Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals ends with wild finish

Brittany Force raced to victory in Top Fuel Sunday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. Del Worsham (Funny Car), Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also victorious in their respective categories.

Force powered her Monster Energy dragster to a 4.169-second pass at 180.21 mph to outrun reigning world champion Antron Brown’s 6.566 seconds at 103.47 mph. Brown rattled and lost traction early while Force’s dragster backfired and released the parachutes just a little farther down track than Brown and she coasted to the finish line in front.

Andrew Hines

Andrew Hines

Force claimed the third win of her career and her third in four final rounds in the 2016 season. She raced to her first career victory earlier this year at Gainesville, Fla., then became the first female to win in Nitro at the Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, N.C. Force outlasted Terry Haddock, three-time 2016 winner Doug Kalitta and two-time 2016 winner Shawn Langdon in the earlier rounds before defeating Brown in the final.

Drew Skillman

Drew Skillman

“It’s awesome to be able to win here,” said Force, who is fourth in the Top Fuel points standings. “I felt good coming in this weekend because we had some success last year and I’m pretty sure we did well the year before. We are exactly where we want to be as we go into the Countdown and our biggest race of the season in Indy. It feels so good to bring home another win.”

In Funny Car, reigning world champ Worsham pushed his DHL Toyota Camry to a 3.908-second, 327.27-mph run to beat Matt Hagan’s 8.095 seconds at 71.33 mph after Hagan smoked the tires.

“I’m very excited,” said Worsham, who moved to third in the points standings with the win. “I came in here with a lot of confidence, thinking we were going to do well and Friday came around and we couldn’t have made any better runs. Along came Saturday and we smoked the tires. We had to take a little step back today, but they put it together. Brainerd has always been a special place to me. Going back to 1991, my first No. 1 qualifier came here 25 years ago. I’m excited to be here. It’s a great place, great facility and the team did a great job. I’m happy to get the win, go to Indy and start the NHRA Mello Yello Series Countdown.”

Brittany Force

Brittany Force

Worsham, who won the world championship last season without a regular-season win, tallied his first victory of 2016, 39th of his career and 31st of his Funny Car career. This was his first final -ound appearance at BIR. He outlasted Bob Bode, Tim Wilkerson (who clinched a spot in the playoff) and Courtney Force before beating Hagan in the final round.

Hagan, who has two wins in four final rounds this year, qualified No. 1 with a world record elapsed time pass of 3.822 seconds. The two-time Funny Car world champion sprinted past John Bojec, Robert Hight and five-time winner Ron Capps before falling to Worsham.

Skillman earned his first Pro Stock victory of the year and second of his career by posting 6.648 seconds at 208.97 mph to better seven-time winner Jason Line’s 6.681 seconds at 206.64 mph. Skillman, the 2015 Rookie of the Year, won his first race since last year in St. Louis and clinched a spot in the Countdown after beating Dave River in the first round. Skillman also outran Bo Butner and No. 1 qualifier Vincent Nobile before racing Line in the final.

“When I heard the rule changes, I thought we were going to be on top or on the bottom,” said Skillman, who is sixth in points. “We were on the latter of that situation. My guys have been working very hard and this is for their hard work today. (The class) is getting much, much closer. I think by the end of the season we’ll be very tight and next year I think you will see a very competitive class across the board.”

Andrew Hines posted a perfect .000 reaction time in the final round to defeat alligator farmer Jerry Savoie in the Pro Stock Motorcycle final round. Hines’ 6.866 seconds at 194.94 mph with the perfect reaction time was enough for a holeshot victory against Savoie’s 6.863 seconds at 194.88 mph. This is Hines’ fourth win of the season, 46th of his career and third at BIR. He rode past veteran Steve Johnson, Cory Reed and Hector Arana Jr. in the earlier rounds.

“I was definitely a little nervous because we came here with the intentions of preparing for the Countdown,” said Hines, the winningest Pro Stock Motorcycle racer in NHRA history. “We put brand new tires on the bike which turned out, in hindsight, to be a very bad decision because the track is so good here. We were battling with the tune up on Friday. We just pecked away at it all weekend. We took our chance at it in the final round, put an old tire back on it, and it went nice and straight. I was pressing it because I knew I needed an advantage over Jerry.”

Savoie, who has three runner-up finishes this season, rode past Scotty Pollacheck, No. 1 qualifier and Englishtown winner Angelle Sampey and Eddie Krawiec in the first three rounds.

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will continue in Indianapolis, Aug. 31-Sept.5, with the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway for the final race of the regular season.

Final Results

1.  Brittany Force 2.  Antron Brown; 3.  Shawn Langdon; 4.  Tony Schumacher; 5.  Doug Kalitta; 6. Terry McMillen; 7.  J.R. Todd; 8.  Clay Millican; 9.  Steve Torrence; 10.  Chris Karamesines; 11. Richie Crampton; 12.  Terry Haddock; 13.  Scott Palmer; 14.  Luigi Novelli; 15.  Morgan Lucas; 16. Leah Pritchett

1.  Del Worsham; 2.  Matt Hagan; 3.  Ron Capps; 4.  Courtney Force; 5.  Tim Wilkerson; 6.  Robert Hight; 7.  Jack Beckman; 8.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 9.  John Force; 10.  John Bojec; 11.  Cruz Pedregon; 12.  Dale Creasy Jr.; 13.  Chad Head; 14.  John Hale; 15.  Brian Stewart; 16.  Bob Bode

