NHRA Atlanta in Books After Take II

It took two consecutive weekend efforts but NHRA’s weather-delayed Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals was completed (May 11th) at Atlanta Dragway at Commerce Georgia…..

Antron Brown (Top Fuel) Johnny Gray (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) were the Professional class winners at the 7th NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event of 2013, which was delayed for one week due to persistent rain showers.

Brown claimed his second victory of the season and his fifth win at the Georgia dragstrip, powering past Brandon Bernstein in the final round. Brown covered the distance in 3.801 seconds at 321.25 mph in his Matco Tools dragster, while Bernstein’s ProtectTheHarvest.com dragster lost traction at the start and finished in 7.105 at 90.64.

“It’s big to win down here at the Southern Nationals,” said defending world champion Brown, who also defeated Pat Dakin, Spencer Massey and Doug Kalitta in earlier rounds to secure his 39th career victory.

Antron Brown collected career victory #39 during NHRA's rain deferred Summit Racing Southern Nationals.

Antron Brown collected career victory #39 during NHRA’s rain deferred Summit Racing Southern Nationals.


“This track’s been real special to me,” Brown continued. “It reminds me of going to a racetrack in my hometown. It’s been around forever, and it has that special atmosphere with great fans that pump you up. You get that aura of the passion for the sport that they have. Everybody was running so strong this weekend that it was monumental for us to get the job done.”

With the win, Brown moved to second place in the points order, within five points of series leader Tony Schumacher.

“Every team gets in a groove, and our car can run what the track will hold when we’re in our groove,” Brown said. “People probably know that, if they want to take that win from us, they’re going to have to step up because we’re not going to leave any scraps on the table. We threw some good numbers out there.”

In Funny Car, Gray earned his second win of the season by defeating event No. 1 qualifier Matt Hagan in the final round. Gray’s Pitch Energy Dodge Charger led the entire way down the track with a performance of 4.077 at 314.17 and Hagan trailed in his Magneti Marelli/Rocky Footwear Charger with a 4.160 at 309.49.

The victory pulled Gray out of bit of a mini-slump, which he had been in since winning in Gainesville, Fla. in March and included a DNQ at the Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte and a pair of second round losses at Las Vegas and Houston.

Johnny Gray won for the 2nd time this season in the Gray Motorsports Dodge Charger.

Johnny Gray won for the 2nd time this season in the Gray Motorsports Dodge Charger.


“We got over-center here for a couple of races and struggled pretty good,” said Gray, who moved up from fifth to third in the series standings with the win. “The car was getting really inconsistent, and the boys made the election just to back the thing way down, get way over on the soft side, and start picking their way back up. I didn’t know they’d pick it up quite that quick, but they picked on it pretty good today. The thing came back real strong.”

Gray outran Robert Hight, Ron Capps and points leader Cruz Pedregon in earlier rounds to claim his fifth career victory and first ever at Atlanta Dragway.

“We’re tickled to death,” Gray said. “[Crew chiefs] Rob [Wendland] and Rip [Reynolds] are pretty phenomenal over there. They get a little left of center there every now and again, but, boy, it doesn’t take them long to reel it back in, and when they’ve got it reeled in, man that’s a hot rod. They give me a car good enough even I can’t screw it up.”

Edwards scored his second Pro Stock win of the season and the 36th of his career by defeating Gray’s son Shane in the final round with a 6.595 at 209.14 in his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Chevy Camaro.

“All things considered, it was a great day in the office,” said Edwards, who beat Warren Johnson, V. Gaines and Greg Anderson in the first three rounds. “Man, it just seemed like we were a little bit faster than a few of them. We’re making good runs, just need to make better runs. We just tried all day long and couldn’t make it go any faster, but hey, it just feels good to come out with a win. It was a great win for me and my guys.”

The younger Gray posted a 6.643 at 208.17 in his Gray Motorsports Camaro in the runner-up effort in his third consecutive final round appearance. He barely missed joining his father in the Mello Yello Series winner’s circle, which would have been a first in the sport. The only other time a father-son tandem advanced to final rounds in different Mello Yello Series categories at the same event was in 2008 at Brainerd, Minn., with Brandon Bernstein in Top Fuel and Kenny Bernstein in Funny Car. Neither driver won that day.

