Schmotter shines at CRA’s Round 4

The Central Roadracing Association was at Brainerd International Raceway last weekend for it’s fourth Superbike racing weekend of the season, and one that turned out to feature some of the best racing and biggest surprises of the season.

Jake Schmotter negotiates Turn 2 in tricky conditions. Photo courtesy of Becca Erickson

Jake Schmotter negotiates Turn 2 in tricky conditions. Photo courtesy of Becca Erickson

Jake Schmotter had a dream weekend in the Unlimited Expert class, celebrating his one-year wedding anniversary to his wife KT in style by bringing home four wins for her. Generally, roadracers are good at getting on one knee but in Sunday’s Unlimited Supersport race, Schmotter must have been trying to recreate his marriage proposal move in Turn 5, which resulted in him and his beautiful Yamaha R1 going for a roll in the hay. This opened the door for one of the many shocking results of the weekend when Fisk Brother’s Racing/Dryject, Inc. rider Brian Hebeisen pulled off the move of his career on his Yamaha R6 by passing BMW S1000RR-mounted Kyle Ohnsorg going into Turn 6 and carrying the momentum to pass Scott Stall and his Kawasaki ZX-10R around the outside of the same corner. After that move, Hebeisen carried on to win the Unlimited Supersport race in dominating fashion.

The Middleweight & Heavyweight Expert classes showcased some amazing racing and multiple winners. Kris “Skellbow” Skellenger competed in both classes on his John Anderson Racing Yamaha R6. Skellenger brought home wins in Saturday’s Heavyweight Superbike and Middleweight Grand Prix races.

The Middleweight & Heavyweight Expert classes featured some of the closest racing of the season and saw multiple first-time winners as well as a victory by CRA veteran-amongst-veterans, Mark Dargis. Unsurprisingly, Ohnsorg was consistently at the front of the field, bringing home five wins between the two classes but debut wins for Josh Harein and Jake Hennen, plus two wins for Skellenger came as a surprise to some.

In the Middleweight & Heavyweight Novice ranks, Eric Hjelter continued his great run of form and taking home multiple wins with Sam Burke and Dillon Baumeister occasionally taking the spoils from Hjelter. The biggest shock of the Middleweight & Heavyweight Novice races came in Saturday’s Middleweight GP race when Jesse VanderWeide took victory on his Lightweight spec Power Brokers, Inc. Suzuki SV650. With VanderWeide essentially guaranteed of bumping to Expert for 2018, CRA fans are anxiously awaiting the showdown between him, Chris “Chimp” Mattson and Jan Chomp.

Speaking of Lightweights, an unofficial Ironman award was presented to Adam Harrison well after racing had ended for the weekend. Unfortunately, Adam had already left the premises so the award was thrown away, but either way he had to have set some sort of record by entering 24 races over the weekend on one motorcycle – the much-maligned Honda CBR600F2, also known as the Race Couch. Harrison captured multiple wins on the Race Couch and a round of applause from Champ’s mother, Julie, as a sign of respect for his achievement. Speaking of the Champ, a truly unfortunate food allergy knocked the Champ out of commission for Saturday’s races and while he poked his head out of his shell and came back on Sunday, it was more with a whimper instead of a vengeance. That being said, Champ is so dominant in the Lightweight class that even a whimpering Champ can beat the rest of the Lightweight field.

On the Novice side of the Lightweight Grid, Super Rookie Brian Rogers notched up three victories over the rest of the field in another great showing. Rogers even had the audacity to finish a close second to winner Eric Hjelter in the Middleweight Supersport Novice race on his Suzuki SV650. One can only wonder if Rogers will bump to Expert a year early. There is some great talent spread between the Lightweight Expert and Novice classes currently and once a few more riders have attained Expert status we could see a resurgence in the Lightweight class competition, possibly even back to the heyday when four-wide racing was the norm between Champ, Cole Naymark, Jake Northrup and Alex Zelenski.

Ultralight Expert was essentially the Jack Barton Show, with the Krämer HKR-Evo2 rider taking victory in every race but one. Barton even captured a coveted Brad Kreller Victory Tour (as did Eric Hjelter) when he won a race in which he was the only starter, therefore finishing both first and last.

Featherweight Expert was essentially dominated by Ohnsorg who made a guest appearance on Ewa Kalinsky’s Cheap Thrills Moto Yamaha R3 with the reigning CRA champion taking every victory but one over Hebeisen and the rest of the field. In the Novice class, a few new faces adorned the top step of the podium with Justin Miest winning multiple races compared to one each for Tom Conroy and Lawrence Lin.

