As we all know — there is so much more to the Dodge//SRT U.S. Nationals event…

Two Decades Deep!
The 20th anniversary edition of the Dodge HEMI® Challenge saw a new winner crowned at Lucas Oil Raceway as a determined Steve Comella drove his 1968 Plymouth Barracuda from a runner-up finish in last year’s event to earn his first victory at longest running, continuous, specialty race in National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) history.
Comella earned the victory for the fan favorite classic muscle car competition from the No. 1 qualifier position with a dominant performance through eliminations to advance to an exciting final where he defeated Jim Daniels Jr., four-time (2016-2019) Dodge HEMI Challenge winner.

Steve Comella (near lane) defeated Jim Daniels Jr in the Dodge Hemi Challenge final round.

He drove his iconic Super Stock ’68 Cuda to an elapsed timed (E.T.) run of 8.364 seconds at 161.17 mph to beat his opponent’s 8.423 sec/ 158.02 mph pass under the lights at Lucas Oil Raceway in a late night showdown during the 67th annual Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals on Friday.
On his drive to the winner’s circle, Comella battled head-to-head against Steve Kent and inaugural event winner Bucky Hess, and had a semifinal solo run when defending event winner Stephen Yantus III wasn’t able to make the start due to a mechanical issue. In the final against Daniels and his vintage ’68 Dodge Dart, Comella overcame his opponent’s early lead by chasing him down and turning on the win lights with a 0.0202-second margin of victory.
Highlights of Comella’s performance through five elimination rounds included a lightning 0.001-second reaction time and a trio of 8.3-second runs, the last of which gave him low E.T. and top speed of the event. His efforts were rewarded with the coveted custom-made 42.6-lb. trophy crafted from a 426 HEMI cylinder head, a $15,000 award, and the immense satisfaction that comes with a first career win.
“At the moment I’m exhausted, but this means a lot,” said Comella, who finished runner-up to Yantus in last year’s edition of the Dodge HEMI Challenge and has previously earned two runner-up finishes in overall NHRA Super Stock competition. “We’ve been chasing this for a while. Last year kind of felt like a stone in the shoe all year, so we decided to really kind of put everything into [this race] this year. It was a lot of work and here it (the trophy) is.”
While last year’s winner Yantus saw his efforts to defend his title come to an end in the semifinals, his ’68 Barracuda came away from the Dodge//SRT U.S. Nationals as a winner after being presented with NHRA’s special award for “Best Appearing Car”.

Steve Comella ran some all time record quick times for the Dodge Hemi Challenge while winning the event!
Defending Dodge Hemi Challenge event champion Stephen Yantus III – raced this stunning new look ’68 Barracuda – and collected the event’s “Best Appearing Car” award.

Posted by Pat Caporali

Breakthrough Factory Stock Showdown
The  Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown final round closed out the 67th annual Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals with Jesse Alexandra, of West Bend, Wisconsin, defeating point leader Aaron Stanfield in an epic final round. Alexandra has competed in the Factory Stock Showdown class for four seasons, and this is his first career win. It took five round wins today but Alexandra realized a life-long dream of winning on the NHRA’s biggest stage.

“I can’t believe it,” exclaimed Alexandra, moments after his big win. “It has been a roller coaster of ups and downs. We just had a great hot rod today. We have a great team behind us. I must thank my family and David and Ray Barton. All the guys back at the shop working hard for us. It is just crazy that it all came together today.”
In the first round Alexandra and his Chevrolet COPO Camaro defeated Mark Pawuk in his brand-new Dodge Challenger Drag Pak on the strength of a .025 reaction time that gave him a lead he never relinquished getting the finish line first with a 7.892 second, 170.36 mph run over Pawuk’s 7.973 second pass. Right after that round win Alaxandra took out Denver winner Stephen Bell with an .011 reaction time combined with a 7.922 second run was enough to advance him to the quarterfinals.
“We were chasing some bugs earlier in the weekend,” said Alexandra. “They started to get worked out as the day went on. It just all came together, and I still can’t believe it.”

Racing his COPO Jesse Alexandra (from Wisconsin) was a first time winner for the Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown series.