1.  Drew Skillman; 2.  Jason Line; 3.  Erica Enders; 4.  Vincent Nobile; 5.  Greg Anderson; 6.  Bo Butner; 7.  Chris McGaha; 8.  Allen Johnson; 9.  Shane Gray; 10.  Alex Laughlin; 11.  Deric Kramer; 12.  Jeg Coughlin; 13.  Alan Prusiensky; 14.  Mark Hogan; 15.  Dave River
1.  Andrew Hines; 2.  Jerry Savoie; 3.  Eddie Krawiec; 4.  Hector Arana Jr; 5.  Angelle Sampey; 6. Matt Smith; 7.  Karen Stoffer; 8.  Cory Reed; 9.  Chip Ellis; 10.  Scotty Pollacheck; 11.  Hector Arana; 12.  Michael Ray; 13.  Steve Johnson; 14.  Jim Underdahl; 15.  Angie Smith; 16.  LE Tonglet


Top Fuel – Brittany Force, 4.169 seconds, 180.21 mph  def. Antron Brown, 6.566 seconds, 103.47 mph.

Funny Car – Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.908, 327.27  def. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 8.095, 71.33.

Pro Stock – Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.648, 208.97  def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.681, 206.64.

Pro Stock Motorcycle – Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.866, 194.94  def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.863, 194.88.

Top Alcohol Dragster – Joey Severance, 5.275, 273.22  def. Duane Shields, 11.502, 77.68.

Top Alcohol Funny Car – Jonnie Lindberg, Chevy Camaro, 5.443, 270.54  def. Annie Whiteley, Camaro, 5.457, 269.83.

Super Stock – Marion Stephenson, Pontiac Sunbird, 9.995, 123.64  def. Nick Folk, Chevy Cobalt, 9.471, 134.40.

Stock Eliminator – Bill Feist, Ford Mustang, 10.167, 130.25  def. Ryan Hutar, Chevy Camaro, Foul – Red Light.

Super Comp – Austin Sharpe, Dragster, 8.913, 169.13  def. Travis Nygaard, Dragster, 8.877, 166.72.

Super Gas – Tommy Phillips, Chevy Corvette, 9.922, 158.32  def. Jason Lynch, Olds Cutlass, 9.893, 164.35.

Top Dragster presented by – Angie Travis, Dragster, 6.412, 210.21  def. Jenifer White, Dragster, 6.207, 212.09.

Top Sportsman presented by – Gary Loeffelholtz, Ford Mustang, 7.384, 183.34  def. Monte Green, Ford Fusion, 6.798, 198.20.

Pro Stock Snowmobile – Glenn Hall, Arctic Cat, 8.208, 155.47  def. Ron Bray, Arctic Cat, 8.374, 153.96.


ROUND ONE — Clay Millican, 3.696, 326.32 def. Leah Pritchett, 10.748, 77.27; Doug Kalitta, 3.726, 322.73 def. Morgan Lucas, 5.879, 119.32; Brittany Force, 3.725, 324.75 def. Terry Haddock, 4.242, 212.66; Shawn Langdon, 4.206, 258.17 def. Luigi Novelli, 4.706, 162.31; Antron Brown, 3.730, 325.06 def. Chris Karamesines, 4.118, 222.91; Tony Schumacher, 3.748, 316.67 def. Scott Palmer, 4.299, 197.45; Terry McMillen, 3.793, 318.47 def. Steve Torrence, 3.855, 314.75; J.R. Todd, 3.736, 329.10 def. Richie Crampton, 4.165, 255.87; QUARTERFINALS — Schumacher, 3.753, 322.34 def. McMillen, 4.221, 205.10; Brown, 3.735, 315.19 def. Millican, 6.190, 103.70; Langdon, 3.729, 330.96 def. Todd, 4.885, 156.68; Force, 3.711, 325.53 def. Kalitta, 3.939, 265.01; SEMIFINALS — Brown, 3.726, 322.58 def. Schumacher, 3.754, 326.16; Force, 3.717, 324.36 def. Langdon, 3.736, 328.86; FINAL — Force, 4.169, 180.21 def. Brown, 6.566, 103.47.

ROUND ONE — Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.859, 330.15 def. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.838, 163.45; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.390, 182.43 def. Dale Creasy Jr., Chevy Impala, 4.966, 165.13; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.899, 324.59 def. John Bojec, Toyota Solara, 4.368, 204.23; Del Worsham, Camry, 3.890, 329.26 def. Bob Bode, Solara, 9.320, 103.13; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.919, 322.42 def. John Hale, Charger, 6.435, 101.45; Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.878, 328.54 def. Brian Stewart, Ford Mustang, 8.074, 89.38; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.923, 324.75 def. John Force, Camaro, 3.954, 288.39; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.885, 330.96 def. Chad Head, Camry, 5.194, 162.45; QUARTERFINALS — C. Force, 3.913, 327.19 def. Johnson Jr., 9.760, 86.82; Capps, 3.909, 305.56 def. Beckman, 4.087, 238.85; Hagan, 3.869, 332.34 def. Hight, 3.915, 321.35; Worsham, 3.904, 328.06 def. Wilkerson, Foul – Red Light; SEMIFINALS — Worsham, 3.926, 324.20 def. C. Force, 7.129, 84.36; Hagan, 3.893, 331.20 def. Capps, 3.923, 319.29; FINAL — Worsham, 3.908, 327.27 def. Hagan, 8.095, 71.33.