The CRA’s season finale takes place Sept. 22-24 on BIR’s 3.1-mile Donnybrooke Road Course and will feature sprint races on Saturday and the historic 5-Hour Endurance Race on Sunday. The International Watercross Association will be on Lake BIR that same weekend for two days of snowmobiles racing on open water. It’s Wet & Wild Weekend 2.0.


Labor Day weekend is reserved for American Muscle

Brainerd International Raceway is the place to be Labor Day weekend for those who love muscle cars.

More than 400 muscle cars are expected for the 29th Annual GSTA Muscle Car Shootout. For three days, they’ll be drag racing and road racing, with another two dozen or more sitting on display during Saturday’s Classic Car Show. Bring your camera.

Schmidt_WThe Muscle Car Shootout is a long-standing tradition at BIR, and a great way to close out the summer. In addition to racing, the event includes live music by Them Pesky Kids on Saturday and a unique fireworks display, where the Northern Lighters Pyrotechnics club will shoot off their homemade fireworks. Fan will have a rare chance to see some non-traditional and creative fireworks.

The main attraction, though, is on the drag strip, where the three-race Muscle Car Series will wrap up. Series championships are on the line in 13 classes, so drivers will be leaving everything on the blacktop as they slug it out for points.

The seven Heads-Up Classes will attract the most attention because the rules are simple: both cars leave at the same time, and the one that reaches the finish line first wins. The Outlaw Pro Mod class, with the fastest cars, will feature a showdown between defending champion Ray Fuchs and 2014 and 2015 champ Rick Schmidt. Each has won an event this year, setting up a winner-takes-all situation on Sunday.

C73U7028-X3The other story line coming out of the Outlaw Pro Mod class is Schmidt’s quest to break the 5-second mark. During the Street Car Showdown on Memorial Day weekend, Schmidt qualified with a ridiculous speed of 239.40 mph – a track record for that class. During the PleasureLand RV Show & Go, he qualified first with a time of 6.129 seconds and then ran 6.124 seconds in the first elimination round for another track record. He inches ever so close to 5 seconds.

The Outlaw class is providing some crazy entertainment as well. Jake Delmonico and Bubba Romanyshyn have each won a race and are sitting in the top two spots in the point standings. Both drivers have their cars flying down the track at more than 200 mph, setting up an incredible finale for drivers and fans alike. The other Heads-Up Classes – King Street, Real Street (Unlimited and Natural), True Street and 660 Outlaw Street – all have serious battles taking place in the point standings as well, setting the stage for some intense racing Labor Day weekend.

Qualifying and time trials are Friday and Saturday. Elimination rounds start at 9 a.m. Sunday.

Over on the 2.5-mile Competition Road Course, the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) returns with the Jack Pine Sprints, two days of exciting wheel-to-wheel road racing. The track will be busy with a number of different classes, including Vintage Racers, which are always fan favorites. The SCCA will have practice, qualifying and racing sessions both Saturday and Sunday.

Daily admission is $25, and kids 12 and under are free. Parking is also free. Camping is free, too, with a multi-day ticket. Gates open daily at 7 a.m.

Pritchett, DeJoria, Gray, Savoie are NHRA Nationals champs

Leah Pritchett piloted her dragster to her fourth Top Fuel victory of the season Sunday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals . Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also victors.

Pritchett, who raced the quickest pass in NHRA history during Friday’s qualifying session, 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 seconds at 246.35 mph in his Matco Tools dragster in his fifth consecutive finals appearance.

Winners_W“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-second pass at 330.96 mph in her Tequila Patron Toyota Camry bettered Johnson Jr.’s 3.933 seconds at 324.44 mph in his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T.

Leah Pritchett, Top Fuel

Leah Pritchett, Top Fuel

“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.”

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.

Pro Stock rookie Gray powered to the fourth victory of his career by defeating points leader Bo Butner with a 6.610-second run at 208.04 mph 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 6.629 seconds at 207.85 mph 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.”

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.

Alexis DeJoria, Funny Car

Alexis DeJoria, Funny Car

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-second pass at 194.80 mph on his White Alligator Racing Suzuki bettered Tonglet’s 6.910 seconds at 194.02 mph 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.”

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.


Final finish order (1-16) at the 36th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.

