Winners, Losers, and Newest ‘Non-Rivalry’ from NHRA Dodge SRT U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis
Header flames spraying fire into the night sky, Steve Torrence and Brittany Force put on a spine-tingling side-by-side display during Friday qualifying at the NHRA’s Dodge SRT U.S. Nationals that frankly might have been the most spectacular sight at the Labor Day weekend classic.
It definitely was more suspenseful than Torrence’s final-round rout of Britany Force Sunday on the 1,000-foot course at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. Force lost traction immediately in her Monster Energy Dragster, and he blazed in 3.749 seconds to his 48th overall, and his second U.S. Nationals win in the Top Fuel class. He previously won the U.S. Nationals in 2017.
And it set a dramatic tone for the start of the seven-race Countdown to the Championship, which will begin this coming weekend at Reading, Pa.’s Maple Grove Raceway.
“This was the 13th race, and we’ve been so blessed to win eight of ’em,” Torrence, who has also won at the U.S. Nationals in the sportsman-level Top Alcohol Dragster class, said. “But even if we didn’t win this race, we still would have had momentum.”
Torrence has said many times that he and Brittany Force do not have “a rivalry.” Nevertheless, their match-ups are the ones to keep an eye on down the homestretch.
Force was No. 1 qualifier for the sixth consecutive event, and he was the No. 2 starter for the seventh time overall. Surprisingly, Sunday’ marked only the eighth time in the 67-year history of the U.S. Nationals that the Nos. 1 and 2 qualifiers have met, and history was on Torrence’s side. No. 1 has won six of those eight times.
Statistics aside, Torrence said, “It’s unbelievable to say you’ve won Indy. It’s difficult to explain to people. It’s Indy. It’s the pinnacle of racing in our sport,” he said. “Every one of these wins is important, but this is Indy. This is the U.S. Nationals. It’s the biggest race. Everybody dreams of coming and winning Indy, and to have the opportunity to do it, to have these Capco Boys behind me, to give me the car that they have given me all day (is fantastic).”
He shared the winners circle with Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
Force was seeking her first triumph at the race her older sister Ashley won twice in the Funny Car class and their father, John Force, has won five times. But the 2017 class champion quickly turned her focus to the Countdown.
She said, “Leaving here No. 2 in points, which is a great position to be in, and we went to a final round. That’s outstanding for this Monster Energy/Flav-R-Pac team. We feel confident going into the Countdown. Now that Indy is behind this, all the hard work, everything we’ve learned this year, everything we’ve done, now it’s time to put it to good use and go for this championship.
“The final round was definitely disappointing. Again, proud to be in that final round and have that No. 1 qualifier coming out of Indy. So we can’t hang our heads too low, but it was frustrating. We were right there. We could almost taste it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t our day. But our focus now is going into the next seven races.”
Tim Wilkerson Breaks Five-Year Drought
Funny Car veteran Tim Wilkerson seems to take his time in amassing victories. He has an impressive 21 of them, but the Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang driver’s second one at the U.S. Nationals Sunday came 18 years after his first here. He defeated Ron Capps by two-hundredths of a second in the final round to score his first victory in five years, since the 2016 race at Charlotte.
“I was in the finals here in ‘97, ‘03 and ‘12. This place loves me, it really does. I usually run well here, and I have run a lot of races here. This place and I, we have a good relationship. It always treats me well, and it did again this weekend,” Wilkerson said.
“I couldn’t get that monkey off my back. Then we come to Indy and I blew that son of a buck right off my back and right under the back of the parachutes,” an excited Wilkerson said. “I am so tickled. To win the Big Go a second time, you can’t say anything else besides that.
“My guys are who I am happy for. Most of the guys on this team, besides Richard [crew chief Hartman], had never won a race, period. These guys are all new for me. That is what really makes me happy. We’ve been to so many finals with all of these kids, and I couldn’t get that monkey off my back. Today, I threw the crap at the wall and, as they say, it stuck.”
Wilkerson put three different motors in his Mustang Sunday as he advanced through the field. And this car was the one he was driving when it crossed the center line and crashed into Cruz Pedregon two races ago. He had retrieved it just last Tuesday night from builder Murf McKinney’s Central Indiana shop.
Hagan, Johnson Come Up Empty For DSR
Three-time and reigning Funny Car champion and points leader Matt Hagan prepared for two weeks to come to Indianapolis, fend off his closest challengers, and clinch the No. 1 seeding for the start of the Countdown.
Instead, COVID hit him on the eve of the U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway, staggering him with a sucker punch that knocked him down to sixth place.
Tommy Johnson Jr., a former Hagan colleague at Don Schumacher Racing, substituted for Hagan in the Dodge SRT Hellcat. Per NHRA rules, Hagan would receive any points Johnson accumulated during the weekend. That turned out to be zero.