ROUND ONE — Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.591, 209.56 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.616, 209.95; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.629, 209.52 def. Deric Kramer, Dodge Dart, 6.622, 207.62; Erica Enders, Dart, 6.619, 207.94 def. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.593, 209.36; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.625, 209.04 def. Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.633, 208.10; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.599, 208.68 def. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 7.259, 150.75; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.589, 209.49 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.720, 205.26; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.611, 209.52 was unopposed; Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.605, 208.97 def. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.776, 202.88; QUARTERFINALS — Enders, 6.656, 207.40 def. Johnson, 6.732, 189.34; Skillman, 6.626, 209.46 def. Butner, 6.626, 209.07; Nobile, 6.625, 208.71 def. Anderson, 6.625, 208.97; Line, 6.592, 210.01 def. McGaha, 6.642, 209.07; SEMIFINALS — Skillman, 6.613, 209.36 def. Nobile, 10.523, 83.36; Line, 6.595, 209.79 def. Enders, 6.644, 207.75; FINAL — Skillman, 6.648, 208.97 def. Line, 6.681, 206.64.

ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.817, 195.82 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.871, 193.52; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.856, 195.19 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.924, 192.66; Cory Reed, Buell, 6.835, 194.16 def. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.897, 193.85; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.820, 195.25 def. Chip Ellis, Buell, Foul – Red Light; Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.804, 197.10 def. Angie Smith, 6.950, 191.16; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.929, 195.14 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 18.101, 40.16; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.836, 195.25 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.898, 193.52; Matt Smith, 6.833, 196.07 def. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.885, 195.05; QUARTERFINALS — Hines, 6.893, 193.60 def. Reed, 8.178, 113.22; Arana Jr, 6.871, 194.83 def. M. Smith, 6.920, 192.74; Krawiec, 6.911, 195.39 def. Stoffer, 7.622, 130.73; Savoie, 6.831, 196.82 def. Sampey, 6.829, 196.16; SEMIFINALS — Savoie, 6.822, 195.93 def. Krawiec, 6.872, 194.83; Hines, 6.893, 194.27 def. Arana Jr, Foul – Red Light; FINAL — Hines, 6.866, 194.94 def. Savoie, 6.863, 194.88.

Hagan breaks world record, field set for Sunday’s finals

Two-time Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan rocketed to the No. 1 qualifier Saturday with a world-record performance at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories.

Antron Brown

Antron Brown

Hagan blistered the track in his Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T with a 3.822-second pass at 333.82 mph to set the elapsed time world record and claim his third No. 1 spot of the season and 24th of his career. He has never won at Brainerd but will put forth his best effort as he opens Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations against John Bojec.

“I have (crew chief) Dickie Venables in my corner and that guy is so bright and so brilliant,” said Hagan, who qualified No. 1 at Brainerd once before in 2011. “He said, ‘Hey kid, it’s going to go really fast or nowhere at all.’ It’s cool to know that you can hang on to a race car that does that and has the capability to do that. Dickie is smart enough to make it all work. It really comes down to my guys, so when I get to crawl into a race car, it’s a blessing. We have potential to be out here in a championship hunt again this year. One step at a time.”

Reigning Funny Car world champion Del Worsham qualified second with 3.856 seconds at 326.71 mph in his DHL Toyota Camry. Worsham lost to the Ron Capps in the postponed Seattle Funny Car final that took place during the third qualifying session earlier in the day. Capps recorded the 50th win of his career when he defeated Worsham with a pass of 4.014 seconds at 322.42 mph.

Tommy Johnson Jr. is in third. Jack Beckman is fourth and Capps is fifth.

The scoreboard showing Matt Hagan's world-record time.

The scoreboard showing Matt Hagan’s world-record time.

Brown notched a 3.679-second pass at 328.30 mph in his Matco Tools dragster to take the Top Fuel lead in the fourth and final qualifying session. He tallied his 46th career No. 1 qualifier and second of his season. This is his second Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier at BIR. Brown has sprinted to four victories so far this season and won this event in 2011.

“My car went right down Broadway and it was ripping,” said reigning world champ Brown. “I felt the car up on the tire and it stayed on the tire and went right down the track nice, silk, streak and smooth. I’m so proud and stoked for my boys. Tomorrow is going to bring a whole new race day and we’re going in with a good foot forward but it is a brand new day. We have our work cut out for us.”

Earlier in the day, Brown defeated Steve Torrence in the delayed Seattle final round that took place in the third qualifying session. He won with a run of 3.747 seconds at 320.13 mph. The victory was Brown’s fourth of the season in seven final round appearances. The victory extended his series points lead.

In second is two-time 2016 winner Shawn Langdon, who posted 3.690 seconds at 328.38 mph run in his Red Fuel/Sandvik Coromant dragster. Langdon, who clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship after his pass in the third qualifying session, will look to win the Brainerd event for the first time when he opens eliminations against Luigi Novelli.

Brittany Force, another two-time 2016 event winner, is third, with eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher in fourth. Torrence is fifth and Doug Kalitta is sixth.

In Pro Stock, Nobile powered his Mountain View Tire Chevy Camaro to his second consecutive No. 1 qualifier with 6.597 seconds at 209.17 mph. This is the first time in his career he has gone No. 1 at back-to-back events. Nobile earned his sixth No. 1 of his career, second of the season and second at BIR.