1. Leah Pritchett; 2. Antron Brown; 3. Steve Torrence; 4. Clay Millican; 5. Brittany Force; 6. Doug Kalitta; 7. Tony Schumacher; 8. Scott Palmer; 9. Shawn Langdon; 10. Chris Karamesines; 11. Terry Haddock; 12. Terry McMillen; 13. Rob Passey; 14. Steven Chrisman; 15. Luigi Novelli; 16. Troy Coughlin Jr..

1. Alexis DeJoria; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 3. John Force; 4. Robert Hight; 5. Ron Capps; 6. Cruz Pedregon; 7. Courtney Force; 8. Jack Beckman; 9. J.R. Todd; 10. Brian Stewart; 11. Dale Creasy Jr.; 12. Tim Wilkerson; 13. Del Worsham; 14. Jonnie Lindberg; 15. Matt Hagan; 16. Jim Campbell.

1. Tanner Gray; 2. Bo Butner; 3. Greg Anderson; 4. Jason Line; 5. Drew Skillman; 6. Allen Johnson; 7. Erica Enders; 8. Shane Gray; 9. Jeg Coughlin; 10. Deric Kramer; 11. John Gaydosh Jr; 12. Alan Prusiensky; 13. Vincent Nobile; 14. Dave River; 15. Mark Hogan.

1. Jerry Savoie; 2. LE Tonglet; 3. Andrew Hines; 4. Matt Smith; 5. Eddie Krawiec; 6. Hector Arana Jr; 7. Cory Reed; 8. Angie Smith; 9. Joey Gladstone; 10. Karen Stoffer; 11. Scotty Pollacheck; 12. Mike Berry; 13. Jim Underdahl; 14. Freddie Camarena; 15. Angelle Sampey; 16. Steve Johnson.

Sunday’s final results from the 36th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals

Top Fuel — Leah Pritchett, 3.682 seconds, 328.06 mph def. Antron Brown, 4.001 seconds, 246.35 mph.

Funny Car — Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.906, 330.96 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.933, 324.44.

Pro Stock — Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.610, 208.04 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.629, 207.85.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.846, 194.80 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.910, 194.02.

Top Alcohol Dragster — Justin Ashley, 5.237, 268.60 def. Gord Gingles, 12.344, 54.22.

Top Alcohol Funny Car — Johan Lindberg, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.489, 268.22 def. Kris Hool, Chevy Camaro, 5.575, 260.11.

Super Stock — Eric Bell, Plymouth Barracuda, 9.301, 127.10 def. Darrell Dietz, Ford Mustang, Foul – Red Light.

Stock Eliminator — Ben Line, Ford Mustang, 10.533, 118.45 def. Bill Feist, Mustang, 10.101, 131.28.

Super Comp — Trevor Larson, Dragster, 8.891, 172.63 def. Jeremy Demers, Dragster, 8.886, 177.23.

Super Gas — Jim Davis, Chevy Camaro, 9.971, 157.83 def. Ken Griffiths, Chevy Corvette, 9.995, 148.58.

Top Dragster presented by — Bob Fischer, Dragster, 7.403, 176.33 def. Michael Kritzky, Dragster, 6.411, 212.36.

Top Sportsman presented by — Brian Heath, Pontiac GTO, 7.152, 185.41 def. Joseph Mohana, Chevy BelAir, 6.841, 202.58.

Pro Stock Snowmobile — Glenn Hall, Arctic Cat, 8.186, 154.94 def. Scott Hagen, Ski Doo, 8.319, 155.29.

Final round-by-round results from the 36th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals

ROUND ONE — Antron Brown, 3.695, 331.77 def. Shawn Langdon, 3.734, 318.62; Clay Millican, 3.655, 330.23 def. Chris Karamesines, 4.261, 221.67; Leah Pritchett, 3.709, 325.30 def. Rob Passey, 4.321, 247.75; Brittany Force, 3.728, 327.03 def. Steven Chrisman, Foul – Red Light; Doug Kalitta, 3.697, 328.54 def. Terry Haddock, 4.267, 226.92; Tony Schumacher, 3.711, 324.67 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., 16.216, 22.28; Steve Torrence, 3.726, 328.62 def. Luigi Novelli, 6.418, 98.82; Scott Palmer, 3.787, 327.90 def. Terry McMillen, 4.302, 194.69;
QUARTERFINALS — Pritchett, 3.715, 330.63 def. Palmer, 3.906, 257.48; Millican, 3.658, 330.47 def. Schumacher, 3.718, 327.66; Brown, 3.681, 332.43 def. Force, 3.675, 332.75; Torrence, 3.723, 328.30 def. Kalitta, 3.709, 332.10;
SEMIFINALS — Brown, 3.706, 331.61 def. Torrence, 3.726, 323.19; Pritchett, 3.666, 330.88 def. Millican, 3.792, 263.00;
FINAL — Pritchett, 3.682, 328.06 def. Brown, 4.001, 246.35.

