NHRA’s gruelling annual “Western Swing” of events concluded at scenic Pacific Raceways last weekend…

That event was highlighted by Antron Brown’s 4th Top Fuel win of the season while Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) were also victorious in their respective categories. The 30th annual version for the Northwest Nationals was season stop #16 of 24 events in the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Brown took down Terry McMillen with a 3.776-second pass at 326.48 mph in his Matco Tools dragster during the final round. He earned his second win in three events and with that victory, he takes over the Top Fuel points lead.

Antron Brown has assumed the NHRA Top Fuel points lead after his convincing win during the Northwest Nationals.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my guys, because the Western Swing can bring you down,” Brown said. “My team gave me a great car to allow me to go some rounds against tough competition, but this sets up some real interesting scenarios with only two races to go before the Countdown.”

Brown qualified first and defeated Ron Smith, Mike Salinas and Clay Millican before reaching his ninth final round of 2017 and fourth in a row. McMillen qualified 10th and took down points leader Steve Torrence, Doug Kalitta and Leah Pritchett before reaching his first final round of the year and second of his career.

Hight secured his second Funny Car victory of the season after a 3.890 pass at 328.62 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevy Camaro SS to defeat Tommy Johnson Jr. who ran a 3.978 at 323.27 in his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T in the final round. After earning his third No. 1 qualifier of the season on Saturday, Hight was able to secure his second victory of the Western swing, he also won the opening race in Denver two weeks ago.

Robert Hight was dominating while winning in Fuel FC in the AAA Auto Club Chevy Camaro

“This was a weekend you can only dream about, but to have low E.T. of each of the last seven sessions gave our team so much confidence,” Hight said. “We have a good combination whether it be hot or cool weather, which shows how strong my team is able to prepare for any track in any climate.”

Hight was the No. 1 qualifier for the second consecutive race and defeated Jeff Diehl, John Force and Courtney Force before reaching his fourth final round of 2017. Johnson Jr. qualified third and took down Jim Campbell, points leader Ron Capps and Matt Hagan en route to his fourth final round of the year and third in the past four events.

Hight’s victory also marked the 250th career Funny Car victory for John Force Racing out of 254 total victories for the team in Funny Car and Top Fuel.

In Pro Stock, Skillman took the victory after driving to a 6.604 at 209.33 in his Ray Skillman Chevrolet Camaro to defeat Erica Enders who ran a 6.609 at 209.49 in her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro in the final round. After qualifying second, Skillman earned his third victory of the season and third in the past four events.

“We definitely thought we had a car to sweep the Western swing and we missed it by two rounds, but today definitely makes up for that,” Skillman said. “Our team is working really well together right now, and I couldn’t be happier with the results over the past few events.”

Skillman moves up to fifth in the standings with the victory, as he is now tied for a category-best three victories on the season with points leader Bo Butner and Tanner Gray.

“Young Gun” Drew Skillman earned his 3rd win of the season in Pro Stock.

Skillman was the No. 2 qualifier and maintained his success with round wins over Alan Prusiensky and Butner on the way to his second victory of the Western Swing. Enders qualified in the fourth spot and took down Matthew Hartford, Jason Line and Tanner Gray before reaching her fourth final round of the season, as she searches for her first victory since Epping.

Canadian Top Fuel Harley racer Kevin Boyer (from Edmonton AB) invaded the event and pulled off the mild upset; defending World Champion Jay Turner, Julian, N.C., in the final round.

Racing his Team ACE Racing-backed motorcycle – Canada’s Kevin Boyer scored in Top Fuel Motorcycle.

When Turner, (the points leader) broke shortly after launch Boyer too had his share of mechanical issues but was able to surpass Turner for the victory, crossing the finish line at 7.788 seconds, 150.46 mph.

Racing his Team ACE Racing (Ace Manufacturing) machine, Boyer had qualified #2 behind Turner and he defeated Toni Froehling and fellow Canadian rider Andy Beauchemin in earlier competition.  It was Kevin’s first win in NHRA competition – coming after four previous career runner-up finishes.

Boyer was also credited with low ET of the event when he ran 6.346 secs during his round one win. Beauchemin, who is also from Alberta, set top speed for the class at 221.23 mph.

The 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues with the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, Aug. 17-20.

Lucas Oil Lowdown

Kim Parker, Jay Payne, and Bryan Hyerstay all celebrated in the winner’s circle with their teams following their final round victories at the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash.

Kim Parker (top) and Jay Payne earned the Top Alcohol titles at NHRA Seattle

Local Top Alcohol Dragster runner, Parker of Graham, squared off against Joey Severance, Woodburn, Ore., in the final round. The Defending Lucas Oil Champion, Severance came out of the gate hot but let off the throttle as he experienced mechanical issues. Parker overtook Severance, to take home her first National Event Wally, hitting 5.748 seconds, 246.48 mph.

California Top Alcohol Funny Car racers, Steve Gasparrelli from West Covina and Payne of Claremont dueled in the final round. Payne powered his way down the strip hitting 5.526 seconds, 266.00 mph, to take the victory.

Hyerstay, Eugene, Ore., knocked off local Washington Comp Eliminator driver Ryan Warter of Olalla in the final round, holding off Warter down the stretch; completing his victory pass at 8.692 seconds, 146.08 mph.

Oregon’s Brian Hyerstay won in Comp

Andy Morris, Olympia, Wash., cruised to victory in the final round of Top Dragster presented by RacingRVs, as Kyle Seipel, Pleasanton, Calif., fouled at the starting line. In the final round of Top Sportsman presented by RacingRv’s, local racer Don Sefton of Port Orchard came from behind to upend Bryan Warr, Riverton, Utah; registering a victory pass of 7.239 seconds, 170.86 mph.

Don Sefton drive his Pontiac GXP to victory in Top Sportsman class racing.

The other drivers visiting the winner’s circle were Jeff Lane in Super Stock; Dan Davis in Super Gas; Randy Beck in Super Comp; Tom Brown in Super Street; and Jody Lang in Stock Eliminator.

Pacific Northwest Sportsman racing stalwarts Jody Lang and Jeff Lane (top) won in Stock and Super Stock with their Chevrolets

Posted with files by NHRA Communications and Bruce Biegler
All Photos by Gerry Frechette