“We made a pretty good run and as you can see, we took the No. 1 spot,” said Nobile, who clinched his spot in the Countdown with his category best performance. “I’m really proud of my guys. Two weekends (as No. 1) in a row – it’s incredible. I’ve never had such a good race car. We’ve won races before but we have never been No. 1 like this. This is a pretty incredible feeling.”

Nobile raced to the final round as the No. 1 qualifier two weekends ago in Seattle before the event was postponed due to rain. The Seattle Pro Stock final round between Nobile and Aaron Strong will be decided at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.

Points leader Jason Line drove his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro to the No. 2 spot with 6.606 seconds at 208.68 mph. Line won this event in 2014 and has seven victories this year.

In third is Allen Johnson, while 2015 top rookie Drew Skillman is fifth and Bo Butner is in sixth.

Angelle Sampey rode her Star Racing/Precision Service Equipment Buell to the No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock Motorcycle in 6.830 seconds at 196.64 mph to claim the 47th No. 1 qualifier in her career, second No. 1 of the season and her second at BIR. Sampey, the winningest female driver in NHRA history with 42, won earlier this season in Englishtown, N.J., to claim her first win since 2007. She hopes to ride to her first victory at BIR tomorrow.

“We actually weren’t able to make a tune-up call on the last run,” she said. “In the third round of qualifying, the bike took off and went to the right and I had to hang off the left side of it all the entire way down the racetrack. The wire that goes from the computer to the motorcycle broke and we weren’t able to do it, so we went with the exact tune up from the third session, but fortunately we went faster because I went straight this time and shifted on time. I’m so proud of my guys and they provide me with a really fast motorcycle and I’m the lucky one who gets to sit on the bike and have some fun.”

Reigning world champion Andrew Hines qualified second with 6.852 seconds at 194.24 mph on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Hines is a two-time BIR winner and has notched three victories in five final-round appearances so far this season.

Hector Arana Jr. is in the No. 3 spot, and LE Tonglet is fourth.

BRAINERD, Minn. — Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the 35th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, the 17th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.

Top Fuel — 1. Antron Brown, 3.679 seconds, 328.30 mph  vs. 16. Chris Karamesines, 6.373, 226.32; 2. Shawn Langdon, 3.690, 330.15  vs. 15. Luigi Novelli, 4.347, 211.73; 3. Brittany Force, 3.693, 323.97  vs. 14. Terry Haddock, 3.906, 306.26; 4. Tony Schumacher, 3.694, 332.51  vs. 13. Scott Palmer, 3.855, 320.89; 5. Steve Torrence, 3.699, 329.83  vs. 12. Terry McMillen, 3.800, 302.01; 6. Doug Kalitta, 3.704, 331.20  vs. 11. Morgan Lucas, 3.739, 325.77; 7. Richie Crampton, 3.717, 319.14 vs. 10. J.R. Todd, 3.734, 326.24; 8. Leah Pritchett, 3.727, 320.28  vs. 9. Clay Millican, 3.730, 323.12.  Did Not Qualify: 17. Rob Passey, broke.

Funny Car — 1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.822, 333.82  vs. 16. John Bojec, Toyota Solara, 4.735, 167.18; 2. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.856, 329.34  vs. 15. Bob Bode, Solara, 4.283, 232.13; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.859, 327.98  vs. 14. Dale Creasy Jr., Chevy Impala, 4.160, 278.06; 4. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.859, 326.24  vs. 13. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.110, 248.48; 5. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.866, 327.27  vs. 12. John Hale, Charger, 4.000, 319.75; 6. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.892, 317.34  vs. 11. Brian Stewart, Ford Mustang, 3.962, 309.56; 7. John Force, Camaro, 3.915, 328.06  vs. 10. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.935, 323.50; 8. Chad Head, Camry, 3.921, 326.79  vs. 9. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.933, 318.99.

Pro Stock — 1. Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 6.597, 209.17  vs. Bye; 2. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.606, 208.75  vs. 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.804, 203.55; 3. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.613, 208.59 vs. 14. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.796, 202.27; 4. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.615, 208.68  vs. 13. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 6.763, 203.74; 5. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.620, 207.88  vs. 12. Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.661, 206.83; 6. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.622, 208.49  vs. 11. Erica Enders, Dart, 6.660, 207.08; 7. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.636, 208.71  vs. 10. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.654, 207.46; 8. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.636, 207.66  vs. 9. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.652, 208.49.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.830, 196.64  vs. 16. Angie Smith, Victory, 7.007, 191.02; 2. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.852, 194.24  vs. 15. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.998, 191.08; 3. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.855, 193.82  vs. 14. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.964, 193.43; 4. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.865, 195.08  vs. 13. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.950, 192.11; 5. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.874, 195.19  vs. 12. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.943, 193.52; 6. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.879, 194.66  vs. 11. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.917, 194.94; 7. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.884, 192.22  vs. 10. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.915, 194.46; 8. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.895, 195.31 vs. 9. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.896, 194.02.  Did Not Qualify: 17. Joe DeSantis, 7.033, 189.82; 18. Kristen Ashby, 7.236, 183.67; 19. Melissa Surber, 7.277, 190.59.