ROUND ONE — Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.862, 334.90 def. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.808, 195.11; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.850, 331.45 def. Dale Creasy Jr., Dodge Charger, 4.168, 258.32; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 5.714, 128.92 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, Broke; John Force, Camaro, 3.901, 333.25 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, Broke; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.922, 328.86 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 7.147, 106.26; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.290, 207.56 def. Brian Stewart, Ford Mustang, Foul – Red Light; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.416, 210.05 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.650, 271.13; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.894, 330.96 def. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.973, 323.35;
QUARTERFINALS — Johnson Jr., 3.932, 326.48 def. C. Force, 8.099, 84.74; Hight, 3.828, 336.23 def. Capps, 3.938, 304.80; J. Force, 3.896, 335.48 def. Beckman, 9.505, 72.67; DeJoria, 3.883, 330.96 def. Pedregon, 4.505, 192.47;
SEMIFINALS — DeJoria, 3.892, 329.02 def. J. Force, 3.909, 331.94; Johnson Jr., 6.875, 128.60 def. Hight, 9.806, 78.40;
FINAL — DeJoria, 3.906, 330.96 def. Johnson Jr., 3.933, 324.44.

ROUND ONE — Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.659, 207.78 def. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.657, 207.66; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.634, 207.05 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.965, 165.42; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.588, 209.20 def. Deric Kramer, Dodge Dart, 6.691, 206.48; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.614, 208.23 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.855, 198.79; Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.641, 207.11 def. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, Broke; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.601, 207.69 was unopposed; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.623, 207.43 def. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 6.976, 196.90; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.621, 207.75 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 6.704, 205.51;
QUARTERFINALS — Butner, 6.619, 207.50 def. S. Gray, 6.665, 207.11; Line, 6.624, 207.27 def. Skillman, 6.628, 208.20; T. Gray, 6.620, 207.46 def. Enders, 6.648, 207.66; Anderson, 6.594, 208.30 def. Johnson, 6.628, 207.21;
SEMIFINALS — T. Gray, 6.620, 207.56 def. Line, 7.140, 159.89; Butner, 6.642, 207.37 def. Anderson, Foul – Red Light;
FINAL — T. Gray, 6.610, 208.04 def. Butner, 6.629, 207.85.

ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.881, 192.85 def. Mike Berry, Buell, 7.026, 190.48; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.929, 195.90 def. Angelle Sampey, 8.326, 107.91; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.864, 194.66 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, Foul – Red Light; Angie Smith, Buell, 6.935, 193.29 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.942, 192.58; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.883, 194.91 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.939, 193.60; Cory Reed, 6.944, 190.03 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.960, 191.54; Matt Smith, 6.859, 194.55 def. Freddie Camarena, Suzuki, 7.104, 189.98; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.893, 194.49 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.079, 190.46;
QUARTERFINALS — Savoie, 6.845, 192.77 def. A. Smith, 7.001, 190.62; Hines, 6.918, 195.31 def. Arana Jr, 6.919, 194.24; Tonglet, 6.850, 194.77 def. Reed, 6.961, 190.00; M. Smith, 6.884, 194.21 def. Krawiec, 6.894, 194.18;
SEMIFINALS — Savoie, 6.869, 194.66 def. M. Smith, 9.011, 97.00; Tonglet, 6.869, 194.63 def. Hines, 6.952, 195.79;
FINAL — Savoie, 6.846, 194.80 def. Tonglet, 6.910, 194.02.

Pritchett, Hight, Gray, Arana Jr. are No. 1′s for Sunday’s finals

Leah Pritchett’s quickest run in NHRA history withstood today’s qualifying, earning her the Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier going into Sunday’s final rounds of the 36th Annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.

Leah Pritchett's Top Fuel dragster

Leah Pritchett’s Top Fuel dragster

Robert Hight (Funny Car), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also secured the No. 1 qualifying position in their respective categories.

Pritchett’s 3.640-second pass at 330.63 mph in her Papa John’s Pizza dragster Friday night secured her sixth No. 1 of the season and seventh of her career. In the first round of eliminations Sunday, Pritchett will face off against Rob Passey.