“Shane was on today,” said Edwards, who with the win increased his series points lead to 126 over second-place Jeg Coughlin. “I asked him down there at the other end what he had this morning, and he said a big ol’ box of Wheaties, so that’s what I’m having in Kansas. He did a phenomenal job. I think that’s three finals in a row for that team, so they’re definitely catching fire, and they’re running good.”

Gray rattled off several amazing reaction times to advance to the final round, including back-to-back .002 and .001 starts in the semis and final. Edwards, the 2009 world champ, says winning an NHRA Pro Stock race just keeps getting tougher and tougher.

“The competition is amazing,” Edwards said. “Pro Stock is just a great class. It’s fun to be a part of, but I’ll tell you what, the older I get, my nerves are getting shot. It’s tough. Them guys are so good. They pull up there and just pop them .00s on you. Man, we made a real nice run in the final. I was a little worried because that was the first time we were going to be the first pair out, but it made a sweet run. It’s all good when you win.”

Mike Edwards set both low ET and top speed while winning convincingly again in Pro Stock

Mike Edwards set both low ET and top speed while winning convincingly again in Pro Stock

The NHRA Mello Yello Series continues next weekend with the NHRA Kansas Nationals, May 17-19 at Heartland Park Topeka (Kan.).

Event Essentials – NHRA Summit Racing Southern Nationals – (May 10-11th, 2013) Commerce GA

TOP FUEL Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Antron Brown 3.801 321.35 39th
R/UP: Brandon Bernstein 7.105  90.64  
Low ET: Brandon Bernstein 3.761    
Top Speed: Doug Kalitta   325.61  
Bump Spot:   4.090    
FUNNY CAR       Career Win
Winner: Johnny Gray 4.077 314.17 5th
R/UP: Matt Hagan 4.160 309.49  
Low ET: Matt Hagan 4.067    
Top Speed: Chad Head   314.90  
Bump Spot:   4.232    
PRO STOCK       Career Win
Winner: Mike Edwards 6.595 209.14 36th
R/UP: Shawn Gray 6.643 210.57  
Low ET: Mike Edwards 6.538    
Top Speed: Mike Edwards   210.57  
Bump Spot:   6.656    
LUCAS OIL        
Sportsman Winners:        
Super Stock Dave Latino 9.699 127.10  
Stock Jeff Strickland 10.68 120.35  
Super Comp Lauren Freer 8.904 173.87  
Super Gas Billy Upton 9.915 153.79  
Super Street Troy Williams Jr. 10.94 130.83  
Top Sportsman Jeffrey Barker 6.690 206.61  
Top Dragster Ray Miller III 6.843 191.87  


Sportsman Summary

Jeff Strickland raced his way to a pair of final rounds in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway and Troy Williams Jr. and David Latino made trips to the NHRA national event winner’s circle for the first time.

Strickland first met up with Jeff Adkinson in the Stock Eliminator Final recording a perfect 0.000 reaction time to capture his ninth national event win running 10.686 seconds at 120.35 in his Nova.  That gave Strickland a shot at the double-up as he would face off with Ray Miller III for the Top Dragster trophy.  Just 15 drivers have recorded double wins at an NHRA national event and it would stay that way as Miller grabbed his first win in Top Dragster to go along with his previous win in Super Comp.  Miller clocked in at 6.843, 191.87 to Strickland’s 7.204, 174.08.

Williams also had a perfect reaction time in Super Street which forced Mike Desio to break out with a 10.877 on the 10.90 dial.  Williams clocked in at 10.944, 130.74 mph for his first national event win.

Latino joined Williams as a first time winner having to drive around Ryan Richardson in Super Stock with this Cobalt at 9.699 seconds at 127.10 mph to Richardson’s 10.191, 112.59.

Jeffrey Barker defeated Tommy Turner in Top Sportsman posting a lap of 6.690 at 206.61 mph for his fourth national event victory and Lauren Freer won a close one in Super Comp over Michael Rastall as the two were nearly identical off the line with Lauren running a 8.904 and Rastall running too quick at 8.884 seconds.

The Super Gas title went to Billy Upton who was better on both ends of the track to knock out Scott Lawton.  Upton went 9.915 at 153.79 mph in his Corvette to Lawton’s 9.925, 146.89.

Filed by NHRA Media Relations & Eric Lotz

DragRaceCanada File Photos by Dave DeAngelis & Bruce Biegler