Track records fall on first day of qualifying at Nationals

Reigning world champion Del Worsham powered to the top qualifying spot in Funny Car Friday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Bo Butner (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were qualifying leaders in their respective categories at the 17th event of 24 on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Worsham posted an elapsed time track record 3.856-second pass at 326.71 mph in his DHL Toyota Camry to take the lead through the first two sessions. If he stays No. 1 through the remaining two sessions on Saturday, he will tally his third consecutive top qualifier and fourth of the season. Worsham earned his first career No. 1 qualifier here in 1991 but has never won the event.

“We thought tonight we would run better than that and we just missed it,” said Worsham, who has clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship playoff. “The track is very good, the grip is very good and we just didn’t have quite enough horsepower. It kind of got the best of us out there but it was a great run. I thought we were going to run a 3.83, and putting down the kind of numbers we have been, everyone was looking for a little more.”

Points leader Ron Capps  qualified second with 3.866 seconds at 324.98 mph in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T. Capps is a five-time Brainerd winner.

Worsham and Capps will go head-to-head in the first qualifying session  Saturday to decide the Funny Car winner from the rain-delayed Protect the Harvest NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Lucas Oil from two weeks ago in Seattle. FOX Sports 1 will cover the final round matchup in a special 30-minute broadcast that will feature both the Funny Car and Top Fuel eliminations from Seattle. The added telecast will air from 2-2:30 p.m.

Qualifying third was Matt Hagan, who broke a BIR track record at 330.47 mph. Tommy Johnson Jr. is fourth and Courtney Force, who made a quick recovery from a crash suffered in Seattle, is fifth.

Schumacher, an eight-time world champ, powered his U.S. Army dragster to the qualifying lead with a 3.712-second run at 323.50 mph. Schumacher, the winningest Top Fuel driver in NHRA history and a three-time Brainerd winner, sprinted to his first No. 1 qualifier of the season two weeks ago at Seattle. He has 80 No. 1 qualifiers in his career and six at Brainerd.

“When I got out, I was really surprised,” said Schumacher. “We were too early in the pack. There were too many good cars behind us and I didn’t think it was going to stick. Some people came close. We probably pushed some over the limit, which is always good when you run early. I was surprised it stuck. We’re building and we’ve been building for eight or nine races. We are getting better and better.”

Steve Torrence is second with 3.720 seconds at 326.63 mph. Torrence is having the best year of his career with two wins in four final rounds and eight No. 1 qualifiers. He is followed by two-time 2016 winner Shawn Langdon in third. Reigning world champ Antron Brown is fourth.

Torrence and Brown will also race in Saturday’s first qualifying session to decide the Top Fuel title of the delayed Seattle event.

Pro Stock’s Bo Butner pushed his Jim Butner Auto Chevy Camaro to the top qualifying position with 6.622 seconds at 207.78 mph. Butner, looking for the first win of his career, raced to the only two No. 1 qualifiers of his career earlier this year at Phoenix and Sonoma, Calif. He has raced to four runner-up finishes in 2016 and has secured his spot in the Countdown.

“I think it’s definitely important (to get a jump on the competition), especially with the forecast,” Butner said. “We were conservative first round. I had a great car out west and in Seattle and we still have a good car. It’s always good to be at the top on Day One. We don’t know what the weather will do but I like starting No. 1.”

Denver runner-up and Seattle finalist Vincent Nobile is second in his Mountain View Tire Chevy Camaro with 6.628 seconds at 207.69 mph. Nobile raced to the final round two weekends ago in Seattle before rain delayed the event. He will race Aaron Strong in Indianapolis for the Seattle title.

Drew Skillman, the 2015 top rookie, drove to the third spot. In fourth is points leader Jason Line followed by Denver winner Allen Johnson. Three-time Brainerd winner Greg Anderson in sixth.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Louisiana’s Angelle Sampey leads qualifying with 6.848 seconds at 194.94 mphon her Star Racing/Precision Service Equipment Buell. Sampey, who won earlier this season in Englishtown, N.J., to claim her first win since 2007, was the No. 1 qualifier in Atlanta and has 46 in her career. She has clinched a spot in the Countdown and is the winningest female driver in NHRA history, yet she has never won at Brainerd.

“I’m not as happy as I should be with that .84 because my first-gear shifting was a little short again,” Sampey said. “I don’t know what’s going on with that. I’m struggling and need to hold out that gear a little bit longer. We have more in store and are hoping to pull it out of it. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the weather tomorrow but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can hold on to No. 1. I’m really hoping we can get a win here for a couple of reasons: I’ve never won it and would love to do it, and I have a lot of friends and family hurting back home with the devastation from the floods. I think bringing home a Wally to them would probably lift their spirits and that would be the happiest I could be – to do that for them.”

LE Tonglet, who won the most recent Pro Stock Motorcycle event in Sonoma, is in the second spot with 6.877 seconds at 194.94 mph on his Nitro Fish Racing Suzuki. Tonglet won this event in 2011. In third is Hector Arana Jr. Matt Smith is fourth and Hector Arana Sr. is fifth. Jerry Savoie, who is currently eighth, clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship during the first round of qualifying.

Qualifying will resume Saturday with sessions at 1 and 3:30 p.m. and will set the stage for Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations.