“Brainerd is the epitome of throw-down central so that’s what we did last night,” Pritchett said. “Today was about getting ready for Sunday. Obviously, our national record gave us, delivered us, blessed us with a green hat but (the fourth qualifying session) today was looking pretty good for us. We threw down last night and today was just about race day.”

Brittany Force qualified second with a run of 3.64 seconds at 333.16 mph in her Monster Energy dragster and will face Steve Chrisman in the first round while Doug Kalitta is in the third spot and will race Terry Haddock.

Hight sits at the top of the Funny Car field after running the elapsed-time national record of 3.793 seconds at 338.00 mph in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro during Friday’s qualifying. It is his third consecutive No. 1, fifth of the season, 54th of his career and first at BIR. He’ll face Dale Creasy Jr. in eliminations.

Robert Hight, Funny Car

Robert Hight, Funny Car

“We smoked the tires in (the third qualifying session) for the first time in 11 runs, that’s impressive,” Hight said. “I think sometimes it’s a good thing to push a little on Saturday so you know your limitations for Sunday. We need to make four good runs here tomorrow and get back to the winners circle. First round is going to be killer, the track will still be cool and you’ll see 3.80s in Funny Car.”

Matt Hagan holds the No. 2 position in his Pennzoi /Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T with 3.807 seconds at 336.57 mph that will have him face Cruz Pedregon in eliminations. Sixteen-time world champion John Force is third and will be matched up with Jim Campbell.

Rookie Gray leads the Pro Stock category with his pass of 6.607 seconds at 208.17 mph in his Gray Motorsports/Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro from Friday. It was his third No. 1 qualifier.

“All my guys have given me great equipment,” Gray said. “In racing it’s not so much about the driver anymore, it’s about the equipment you have behind you. I’ve been blessed to be put in some awesome equipment. I’ve done a small part: just let go when you see the light and push or pull. The guys have given me a fast race car. Hats off to them, they’re the reason behind all the success.”

Tanner Gray, Pro Stock

Tanner Gray, Pro Stock

Points leader Bo Butner is in the No. 2 spot with his pass of 6.617 seconds at 207.69 mph in his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevy Camaro and will face David River in the first round. Veteran Allen Johnson is third and will compete against Mark Hogan.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana Jr. raced to his first No. 1 qualifier of the season with a 6.879-second pass at 194.24 mph on his Lucas Oil Buell Friday. It is the 19th No. 1 of his career. He will line up against James Underdahl in the first round of eliminations.

“This means a lot to me, not only me but everybody back at the shop, everybody on the crew,” Arana said. “Everybody worked so hard for this and it’s nice to finally get the results that we’re getting. It’s really awesome. It’s so awesome to get the number one. It really does mean a lot.”

Reigning Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Jerry Savoie qualified second with 6.882 seconds at 193.57 mph from Saturday qualifying and will have to get past Mike Berry in the first round. Matt Smith is third and will see Fred Camarena in the first round.

Eliminations at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals begin Sunday at 11 a.m. Catch the action live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) at 1 p.m.


Sunday’s first-round pairings are based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday.

Top Fuel — 1. Leah Pritchett, 3.640 seconds, 331.53 mph vs. 16. Rob Passey, 8.808, 60.51; 2. Brittany Force, 3.685, 333.16 vs. 15. Steven Chrisman, 4.845, 156.88; 3. Doug Kalitta, 3.694, 330.31 vs. 14. Terry Haddock, 4.581, 182.87; 4. Tony Schumacher, 3.695, 329.42 vs. 13. Troy Coughlin Jr., 4.359, 179.44; 5. Clay Millican, 3.706, 326.48 vs. 12. Chris Karamesines, 4.261, 264.80; 6. Steve Torrence, 3.709, 330.15 vs. 11. Luigi Novelli, 3.987, 261.37; 7. Antron Brown, 3.723, 325.06 vs. 10. Shawn Langdon, 3.859, 265.43; 8. Scott Palmer, 3.768, 328.22 vs. 9. Terry McMillen, 3.814, 312.64.

Funny Car — 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.793, 338.00 vs. 16. Dale Creasy Jr., Dodge Charger, 4.188, 297.29; 2. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.807, 336.57 vs. 15. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.118, 306.19; 3. John Force, Camaro, 3.852, 334.15 vs. 14. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.079, 306.88; 4. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.863, 335.98 vs. 13. Del Worsham, Camry, 3.979, 323.27; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.880, 330.96 vs. 12. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.962, 326.63; 6. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.886, 333.25 vs. 11. Brian Stewart, Ford Mustang, 3.961, 303.37; 7. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.898, 329.58 vs. 10. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.941, 330.31; 8. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.928, 325.61 vs. 9. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.937, 327.98.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Bob Bode, 4.731, 216.51.