After Johnson performed his burnout in Friday night qualifying, the wheelie bar broke before he could attempt a pass. Persistent rain Saturday washed out the final two qualifying sessions. As a result, Johnson missed the cut in the field of 16, and that had implications on the Countdown to the Championship seeding.
Hagan told Autoweek Saturday that he is feeling better as he isolates himself.
Johnson, sidelined this year after his sponsorship agreement ended, said of his inability to deliver better results, “It’s a bummer. I hate it for the guys. They worked so hard to make this happen and make it successful in a tough situation. I hate it for them to not get a shot at this.” For himself, he said, “After being out of the car for so long, it’s disappointing. To have that shot and get to do a burnout and have an issue and not make it, and then not get to make a run at all, it’s just a bummer. I really wanted to have that feeling of throwing the ‘chutes. But I appreciate the opportunity, and should DSR ever need a stand-in again, I’d welcome the chance to do my best to represent the team.”
Nitro Class Shootouts To Return In 2022
After a four-year absence, the nitro class shootouts will be back in 2022.
The first All-Star Shootout will feature the top eight Top Fuel drivers in the Camping World Drag Racing Series and will take place during the March 10-13 Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. It will Saturday, March 12 on Florida’s Gainesville Raceway.
The 2022 Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals next Aug. 31 – Sept. 5 will include the All-Star Shootout for the Funny Car class’ elite eight during qualifying Sunday, Sept. 4. That means the Labor Day classic will return to the tradition of finishing on the Monday holiday.
The combined payout for the specialty events is $250,000.
What makes the All-Star Shootouts This newest version of the bonus race-within-a-race will use a call-out format in which the No. 1-seeded racer will get his or her first choice of opponent.
“There’s going to be a lot of strategy in it,” Top Fuel’s Leah Pruett said. “We’ll see how much heart and how much you-know-what these drivers have. If you are as confident in your team as I do in my Dodge SRT team, you just might want to call out No. 2. It’s much different than what you have on race day.”
She said each of the qualified drivers will want to pay close attention to their competitors and how they’re performing the qualifying races: “It’s going to be about being in the moment.”
NHRA president Glen Cromwell said, “We are so thrilled for these two shootout events. Our drivers are intense competitors, and these two races will add some extra excitement to our already thrilling Camping World Drag Racing Series.”
Sunday’s final results from the 67th annual Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. The race is the 13th of 20 in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel — Steve Torrence, 3.749 seconds, 324.44 mph def. Brittany Force, 13.165 seconds, 24.39 mph.
Funny Car — Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.912, 320.36 def. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.946, 326.63.
Pro Stock — Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.626, 206.01 def. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.613, 206.35.
Pro Stock Motorcycle — Eddie Krawiec, Buell, 6.844, 198.58 def. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.880, 195.51.
Pro Modified — Jeffery Barker, Toyota Camry, 5.742, 251.67 def. Steve Jackson, Chevy Camaro, 5.785, 248.29.
Top Fuel Harley — Ryan Peery, Weekend, 6.696, 196.16 def. Tyler Wilson, JIR, 7.072, 159.63.
Final round-by-round results from the 67th annual Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, the 13th of 20 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series:
ROUND ONE — Greg Carrillo, 3.839, 270.81 def. Kyle Wurtzel, Broke; Leah Pruett, 3.933, 253.37 def. Joe Morrison, 4.331, 224.36; Brittany Force, 3.702, 332.34 def. Shawn Langdon, 10.623, 82.33; Doug Kalitta, 3.794, 319.75 def. Krista Baldwin, 8.768, 90.36; Josh Hart, 3.810, 322.04 def. Buddy Hull, 5.495, 112.26; Steve Torrence, 3.716, 325.37 def. Antron Brown, 8.442, 72.76; Billy Torrence, 3.741, 326.95 def. Tripp Tatum, 5.288, 131.72; Alex Laughlin, 3.878, 304.94 def. Justin Ashley, 4.081, 216.20;
QUARTERFINALS — Hart, 3.790, 325.37 def. Pruett, 3.897, 318.84; Force, 3.759, 325.53 def. Laughlin, 8.621, 84.58; B. Torrence, 6.641, 217.70 def. Kalitta, 6.840, 168.18; S. Torrence, 3.744, 323.35 def. Carrillo, 3.948, 278.75;
SEMIFINALS — Force, 3.748, 324.75 def. Hart, 4.255, 201.25; S. Torrence, 3.744, 325.14 def. B. Torrence, 3.792, 323.04;
FINAL — S. Torrence, 3.749, 324.44 def. Force, 13.165, 24.39.