Friday’s results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 35th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at BIR, 17th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Top Fuel  1. Tony Schumacher, 3.712 seconds, 323.50 mph; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.720, 326.71; 3. Shawn Langdon, 3.723, 323.58; 4. Antron Brown, 3.749, 321.58; 5. Brittany Force, 3.775, 318.62; 6. J.R. Todd, 3.781, 322.65; 7. Doug Kalitta, 3.782, 324.20; 8. Richie Crampton, 3.816, 312.50; 9. Leah Pritchett, 3.818, 314.68; 10. Clay Millican, 3.833, 291.63; 11. Terry McMillen, 3.892, 302.01; 12. Morgan Lucas, 3.936, 251.39.  Not Qualified: 13. Scott Palmer, 4.045, 229.98; 14. Luigi Novelli, 4.695, 167.72; 15. Rob Passey, 4.700, 159.23.

Funny Car  1. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.856, 329.34; 2. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.866, 324.98; 3. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.882, 330.47; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.884, 324.98; 5. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.892, 317.34; 6. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.901, 326.24; 7. John Force, Camaro, 3.915, 328.06; 8. Chad Head, Camry, 3.921, 326.79; 9. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.933, 318.99; 10. Brian Stewart, Ford Mustang, 4.017, 309.56; 11. Bob Bode, Toyota Solara, 4.283, 232.13; 12. John Hale, Charger, 4.498, 190.46.  Not Qualified: 13. Tim Wilkerson, 5.604, 142.01; 14. Cruz Pedregon, 8.922, 85.03; 15. Dale Creasy Jr., broke; 16. John Bojec, broke.

Pro Stock 1. Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.622, 207.78; 2. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.628, 207.69; 3. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.640, 208.23; 4. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.642, 208.75; 5. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.642, 208.23; 6. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.644, 207.56; 7. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.651, 208.49; 8. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.654, 207.46; 9. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.664, 207.78; 10. Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.692, 206.26; 11. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.710, 208.49; 12. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 6.763, 203.74.  Not Qualified: 13. Alan Prusiensky, 6.815, 201.82; 14. Mark Hogan, 6.831, 202.27; 15. Erica Enders, 18.294, 44.16.

Pro Stock Motorcycle 1. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.848, 194.94; 2. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.877, 194.94; 3. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.894, 192.88; 4. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.908, 192.93; 5. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.917, 194.94; 6. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.925, 193.24; 7. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.925, 192.03; 8. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.929, 195.31; 9. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.929, 191.40; 10. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.930, 192.30; 11. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.950, 192.11; 12. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.964, 193.29.  Not Qualified: 13. Melissa Surber, 6.973, 190.59; 14. Angie Smith, 7.014, 188.60; 15. Steve Johnson, 7.017, 189.36; 16. Scotty Pollacheck, 7.043, 190.11; 17. Joe DeSantis, 7.095, 187.68; 18. Kristen Ashby, 7.373, 180.33; 19. Chip Ellis, 7.797, 143.90.

Saturday: Autograph sessions & Nitro School

Fans at BIR Saturday for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals have a couple chances to meet some of the stars of the NHRA and pick up some autographs. They can also learn a thing or two about nitro cars work during Nitro School with announcer Alan Reinhart and Top Fuel pilot Richie Crampton.

There are two autograph sessions planned for Saturday. From 10:30-11:30 a.m., the Pro Stock Motorcycle teams will have their bikes on display outside their pit area, and the riders will be there to sign autographs, pose for photos and meet their fans. The session is free.

The Mello Yello Autograph Session starts at 11:30 a.m. at the Mello Yello display in Nitro Alley. The drag racers who will be on hand to sign autographs are Top Fuel driver JR Todd, Funny Car driver Del Worsham, Pro Stock racer Alex Laughlin and Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Melissa Surber.

JR Todd

JR Todd

Del Worsham

Del Worsham

Alex Laughlin

Alex Laughlin

Melissa Surber

Melissa Surber








If you’re interested in learning more about nitro cars work, stop by the pit area and listen to announcer Alan Reinhart and Top Fuel driver Richie Crampton as they explain how the cars work and what drivers need to do behind the wheel to get their dragsters down the track at 330 mph. It’s super interesting and entertaining. Take the time to check it out.

Richie Crampton, left, and Alan Reinhart explain show a fuel line for a Top Fuel dragster last year.

Richie Crampton, left, and Alan Reinhart show a fuel line for a nitro car during last year’s Nitro School.



Be the first on your block to get a 2016 Zoo T-shirt

If you’re at BIR this weekend for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, stop by the BIR Shirt Shack in the brick condos and pick up a 2016 Zoo T-shirt. Or do all your holiday shopping and buy one for the race fans in your family.



TV coverage of NHRA Nationals is on FOX Sports

This year’s TV coverage of the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway will be on FOX Sports 1 and 2 this year and includes three hours of live coverage of Sunday’s elimination rounds.

FOX’s TV schedule also includes 30 minutes of live coverage on Saturday, when the rained-out Top Fuel and Funny Car finals from the Aug. 7 race in Seattle is scheduled to take place.

Below is the TV schedule for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals:

Saturday, Aug. 20
2-2:30 pm – Live on FS1 – Postponed Top Fuel & Funny Car finals
9-11 pm – Qualifying on FS1 – Replay

Sunday, Aug. 21
2-4 am – Qualifying on FS2 – Replay from Saturday
5-7 pm – Qualifying on FS1 – Replay from Saturday
1-4 pm – Finals – Live on FS1
6-9 pm – Finals on FS2 – Replay

Tuesday, Aug. 23
7:30-10:30 am – Finals on FS1 – Replay

Thursday, Aug. 25
10 pm-1 am – Finals on FS2 – Replay

Sunday, Aug. 28
8-11 pm – Finals on FS2 – Replay

Wednesday, Aug. 31
5:30-8:30 pm – Finals on FS2 – Replay

Thursday, Sept. 1
8:30-11:30 pm – Finals on FS2 – Replay



Seattle’s finals set for Saturday at BIR

The Top Fuel and Funny Car finals from the rained-out Aug. 7 race at Pacific Raceway in Seattle will be settled on Saturday during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at BIR.