Pro Stock — 1. Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.607, 208.17 vs. Bye; 2. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.617, 207.69 vs. 15. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 6.969, 197.28; 3. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.622, 207.18 vs. 14. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.838, 201.49; 4. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.627, 207.59 vs. 13. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 6.745, 205.47; 5. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.628, 208.65 vs. 12. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.716, 205.60; 6. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.631, 207.59 vs. 11. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.705, 205.51; 7. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.637, 207.50 vs. 10. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.670, 207.02; 8. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.665, 208.10 vs. 9. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.669, 208.30.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.879, 194.38 vs. 16. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.091, 189.02; 2. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.882, 193.57 vs. 15. Mike Berry, Buell, 7.058, 188.96; 3. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.884, 195.22 vs. 14. Freddie Camarena, Suzuki, 7.056, 191.81; 4. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.908, 193.54 vs. 13. Cory Reed, Victory, 6.978, 187.18; 5. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.912, 194.10 vs. 12. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.975, 191.32; 6. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.920, 195.56 vs. 11. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.965, 192.85; 7. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.944, 192.25 vs. 10. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.959, 192.08; 8. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.946, 195.25 vs. 9. Angelle Sampey, Victory, 6.959, 191.78.
Did Not Qualify: 17. David Hope, 7.107, 186.64; 18. Andie Rawlings, 8.217, 160.37.

Sunday is finals day; here’s the schedule

Sunday is a huge day for the NHRA drag racers but even a bigger day for fans. It’s your chance to get down on the track before racing starts and after it concludes. And the racing is guaranteed to be off the charts, because everyone who loses goes home, so there’s a lot on the line.

The day starts with a rare opportunity for fans to walk on BIR’s world-class quarter-mile drag strip. The Sealmaster Trackwalk is open to all fans who want to walk on the track while the announcers interview drivers. Warning: The track is VERY sticky so flip-flops might not be a good choice of footwear.

After the trackwalk, fans can hang around in the Winner’s Circle for the Pre-Race Ceremonies where the 16 racers in each of the four pro classes will be introduced. There’s also a chance to get some freebies, like hats and T-shirts that are tossed into the crowd.

After racing is done for the day, fans can return to the Winner’s Circle for the post-race celebration, where the four winners will receive their Wally trophies and party with the fans.

Below is the day’s schedule. When you get home, tune in to watch all the action on TV. Click here for the schedule.

9 am               Nitro Alley Midway Opens
9 am-8 pm    Helicopter Rides
9:40 am         Sealmaster Trackwalk on dragstrip
10 am             Pre-race ceremonies in Winner’s Circle
11 am            Nitro Eliminations
Noon              Pro Stock Motorcycle & Car Eliminations
12:20 pm       Top Alcohol Eliminations
12:45 pm       Nitro Eliminations
1:15 pm         Pro Stock Motorcycle & Car Eliminations
1:35 pm         Top Alcohol Eliminations
2:15 pm         Nitro Semifinals
2:35 pm         Pro Stock Motorcycle & Car Semifinals
2:40 pm         Top Alcohol Finals
3:30 pm         Pro Stock Motorcycle & Car Finals
3:37 pm         Nitro Finals
4 pm               Winner’s Circle celebration

Sealmaster Trackwalk

Sealmaster Trackwalk











Pre-Race Ceremony

Pre-Race Ceremony

Records fall during first day of qualifying at NHRA Nationals

Race fans were treated to a pair of national records Friday during Top Fuel and Funny Car qualifying rounds at the 36th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.

Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel) and Robert Hight (Funny Car) ran national elapsed-time record runs in their respective categories. Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also provisional qualifying leaders at the 17th of 24 events on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

Leah Pritchett set a national record in Top Fuel.

Leah Pritchett set a national record Friday in Top Fuel.

Robert Hight broke a record in Funny Car.

Robert Hight broke a national record Friday in Funny Car.

Pritchett piloted her Papa John’s Pizza dragster to the quickest run in NHRA history with a pass of 3.640 seconds at 330.63 mph to close out the second qualifying session, while Hight’s 3.793-second pass at 338.00 mph in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS also landed him in the record books.

Pritchett held the previous Top Fuel national record of 3.658 seconds set in Phoenix at the beginning of the season.