ROUND ONE — Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 4.128, 257.14 def. Blake Alexander, Ford Mustang, 6.081, 110.88; J.R. Todd, Camry, 6.401, 292.58 def. Jim Campbell, Dodge Charger, 8.388, 74.06; John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.788, 182.75 def. Dave Richards, Mustang, 6.549, 98.56; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.882, 331.69 def. Paul Lee, Charger, 12.155, 65.63; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.914, 328.62 def. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, 6.739, 94.43; Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.929, 323.66 def. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 13.081, 69.63; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.903, 325.77 def. Justin Schriefer, Charger, 6.496, 102.64; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.611, 218.72 def. Bobby Bode, Mustang, 6.289, 112.25;
QUARTERFINALS — Pedregon, 3.920, 324.20 def. Todd, 4.328, 224.36; DeJoria, 3.963, 318.17 def. Tasca III, 7.877, 96.65; Capps, 3.952, 326.79 def. Hight, 12.145, 75.88; Wilkerson, 3.974, 297.81 def. Force, 9.041, 88.13;
SEMIFINALS — Wilkerson, 3.984, 325.37 def. Pedregon, 8.704, 87.34; Capps, 3.909, 327.74 def. DeJoria, 3.992, 323.04;
FINAL — Wilkerson, 3.912, 320.36 def. Capps, 3.946, 326.63.
ROUND ONE — Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.643, 206.48 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.676, 206.54; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.639, 206.51 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.677, 205.47; Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.641, 207.15 def. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Mason McGaha, Camaro, 11.330, 72.78 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.610, 207.27 def. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Ford Mustang, Foul – Red Light; Cristian Cuadra, Mustang, 6.717, 203.40 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.598, 207.75 def. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.801, 204.91; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.590, 206.35 def. Bruno Massel, Camaro, 9.551, 96.66;
QUARTERFINALS — Anderson, 6.638, 206.16 def. C. Cuadra, 19.529, 37.39; Glenn, 6.629, 206.86 def. M. McGaha, 21.373, 32.60; Koretsky, 6.620, 207.18 def. C. McGaha, 6.646, 206.95; Enders, 6.637, 206.10 def. Hartford, Foul – Red Light;
SEMIFINALS — Enders, 6.640, 206.89 def. Anderson, 6.804, 193.10; Koretsky, 6.630, 205.94 def. Glenn, 6.638, 206.39;
FINAL — Enders, 6.626, 206.01 def. Koretsky, 6.613, 206.35.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:
ROUND ONE — Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 7.092, 190.11 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, Foul – Red Light; Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 10.891, 74.60 def. Angie Smith, Foul – Red Light; Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.835, 194.30 def. Cory Reed, Suzuki, 6.979, 192.47; Scotty Pollacheck, 6.846, 196.93 def. Ron Tornow, 7.217, 186.43; Hector Arana Jr, 6.878, 196.70 def. Jianna Salinas, Suzuki, 7.063, 186.79; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.044, 185.56 def. Marc Ingwersen, Buell, 7.163, 188.15; Eddie Krawiec, Buell, 6.848, 198.38 def. Andrew Hines, Buell, 7.199, 195.56; Ryan Oehler, 7.020, 192.91 def. Matt Smith, 9.692, 89.33;
QUARTERFINALS — Gladstone, 7.004, 191.73 def. Arana Jr, Foul – Red Light; Krawiec, 9.685, 90.68 def. Phillips, Foul – Red Light; Pollacheck, 6.881, 196.24 def. Oehler, 7.043, 192.44; Sampey, 6.806, 196.16 def. Johnson, 6.843, 196.16;
SEMIFINALS — Krawiec, 6.918, 198.12 def. Gladstone, 6.936, 192.17; Sampey, 6.831, 194.18 def. Pollacheck, Foul – Red Light;
FINAL — Krawiec, 6.844, 198.58 def. Sampey, 6.880, 195.51.
Updated Points Standings
Point standings (top 10) following the 67th annual Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, the 13th of 20 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series –
1. Steve Torrence, 1,389; 2. Brittany Force, 978; 3. Antron Brown, 839; 4. Leah Pruett, 712; 5. Shawn Langdon, 668; 6. Mike Salinas, 646; 7. Justin Ashley, 627; 8. Billy Torrence, 621; 9. Clay Millican, 594; 10. Doug Kalitta, 588.
1. Ron Capps, 981; 2. John Force, 938; 3. Bob Tasca III, 937; 4. J.R. Todd, 931; 5. Robert Hight, 867; 6. Matt Hagan, 865; 7. Alexis DeJoria, 835; 8. Cruz Pedregon, 825; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 801; 10. Blake Alexander, 519.
1. Greg Anderson, 1,005; 2. Erica Enders, 900; 3. Aaron Stanfield, 790; 4. Kyle Koretsky, 767; 5. Dallas Glenn, 752; 6. Matt Hartford, 703; 7. Troy Coughlin Jr., 631; 8. Mason McGaha, 629; 9. Deric Kramer, 567; 10. Chris McGaha, 489.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Matt Smith, 864; 2. Steve Johnson, 638; 3. Scotty Pollacheck, 606; 4. Eddie Krawiec, 588; 5. Angelle Sampey, 583; 6. Ryan Oehler, 520; 7. Joey Gladstone, 498; 8. Angie Smith, 480; 9. Karen Stoffer, 478; 10. Andrew Hines, 429.
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