Racing the Topeka national event winner and current bounty driver John Cerbone, Alexandra was able to get his third win light of the day and pick up the $1,000 bounty. He once again grabbed a starting line advantage and never gave up the lead. In the lane beside him, Cerbone had his hands full as his red and black Saw Mill Auto Camaro got loose and he scuffed the wall in a losing effort. The semifinal contest for Alexandra saw him outrun Anthony Troyer. It was a consistent 7.854 second run at 177.04 mph that set up his first career final round against Gatornationals winner Stanfield.
The final was over as soon as Alexandra leapt off the starting line with a .015 reaction time and Stanfield severely spun the tires of his Camaro and lost almost all momentum off the line. As Alexandra crossed the finish line 7.841 seconds later tears were already welling up in his eyes.
“I got out after the final and I almost fell on the floor,” said an emotional Alexandra. “I started crying.  It was just nuts. This has been four years chasing this Wally. I couldn’t have done it without everyone’s help. It is just crazy that I am standing here as a U.S. Nationals champion.”

2021 Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown – Y-T-D Results/Schedule

Gainesville – Aaron Stanfield, winner; Kevin Skinner, runner-up
Houston – David Barton, winner; Aaron Stanfield, runner-up
Norwalk – Chuck Watson II, winner; Bill Skillman, runner-up
Denver – Stephen Bell, winner; Leah Pruett, runner-up
Topeka – John Cerbone, winner; Leah Pruett, runner-up
Indianapolis, Jesse Alexandra, winner; Aaron Stanfield, runner-up
St. Louis, Midwest Nationals, September 24-26
Las Vegas. NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, October 29-31 
About Constant Aviation : Constant Aviation specializes in aircraft and engine maintenance, major repairs, avionics, interiors and paint. In addition, it offers mobile response services through its AOG division, and accessory and composite services through its Nextant Aerospace division. With more than 15 years of expertise in a comprehensive array of business jet airframes, Constant Aviation has raised the bar in aircraft maintenance expectations by focusing on quality, always. In 2021, Constant Aviation became the official aircraft maintenance and AOG support of the NHRA and the title sponsor of the NHRA Factory Stock Showdown class. For more information, visit

Posted by Elon Werner

Sportsman Stars Shine!

NHRA’s annual Sportsman showcase event – the JEGS Allstars event — was held for the 37th time during Friday’s racing schedule and it was the NHRA Southeast Division (Division 2) that laid claim to the overall team title.

The Division 2 team finished with 1,100 points to win the overall title for the eighth time.

Division 2 tallied eliminator wins from Ray Miller III (Super Comp), Rusty Cook (Super Gas),and Jacob Rutledge (Super Street) to secure the mathematical title.

In Comp, Doug Engels, from NHRA Division 5 claimed the victory with his D/DA winning over Craig Bourgeois’s front-engine A/Nostalgia dragster in the final.

In Super Stock it was reigning NHRA Lucas Oil world champion Bryan Worner who drove to a win beating Brian Broussart red-light in the final. Jerry Emmons (from Texas) won in Stock Eliminator when Lyn Shipp also had a red-light foul in the title round.

Racing his Lucas Oil Camaro — Jerry Emmons won the JEGS Allstars Stock Eliminator over Lyn Shipp.

Canadian Al Kenny went to the winner’s circle in Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers. Al Kenny won his second career JEGS All-stars race when he beat Al Peavler in a close final that saw both drivers posted a 6.10-secs dial in. Kenny won on a holeshot 6.118 to 6.112 secs.

Top Sportsman – also presented by Vortech Superchargers went to NHRA Northwest division driver Robert Strohm who beat Bob Gulitti in the final.

Robert Strohm raced Bob Gulitti in the JEGS Allstars all Ford Mustang TS final.

NHRA’s North Central Region celebrated big wins in both Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car racing.

Julie Nataas, drving the Randy Meyer Racing entry got a single run in the final round after her scheduled opponent James Stevens broke. Nataas recorded a winning 5.225 secs at 278.06 mph. She had earlier set both low ET and top speed for the JEGs event at 5.162 secs 280.72 mph.

Julie Nataas – a native of Norway – won the Jegs Allstars TAD title in speedy fashion.

It was Brian Hough stopping Kyle Smith in the Top Alcohol Funny Car final — Hough at a winning 5.499 secs 265.85 mph to Smith’s 5.554 secs 258.96 mph.

Oregon’s Brian Hough (far lane) stopped Kyle Smith in the very competitive TAFC final.

JEGS Allstars racers shared a prize pool of more than $150,000 and a $20,000 bonus was split among members of the winning team.

Racers qualify for the JEGS Allstars by earning points in their home divisions during the preceding season.

Division 2 1,100
Division 1 900
Division 4 900
Division 3 800
Division 7 600
Division 5 500
Division 6 400

Posted by Bruce Biegler

To view additional images from these events visit LMLCMedia photo gallery: HERE

Photos by Steve Embling and Auto Imagery