“We’ve looked forward to this night session for a long time,” Pritchett said. “Knowing that Brainerd, this track, this surface, the conditions and what NHRA is able to do to it, lays down the ground work for us to pull out the most power possible. That’s what this team did. They have been working tirelessly at finding small amounts of power here, there and everywhere and to be able to put it on the track tonight was incredible.”

Rounding out the top three heading into Saturday’s qualifying session are Brittany Force, who ran a 3.685-second pass at 333.16 mph in her Monster Energy machine and Doug Kalitta with a 3.694-second pass at 330.31 mph in his Mac Tools dragster.

Hector Arana, Jr., Pro Stock Motorcycle

Hector Arana, Jr., Pro Stock Motorcycle

Hight’s pass was the first 3.7-second run in Funny Car history. He also holds the Funny Car national speed record of 339.87 mph, set recently at Sonoma Raceway.

“I could tell it was running fast and I saw the 3.79 on the scoreboard,” Hight said. “It’s just something you dream about. There are so many things that have to happen and work together for it all to come together. It’s not that easy. This is a big milestone. To be part of a milestone as a driver, this was big for me.”

Matt Hagan in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T qualified second iswith a 3.807-second pass at 336.57 mph and 16-time world champion John Force is third in his PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS.

In Pro Stock, rookie Gray holds the No. 1 position with a 6.607-second run at 208.617 mph in his Gray Motorsports / Vavoline Chevrolet Camaro, holding off points leader Bo Butner who is second with a 6.617-second run at 207.69 mph in his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevrolet Camaro.

“We went out there and made a conservative run for (first qualifying session) to make sure we could get some data,” Gray said. “It kind of paid off. If you can go out there and make, obviously, a fast run, but just a solid run to collect data then it sets you up really good for sessions like this. I’m very fortunate to be able to drive this thing and it’s going well right now.”

Pro Stock veteran and 2012 world champion Allen Johnson is in the third position with a 6.622-second run at 206.86 mph.

Arana Jr. leads the Pro Stock Motorcycle field after running 6.879 seconds at 194.24 mph on his Lucas Oil Buell in the second qualifying session.

“It feels good to be up here. It’s been a while. It’s about time,” Arana Jr. said “We’re really working hard and we got the bike running well and it just seems that there’s something that just gets right by us. Hopefully this is the weekend where that turns around. We feel pretty confident that we still have room to improve off that run so we’re excited to see what happens tomorrow.”

Matt Smith qualified second with 6.884 seconds at 195.22 mph on his Polaris Racing Victory and Scott Pollacheck is  third on his Suzuki Extended Protection Suzuki with 6.908 seconds at 193.54 mph.

Qualifying at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals will continue Saturday at 12:50 p.m.


Friday’s results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 36th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, 17th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Top Fuel: 1. Leah Pritchett, 3.640 seconds, 331.53 mph; 2. Brittany Force, 3.685, 333.16; 3. Doug Kalitta, 3.694, 330.31; 4. Tony Schumacher, 3.695, 329.42; 5. Clay Millican, 3.706, 324.67; 6. Steve Torrence, 3.709, 330.15; 7. Antron Brown, 3.723, 321.73; 8. Scott Palmer, 3.768, 328.22; 9. Shawn Langdon, 3.859, 265.43; 10. Terry McMillen, 4.053, 239.87; 11. Troy Coughlin Jr., 4.664, 157.78; 12. Rob Passey, 8.808, 60.51. Not Qualified: 13. Chris Karamesines, broke.

Funny Car: 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.793, 338.00; 2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.807, 336.57; 3. John Force, Camaro, 3.852, 334.15; 4. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.863, 335.98; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.880, 329.58; 6. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.886, 333.25; 7. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.898, 329.26; 8. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.928, 325.14; 9. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.937, 327.98; 10. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.947, 330.31; 11. Del Worsham, Camry, 3.985, 321.27; 12. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.988, 326.63; 13. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, 4.315, 224.02; 14. Bob Bode, Charger, 4.855, 168.62; 15. Brian Stewart, Mustang, 5.015, 150.73; 16. Jim Campbell, Charger, 9.537, 67.32. Not Qualified: 17. Cruz Pedregon, 9.804, 83.54.

