as you have that great drive and have that upbeat spirit, you have everybody all excited and that’s what it’s about right now. I have a good motorcycle under me. I know if it’s not winning, it’s most likely because of me. It’s just great to come out and run well. We had a consistent motorcycle and that’s what you need to win races.”

Hines’ path to his fifth final round this season included wins against Karen Stoffer, Jerry Savoie and Angie Smith. No. 1 qualifier Matt Smith also clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship.

The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues Aug. 29-Sept. 3 with the last race of the regular season, the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

The Lucas Oil Lowdown 

The Lucas Oil Top Alcohol event titles went to skilled lady racers Jackie Fricke (TAD) and Annie Whiteley (TAFC)

Jackie Fricke and Annie Whiteley led the list of winners in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series at Brainerd International Raceway and the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals followed by a slew of first time winners.

Fricke had her work cut out for her as Dean Dubbin was out first with a great .009 second reaction time in the Top Alcohol Dragster final round. But Fricke had the power all day running 5.20’s and 5.30’s with a 5.302 second pass at 269.24 in the final to power by Dubbin for the win and her third at the national event level.

Whiteley qualified number one and faced off with veteran Top Alcohol Funny Car pilot Jay Payne in the money round. Payne left first but had trouble at the hit of the throttle as Whiteley shot past with a 5.564, 267.37 mph lap for her second national event win of the season and sixth of her career.

Brian Johnson, Don Nichols, Jeff Crooks and Todd Fleck all grabbed their first NHRA National event win and famed Wally trophy. Johnson took the Super Stock title with a great 11.164 second run on the 11.16 dial to oust Jason DeForrest while Nichols lead from start to finish with a stellar .004 reaction time in Super Comp over Donald Leisdon.

Crooks (a Canadian racer from Manitoba) ran it out to an 8.899, 160.04 for the Super Gas trophy after Tom Carlson left early with a foul start and Fleck scored his first win in his first final round in Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs when Ross Laris broke on the line. Fleck clocked in at 7.591, 154.30.

Canadian racer Jeff Crooks (Brandon MB) won his first national event title in Super Gas.

Defending event champion Ben Line continued his Brainerd reign taking the Stock title over Randi Lyn Shipp with a pass of 10.538 at 123.15 and J.R. Lobner extended his winning streak capturing the Top Sportsman presented by Racing RVs crown to go along with his win a week ago at the NHRA Lucas Oil divisional event at BIR. Lobner had the power and was better at the top end to nip Michael Freischel by about five inches.

Glenn Hall rounded out the winner’s circle taking the holeshot win against Matt Ernst in Pro Stock Snowmobile. Hall went 8.273, 155.79 to Ernst’s 8.242, 155.19.

Brian Johnson – racing his Plymouth Duster – won his first national event in Super Stock.

Minnesota-state native Ben Line raced his classic ’69 Mustang to victory in Stock eliminator.

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