Two female drag racing star drivers handled all the nitro-class competition during NHRA’s Lucas Oil Nationals….

Leah Pritchett earned her fourth Top Fuel victory of the season while Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also victors at the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals – the 17th of 24 events on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

The event was held at super scenic and super fast Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota.

Pritchett, who clocked in the quickest pass in NHRA history during qualifying (3.640 secs), ran a 3.682-second pass at 328.06 mph in her Papa John’s Pizza dragster to defeat Don Schumacher Racing teammate and reigning world champion Antron Brown’s 4.001 at 246.35 in his Matco Tools dragster in his fifth consecutive finals appearance.

Leah Pritchett rode the momentum of the quickest run in drag racing history to victory during the NHRA’s Lucas Oil Nationals.

“Don Schumacher has given me the best team, in my opinion,” Pritchett said. “We keep continuing to prove that. I really like that these numbers and their work ethic and the consistency really backs it up when I say we have the best team because we have the best hot rod. We’re going to enjoy this win.”

Pritchett defeated Rob Passey, Scott Palmer and Clay Millican before facing off against Brown who defeated Shawn Langdon, Brittany Force and Steve Torrence en route to his 10th final round appearance of the season. With his win over Torrence in the semifinals, Brown now leads the Top Fuel points standings.

In Funny Car, DeJoria raced to her first win of the season, fifth of her career and the 250th women’s victory in NHRA history when she defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. in the finals. Her 3.906 pass at 330.96 in her Tequila Patron Toyota Camry bettered Johnson Jr.’s 3.933 at 324.44 in his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T.

“The last two years have been really difficult,” DeJoria said. “Lots of ups and downs, injuries, no wins, we just couldn’t get up to speed with everybody else. We were fighting so hard out there and you start to lose yourself in it. You start to forget the love that you had in the beginning. It’s times like those that make this so much better. You really appreciate every moment. This is a huge win for us.”

Alexis Dejoria set a milestone mark for female drag racers — her win in fuel FC was the 250th women’s victory in NHRA history!

DeJoria raced against Tim Wilkerson, Cruz Pedregon and 16-time world champ John Force before making it to her first finals appearance of the season. Johnson Jr. defeated rookie Jonnie Lindberg, Courtney Force and world record holder Robert Hight before falling to Dejoria in the finals. It was his fifth finals appearance of the season.

Robert Hight broke the 3.8 secs barrier in FC racing when he ran a world record 3.793 secs to qualify #1

Pro Stock rookie Gray powered to the fourth victory of his career defeating points leader Bo Butner with a 6.610 at 208.04 in his Gray Motorsports / Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro. Butner, who has secured the No. 1 seed heading into the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six race playoffs, raced a 6.629 at 207.85 in his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevy Camaro.

“I’m not sure what my team has done but they’ve got a handle on this car the last few races,” Gray said. “They got something going right for them over there. They’re making my job a whole lot easier and I’m just blessed to be able to sit in the driver’s seat.”

The Pro Stock final round saw Tanner Gray (far lane) beat out points leader Bo Butner.

Gray defeated two-time world champion Erica Enders and reigning world champion Jason Line before reaching the finals. Butner defeated Doug Rivers, Gray’s father, Shane Gray and KB Racing teammate Greg Anderson to get to his eighth finals appearance of the season.

Savoie, the Pro Stock Motorcycle reigning world champion, defeated teammate and points leader LE Tonglet in the finals for his second win of the season and eighth of his career. Savoie’s 6.846 pass at 194.80 on his White Alligator Racing Suzuki bettered Tonglet’s 6.910 at 194.02 on his Nitro Fish Racing Suzuki.

“The season has been really good,” Savoie said. “I’ve had some misfortune a couple times and my riding hasn’t been like it should be. LE is solid as a rock so when you beat him it’s pretty rewarding. He’s taught me a lot and I’ve taught him some things and we thrive off each other. We bring out the best in each other and that’s what it takes to win races.”

Defending NHRA World Champion Jerry Savoie scored in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Savoie faced Mike Berry, Angie Smith and Matt Smith before lining up against Tonglet in his third finals appearance of the season. Tonglet, who has five victories this season, raced past 2016 Rookie of the Year Cory Reed and five-time world champ Andrew Hines before facing his teammate.

The Lucas Oil Lowdown

The Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series was in full effect as Justin Ashley, Johan Lindberg, Ben Line, Brian Heath, and Brian Fischer reeled in victories Sunday evening during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

In their first matchup in eliminations Ashley, Plainview, N.Y., squared off against Gord Gingles of Winnipeg, M.B. in the Top Alcohol Dragster finale. Gingles emerged from the gate first, but his dragster succumbed to mechanical issues; Ashley swung around the Canadian driver for his second career national event Wally trophy. Ashley clocked in at 5.237 seconds, 268.60 mph to Gingles 12.344 seconds, 54.22 mph.

Justin Ashley beat Canada’s Gord Gingles in the all nitro-injected TAD final round.

Lindberg, Upplands Vasby, SWE, brother of 2016 Top Alcohol Funny Car World Champion Jonnie Lindberg, took the starting line against Kris Hool, out Evansville, Wyo., in the final round of Top Alcohol Funny Car. After the launch, Hool had issues maintaining his car in the center of the lane; Lindberg was able to pass him for the win. Lindberg crossed the finish line at 5.489 seconds, 268.22 mph, Hool 5.575 seconds, 260.11 mph.

Sweden’s Jonnie Lindberg collected in TAFC class racing.

Local Stock Eliminator runner of International Falls and brother of 2016 Mello Yello Pro Stock Champion Jason Line, Ben Line, captured his first national event Wally, cutting a great light (.005 second reaction time), keeping fellow local driver Bill Feist of Maple Grove at bay. Line recorded a victory pass of 10.533 seconds, 118.45 mph.

Local racer Ben Line scored in Stock eliminator with his classic ’69 Mustang

Similar to Line, Brian Heath, Annetta, Texas made the most of his Top Sportsman Presented by Racing RV’s final round. The Texan cut a great light (.004 second reaction time) and scored his first national event victory; ousting Joseph Mohana, Bourg, La., in the process. Heath finished his run at 7.152 seconds, 185.41 mph. In the Top Dragster final Round Presented by Racing RV’s, local racer, Bob Fischer of Gibbon, came off the starting line hot and never let up taking his first national event Wally. Fischer upended fellow Minnesota driver Michael Kritzky of Saint Paul Park, at 7.403 seconds, 176.33 mph.

Super Stock winner – Eric Bell’s ’68 Barracuda

Texan Brian Heath won in Top Sportsman racing his GTO

Jim Davis won in Super Gas 9.90 class racing with his Chevy Camaro

The other driver visiting the winner’s circle were Eric Bell in Super Stock; Trevor Larson in Super Comp; and Jim Davis of Super Gas.  Pro Stock Snowmobile was also in action with Glenn Hall taking the win over Scott Hagen.

Racing in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis for the 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the world’s biggest drag race, Aug. 30-Sept. 4.

Posted with files by NHRA Communications and Keith Yazdanseta
All photos by Jim Kampmann