The Top Fuel finals is between Antron Brown and Steve Torrence, while the Funny Car finals features Del Worsham and Ron Capps. The two finals are scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Saturday during the afternoon qualifying session, and will be televised live on Fox Sports (FS1).

For more details on this weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at BIR, click here.


Jet dragsters to torch BIR’s track during Nationals

Shortly after the final qualifying sessions are complete Friday and Saturday, fans will be treated to something they don’t typically have a chance to see – a pair of jet dragsters flying down the drag strip.

Tony Franco is bringing a pair of 12,000-horsepower “blowtorch on wheels” to BIR this weekend to add more incredible speed to a racing program that’s already expected to break national records again, like last year.

In addition to looking cool as the jet engines lay down a huge trail of fire, the dragster are super fast: about 316 mph in the quarter mile in less than 5 seconds. Not bad.

The experience for the drivers is said to like being shot out of a cannon, or being on the wrong end of a stick of dynamite.

The dragsters take the track about 7:20 p.m. on Friday and 5:20 p.m. on Saturday.

Jet Dragsters_W

Timing is crucial for NHRA drag racers this weekend

Timing is crucial in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. In the fastest motorsport on the planet, in which 10,000-horsepower, nitro-burning dragsters reach 330 mph in less than four seconds, races are won and lost by hundredths of a second. Doing everything at the exact right time can lead to a championship, and drivers and teams heading to the 35th Annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway are well aware of that.

The best in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will fight tooth-and-nail to hoist a Wally trophy in the Winner’s Circle come Sunday, but they will also be fighting time. The Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals is the 17th of 24 events in the 2016 season and, more importantly, the penultimate race of the regular season. Drivers will be competing for much more than a win at BIR, they’ll be racing for a coveted spot in the NHRA’s six-race playoff – the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.

Drivers who finish in the top 10 in points of their respective categories will clinch a spot in the Countdown. At the end of the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals one year ago, four spots in Top Fuel, six spots in Funny Car, eight spots in Pro Stock and three spots in Pro Stock Motorcycle were already accounted for. Urgency was the underlying theme then, and teams and fans alike won’t expect anything different this time around.

BIR has been host to some of the world’s best drag racers for 34 years and will continue that trend this month. Last year, Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) earned the stage in the Winner’s Circle.

Crampton’s win at BIR was his fourth victory of the year. The South Australia native sprinted past Brittany Force in the final round and clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship in the process. Crampton, competing in only his second year as a driver, went on to win again in Dallas later in the season and finished third in points. This year, Crampton is hoping to win again in Brainerd to jumpstart a season in which he has only appeared in two semifinal rounds. He is currently eighth in points.

Force, on the other hand, is having the best season of her career. After finishing seventh in points in 2015, the driver of the Monster Energy dragster opened the gates of the 2016 season with fire in her eyes, speeding to her first career win in Gainesville, Fla., and added a second trophy at the Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, N.C. Force was the Top Fuel points leader from Gainesville to Houston and is currently fourth. She’ll look to continue her championship quest in Brainerd.

In Funny Car, Hight defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. here one year ago to notch his first victory of the 2015 season. Hight, driver of the Auto Club Chevy Camaro SS, moved himself off the playoff bubble with the win, jumping from tied-for-ninth to eighth in points.

Ron Capps, teammate to Johnson Jr., will enter Brainerd with a target on his back. Capps has four wins and two runner-up finishes in 2016 and holds the Funny Car points lead. Chasing his sixth Brainerd victory, Capps will have to deal with a loaded Funny Car class that includes 11-time Brainerd winner John Force, national record holder Jack Beckman, who is second in points, Houston winner Courtney Force, reigning world champ Del Worsham and two-time 2016 winner Tim Wilkerson.

Pro Stock’s Erica Enders raced to her fifth victory of the 2015 season last year in Brainerd by outrunning Minnesota’s own Jason Line in the final round. Enders dominated the Pro Stock ranks last year, racing to eleven final rounds and claiming nine victories to earn her second consecutive world championship.

The story has been different this year. Line and his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro teammate Greg Anderson (another Minnesotan) have controlled the season thus far, combining to win the first 13 Pro Stock races. Both drivers have already secured their respective spots in the Countdown to the Championship. Anderson, who has six wins this year, has seen plenty of success in Brainerd, too. He is a three-time winner and will have a good shot at returning to the winner’s circle at BIR for the first time since 2011.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec powered to his third consecutive victory of the 2015 season last year at BIR. Krawiec defeated his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammate, Andrew Hines, in the final round and went on to win one more race last year at the Auto Club Finals in Southern California. Krawiec is a two-time Brainerd winner and will have a good shot at his third this year, having won three races already this year. The points leader is pursuing his fourth world championship title.