Pro Stock: 1. Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.607, 208.17; 2. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.617, 207.69; 3. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.622, 206.86; 4. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.628, 208.65; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.633, 207.59; 6. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.635, 207.43; 7. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.637, 207.50; 8. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.670, 207.02; 9. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.671, 208.30; 10. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.679, 208.10; 11. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.716, 205.60; 12. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.727, 205.51; 13. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 6.746, 205.47; 14. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.838, 201.49; 15. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 10.681, 85.19.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.879, 194.24; 2. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.884, 195.22; 3. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.908, 193.54; 4. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.939, 195.56; 5. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.946, 195.00; 6. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.947, 191.08; 7. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.963, 192.08; 8. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.965, 192.85; 9. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.975, 191.32; 10. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.998, 194.10; 11. Freddie Camarena, Suzuki, 7.056, 191.81; 12. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 7.061, 189.52; 13. David Hope, Buell, 7.119, 186.10; 14. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.184, 183.10; 15. Angelle Sampey, Victory, 7.492, 167.68; 16. Cory Reed, Victory, 9.215, 94.07. Not Qualified: 17. Andie Rawlings, 13.377, 58.68.

Saturday: Nitro School, fireworks, 2 rounds of nitro qualifying

Saturday’s a big day for drag racers who are trying to bust into the top 16 for Sunday’s elimination rounds. The racing really starts heating up.

Fans have some exciting opportunities on Saturday. Class is in session for the NHRA’s Nitro School. NHRA announcer Alan Reinhart and Funny Car driver Del Worsham will be on stage in the pit area where fans can gather and learn a little about what makes nitro cars tick. It’s entertaining, fun and educational, and it always attracts a big crowd. But better yet, it’s free!

Fans also have a chance to meet some of the stars of the NHRA during the Mello Yello Autograph Session in Mello Yello’s midway display. Get autographs from Tommy Johnson Jr., Shawn Langdon, Drew Skillman and Cory Reed.

The day ends with yet another incredible fireworks display. BIR is always known for putting on a pyrotechnics show that could wake up the dead. This year will be no different!



9 am         Sportsman Eliminations
9 am-8 pm    Helicopter Rides
9:30 am         Nitro Alley Midway Opens
10:45 am       Nitro School in pit area – with Del Worsham & Alan Reinhart
11:15 am       Mello Yello Autograph Session with Tommy Johnson Jr., Shawn Langdon, Drew Skillman
& Cory Reed, at the Mello Yello midway display
Noon              Top Alcohol Qualifying
12:45 pm       Pro Stock Motorcycle & Car Qualifying
1:30 pm         Nitro Qualifying
2:45 pm         Top Alcohol Eliminations – Round 1
3:45 pm         Pro Stock Motorcycle & Car Qualifying
4:30 pm         Nitro Qualifying
8:30 pm         Live music by Waves Collide
11 pm              Live music by Uncle Chunk
Dusk              Fireworks


Nitro School

Nitro School


Mello Yello Autograph Session

Mello Yello Autograph Session


Nitro classes are featured on Friday

The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series takes center stage on Friday afternoon and that can only mean one thing – NITRO!

The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series features the nitro-burning Funny Cars and dragsters as well as Pro Stock Motorcycles and Cars. The second qualifying session Friday evening is a fan favorite as the Funny Cars and Dragsters thrown out flames as they launch from the starting line.

The day ends with live music at the BIR Bandstage in The Zoo.


9 am         Sportsman Qualifying
9 am-8 pm   Helicopter Rides
11 am            Nitro Alley Midway Opens
2 pm               Top Alcohol Qualifying
2:45 pm         Pro Stock Motorcycle & Car Qualifying
3:30 pm         Nitro Qualifying
4:30 pm         Top Alcohol Qualifying
5:30 pm         Pro Stock Motorcycle & Car Qualifying
6 pm               Nitro Qualifying
8:30 pm         Live music by Rhino
11 pm              Live music by Blackout


Capps, Schumacher appearance tops Thursday schedule

It’s Thursday and that means the 36th Annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals is under way!

Below is Thursday’s schedule. The autograph sessions are free and open to the public.

Click here for ticket information.



9:30 am         Sportsman qualifying begins
5:30-6:30 pm   Autograph session with Leah Pritchett, at Papa John’s in Monticello
6-7:30 pm     Autograph session with Jack Beckman, at Walmart in Baxter
8-9 pm           Autograph session with Ron Capps, Tony Schumacher & Tommy Johnson Jr., at Sidetrack bar across from BIR
8:30 pm         Live music by Rock Godz, BIR Bandstage
11 pm              Live music by Junk FM, BIR Bandstage


Ron Capps

Ron Capps

Tony Schumacher, Top Fuel Dragster

Tony Schumacher, Top Fuel Dragster









Jack Beckman, Funny Car

Jack Beckman, Funny Car



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