BIR racers steal the thunder at NHRA Divisional Race

Thunder at the Lakes winners, back row from left, Jim Greenheck, Phil Unruh, Gary Loeffelholz, Brett Speer, Glen DeMenge. Front row, Trevor Larson, Randy Nygaard, Joel Sandstrom, Beau Drexler

Thunder at the Lakes winners, back row from left, Jim Greenheck, Phil Unruh, Gary Loeffelholz, Brett Speer, Glen DeMenge. Front row, Trevor Larson, Randy Nygaard, Joel Sandstrom, Beau Drexler

Drag racers from throughout the country were at Brainerd International Raceway last weekend, competing for NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series West Central Division points, but it was five local drivers who stole the show.

Brett Speer, Gary Loeffelholz, Glen DeMenge, Joel Sandstrom and Trevor Larson, all of whom regularly race at BIR, stole the show by winning five of the nine classes Sunday during the elimination rounds of the Thunder at the Lakes NHRA Divisional Race.

Speer won the Super Stock class after beating Byron Worner  by about 11 inches at the finish line. Speer clock in at 10.152 seconds, 125.56 mph to Worner’s quicker 9.940, 129.80.

DeMenge beat out Candace Jurgens in the finals of the Stock Eliminator class. Jurgens fouled at the starting line, handing DeMenge the win. Larson won a close race over John Lobner in Super Comp.  Larson ran 8.925 seconds at 168.91 mph while Lobnor ran  8.907 seconds at 167.01 mph.

Cam Grundman beat Sandstrom off the starting line but still lost to Sandstrom’s 10.915 seconds at 136.75 mph. Loeffelholz won on a holeshot in the Jerry Haas Racecars Top Sportsman class. He beat Paul Pittman with a time of  7.480 seconds at 182.45 mph to Pittman’s 6.573, 213.64.

Jim Greenheck took the win in Comp Eliminator by beating former national champion Bruno Massel. Greenheck motored down the quarter mile, clocking in at 7.318 seconds, 184.80 mph for the win in his ’12 Camaro. Massel was off the pace with car problems.

The Madcap/Fineline Top Dragster trophy went to Phil Unruh, who covered the quarter mile in 6.426 seconds and 205.19 mph, just six inches ahead of Shawn Anderson, who posted a time of 7.264 seconds at 180.16 mph.

Rounding out the winners were Randy Nygaard defeating Dale Evens in Super Gas.  Nygaard recorded a 9.921-second lap at 137.85 mph to Evens’ 9.919, 156.12.  The Sportsman Motorcycle presented by Harley-Davidson title went to Beau Drexler.  Drexler and Kyle Lundberg left the line together but Drexler was better at the strip to take the win in 8.303 seconds at 155.45 mph.

The NHRA Summit Jr. Drag Racing League was also in action this weekend as Meagen Neil beat Erik Crooks in the Advanced class; Joseph Lindberg downed Jordin Jurgens in Intermediate; Cam Giese won over Brody Thompson in Novice; and Ryler Mohr took the Youth class over Addyson Scheleck.

In the Karl Performance Super Shootouts presented by Karl Chevrolet, Tony Leonard won in Super Comp, Tom Carlson took Super Gas and Sandy Cawsey scored in Super Street.

West Central division racers are back at BIR this weekend when they will be joined by the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Aug. 18-21.

The following are Sunday’s final results from the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, West Central division Thunder at the Lakes:

Jim Greenheck of Schofield, Wis., 7.318, 184.80  def. Bruno Massel of Elmhurst, Ill.,  7.788, 148.31

Brett Speer of Little Falls, 10.152, 125.56  def. Byron Worner of Duncannon, Pa., 9.940, 129.80

Glen DeMenge, of McGregor, 10.017, 131.32  def. Candace Jurgens of Watertown, S.D., foul

Trevor Larson of Starbuck, 8.925, 168.91  def. John Lobner of  DeSoto, Kan., 8.907, 167.01

Randy Nygaard of Watertown, S.D., 9.921, 137.85  def. Dale Evens of St. Cloud

Joel Sandstrom of Penqilly, 10.915, 136.75  def. Cam Grundman, St Cloud, 10.883, 138.31

Gary Loeffelholz of Shafer, 7.480, 182.45  def. Paul Pittman, Bloomington, 6.573, 213.64

Phil Unruh of McPherson, Kan., 6.426, 205.19  def. Shawn Anderson, Eau Claire, Wis.,  7.264, 180.16

Beau Drexler of Lakewood, Colo., 8.303, 155.45  def. Kyle Lundberg, Isanti, 8.562, 154.40

Meagen Neil of West Fargo, N.D., 7.996, 83.17  def. Erik Crooks of Brandon, 8.015, 78.94

Joseph Lindberg of Lindstrom, 9.061, 74.29  def. Jordin Jurgens of Watertown, S.D.,9.023, 72.58

Cam Giese, Kandiyohi, 11.796, 55.49  def. Brody Thompson of Nowthen foul

Ryler Mohr of Mitchell, S.D., 14.669, 45.89  def. Addyson Scheleck of St Cloud, foul

Tony Leonard of Hastings, 8.903, 152.19  def. Tom Nygaard, of Watertown, S.D., 8.876, 156.21

Tom Carlson of Two Harbors, 9.886, 154.95  def. Trevor Larson of Starbuck, 9.876, 159.97

Sandy Cawsey of Regina, Sask., 10.902, 130.03  def. Dan Smith of Buffalo, 10.884, 144.58

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